Go Ahead and Add Folly Beach, South Carolina, to Your Beach Town Bucket List
The spirited island hamlet south of Charleston shakes off mainland sophistication in favor of flip-flops and cash-only dive bars.
It's only twelves miles south of Charleston's historic homes and manicured window boxes, but the salty little town of Folly Beach ditches the Holy City's refinement in favor of an easygoing, barefoot sensibility that feels a bit more California than Carolina. Known to locals as the Edge of America, Folly is everything a beach town should be: Surf shops line the main drag; cover-ups count as appropriate lunch attire; and nobody takes themselves too seriously (they drop a pair of LED-lit flip flops to celebrate New Year's Eve). Here's where to stay, eat, and play in South Carolina's super chill surf town.
Where to Stay
Every single room at The Tides Hotel comes with an ocean view. Perched at the end of Center Street, the town's main thoroughfare, the hotel is steps from both the beach and to all the local shops and eateries. For families looking to stretch out a bit more, there are a boatload of rentals to choose from: Opt for ocean-front properties that will sleep a crowd or cozy cottages with marsh and Folly River views. And for people who wouldn't dream of traveling without their four-legged companions, there are plenty of pet-friendly rentals too.
Where to Eat
There's no shortage of good grub on the island. Lost Dog Café is a local staple, serving coffee and all-day breakfast; don't miss the eggs benedict, which they top with fried green tomatoes. Fish tacos, ramen, and Cuban sandwiches all have a place on the colorful menu at Chico Feo, where the vibe is equally colorful; and they know their clientele—daily surf reports are posted on their website. Don't let the easygoing atmosphere fool you: Rita's Seaside Grille is serious about their food…and the cocktails; try one of their Signature Crushes, fruity sippers flavored with infused liquors that pack a punch.
Where to Play
The island's six miles of beachfront are its main attraction, and it'd be easy to while away a week with no plans beyond putting your toes in the sand. But for those looking to build an action-packed itinerary, there are plenty of activities that highlight the destination's natural beauty: Book a guided kayak or standup paddleboard tour to explore the tidal creeks; stop by McKevlin's Surf Shop, South Carolina's oldest surfing outfitter, before catching some of the area's best waves at The Washout; and plan to make a return trip with your fishing poles to Folly in 2023, when the beloved pier is set to reopen after extensive renovations.