One of the best things about Folly Beach is that it offers something for everyone. It has a relaxed, family-friendly vibe while at the same time offering a great selection of fun beach bars and nightlife. Its frequent festivals and events also have an atmosphere that is suited for all ages.
It's always a great time to visit Folly Beach, but fall is one of the most delightful seasons for a weekend on the edge of America. See why now is the perfect time to plan a weekend getaway to Charleston's favorite neighboring barrier island.
Why Visit Folly Beach In The Fall?
First and foremost, the weather is wonderful, but there is a fraction of the crowd. While temperatures are still toasty, it isn't quite so sweltering. The heat index in the summer is frequently over 100 degrees, with very high humidity. Expect fall temperatures to be in the 70s - 80s instead, with the ocean remaining warm enough for swimming too.
During the summer, traffic is often an utter nightmare; it can take hours to even get onto the island and find a parking space. By the time September rolls around, the crowd has thinned significantly, and it's smooth sailing. The beach itself also isn't so densely packed, so there is more room to spread out without being towel-to-towel with other beachgoers.
Finally, fall in the Lowcountry means the return of the oyster season, and Folly is full of the freshest shellfish offerings thanks to its surrounding marshland. The area is referred to as the 'Napa Valley of Oysters', and the local oysters are sought after nationwide; try them straight from the source!
Be sure to visit the iconic Bowen's Island restaurant, which has been serving up the daily haul of oysters and other local seafood straight from its docks since 1946.
Fido-Friendly: Folly Beach Dog Rules
From 1 May - 30 September, dogs are prohibited on the beach between the hours of 10 am - 6 pm. After September 30, Fido is welcome to hit the beach anytime; another point for Folly Beach in the fall!
The entire island very much caters to dogs. There is a slew of pet-friendly vacation rentals and numerous restaurants with pet-friendly patios. There is also a public dog park on the island where they can play.
- Folly Beach Bark Park: enclosed pet-recreation area located at 512 E Erie Ave. Equipped with pet waste bags and disposal cans, a pet water fountain, a picnic table, and ample trees/shade. No fee to enter.
What To See And Do In Folly Beach
Clocking in at only 12 square miles and the majority of the off-the-beach action is concentrated on Center Street. The majority of Folly Beach businesses are locally-owned establishments rather than chain retailers, adding to the strong sense of community.
The shops stock more than just run-of-the-mill beach souvenirs; there are many local artisans who sell their handcrafted items too. Besides clothing and beach goods, there are also surf shops, massage and yoga studios, and a thriving restaurant and bar scene.
Located a block over from Center Street sits Bert's Market, which deserves a special shout-out. Bert's is a Folly Beach institution, adhering to its slogan of ´we may doze, but we never close.' That's right, Bert's is open around the clock. Bert's vibe can't quite be described with words, but the funky little corner store will quickly become a daily go-to. It also has a full-service deli, hot food bar, ice-cream counter, and a great selection of beer and wine.
Exploring the Island
With its small size, Folly Beach offers great walkability (especially in the pleasant fall weather). In fact, there are even walking history tours of the island and the Morris Island lighthouse.
Those wishing to leave the car parked at the rental (or leave it behind altogether) have other options for getting around too. Bicycles, mopeds, and golf carts can all be rented on the island and make getting around a breeze (plus, they're a ton of fun).
Beach And Outdoor Recreation
Hitting the sand is super simple in Folly Beach, thanks to its ample beach access points. There is public access to every single block along the island, and on-street parking is free in most places. Just make sure all four wheels are off of the road (that includes golf carts, too) in order to avoid a ticket.
- Public bathrooms and showers: available at the pier, 3rd W Arctic Ave., and the Folly Beach County Park at 1100 W Arctic Ave.
Folly Beach is known for having some of the best surfing in the southeast. Advanced surfers can head to the washout section of the beach, and novices can take a lesson from one of the several reputable surf schools on the island:
- Isla Surf School
- Carolina Salt Surf School
- Shaka Surf School
For those who want something a bit more relaxed, the coastline is also littered with shark teeth. Take a stroll at the low side and keep your eyes peeled for teeth hidden in among the sand and shells.
Another great way to enjoy Folly Beach and the surroundings is by boat. Take a sunset sailboat, booze cruise, fishing charter, or rent kayaks and explore the inlets all around the island.
Dining and Drinking
While there are dozens of delicious options to choose from, here are some of the perennial crowd favorites to suit a variety of tastes:
- Loggerheads: serving lunch and dinner seven days/week. Indoor seating and a large outdoor patio with a separate bar and ocean view. Frequent live music, family-friendly, 1/2 price burgers on Mondays.
- Chico Feos: no-frills, uniquely-Folly neighborhood watering hole situated quite literally in the backyard of a classic beach shack. A small (but delicious) rotating menu of Mexican and Asian-inspired dishes, a huge beer list, and frequent live music. 100% outdoors, dog-friendly.
- Jack of Cups Saloon: attention, all foodies - eat here! A seasonally rotating menu of globally-inspired cuisine that never disappoints. Vegan-friendly options. Hours vary, so call ahead.
- Woody’s Pizza: the island's go-to pizza and beer joint for tourists and locals alike. Open Monday - Friday 5pm - 11pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am - 11pm, delivery also available.
- Lost Dog Café: the quintessential pet-friendly Folly Beach breakfast/brunch/lunch spot. Arrive early on the weekends to avoid a wait, even in the off-season. Open daily from 6:30am - 3pm.
- Planet Follywood: Folly's beloved local dive helmed by the notorious Mamma Flo. Live music nightly, open late (until 2 am). Nurse the hangover with Planet Follywood's famous weekend brunch paired with a Bloody Mary.
- Folly Beach Crab Shack: known for serving fresh, local seafood in large portions at reasonable prices. Indoor and outdoor dining + raw bar.
Where To Stay In Folly Beach
Another perk of a fall getaway to Folly Beach is the low-season accommodation rates. Most rentals offer considerable discounts after the peak summer season.
While there are only two actual hotels on Folly Beach (The Tides and Folliday Inn), there is a huge selection of vacation rentals to suit all tastes and budgets. There are oceanfront condos, large, modern houses, and funky beach shacks reminiscent of a bygone era. There are also riverfront homes with private docks for anyone looking to bring the boat along. Besides Airbnb, there are numerous vacation rental offices on the island that can help to find the perfect rental while also providing tons of local insight and island recommendations.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that many short-term vacation rentals on the island become available for monthly rentals from September onwards (usually until March/April). So for anyone looking for an extended stay, fall is also an excellent time to lock in a seasonal rental.