Folly Beach, South Carolina is one of America’s last true beach towns. Just minutes from historic downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is a 12 square mile barrier island that is packed with things to do, see and eat. This is a funky, laid-back, come-as-you-are kind of beach. The pace is invitingly slow, the people are captivatingly unique and the shops and restaurants will receive you with good old fashioned southern charm and hospitality. It won’t take long for you to feel right at home.

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River, visitors enjoy six miles of wide beaches, surfing, fishing, biking, kayaking, boating, eco-tours, and sea-wildlife including several endangered species. The sunsets on Folly are legendary, so make sure you have plenty of space on your camera or smart phone … seriously, free up lots of space!

A few steps from the beach, downtown Folly features an eclectic array of locally owned stores and restaurants. Fun bohemian clothing, beach knick-knacks and surf shops are mixed with fantastic seafood restaurants, casual cafes and one-of-a-kind bars. With live music coming from all directions and fruity cocktails calling your name, your cares will melt away as you become lost in the Folly lifestyle. And when the sun goes down, Center Street becomes a lively mix of beach-casual nightlife and rooftop dance clubs.

Whether you need a beach front home for 20 or a romantic room for the two of you, Folly Beach is the perfect spot for vacations, reunions, beach weddings, or just a quick weekend get-away. Come visit us at ‘The Edge of America’ … you’ll love life on the edge.


Folly Beach is also home to “The Porgy House”, a cottage on the island where Charleston authors Dubose and Dorothy Heyward lived in the 1930’s.

In June of 1934, American composer and pianist, George Gershwin came to town to write an opera based off of Dubose’s novel, Porgy. Porgy is the story of a crippled black man named Porgy and his love for a beautiful but undisciplined Bess.

Gershwin stayed at a beachfront cabin near the Heywards and spent most of his summer at their house writing the music for the opera, “Porgy and Bess”. Although the cabin that Gershwin stayed in was destroyed by a hurricane a few years after his visit, the Heywards’ house still stands and almost looks exactly as it did when they Heywards lived there.

You can now find a directional sign for the “Porgy House” on the Center Street sign post on Folly Beach. You can also visit The Charleston Museum to see the piano that Gershwin wrote the music for “Porgy and Bess” on. “Porgy and Bess” still remains an all-time classic musical and the summer of 1934 will always be a memorable part of Folly’s history.


Want to leave your mark on Folly and help raise money for Center Street at the same time? Consider buying engraved bricks to honor your family, loved ones, pets, neighbors, and friends. The bricks will be laid in the newly-landscaped median between Ashley and Arctic and then along Center Street from City Hall to the Community Center. Bricks come in two sizes: 4×8 ($75) and 8×8 ($150). For more information and to purchase your brick, please visit the online purchase page.

Click Here to Purchase A Brick

Driving Distance From Major Cities:

Myrtle Beach


The history of Folly Beach Island is a story of pirates, shipwrecks, soldiers, and dancing. It is a story of the hardships and hurricanes that have shaped a thriving beachside community.

Folly Island was named after its coastline which was once densely packed with trees and undergrowth, as the Old English name for such an area was “Folly.” The first official document that mentions the island is a land grant from King William III to William Rivers that dates to September 9, 1696. The island had little commercial use to Mr. Rivers so he eventually sold it. For many years ownership was passed through a series of owners who did not reside on the island. Even through this period of essentially absentee ownership, Folly Island was not deserted. The island was home to members of the Bohicket tribe, who remained until the increasing number of Europeans in Charleston forced them to move elsewhere.

The island was also a temporary home to many people who found themselves here quite unexpectedly. These were the survivors of the shipwrecks that occurred regularly in the ocean off Folly Beach. One such group was the 120 sailors and passengers who made it to shore after the wreck of the Amelia in 1832. Their stay took a turn for the worse when officials on Folly in Charleston blocked access to and from the island and put a stop to any supplies because some of the survivors had cholera.

During the Civil War, Folly was occupied by Federal troops beginning in 1863. Despite the the jungle-like foliage, the soldiers constructed roads, forts, an artillery battery, and a supply depot. Eventually Folly Island had the capacity to hold up to 13,000 troops and their equipment. The Federal army used Folly Island as its main strategic base for the battle to take Fort Sumter.

In May 1987 construction workers discovered 14 bodies at the western end of Folly Beach. A subsequent investigation by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology established that the remains were of soldiers from the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. The 55th Regiment was joined on Folly by the 54th Regiment, made popular in the movie Glory. What was surprising, however, was that 12 of the bodies did not have skulls and other body parts. The bodies also had no obvious signs of battle injuries. Nobody knows why the bodies were buried this way. It’s a great mystery in the history of the Civil War!

After the Civil War, Folly Beach Island was virtually abandoned. But interest slowly arose in what some people began to realize was an island beach retreat in close proximity to a major city. Folly became a melting pot for the regular folks and temporary camps became permanent camps, became cottages.
From the 1940s onward, the building work steadily proceeded, reaching a peak in the 1960s with the construction of the Ocean Plaza with its amusement rides, boardwalk, shops and pier. The Folly Pier was a musical hub for the greater community with all the big bands playing the Folly Pier from Glenn Miller to Maurice Williams. People from all over the country developed a love for the community that is, more than most, a people’s beach.

One of the most famous people to visit Folly Beach Island during these years was the composer and pianist, George Gershwin. It was while staying here that he composed the classic opera Porgy and Bess.
Although only nine families actually made the island their permanent home, the construction of the Atlantic Pavilion, the Pier, the Boardwalk and the Oceanfront Hotel were clear evidence that holidaymakers were attracted to the area.

Hurricane Hugo hit Folly Beach and neighboring communities in 1989, destroying many coastal beaches and damaging homes. In true Folly spirit, the community banded together and recovered quickly.
The City of Folly Beach is now home to 2400 residents and countless numbers of visitors who come to enjoy this laid-back beach community full of great food, relaxing beaches, and a quaint charm unlike anywhere else in the world!

Source: Folly Beach, A Brief History, Gretchen Stringer Robinson


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