If you’ve heard of Charleston, you’ve probably heard of Folly Beach! Known as “the family friendly beach,” Folly Beach is known for its laid-back attitude and the warm embrace it offers to families from all around the world. But if you’ve never been to Folly Beach, you might be wondering what it can offer for you and your family. So, in this article, we’ll explore the hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions that call Folly Beach home– and how you can have fun at all of them!
What’s Folly Beach All About Anyway?
If you’re checking out a new vacation spot for the first time, you might want to know a little bit about its history! After all, there are loads of popular vacation destinations within the US alone! So, what makes Folly Beach special? Let’s take a look. If you’re a fan of Charleston, SC, then you probably know that Charleston is famous for its rich culture and historical significance. And Folly Beach is no different!
Folly Beach first entered American history records in 1696, when it was known as “Coffin Island.” That name sounds pretty creepy but it’s apropos for Folly Beach’s history! Because, before Folly Beach was a popular tourist destination, the locals speculated that it was home to several gangs of pirates. In the late 1600s, rumors swirled around “Coffin Island,” perpetuating the belief that the infamous pirate Blackbeard stored the bodies of his victims at many hidden locations around the island. Today, however, research shows that these tales may have been little more than local legend.
A brief historical overview conducted by Charleston’s own Luxury Simplified Real Estate asserts that:
Historical documents have shown that it was actually called Coffin Land because it was maintained by plantation owners by the name of Coffin. The island’s modern day name was derived from the Old English word “folly” which means dense foliage. Folly Beach continues to recognize the island’s old name by holding an annual 5K run every April during the “Sea and Sand Festival. ” The pirate themed run is called the “Coffin Island 5K” and the best dressed pirate is given an award.
So, while Folly Beach may or may not have been inhabited by pirates, its compelling cultural history lives on and continues to inspire the imaginations of those who live there today! But how did Folly Beach go from a creepy island to one of Charleston’s hottest vacation destinations? Keep reading and we’ll find out!
After the 1690s and the swirl of Blackbeard rumors, Folly Beach seemed to fade from the public imagination. But it later attracted attention during the Civil War when soldiers realized that the island could serve as a valuable camping site and hiding place. Although Folly Beach didn’t see any substantial conflict, it soon became home for many Union soldiers who needed a safe place to set up their camp. But it wasn’t until the start of the early 20th century that Folly Beach would become a tourist destination. The famous Atlantic Pavilion was built in the 1930, shortly followed by the construction of the boardwalk and an accompanying oceanfront hotel.
These first early construction projects put Folly Beach properly on the map for the first time and cemented its reputation as an up-and-coming tourist destination. Known as “The Edge of America,” Folly quickly became known as a charming home away from home for tourists who were looking for a nearby getaway. Today, the reasons to love Folly Beach have grown along with the attractions offered by the area. So, now that we’re familiar with Folly Beach’s history, let’s take a look at a few key reasons why this charming little beach has become so popular.
Things to do at Folly Beach
- Enjoy the beach!
Every person who goes on vacation has a “type.” Some people want to go to the beach and simply be at the beach. Whether you’re swimming, soaking up the sun, or enjoying a pina colada and a good book, there’s a lot to be said for the simple pleasure of relaxing on the beach!
- Go on an Edu-cation!
Everybody loves a good vacation, but what about an edu-cation?? If you’re looking for something unique and fun for the whole family to enjoy, Folly Beach’s edu-cation adventures are perfect! These unique tours provide the thrill of discovering something new while learning about the unique animals that call Folly Beach home.
Guided kayaking or paddle board tours will take you through Folly’s unique watery estuaries and offer encounters with some incredible local birds and mammals. Or you can take a walk on the wild side with an eco-boat tour or dolphin encounter! These unique opportunities offer something for everyone, so dive on in!
- Enjoy the culture!
If you want to immerse yourself in the cultural experience of Folly Beach, you don’t have to look too far or too long to find an activity that will suit everyone’s tastes! The Folly Beach Pier is famous for being one of the most awesome places to enjoy saltwater fishing, bird-watching, or spending time with loved ones while you take in some beautiful views. Folly Beach Pier is special because it extends more than 1,045 feet into the Atlantic Ocean and sits 23 feet above sea level. So, although many coastal towns have piers, the Folly Beach Pier is especially noteworthy!
Folly Beach also offers surfing lessons and boat tours that are sure to be fun for the whole family! If you decide to enjoy a boat tour during your trip to Folly Beach, you’ll definitely want to check out the famous Morris Island Lighthouse. The Morris Island Lighthouse was built in 1872 and it’s a very important historical landmark for the town of Charleston. You can learn about the history of the Morris Island Lighthouse here and click here to check out some of the awesome companies that provide lighthouse boat tours off of Folly Beach and the surrounding Charleston area.
Places to Eat in Folly Beach
So, now that we’ve taken a look at some of the fun things to do in the Folly Beach area, let’s get acquainted with some awesome local restaurants. As a general rule, when you’re checking out a new vacation spot, you don’t want to go to the same old chain restaurants like Red Lobster and Outback; you can find those anywhere! Instead, what you really want is to get a taste of local flavor! So, let’s take a look at some of the best local cuisine that Folly Beach has to offer.
You can’t go wrong with a classic Folly favorite! If you’re looking for authentic Folly Beach seafood with a relaxed and beachy vibe, Surf Bar is the perfect place for you. This beachside restaurant features dog-friendly outdoor seating plus a family-friendly atmosphere inside and out. Although their menu is limited compared to other local seafood places, they offer some fantastic classics like their signature cheese steak sandwiches and their famous burgers! (And don’t forget to try their Pain Killer cocktail while you’re there!)
With a name like Snapper Jack’s, you’ve got to expect seafood and beach vibes! And Snapper Jack’s more than delivers on its promise with a two-story ocean-themed restaurant complete with a rooftop bar. A little bit classier than your average beachfront dining option, Snapper Jack’s also features a sushi menu, some signature cocktails, and a slightly higher price point. (But it’s worth it for the food, views, and booze!)
In the mood for a beachside brunch? Loggerhead’s specializes in classic brunch with a Lowcountry twist, including seafood omelets and tater tot-topped waffles! Vacations are all about getting away from your routine and trying something new and Loggerhead’s is the perfect place to do that! With a perfect blend of standard favorites and local fare, Loggerhead’s offers you the chance to mix the familiar with the new and enjoy a uniquely Folly Beach brunch!
Just steps away from Folly Beach and The Pier, Rita’s epitomizes the Folly Beach vibe. Home to live music, local bands, and dog-friendly outdoor dining by the sea, dining at Rita’s is an experience you won’t want to miss! If you want to go for brunch, you’re in luck; brunch is served every day of the week from 8:00 am-noon! And Rita’s has plenty to offer for lunch and dinner as well, including their famous fish tacos and Key Lime Martinis!
Places to Stay in Folly Beach
So, now that we’ve covered activities, fun things to do, and great places to grab a bite, you’re probably ready to book your own Folly Beach vacation right now! And that means it’s time to turn our attention to one of the most important aspects of planning a getaway: finding a great place to stay. Finding your perfect vacation hotel can often be a bit stressful, especially if you’re traveling somewhere you’ve never been before. Everybody wants a hotel that’s clean, safe, and comfortable, but it’s difficult to ascertain the safety and cleanliness of any place if you’re only looking at it online.
That’s usually the moment when we wish we had some info that we could feel good about– a trusted recommendation that says, “This place is okay!” Fortunately, that’s where we come in! This wouldn’t be a comprehensive guide to Folly Beach without the inclusion of some awesome hotels, so take a look at a few of our top picks.
If you really want the perfect oceanfront experience, then Tides is the place for you! One of the best things about this resort is the fact that every single room comes with an ocean view and a private balcony. Tides also offers an exclusive oceanfront dining experience that is not open to the public, so you can enjoy a luxurious dining experience without ever leaving your hotel– or the beach! And as an added bonus, Tides is well- known for being a family-friendly and pet-friendly resort. So, if you choose to stay here, the whole family can come along– even your furry friends!
If you’re more interested in a quiet, refined getaway than a family-friendly beach resort, Beachside Boutique Inn is right up your alley. These historic cottages are just 25 minutes outside of Charleston and only a short walk away from Folly Beach, so you have easy access to the best of both worlds! If you want to rent a private cottage and have a little vacation home all to yourself, that’s definitely an option. Or, if you want to keep it charmingly simple with one of Beachside Boutique’s self-proclaimed “quirky cottage rooms,” you can always do that too!
This luxury bed and breakfast combines the best of both worlds! If neither of the previous options sound like your thing, Water’s Edge Inn is sure to be the perfect fit for anyone. Combining gorgeous views with luxury, history, and stellar amenities, Water’s Edge is only a short walk from the beach. It’s also NOT pet friendly and geared more toward travelers who prefer a classy, quiet, and sleek vacation vibe.
So, there you have it: your very own comprehensive guide to Folly Beach! As one of Charleston’s hidden gems, Folly Beach often gets lost in the glitz and glamour of greater Charleston. But as you can see, this unique and quirky little area has a lot to offer! So, if you want a memorable vacation filled with lots of local flavor, don’t hesitate to check out Folly Beach! And if you check out any of the places on this list, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!