Six music festivals (and kitschy pit stops) worth the drive 

Road Trip Time

click to enlarge Didja know the first ever Waffle House is in Decatur, Ga.? Go pay homage while you're hitting up Afropunk or alesso (pictured) at Imagine - HARRISON BOYCE
  • Harrison Boyce
  • Didja know the first ever Waffle House is in Decatur, Ga.? Go pay homage while you're hitting up Afropunk or alesso (pictured) at Imagine

Fall festival time is that sacred stretch each year when that end-o'-summer sadness is cured with the promise of tolerable outdoor music haps with cooler temps, autumnal brews, and great tunes. We've looked high and low for the coolest fests around, complete with this little collection of spots you should be gassin' up the car and heading to soon. We've included some kitschy pit stop suggestions just in case, like us, a good road trip photo opp is your thing.

Sept. 6-8
Raleigh, N.C.

As if this festival wasn't already on the must-do list every year, 2018's Hopscotch lineup includes Charleston's own Contour and Vanity Plates. Look at the impressive lineup and you'll see that they're sharing that bill with the likes of Miguel, Nile Rodgers & Chic, the Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, MC50, Thundercat, The Revolution, Liz Phair, and more — kind of a big deal. Kicking off on a Thursday, Hopscotch rocks through Saturday night with day parties aplenty, with gigs from morning to night across multiple venues, including outdoor stages and intimate dive bars. Plan your itinerary at

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    South of the Border, Dillon: You know what we're talkin' about. The mysterious amusement park ghost town that may be mostly vacant, but still vividly full of color and kitsch, including its giant, 200-foot-tall, neon-lit sombrero observation tower. Ride to the top of the glass elevator for just two bucks and get a cool 360-degree view of the Border. You never sausage a place.

Jam Room Music Festival
Sat. Sept. 29

Good golly Miss Molly, the 2018 Jam Room Music Festival is nothing to turn the nose up at, and, oh hello, all of it's free. Venture up I-26 to Soda City for a good mix of national, regional, and Holy City talent. Baroness and Susto headline, while much-loved acts 2 Slices, Kid Trails, Niecy Blues feat. ET Anderson, Tomboi, Alan Drum, H3R0, Contour, Don Merckle & The Blacksmiths, Late Bloomer, and EZ Shakes round out the uber multi-genre lineup. For tickets, go to

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    Teapot Museum, Elloree: You need to call and make an appointment with the owner to go inside as the owner lives half an hour away, but even the outside of this actual purple, teapot-shaped teapot museum is a photo opp in and of itself. Should you have time to venture inside, it's worth your while to gaze up on the thousands upon thousands of teapots from owner Sybil and late husband Julian Boland's travels. Sybil is very accommodating and thrilled to be able to share her stories with guests. Julian, who passed in 2014, was actually the one with the teapot obsession, so looking back on their lives with visitors is something she smiles upon.

click to enlarge CAMERON GOTT
  • Cameron Gott

Fall for Greenville

Oct. 12-14

It's that wonderful Fall for Greenville time of year, when the city's sweet streets go totally pedestrian, making room for food-and-drink vendors and performances galore — and the whole shebang is free. We're partial to the Lowcountry's own High Divers, Artisanals, Grace Joyner, Tyler Boone, and Gold Light, but you can also check out King Tuff, Son Little, American Aquarium, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and so much more at no dadgum cost to you. It's pretty glorious. See the full scale of events at

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    World's Largest Fire Hydrant, Columbia: En route to G-Vegas, hang a right at I-126 from I-26, which becomes Elmwood Ave., and make a swift right on Marion to behold the 40-foot-high wonder. No water can be found within, but who needs H20 when you've got a perfectly great photo opp?

Sept 21-24

Go electro at the Imagine Music Festival happening at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will be transformed into an undersea aquatic adventure complete with circus performers, mermaids, art installations, varied vendors, and more. Catch EDM headliners Armin Van Buuren, Alesso, Galantis, RL Grime, Zeds Dead, and Griz. For a full lineup, go to

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    Monkey From Mars, Decatur, Ga.: Drop by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab Museum for all kinds of wonders, including the "monkey from Mars," which was originally believed, by three young men in 1953, to be a Martian. Not really. They actually, cruelly, removed the creature's hair with depilatory cream dyed green and planted the little guy just to get some attention, and win a $10 bet.

Oct. 13-Oct. 14

Ready yourself for the cultural explosion that is Afropunk. Afropunk does what it says on the tin, presenting a medley of punk AF African-American artists across multiple genres. But since it's more than a festival, they're calling it a Carnival of Consciousness: "a conference, retreat, salon, seminar, a rave, a happening, think-tank, a maneuver." Producers, supporters, allies, and consumers of black culture will assemble for "music, art, film, lectures, and the honest expression of youthful black concerns, by leading contemporary voices." Some of the unmissable acts to hit the stages include N.E.R.D., Erykah Badu, Tyler the Creator, Miguel, Twin Shadow, Jamila Woods, and Janelle Monáe. Learn more at

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    Waffle House Museum, Decatur, Ga.: You read that right. For the love of all things waffle, get yourself to the Waffle House Museum to learn about the history of the late night lifesaver inside the first ever Waffle House, built in 1955. Be warned, they do not serve food here (weird, right?), but this place is still a treasure. Oh, and be sure to make an appointment before you show up to wonder at its vintage hats, menus, and uniforms and purchase a shirt that says, "We're smothering you with service."

Southern Heat Music
Sat. Sept. 29

The Southern Heat Music Festival 2 coming to Colonial Life Arena looks lit, y'all. Returning to Cola for another round of hip-hop and R&B hotshots, Southern Heat will feature performances by acts like Kevin Gates, Teyana Taylor, Lil Baby, and more. Go to for more info.

    Pit Stop Kitsch
    UFO Welcome Center, Bowman: Head up Charleston Highway for the scenic view of fields aplenty and adorable Main Streets and to Bowman's claim to fame, the UFO Welcome Center constructed by Jody Pendarvis in 1994 as a nice gesture to make any incoming aliens feel at home. The gracious creator is still there and always happy to let folks have a look around.


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