Weekend on Folly Beach, S.C., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Often called the “Edge of America,” Folly Beach is an ideal spot to relax and reconnect. Its 6 miles of wide beaches, solid surfing, eclectic neighborhoods, and community of locally owned restaurants and shops make it a place of natural beauty and bohemian attitude. It’s located just 15 miles from downtown Charleston.
Getting there: From Atlanta, the drive time is about 5.5 hours. Round-trip sale rates from $300; nonstop Delta Air Lines.
Stay: Beachside Bed & Breakfast offers three unique themed rooms (double or queen bedding) and a private detached bungalow that was rescued from the west side of the island. The proprietors use reclaimed objects to design their inn. Guest amenities include use of beach cruiser bicycles, fire pit, hammocks, plush robes, continental breakfast and weekend wine and cheese hour. Rates from $129. 107 E. Erie. 843-633-0184, http://follybeachsidebb.com.
Eat: Once a laundromat, Lost Dog Cafe serves up soups, sandwiches, salads, wraps, breakfast burritos, burgers — and dogs (up to $10). This laid-back beach cafe is open 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (until 2 p.m. Sundays). 106 W. Huron Ave. 843-588-9669, www.lostdogfollybeach.com.
Experience: Surround yourself in an endless sea of spartina grass within stunning estuaries and the endless maze of oyster-lined tidal creeks — home for several fish, bird and mammal species, including bottlenose dolphins. A two-hour Salt Marsh Adventure includes a beachcombing stop on historic Morris Island; $45 adults, $30 ages 12 and under. 103 E. Cooper Ave. 843-813-5009, www.tidelinetours.com.
Stay: Tides Folly Beach is just steps away from the Folly Beach Fishing Pier. Newly renovated guest rooms have ocean views, semi-private patio, hard-surface flooring, tray ceilings, recessed lighting and granite bath counters. Amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, heated outdoor pool, a poolside Starbucks and a casual bar/lounge. Rates from $120 (two-week advance booking). When booking directly by phone, ask for additional discounts on stays through February. 1 Center St. 843-588-6464, www.tidesfollybeach.com.
Eat: Join the locals at Planet Follywood, a beach bar and restaurant, serving the best burgers and cold beverages ($6-$14). 32-A Center St. 843-588-7380, www.planetfollywood.com.
Experience: Learn to look for the perfect wave, how to navigate among other surfers, and in a short time you’ll be surfing. Any age can learn with a qualified instructor. Advanced instruction can take you to the next level. A private 10-15-minute orientation and one-hour “riding” is $45 per person. 1 Center St. (in front of the Tides Hotel). 843-452-5293, www.charlestonsurflessons.com.
Stay: Guests enjoy home-style organic breakfasts; daily Happy Hour (4-7 p.m.) with beer, wine, Folly Punch and light hors d’oeuvres; use of a 24-hour hot tub overlooking the marsh; golf cart shuttle service to the beach and local restaurants at the tranquil Water’s Edge Inn. Accommodations feature a screened porch or balcony and gas fireplace. Inn rooms from $160; three-bedroom villas from $400. Refer to code WINTERTIME for additional savings on stays through February. The inn can accommodate children over the age of 12 in the inn (no age restrictions in the villas). 79 Second St. W. 843-588-9800, www.innatfollybeach.com.
Eat: Located within the Tides Hotel, BLU Restaurant & Bar’s menu is dominated by sustainable seafood, regional flavors and local ingredients. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Choose from the a la carte Sunday brunch menu (11 a.m.-2 p.m.): build your own omelets ($10); Crab Benedict ($13.50) and $4 bloody marys, mimosas and Bellinis. 1 Center St. 843-588-6658, www.blufollybeach.com.
Experience: Take an easy guided kayak 2.5-hour tour through Blackwater Cypress Swamp, one of South Carolina’s most mysterious ecosystems. Migratory ducks, raptors, herons, woodpeckers, owls, white tail deer, and wild pigs are just a few of the animals that are often spotted while kayaking beneath cypress and tupelo trees towering up to 100 feet. Seasonal flooding of the swamp limits this tour offering to the months of February-early May; $65. Tours depart from Middleton Place (www.middletonplace.org) — a 40-minute drive from Folly Beach. 4290 Ashley River Road, Charleston. 843-628-2879, http://charlestonkayakcompany.com.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.