Folly Beach has been nicknamed the “Edge of America” by many, a scenic destination off the coast of South Carolina and a relaxing venue for rest and restoration. The beach is located right next to a charming island town and also plays host to a number of community festivals and events throughout the year. Downtown Folly Beach offers a wealth of activities for families and kids, and you can catch some live entertainment and shows on the Folly Beach fishing pier during the warmer months. The venue has grown to become an attractive destination for weddings and special events, and also attracts nature lovers and beach-goers year round.
History of Folly Beach The history of Folly Beach dates back to the 1600s when early settlers stumbled into the Bohicket Indian Tribe that inhabited the island. In 1696, Folly Island was deeded by a Mr. William Rivers, and was then passed down through a generation before being sold to Henry Samsways. Many ships passed through the area for about two centuries, and by the Civil War era. Folly Beach was overtaken by the Union army during the Civil War.
During the Roaring 20s, there were rumors of bootlegging on the island and during the 1930s, the area became a popular tourism destination. Developers proceeded to build the famous Atlantic Pavilion, Folly Pier and the Oceanfront Hotel. In 1932, just nine families actually lived on the island year round. Thousands of people flocked to the area for vacations and for special celebrations, including the annual 4th of July celebration and other activities. By the1940s, the community around Folly Beach really began to develop and many homes and roads were built during a very short period of time.
Today, many visitors from Charleston, Hilton Head and even Myrtle Beach make their way to Folly Beach for a relaxing getaway or just to explore the charming coastal town. The area is home to dozens of quaint Southern cottages, modern beach houses, luxury hotels, stylish condominiums and also a handful of budget-friendly destinations.
The area boasts a thriving arts, culture and shopping district, and promises some of the best surfing options on the eastern coastline. It’s also an attractive destination for nature lovers and eco travelers. You can catch bottlenose dolphins playing in the ocean around Folly Beach, see hundreds of sea turtles gliding through the waters and resting on the shores, and see dozens of fine examples of plants, shrubs, trees and flowers around the scenic coastline.
Things to Do in Folly Beach
From surfing to beach volleyball, you can look forward to several fun and relaxing activities on Folly Beach. From nature walks to shopping, you can enjoy any of the following activities in Folly Beach during most months of the year:
- Visit the Folly Fine Arts Center- Located on the west side of Center Street, this locally-funded arts center features the work of over 100 artists and rotating exhibitions. It is also a venue for dance performances, special workshops, film screenings and live music.
- Pick up local art at Studio Open – this local custom framing shop also features “snipshot” portraits, and several art restoration projects.
- Fishing – whether you’re a deep sea fishing enthusiast, enjoy river fishing or want to learn how to fish, you’ll find ample opportunities around Folly Beach
- Paddleboarding – one of the fastest growing sports in Folly Beach, this is a fun way to explore lowcountry
- Beach Photography – book a professional photoshoot with a local photographer to catch some scenes of the beach with friends and family
- Kayaking – another popular water activity around Folly Beach and James Island
- Picnicking – pick up some food from an area restaurant or pack your own picnic to enjoy
- South Carolina Aquarium – home to over 300 animals and the Great Ocean Tank, this is an idyllic destination to learn about area marine life
- Folly Beach County Park – pack a picnic and head out to this scenic venue near the ocean and enjoy access to a designated swimming area and rivers
- Bird Key Stono – an estuarine sandbar that encompasses about 20 acres, this is one of three Heritage Preserve coastal islands with sea bird nesting areas
- James Island County Park – another public park that affords plenty of opportunities to relax, enjoy the sunshine or spend an afternoon picnicking
Dining in Folly Beach
Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood at the local crab shack, gourmet dining at a contemporary restaurant, or want to pick up tacos at the taco stand, you’ll find several great dining destinations and hotspots around Folly Beach. Some of the most popular venues around the area include:
Taco Boy – a local taco stand that offers take-out and dining on the deck, and also hosts live entertainment throughout the week
Planet Follywood – a local venue with a full bar, live entertainment on Friday nights and happy hour specials throughout the week
Locklear’s Beach City Grill – located right on the Folly Beach Fishing Pier, this is a popular destination or brunch and offers dining on the deck.
Woody’s – this friendly eatery is a popular choice for beach-goers looking for some classic American food and takeout for beach picnics
Rita’s Seaside Grille – famous for its 100% natural margarita ingredients, this eatery also serves lunch and dinner throughout the week
The Sandbar Seafood & Steak Restaurant – a popular venue for seafood and steak, this restaurant offers panoramic views of the Folly River and marsh. You can enjoy nightly seafood specials and a warm, friendly atmosphere at this popular steak and seafood restaurant.
BLU Restaurant & Bar – this casual but contemporary restaurant is a popular destination for date night and will give you the chance to enjoy easy access to the beach. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or just an overnight stay in Folly Beach, you’ll find plenty of things to do and experience around this scenic coastal city. From catching the bottlenose dolphins in the ocean to exploring the Magnolia Plantation, you’ll find an array of activities to enjoy in Folly Beach, South Carolina.