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I recently took my daughter and her best friend to the Okaloosa Island in Florida for her 18th birthday. It was an 11 hour drive to our destination so I researched all the fun places to stop on the way to Florida from North Carolina along I-85.
Although we didn’t have time to see all of these sights, I sure hope I have a chance to go back and visit more of them. There are cute country stores, fruit stands, museums, battlefields, restaurants, doughnut shops and so many great sites to see along I-85!
So hop in the car and head to the turquoise waters of the Gulf Coast. And get ready for some fun sight-seeing along the way!
1 -Tanger Outlets Mebane, NC
With over 60 outlet stores including Vans, Tommy Hilfiger, Old Navy, and Guess, you’ll love making a pit stop at Tanger Outlet Mall. You may even find some digs for your beach vacay!
Make sure to stop by Shopper Services when you arrive so you can get your Little Red Book of Big Savings to get some great deals during your shopping trip.
Tanger Outlet Mall in Mebane
4000 Arrowhead Blvd, Mebane, NC 27302
2 – New Krispy Kreme store – Concord, NC (Has Doughnut-Infused Ice Cream Treats)
Trust me – you won’t want to miss this new Krispy Kreme store where doughnut delights are combined with tasty ice cream.
You can get treats like doughnut-infused milkshakes and ice cream-filled doughnuts.
This is the first Krispy Kreme store of it’s kind, and more will be opening across the country. If you’d like to read about my visit to the store for their grand opening and see more pictures of their tasty treats, go here to drool.
Krispy Kreme in Concord Mills
8018 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027
3 – Concord Mills Mall – Concord, NC
While you’re visiting the Krispy Kreme store in Concord Mills, you might want to hop on over to the Concord Mills Mall.
This mall is one of the largest attractions in North Carolina because of it’s 200+ stores, aquarium, go-carts, monster truck rides, and other fun attractions.
Concord Mills Mall
8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027
4 – Viva Chicken Gastonia
Just west of Charlotte is a fantastic place to get Peruvian chicken that’s been marinated, spiced, and cooked in a hand-built oven from Peru.
You can order 1/4, 1/2, or whole chicken as well as salads, bowls, sides, and desserts. A customer favorite is their Maracuya (passion fruit juice).
Viva Chicken Gastonia
2205 E Franklin Blvd #100, Gastonia, NC 28054
5 – King’s Mountain National Military Park – Blacksburg, SC
King’s Mountain State Park is an important Revolutionary War battle site. It’s where the American Patriots won a significant battle over American Loyalists.
Enjoy a 1.5-mile walk around the battlefield. You can download an app on your cell phone to listen to facts about the battle while walking the trail.
King’s Mountain National Military Park
2625 Park Rd, Blacksburg, SC 29702
6 – Brett’s Bakery – Gaffney, SC
If you need a break for a sweet treat, pull off at Brett’s Bakery in Gaffney, SC.
Customers rave about their Peanut Butter Brownies, Butter Pecan Bars, and vast selection of cupcake flavors. You can also order soup, sandwiches, and ice cream treats.
200 S Limestone St, Gaffney, SC 29341
7 – Peachoid – Gaffney, SC
Yes, there is a town that painted their water tower into a giant peach. You may have heard of it on House Of Cards. (See photo above of House Of Cards star Kevin Spacey when he stopped by the Peachoid for a photo-op.)
Gaffney is known as “the peach capital of South Carolina” and actually produces twice as many peaches as Georgia. People travel from all over to see this giant peach and get their picture taken with it.
Peachoid Rd, Gaffney, SC 29341
8 – Gaffney Outlet Marketplace – Gaffney, SC
You’ll find over 50 outlet stores at the Gaffney Outlet Marketplace in South Carolina.
If you like brands like Kate Spade, Sketchers, and Pottery Barn, you’ll enjoy browsing the stores here.
Gaffney Outlet Marketplace
1 Factory Shops Blvd, Gaffney, SC 29341
9 – Abbott Farms Peaches – Cowpens, SC
This is a great place to pull off the road and stock up on snacks.
At Abbott Farms you’ll find fresh peaches, homemade bread, jams, and boiled peanuts among other treats. They also have a supply of those awesome South Carolina fireworks.
Abbott Farms Peaches
291 Bud Arthur Bridge Rd, Cowpens, SC 29330
10 – Carolina Barbeque – Spartanburg, SC
Customers love the Barbeque Broasted Chicken, Brisket, and the Baked Beans at Carolina Barbeque. Or try the Three Meat Plate to get a sampling of their turkey, pork, and brisket.
No sauce is needed here; the meat is that tender and tasty.
7119-A, Lone Oak Rd, Spartanburg, SC 29303
11 – Snack Shack – Spartenburg, SC
This “mom & pop” restaurant gets excellent reviews for being fresh, tasty, and affordable.
Try the Sweet Peach Tea with the Pineapple bowl that comes with your choice of meat or seafood.
The Snack Shack
1982 Chesnee Hwy, Spartanburg, SC 29303
12 – Bacon Bro. Public House – Greenville, SC
Bacon Bros. offers modern southern fare in an upscale, farmhouse-chic space.
Customers love the craft brews, cocktails, smoked meats, and eggs. Yes, I said eggs – several of their reviews rave about the delicious deviled eggs here.
Bacon Bro. Public House
3620 Pelham Rd, Greenville, SC 29615
13 – Quick Trip – Piedmont, SC
Quick Trip may be just a gas station, but it’s the best gas station to stop for drinks and snacks! They take their drink station seriously with over 30 flavors of soda and tea.
You’ll also have a choice between crushed or cubed ice. What more could you want?!
They’re also known for their clean restrooms and tasty pizza. You can even fill your tires here for free.
2085 SC-86, Piedmont, SC 29673 (although you’ll find several Quick Trips along the interstate)
14 – Piercetown General Store – Williamston
Stop at this cute country store for a delicious hot dog, ice cream, or locally roasted coffee. You also find fresh fruit and snacks for the road, as well as a large selection of sodas.
Piercetown General Store
100 Fire Tower Rd, Williamston, SC 29697
15 – The Spotted Pig BBQ – Fair Play, SC
If you like your BBQ brought out on a large baking tray lined with tasty sides like Coleslaw, Macaroni & Cheese, and Baked Beans, you’ll love the spotted pig.
Some say it’s the best BBQ they’ve had.
The Spotted Pig BBQ
15491 SC-11, Fair Play, SC 29643
16 – South Carolina Fireworks
As soon as you cross the border into South Carolina, you’ll start seeing signs for fireworks stores. If you need some “real” fireworks, any store will do; they’re all pretty much the same.
Almost all kinds of fireworks are legal in South Carolina, and that’s why people travel from North Carolina to get them.
Fireworks in N.C are limited to things like string poppers, snappers, and sparklers. Anything that leaves the ground or explodes is illegal – so you can see why people would go to S.C.
Just know that if you get caught with illegal fireworks in North Carolina, you can be charged with a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
17 – Hampton Inn – Norcross, GA
Do you need a place to stay the night on your way to Florida? If so, I highly recommend the Hampton Inn in the Atlanta area. It’s very nice for an affordable hotel with prices starting at just $93.
We stayed here and loved the rooms, pool, free breakfast, and free parking. And it’s right off of I-85, which makes it easy to get to. Atlanta is also an excellent place for sight-seeing. (See our suggestions below).
Hampton Inn – Click here to book
5655 Jimmy Carter Blvd, Norcross, GA 30071
18 – Stone Mountain Park – Atlanta, GA
Stone Mountain is a giant quartz dome in the middle of a 3200-acre park. It is the most visited attraction in Georgia and includes a scenic railroad, hiking to the top of the dome, or a tram ride to the top.
My husband and I loved coming here when he went to school at Emory University in Atlanta. We especially loved the Friday night laser show on the mountain.
Stone Mountain Park
1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30083
19 – Centennial Olympic Park – Atlanta, GA
Centennial Olympic Park was built for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Although the park was closed when we visited, we were still able to ride the SkyView Atlanta Ferris Wheel, which takes you 20 stories up for some incredible views of the city.
The Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and CNN Studio Tours are all close by.
Centennial Olympic Park
168 Luckie St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
20 – Country BBQ in LaGrange, GA
If you read the reviews of Country BBQ, you’ll see why this is a must-stop. This is where the locals eat, and they rave about the Pork Platters, Ribs, Corn on the Cob, BBQ Stew, and Lemonade.
And don’t forget to get Banana Pudding – it’s baked and served in a pint jar!
124 Vernon St, LaGrange, GA 30240
21 – Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar – Opelika, AL
Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar is a nostalgic little dairy stand. People claim they have the best chili dogs and foot-long hot dogs around. The banana splits are also a hit.
After eating here, check out the quaint town of Opelika, AL, with its historic homes and neo-classical revival-style courthouse.
Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar
1900 Pepperell Pkwy, Opelika, AL 36801
22 – Fictional Town of Spectre – Jackson Lake Island, AL
The movie Big Fish was filmed on a private island in Millbrook, AL, called Jackson Lake Island. Ewan McGregor starred in this film where his character visited Spectre several times in his life.
You can also visit this fictional town and see where the movie set was filmed. Many of the buildings are dilapidated, but people still think it’s a fun spot to see. You can even add your shoes to the line as many visitors do.
Fictional Town Of Spectre
Millbrook, AL 36054
23 – G & S Doughnuts – Montgomery, AL
Many people claim that this is the best doughnut shop in Montgomery (or even the U.S.). The catch is that you have to get there early before they run out.
Another traveler tip is not to be on your cell phone, or else they won’t serve you. (Sound like a Seinfeld episode, yet?)
Even though they are open until 12:00 – 1:00 PM, depending on the day, they frequently run out by 10:00 AM. They also serve breakfast sandwiches and burritos that customers rave about.
G & S Doughnuts
5800 Woodmere Blvd, Montgomery, AL 36117
Note – I-85 officially ends in Montgomery, Alabama. But I’ve added a couple more fun stops south of Montgomery if you’re headed to the Destin, Fl area like we were.
24 – Priester’s Pecans – Fort Deposit, AL
Priester’s is a cafe and gift shop offering many varieties of candied pecans, fudge, and other sweet treats. If you come at the right time, you can even watch them make their pecan goodies in the upstairs viewing area.
Try the lunch special, which includes a slice of pecan pie or one of their unique pecan candy flavors like Key Lime.
80 Bishop Bottom Rd, Fort Deposit, AL 36032
25 – Wagon Wheel BBQ – Baker, Fl
Don’t blink, or else you might miss this humble 5-star BBQ treasure right off the roadside in Baker, Florida. Wagon Wheel BBQ is known for its BBQ Pork, Chicken, Hamburgers, Potato Salad, and Banana Puddin’.
You’ll also find many stands nearby that sell produce, fruit, jams, and hot boiled peanuts.
Wagon wheel BBQ
8145 FL-189, Baker, FL 32531
Read More – Visit The Uncrowded Beaches Of Okaloosa Island, FL
Read More – The Gulf Restaurant on Okaloosa Island, FL
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