20 Best Things to Do in Folly Beach, SC

Folly Beach, SC
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The seaside paradise of Folly Beach, South Carolina, is a scenic getaway that promises relaxing days, panoramic vistas, and adventurous activities for the whole family.

Dubbed as the “Edge of America,” the idyllic city sits adjacent to the Atlantic and enjoys the resources, sceneries, and strong winds.

It’s also part of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, with the terrain consisting mostly of plains, grasslands, and coastal land rich in wildlife.

From guided river tours to live music, the town has no end of activities for the young and old.

So bring your loved ones on your next trip and have a memorable time.

Here are the 20 best things to do in Folly Beach, South Carolina:

Take a Scenic Walk on the Folly Beach Fishing Pier

Sunrise at Folly Beach Fishing Pier
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Perhaps the most striking landmark on Folly Beach, this fishing pier is a large structure that reaches 1,045 feet into the blue waters of the Atlantic.

It’s also one of the longest piers on the whole East Coast.

With its 23-foot elevation, the destination offers spectacular views of the seas and most of Folly Beach.

View within the Folly Beach Fishing Pier
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Walking on the pier during the sunset is the perfect activity to get a multicolored view of the surrounding waters as dusk's orange and violet colors play on the surface.

Aside from sightseeing, the pier is an ideal spot for hook-and-line fishing.

The gazebo at the end also serves as a venue for public gatherings, functions, fishing competitions, and other events usually open to the public.

Raised gazebo at the end of Folly Beach Fishing Pier
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Go Restaurant Hopping Around the City’s Favorite Establishments

Exterior of The Crab Shack
Brian Stansberry, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The seafood in Folly Beach is one of the tastiest on the East Coast, with ingredients freshly caught from the Atlantic.

During your visit, make sure to check out the various local restaurants, where you can get a taste of these delicious local fares.

Rita’s Seaside Grille is one of the most visited establishments in the city, and they offer grilled seafood, Southern Comfort food, as well as daily specials made with freshly caught fish.

Another Folly Beach institution is The Crab Shack, which serves a signature she-crab soup, as well as crab cakes, grilled fish, and refreshing drinks.

Loggerhead's Beach Grill is the place to be if you want ocean views and a bombastic atmosphere, and they serve delicious alcoholic beverages, seafood dishes, and tasty American staples.

Explore the Wonders of Folly Beach County Park

Sunset in Folly Beach County Park
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This beachside park is located at the Southern end of the city, with the Folly River and the Atlantic Ocean on either side.

You’ll have a convenient time frolicking on the wide, sandy beaches, as they have many well-maintained amenities like picnic areas, outdoor showers, and snack bars.

If you’re lucky, you might arrive at a time when the waves are gentle and calm, making for a relaxing swimming experience along the shallows.

Sand dunes at Folly Beach County Park
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The more secluded areas of the park serve as pelican habitats, and there, you can watch the large birds and their fledglings feeding and hunting.

You can even spot the Wish tree, where you can hang a shell in offering and whisper your innermost wishes.

Who knows?

The dreams and hopes you place in here might just come true.

See the Wildlife at Bird Key

Bird Key sits right across the water from Folly Beach County Park.

It’s an isolated and uninhabited sandbar with panoramic views and a peaceful island ambiance.

Because of the relative lack of humans, Bird Key has been turned into a nesting site of many migratory species, hence its name.

The species living on this island include pelicans, herons, gulls, and black skimmers.

It’s a haven for birdwatchers and photographers!

During nesting season, strict regulations for visitors are imposed on the island, so make sure you have the right permissions before coming to the sandbar.

Once you’re here, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for wildlife and landscape photography, sightseeing, filmmaking, and even scientific research.

Surfing in Folly Beach
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As with most oceanside cities, Folly Beach offers many activities that involve the scenic Atlantic Ocean.

When the strong winds come during late summer, the city becomes an ideal destination for surfing, paragliding, and windsurfing.

These activities are perfect for those who want a thrilling experience during their vacation.

Paragliding in Folly Beach
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There are many outfitters within the city that offer quality equipment and services for these activities, so make sure to check them out before heading into the waves.

For those who want to go out into deeper waters, fishing charters offer half- and whole-day tours.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch prized games, such as tuna, mahi-mahi, sailfish, and marlins that abound on this side of the Atlantic.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which sometimes visits the area during migration.

Join the Various Events of the City

Folly Beach is the home of a community with rich music, entertainment, and food culture.

The city holds many festivals at various times of the year to celebrate this heritage, attracting thousands of visitors from the state and the rest of the county.

The Sea and Sand Festival is the longest-running festival in the city, and it entails a weekend-long celebration with sandcastle-making competitions, pageants, and performances of local and national bands.

In October, you can visit the city and join FollyPalooza for entertaining live music, tasty local cuisine, carnival games, and art shows.

Another must-see event is Taste of Folly, which celebrates the city's cuisine.

Everyone is welcome to join the various events, so make sure to check the schedules while planning your vacation.

Cruise the Calm Folly River

Sunset in Folly River
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Folly Beach is made up of many tiny islands surrounded by waterways, the biggest of which is the Folly River.

Here, you’ll get to experience the wilder side of the city.

Many businesses in the city offer guided tours along the meandering streams, either on small boats or kayaks.

With them, you’ll get to explore the peaceful and picturesque spots of the river, with sandbanks, marshes, and marshes in every corner.

Boats on the water of Folly River
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Wildlife abounds in the shallow waters as well, so you can expect to see turtles, dolphins, and marine birds frolicking under the bright sun.

With the help of an informative guide, you’ll learn more about the area and its biodiversity as you cruise the calm currents of the river.

Bring the Kids to Wave Watch Playground

If the kids are coming to your Folly Beach trip, then a stop at Wave Watch Playground is a great idea.

This beach-themed park has many play structures and modern amenities that make it a convenient location to stay with your kids.

The tube slides, seesaws, swings, and rotating chairs are enough to keep your child busy the whole time you’re there.

For those who are timider, a little library is open with many great reads.

Once the kids are tired of playing, bring them to the picnic tables and have some tasty snacks under the cool, shady trees.

Best of all, the playground is only a few meters away from Folly Beach.

Once your kid is done playing, you can just walk towards the sandy beach and have a relaxing time under the sun.

Enjoy a Family Day at Folly Beach

Silhouette of the Folly Beach Fishing Pier
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Folly Beach—the destination where the city’s name comes from—stretches across most of its Atlantic coastline, making it a spacious destination for various seaside activities.

The sandy beach is perfect for a day with your family.

Staple activities include sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing under the bright South Carolina sun.

You can also try looking for pretty seashells that lay hidden within the soft sands of Folly Beach.

Waves in Folly Beach
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During the late afternoon, find the perfect spot and watch the sun as it sets on the horizon.

You can also stay for a little bit after dark for some magical, beachside stargazing opportunities.

Light pollution isn’t a problem in the area as there are strict regulations to protect turtle nesting sites.

Since there are restaurants and bars near the beach, you can just walk for a few minutes and choose an establishment of your liking for some delicious food and refreshing drinks.

Family under beach umbrellas at Folly Beach
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Take a Nature Walk at Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve

Daytime view of the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve
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The Morris Island Lighthouse at the edge of Folly Beach is a historic structure that played a key role throughout the area’s history.

Today, it stands as a stoic sentinel standing watch over the beaches and seas around it.

The Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve is the perfect place to view this magnificent building and the area's other beautiful sites.

You can go birdwatching, have romantic walks along the sandy beach, or take stunning landscape photos with the lighthouse as your subject.

Beach and dunes of Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve
Brian Stansberry, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is less crowded than Folly Beach because of the relative isolation, so you can get a quiet and relaxed experience as you wander the park.

You may wonder about the lack of modern amenities; this is because the area is an important stopover for migratory birds.

There is an effort to preserve the park's pristine state to maintain a suitable habitat for these animals.

Rest and Relax at Folly River Park

Folly River Park, located in Center Street, offers another perspective of the city that is much different from the ever-present beaches.

The quaint outdoor facility has grassy grounds, shady trees, and picnic benches where you and your family can have a quiet afternoon snack.

It isn’t as crowded as the beaches, making it a perfect spot for relaxation while still having access to modern conveniences.

Within the park, there is a small covered stage where some events are held.

You can catch a lively dance performance or join in the fun exercise routines practiced by local groups.

A little farther out, a scenic boat ramp goes on for a few meters before reaching Folley River.

It’s a beautiful path that takes you above the thick marshes common in the area.

Go Biking Around the Quiet Beachside Roads

Sunset in Folly Beach County Park
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Dreaming of a vacation where you can just ride around a coastal town and feel the sea breeze whip around you?

Folly Beach is the perfect destination to realize this vision.

The long and straight roads of the city offer relaxing and leisurely bike rides, and you can visit iconic landmarks, like Folly Beach County Park and Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, without having to think about parking.

It’s the ideal mode of transport for those who want to see all wonders that every corner of Folly has in store.

Since cycling on the beach is allowed, you can bike until dusk and find the perfect spot to watch the sunset.

For those who don’t want to do the effort of pedaling a bike, there are also moped rentals available.

Visit the businesses scattered around Folly Beach and choose whichever vehicle you desire.

Go on a Sailing Adventure with Sail Folly

Johnny Stevens, a certified captain boasting years of sailing and motor boat expertise, founded Sail Folly in 2017.

Sail Folly has quickly become the best sailing adventure on Folly Beach.

Their captains are very well acquainted with Charleston's background and the salt marsh's maritime nature.

The Stiletto 27-foot catamarans they use for their sailing tours have a lot of deck space and are outstanding sailors, making them the perfect transport for exploring the salt marsh and the river behind Folly Island.

Most likely, visitors will encounter dolphins, pelicans, herons, egrets, cormorants, and other wildlife.

Try the Specialties at Lost Dog Café

In 2002, the quaint Lost Dog Café originally started offering coffee, sandwiches, salads, and wraps.

It is a relaxed seaside café with a famous wall for dogs.

They provide hearty breakfast burritos, bagel sandwiches, and great coffee throughout the day.

Among the specialties are Iced Bailey's Latte Topped, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Grilled Shrimp Banh Mi, Grilled Pastrami, and many others!

Lost Dog Café is a meeting spot where both locals and visitors may dine, connect, and socialize.

Spend a Relaxing Vacation at Tides Folly Beach Hotel

Exterior of Tides Folly Beach Hotel
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Tides Hotel on Folly Beach is the perfect location to relax after a full day of water sports, fishing, dining, drinking, paddling, boating, and enjoying life at Folly Beach!

There are rooms available with either one king bed or two queen beds.

The heated beachfront pool, beachside tiki bar & lounge, free WiFi, Sun & Ski beach chair rentals, all-day room service, conference and convention facilities, and more are just a few of the hotel amenities available.

In addition to service and flair, surf and sand are always included at the Tides Hotel on Folly Beach.

Everyone has activities, including family outings, surfing getaways, and group outings.

Tour around with the Reputable Island Hopper Charters

Island Hopper Charters was formed out of the delight of presenting new people to the marvels and thrill of visiting the Charleston waterways, Charleston Harbor, and neighboring locations onboard a top-notch charter boat.

According to them, a reputable boat charter business matches customers with the ideal vacation after paying close attention to everything they offer.

Captain Randy Smith, a native of Charleston who has more than 40 years of expertise on the Charleston canals, will be your tour guide.

He holds a USCG license and places a high value on the enjoyment and safety of their customers.

Your boat tour will be memorable and exceptional, thanks to Island Hopper Charters.

Watch or Participate in the Folly Beach Wahine Surf Classic

The Folly Beach Wahine Surf Classic, the first all-female surf competition in South Carolina, was established in 2001 by Kelly Kane Wood with Katie Coryell.

A tradition was started when local surfers gathered for a fun-filled weekend of waves after they became aware of the rising number of female surfers in the area.

The now-named "Folly Beach Wahine Classic" grew thanks to the hard work of a few more devoted directors.

From the smallest Push and Surf and Menehune participants to the more experienced and fiercely contested Women's and Ladies divisions, the competition has expanded through the years.

The Liquid Shredder Fun One, body board, and stand-up paddle classes have been added to the traditional short and long board groups.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Learn About History at Fort Sumter National Monument

Exterior of Fort Sumter National Monument
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This important historical landmark is only 25 minutes away from Folly Beach, and it promises a fascinating look into the part.

Fort Sumter once served as an important fortification that protected the seas of South Carolina from naval invaders.

Cannon at Fort Sumter National Monument
Martina Birnbaum / Shutterstock.com

Today, it stands as a reminder of the past, with the structure and the grounds open for tours for those who want to learn more about it.

The grounds of Fort Sumter National Monument
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Make a Stopover at Morris Island

Aerial view of Morris Island
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This 840-acre island is uninhabited, with parts belonging to either Folly Beach or the much larger Charleston City.

Accessible via boat from Folly Beach, Morris island offers picturesque views, a quiet seaside ambiance, and historical sites.

The uninterrupted sound of waves crashing on the coastline and the calls of the marine birds make the area a true escape from the city noise.

Sailing at Morris Island
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There is also a site filled with sharks' teeth and rare seashells that will excite collectors.

Some tours offer trips to the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, which is only accessible via a boat or a kayak.

While here, make sure to learn why this was an important structure during the height of the Civil War.

Aerial view of Morris Island lighthouse
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Visit Angel Oak Tree

Daytime view of the Angel Oak Tree
Mike Ver Sprill / Shutterstock.com

The twisting branches and shadowy canopy of this ancient tree give the surrounding area a fairytale-like ambiance.

Located in John’s Island, this important landmark is believed to be one of the oldest trees in the region.

Large branches of Angel Oak Tree resting on the ground
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The park around the tree is the perfect spot for a relaxing day with nature, magical photography sessions, and picnics with your family.

View from looking up the Angel Oak Tree
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Final Thoughts

Folly Beach stands as a perfect example of the beauty of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

With its scenic views, numerous wildlife, and a welcoming community, this city is an ideal getaway for those who want some beachside fun.

Reference this list when planning your trip so you can add all these destinations to your itinerary.

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