Just 11 miles from South Carolina’s downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is more eclectic than nearby waterfront resorts, and also known as the “edge of America” to locals. Additionally, the coastal area boasts a pristine beach, a mild climate year-round, and plenty of attractions for families with children. A vacation rental in Folly Beach gives you a front row seat to the daily rise and fall of the tides, as well as a rare chance to experience the area the same way locals do. Here are a few of the most popular activities to try in and around Folly Beach so you can leave with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

1. Fish from the Pier

Grab a rod and reel and join the cadre of anglers fishing from the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier, a 1,045 feet long, 25-foot wide, diamond shaped pier that sits 23 feet above sea level and offers some of the best salt-water fishing in the area. This is no mere wooden extension into the water. The Folly Beach Pier provides fishermen with rod and reel rentals, a tackle shop, restaurant, rest rooms, and showers. The pier also hosts various fishing tournaments and special events throughout the year.

2. Spot Endangered Whales

Take a boat for a whale watching cruise, or stake out a place on the pier to try to spot North Atlantic right whales, an endangered whale that is the state animal of South Carolina (and Georgia), and that follows a seasonal migratory pattern along the Folly Beach coast. You may also see grey and sperm whales, sharks, dolphins, and other large marine life. For whale watching or sightseeing cruises, contact Island Hopper Boat Charters, Flipper Finders Boat & Sea Kayak Tour Co., or Tideline Tours.

3. Catch a Wave

Grab a board, some wax, and catch a wave at this up and coming location on the East Coast surf scene. Folly Beach has generally calm waters, but is becoming an increasingly popular Atlantic surf location, with numerous points along the beach serving as surf locations. The most popular spots include the Washout, 10th Street, and the Folly Beach Pier. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring a board – Folly Beach has numerous surf shops willing to rent boards to vacationers. Try McKevlin’s Surf Shop for board rentals, or Folly Beach Surf Lessons if you want some instruction too.

4. Dance the Night Away

Revisit the Folly Beach Pier for a night of dancing under the stars and over the ocean with the Moonlight Mixer every summer from mid-May to mid-September. This activity may not be for very young children, but is something fun to do for families with teenagers. The music and dancing are from 7 to 11 p.m. This is a great chance to burn off some extra energy, meet some new friends, and see the pier at night.

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5. Climb the Walls

Make a quick trip to James Island County Park and check out the rock climbing wall, a 50-foot wall with more than 4,500 square feet of climbing space, 14 top ropes, and two lead climbing walls. The professional staff is there to help with safety matters and instruction, making this an event that is suitable for all ages.

6. Learn Up on History

Reserve a day for a history lesson while you’re in the cradle of the American Civil War. It was at nearby Fort Sumter that rebel troops fired the first shots of the war at the Union troops stationed there. A bit closer to the beach is a site known on the National Register of Historic Places as the North Folly Site, or Little Folly Island, an archeological site that houses the remains of two batteries that Union troops built in 1863 as they prepared to retake Charleston. Afterward, tour the Secessionville Historic District, a strip that spans Folly Beach into Charleston that features a selection of antebellum homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The district is also the location of the battlefield on which the Battle of Secessionville was fought, an 1862 battle in which Confederate troops defeated the Union’s one and only attempt to retake Charleston by land. The site also houses an unmarked grave for over 300 Union troops and the remains of Fort Lamar, named after the victorious colonel.

7. Explore the Island by Bike or Boat

Tour the island and explore its natural beauty and the characteristics that the sea lends to the locale. Bicycling is the best way to cover a lot of ground and gives you a chance to catch some exercise, go at your own pace, and get up close to everything. Bicycle rentals are available at the marina and at shops along the beach, such as Folly Beach Rentals. Paddle boats and kayaks are other options for a day of exploration. Rent paddle boats and kayaks at North Charleston Wannamer Park at the pier.

8. Visit the Leaning Tower

Not the one in Italy, but the lighthouse on Morris Island. Built in 1872, this is the third lighthouse erected on this site. Look carefully and you should notice it leans slightly to the northeast, believed to be due to an earthquake that hit the region in 1886. Access to the lighthouse is through an inlet at the end of East Ashley Avenue, or via the beach.

9. Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark

Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark is located within North Charleston Wannamaker County Park and features 13-acres of water-related attractions. Take young children to splash and swim in the Otter Bay kiddie pool featuring a six-lane slide, or the Lily Pad Lagoon for toddlers. For bigger kids and adults, try the Big Kahuna, a 27,000 square foot wave pool, or the 6-lane Rip Tide Run waterslide. There are also relaxation areas, an interactive multi story water-tree house, and more. For families with children, this is one of the most fun things to do.

10. Take in a Sunset or a Moonlit Stroll

Take the rare chance to visit the beach for sunset once the tides have changed and the population has dwindled far below what it is in the afternoon. View it from the convenience of the pier or by stroll along the shore for an excellent opportunity to catch glimpses of some birds and reptiles feeding, and collecting the fresh supply of sea shells and shark teeth that the changing tide has just deposited.

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