An Unforgettable Experience: A first look at Folly

Entering Folly Beach for the first time, you drive over the Folly River and one of the initial idyllic images greeting you are the boaters, kayakers and paddle boarders enjoying a beautiful day on the water.

When you cross the bridge you pass by the charming main downtown strip of Center Street, highlighted by the bright facades of its restaurants, shops and bars.

On any given summer or holiday weekend, these streets are bustling with locals and tourists alike, taking a brief respite from the sun and sand to indulge in some food and beverages or shopping. 

Once you arrive at the Beachfront area you glimpse Tides Folly Beach, Charleston’s only full-service oceanfront hotel. Nearby is the Folly Beach pier, typiclaly a great place to soak up the breathtaking scenery, and will be once the new one is ready. It’s such a great place to watch the sunset, going fishing or viewing the sea birds. 

Cruise a little further down the beachfront toward the north end of Folly and you can park and stroll down to see the historic Morris Island Lighthouse, one of the most photogenic landmarks on the island. If you’re lucky you might even encounter one of the local aquatic mascots, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. 

We’d like to know about your initial impressions of exploring Folly. Leave your comments below and tell us what stands out about your Folly experience. When did you first visit, who were you with and what was the occasion? 

  1. I came to Folly for the first time in 1980 with my brother and his wife. I have been smitten ever since. It is the only place where all the people I love and have loved went to enjoy special vacation times together with me. It is like a common denominator for my whole family. I have such special memories from there. As far as I’m concerned, there is no other place like it on earth!

  2. my love affair with folly beach began fairly recently. i found the low country writer’s retreat in may of 2008. the week i spent there changed my life. i had gotten engaged a few weeks earlier, and we were considering a wedding in nyc, where we met lived and had our son. however, i fell in love with folly beach, and made a friend in the owner of the writer’s retreat who ended up officiating at our wedding in june 2010. the times our family have spent there, whether in the planning stages or the 10 amazing days this june during our wedding and after, have created some of the greatest memories of our lives. we will always return. great food. great people. great place.

  3. I fell in love with Folly after my long time friend told me about it. First visit, 2008. Been back since then. Loved it so much I have written personal essays about Folly.

    The food, the pier, the sand, the water, the birds, the people. Makes me wish I was there. It feels like home.

  4. Stepped onto Folly for the first time in 2003 and made it our vacation every year since. We were married on Folly beach in September 2009 and several of our wedding guests were introduced to Folly for the first time. Everyone fell in love! Someday my husband and I hope to move there, that would be our second dream come true!!

  5. 2003. My husband died the previous winter and I was just looking for a place to go. I hit the jackpot when I found Folly. I kept going back every chance I could for two years and slowly I came out of my dark place and enjoyed life again. The local folks are great, the restaurants and shops are uncompairable to any other place. I still go there time to time and even rented a condo once for a week and took my entire family for a week vacation. Everytime I need to seek solace, I go there and walk for hours and just watch the water. I’ve been to every beach on the east coast from Florida to New Jersey and NONE compares to the serinity I can find there.

  6. 1984 is when I first met Folly Beach. My husband was stationed in the Navy there in Charleston. I met him and we were married & moved away from the Charleston area in early 1985. We have visited a few times throughout the years & always try to make it a point to visit Folly again. For the past few years, we’ve been visiting a few times a year and are working to relocate to that area! We love the peace we find there & can’t wait to make it a part of our daily lives again!

  7. Had been to Charleston for short visit once. In June 2009 my daughter asked if I would go to Charleston and she said she found a condo in a place called Folly Beach. I said sure let’s go. We fell in love with Folly Beach! We only made it to Charleston 2 times the whole week. We couldn’t wait to go again. In Spring of 2010 we loaded up “dad” and took him to Folly for a week. He is not much of a traveler at all, but is already looking forward to June for another visit. He just loves it there as well! Folly Beach is my “happy place” when things are just not going well here in OHIO!

  8. I was born in Charleston and my parents lived on Folly Beach. I return as often as possible and have seen it change from a sleepy quiet island with one beach shop (Mr.John’s- only place I would ever go!) and the Island grocery on the corner with the best slushies, and no condos at all on the drive in to the busy bustling island it is today and I love it no less. I have climbed the lighthouse before they chained it up after canoeing out to it and seen sting rays and pelicans below me. I have cried there, yelled there and had some of my best times there. It has healed my soul more times than I can count. Whether or not you are born there or just come visit it will get into your blood and you can never forget it. All I ask is that if you are new, do not try to change it, accept it as it is, only then can you truly say that you love it.

  9. I first saw Folly Beach when I was only 2 years old and I do actually remember it. Folly Beach in 1957 was much different than the Folly of today. Lots more was going on then. It actually compared to a huge carnival or the fair. The one thing I remember is that they had a ride called the swings and they actually swung out over the beach. As a child I was scared to death of it. But there was a beautiful carousel that people waited in line for and everyone had cotton candy. There was something there for everyone. But my parents really loved to dance and the Folly Pier had some of the most amazing people playing there. I can remember in the early sixties when Chubby Checker was there and my baby sister won a twist contest in her diaper. Every Fourth of July all of my cousins from the upstate would arrive at my grandmothers house and we would all head straight for Folly Beach. We would all have so much fun, and then we would go home and cry all night because we were all sunburned. Thank goodness for Noxema. Folly was a wonderful place for everyone. I had one of my first dates at Folly and it was still the center of everything we did during my high school years. On Prom Night we rented a beach house on Folly and of course we attended the prom–for about 30 minutes and long enough to get our pictures mad and then off for the beach and what we though was the wildest weekend of our lives. Folly is truly a magical place full of wonderful memories for me and my whole family.

  10. My husband was stationed at the Charleston Naval Base and we lived on West Ashley during 1976. As a new bride leaving my home and family in Chicago; beach life was a bit of a culture shock. Needless to say, the shock wore off quick. The wonderful and friendly people of Folly Beach made me feel welcome and at home. I fell in love with the whole being of the Island. I learned many new and exciting things about the beauty of nature and the hospitality of the South. At the end of his enlistment we moved back to the Chicago area but our hearts were always with Folly. Since then, we have had the opportunity to revisit the area several times and last winter we were able to spend an extended stay. The best was that we were able to have our family spend some of the time with us. Sharing all our memories with them; made us feel young again! We told them about the liveliness of the boardwalk and dancing the night away on the Atlantic Pavillion. We described what was where and what was no longer. We had them envisioning the area without the condo’s and mansions; but with single family beach homes. Our family fell in love with Folly Beach and they now know, why it has always been in our hearts. Thank you Folly Beach for all the wonderful memories of old and new. We will be back as soon as we are able.
    Al and Ruthie Miguez

  11. My sister-in-law and I took a road trip with our 3 children, all under the age of 7, from Ohio in 2000 to visit her mom. Little did we know the amazing adventure the next 10 days would bring to our lives. I have been returning 2-3x a year ever since. In Oct of 2007 my oldest daughter was in a terrible car accident. After weeks of prayers and a miracle she was on the road to recovery and all she wanted for Christmas that year was to go back to Folly. She said laying in that hospital bed she didnt think she would ever see it again. I granted her Christmas wish and Folly worked its magic to heal not only her broken body but her broken spirit and soul as well. My marriage didn’t survive the aftermath of the accident but I feel Folly pulling me..almost as if to work its magic on me. My 3 daughters and I have decided to relocate this year to heal as a family. We have all fallen in love with Folly and the low country.My oldest has applied at USC for the fall quarter and we are on track to move in July!! What an impact Folly has had on our lives..we feel like we are coming home…

  12. In 2000 I came with the youth group from our church. The kids worked on service projects in Charleston and I was the cook. Every morning I got up early to fix breakfast and pack lunches before they left early for work. After a quick trip to Food Lion and supper preparations, I had most of the day left to loaf around Folly. I loved the peace and quiet on the beach and the slow pace of the town. I came back in October with my husband and we loved walking the beach, dancing on the pier, riding our bikes from one end to the other, walking to dinner, just hanging out. I hope to come back in less than 10 years.

  13. After my divorce in 1996 I wanted to find a new beach in Charleston that I had no memories of.Divorce changes everything and even the good vacation memories are painful when you are dealing with loss. I felt I had come home when I found Folly Beach.It fit me so much better than other beaches in the area.I brought a new love here the next summer and He too fell in love with Folly.Our first summer together here we witnessed a turtle hatching! We became the Brady Bunch in 2003 on its shores as we committed our life together in marriage.The starfish was our symbol(God’s Grace)for our wedding.On our first anniversary a little starfish came right to our feet as we paused at the water for our picture!Our children really meshed with us as a family through all our trips and now these are our very best memories as we have built our family. Folly is really heaven on earth and really does become a 2nd home!

  14. I fell inlove with Folly on our honeymoon June 13,2010. A dear friend that lives near there told me about this sweet little beach outside of Charleston and that we should go there. I had no idea what we were getting into but I trusted her and man am I glad I did. There is not a day since we left Folly that I don’t talk about it. I will one day retire to that beautiful little piece of heaven. I read everything I can get my hands on about the history of Folly and I look at every photo posted. I day dream about being there. My husband had promised me we will be back for our first anv. So my East Tennesse toes will be where my heart was left soon… in FOLLY!

  15. I have a long time love affair with Folly. My parents lived on James Island when I was born in 1969. My dad took a job in Greenville and we moved when I was two, however, every summer we returned with my entire Charleston family. My very best childhood memories are staying in run-down shacks with no air conditioning on Folly! I celebrated college graduation at the Holiday Inn with friends. It was shortly after Hurrican Hugo and we were the only people staying in the hotel. There was not even beach access as all the steps were gone. The only action was at the biker bar, which we ran past in fear! Picked up a 12 pack at the Island Grocery and had our own room party! Married in 1998 and my husband fell in love with Folly as well. We bought a condo there 5 years ago and spend as much time there as work will allow. There’s truely not a more special place on this earth!

  16. i have been married to my husband for 40 years never been apart but this 2010 i need,ed to get away for a little while so my sister,s an i planed a trip to folley my son an his family had been several times they kept telling me what a great place it was an they were right i loved it there now i am looking forward to talking my husband so he can see what i have been talking about the people were great the food was wonderful we walked up the beach to the light house it was a wonderful time in my life now to make better i will take my husband an make it better

  17. My husband & could not figure out where we wanted to marry at. He knew he wanted to go to Charleston sometime in hte future, but we never thought about it as “OUR SPOT”. It just hit him one day and he said, “Let’s get married on FOLLY beach and have our honeymoon vacation there”. What an awesome idea it was. We married on Folly Beach of May27th, 2008. professional photographer & private wedding. I jumped into the ocean with NEW hubby dress and all… R*O*M*A*N*T*I*C*~ it was. Had champaign on the sands and put footprints in the sands, as we walked hand in hand.
    Our stay was at the Holiday Inn and celebrated at the BLU restaurant. Other than having “BedBugs” in our bed…all else was very nice. We toured Charleston and all of its wonders. It is now our place go every year… and it gets better & better. Thanks FOLLY!!!!!!!!

  18. Summer of 2009 was our first visit to Folly Beach. My 12 year old (at that time) daughter’s very first visit to the ocean. Her and her grandmother has spent many times in the mountains and when she saw went to Folly Beach she told me “Dont tell Nanny but I love Folly Beach so much more than the mountains”. We actually came to visit Charleston and wanted to stay on the beach but little did we know what kind of treasure we had found. We love it at Folly Beach and cant wait to return.

  19. My very first visit to Folly Beach was in the summer of 1951. I was 10. You could still drive down on the beach. Old pier and dance pavillion were still there. Also an amusement park with rides, etc. I came with family and we moved to Riverland Terrace the next summer. After that we were at Folly every Sunday. We moved back to Georgia in 1956, but still came to Folly most years. We now vacation there each and every year with my children and their families. I wouldn’t trade Folly Beach for any other vacation spot on earth.

  20. My first visit was in the early 70’s, I had been to Myrtle Beach before but this was different. Not much traffic and a laid back atmosphere that really made me take notice of how beautiful the area was. No distractions and perfect weather and beach.Folly is the perfect place to see the storms move up the coast, we try to visit at least every other year.

  21. My husband and I discovered Folly Beach in 2005, when we were looking for a quiet, beautiful place to get married by the ocean. We had just moved to South Carolina from Ohio, and weren’t terribly familiar with the area. We happened upon Folly and loved it right away — we got married there on Oct. 23, 2005. We stayed at 315 E. Arctic and had the wedding on the beach behind the house. It was an amazing experience, and I’m so glad we were married with our feet in the sand of Folly Beach.

    Since then, we’ve been back two times: once in 2006, before we moved back to Ohio, and a second time earlier this month, to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary. We were so happy to be back and see how well the area is doing … everything looked fantastic, and the new restaurants that have gone in are wonderful — especially Taco Boy, where we stuffed ourselves silly multiple times. Walking barefoot on the beach each day, watching the surfers and the dolphins play, sleeping with the sounds and smells of the ocean all around … it’s heaven.

    It was genuinely difficult to brush the sand off and say goodbye to Folly. Neither of us realized just how nostalgic we were until we came back this month. It’s a genuinely wonderful place, in so many ways. We miss it already and have already decided to come back for our six-year anniversary celebration.

  22. My families first encounter with Folly was in May of 2003. My in-laws rented a house and brought my wife and two kids with them. We fell in love from the first day. We love the small town feel and the fact we can ride our bikes and don’t have to drive anywhere unless we want to. The beaches are great and they never seem to be very crowded, which we love. The pier is a great place to people watch and I love to fish and talk to the local people there. We also love the Sunday brunch at Locklear’s on the pier. We have been back every year since and have two more children now. One of them actually walked for the first time at Folly. We love Folly and tell everyone about it.

  23. My first visit to Folly was in 1976 when I began attending the College of Charleston. One of my roommates worked just outside the Folly Beach city limits and I often went when she was working. I haven’t looked back since – I love Folly Beach! I still make impromptu escapes to Folly and have never been disappointed!

  24. My first visit to Folly was back in the mid 60’s!!! We had just moved to Charleston from Myrtle Beach. My parents took all 6 of us kids down to Folly to ride on the rides down there. It was such a different time. No condos, not a lot of traffic, not a lot of people. Just fun in the sun and sand.

  25. Started coming to FB with my family in 1950’s(born in 1944). As years went on remember Andre’s(sp?) on the right before crossing bridge into FB where we bought our fishing supplies. They had 2 large collie dogs. Fishing in the channel on north end of FB across from the lighthouse. Crabbing at the end of the groins on low tide. The old Pavilion, Folly Pier and the News Stand. The Amusement Center with ferris wheel, merry go round etc. The bowling alley with small bowling balls. The place on Center street playing Bingo. Good memories and good times.

  26. After being “landlocked” in Colorado for 35 years, we moved here 8/2009. We decided on our 2nd day in our new home to hit the beach. It was “Folly at First Sight”. We arrived with the dogs, late afternoon, but had to wait until no dog curfew was over to actually go on the beach. When we were finally able to feel the sand between our toes and paws, a gigantic storm blew in. Although our time was cut short it was an amazing sight! I had never seen a storm blow in from the ocean! Call us tourists, but we still hit the beach almost every weekend! We love our Folly!

  27. I first visited Folly in 1995 or 1996 while on a trip to Charleston with my mother. After moving to SC in January of 2009, we took our son to Folly for his very first trip to the beach. I fell in love with Folly all over again & it is our favorite beach! My son says he doesn’t even want to check out other beaches “because Folly is the best beach in the world!”

  28. I started coming to Folly before I can remember. It is in the family blood-my grandma used to come out in the 30’s. I have seen so many changes on Folly. Most for the best. I still love going out there even for a winter beach walk. Heck – I love the place so much I named my 15 year old cat Folly!

  29. We decided to celebrate my parent’s 50th on the ocean so I started researching the area online from land locked Iowa. A lot of our friends vacation on Kiawah and Hilton Head but Folly drew my attention. It sounded much more relaxed and I loved the idea that it was the ‘locals’ beach. We arrived August of 2010 and fell in love. No place has gotten under my skin as your beach and town has done. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of the breeze and water. Ahh, Folly – we’ll be back soon!

  30. I was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. When I was 17 years old, I had the opportunity to travel all over the country. The first place I went was Charleston, SC. I first saw Folly on a little week long vacation to Charleston. I had fallen in love. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I really got to see Folly and explore all it has to offer. I no longer live there, but it’s still my favorite place in the world. Given the opportunity, I’d go back in a heart beat.

  31. I fell in love with Folly Beach in the spring of 2008 when my husband and I drove our two children from Cleveland to Charleston to visit my Granddaddy. He took us to Folly Beach and showed us the street he grew up on as a kid and then told us stories about taking my dad there. My dad passed away several years ago, and hearing the stories and walking along the beach where I know he played as a kid made me feel connected to my dad in a very special way. We’ve been back three times since then. Folly Beach has now become a special place for my kids as well.

  32. Labor Day, 2006… Introduced to my beloved Folly by a friend. Visited from Mt P for a couple of years. Moved to that magical island on Jan 1, 2008. There until the call of home was too strong… November 18, 2011. Am thrilled to be home, but know I can always return. Thanks, friend, for introducing me to the island and the lighthouse. 🙂 always

  33. The earliest memories I have were of the beach(Carolina Beach, NC). After having moved into the area, I found myself visiting Folly Beach more often than I was even staying at my home. I found myself reliving those precious memories of old and making new memories with new friends. I’m proud to say I have been living on Folly Beach since May and here, I will stay.

  34. I have been going to Folly Beach my entire life. My father grew up on James Island and his sister (my aunt) still lives in the house they grew up in. I remember spending every summer and Christmas through New Years there. Folly Beach was my dad’s favorite place on earth. Every morning he would wake up bright and early and we’d be out there until late afternoon. Before he died in 2002, he told me that he always felt at home on Folly. After his death, we scattered his ashes on 6th St. where he always hung out. Even now, nearly 10 years after his death, I can feel his presence at Folly. My son, who never got to meet his Grandfather, loves Folly beach and every summer always begs to return. So many memories have been made on Folly, and my family returns year after year!

  35. I first saw Folly when I was 9 yrs. old. I had a grandmother that lived in Charleston. My father would bring us down from Virginia every year to see her and we would stay at Folly. These trips started a life long love affair with FB. It is 50 years later. Going now has gotten more difficult because it is hard to afford for someone on a limited income, even when sharing the cost with my sisters. But, as soon as Spring starts to arrive, I get the FB itch. The tradition of going has been carried on by our children and now our grandchildren. Last summer, I “baptized” my tiny grandson into the Folly tradition with Folly water.

  36. July 4th weekend 2011. Has become my most favorite beach vacation ever! Will continue to come back as often as I can afford to. Just an AWESOME PLACE!!! Went with my mom and fiance. We did get married this year and so much wanted to do so on Folly but things didn’t work in our favor. Maybe our anniversary!!! Love Ya Folly Beach.

  37. When I visited College of Charleston as a senior in high school in 1998.  My dad, stepmom, two sisters and my mom all visited with me and we ate at the  restaurant on the pier.  It was a really windy, rainy night, but we took some of my favorite pictures with my little sister there.  It will always be my favorite beach when we visit the area.

  38. I interviewed for a job in Charleston back in December of 1989.  I thought what would help me make up my mind is what I thought of the beaches.  My idea of a nice beach is if I can find shells.  As I drove by the washout, from my car I could see a big shell lying on the beach.  I knew this was going to be the beach for me.  Of course, that was back in the day when it didn’t cost you a fortune to walk on the beach.

  39. My husband was assigned to Joint Base Charleston in March of 2010 though December 2010.  Our first beach we visited was Folly, and only visited one other, but ALWAYS went to Folly.  It became out weekend retreat and our ‘let’s go for a walk on the beach this evening” place to go.  We made a lot of memories there, and I miss it SO much.  It was the first time I had moved away from my family, and I would go there and just walk and find peace, a peace I can say I have never found anywhere else.  I feel like Folly was there for me with her open arms, soothing my soul on days I thought were not possible.  For that I will always be grateful.  I hope to go back, soon.  I keep dropping hints to my husband that as soon as he is back from his Deployment, and the kids are out of school, he should put in for a transfer and move back.  It makes sense, right?

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