For residents of this barrier island off Charleston, winter at Folly Beach means an end to the throngs of tourists that clog up the bars and stores, sand and surf on this tiny spit of sand.
For you, winter means a glimpse of real life on Folly Beach, where locals love to surf, sip on signature frozen concoctions and enjoy the musical acts at the few bars and restaurants that exist here on “the Edge of America.”
Life is slower and simpler at Folly. You can take a dolphin cruise with the Flipper Finders company, spend an afternoon reading a book and drinking lattes at Black Magic Café, stroll the shores for shells or get a true taste of grassroots at the high-season farmer’s market. Just be sure the end of the day includes one of these great opportunities for a drink.
THE SURF BAR
A weather-beaten white building offers you indoor/outdoor drinking options and great rotating craft beers. But the real reason you head to Surf Bar is not for the excellent Beach Wings (with butter and Old Bay) or the Magic Hat No. 9 on tap. You head here for the live music, which rolls in weekly. The place offers a great range, from reggae to classic rock, soul to jazz, bluegrass and Americana. All the music is free.
DRINK: Surf Bar’s take on the classic Tiki cocktail, The Painkiller. It will set you back $6.50
DETAILS: 103 W. Cooper Ave.; 843-588-2009; http://surfbarfollybeach.com
Part warehouse of Mexican kitsch, part airy cantina, this place serves the best drink on the entire island — the Frozen Driver. It’s a fresh orange juice frozen Screwdriver, served with Grand Marnier for an additional $2. The upcharge brings your total to $8 and it’s definitely worth it, even in winter. For your second order, request a tequila flight. Depending on the brands you opt to taste, it’s an affordable lesson at $11-$22.
DETAILS: 15 Center St.; 843-588-9761; http://www.tacoboy.net; closed Monday-Tuesday in the off-season.
Just across the road from Taco Boy, you’ll find the small-but-strong Drop-In Deli, where you can kind of have-it-all in terms of food, drink and entertainment. There’s a weekly trivia night, a roster of rotating bands, a local gal named Lisa rolls sushi at a bar in the front Tuesday through Friday evenings. At the main bar, you can pick your poison — from cold Pacifico by the bottle to their Death at The Drop-In, which is a splash of Grand Marnier in a glass of bubbly ($7).
DETAILS: 32-B Center St.; 843-633-0234; http://dropindeli.com