As the vibrant hues of autumn take over the landscape, Charleston, South Carolina, emerges as an enchanting destination for a fall weekend getaway in 2023. With its historic allure, captivating architecture, and a delightful blend of culture and relaxation, Charleston offers a splendid escape that promises a memorable experience. From exploring the cobblestone streets of historic downtown to basking in the mild October weather and indulging in beachside activities, this charming city has it all.
One of the highlights of visiting Charleston in the fall is the delightful weather. By October, there’s a good chance that the stifling summer heat has subsided, giving way to milder temperatures that are perfect for exploring the city on foot. With highs ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s°F (24-28°C) and pleasantly cool evenings, you can comfortably enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about the sweltering heat. Pack a light jacket or sweater for the evenings, and you’ll be all set to enjoy Charleston’s fall ambiance.
Lace up your shoes and head out for a stroll
Stepping foot in historic downtown Charleston is like entering a living history book. As you wander through cobblestone streets lined with colorful antebellum houses, you’ll be transported back in time to an era of Southern elegance and charm. The historic district is brimming with well-preserved architecture, quaint shops, and an abundance of. Take a guided walking tour to learn about the city’s rich history, from its role in the American Revolution to the Civil War and beyond.
Step inside a hidden garden
A celebration of architecture, history and gardens, this beloved event takes you inside some of Charleston’s most iconic historic homes and intricate gardens. Each year, for one month only, the Preservation Society of Charleston invites you to get up close and personal with some of Charleston’s oldest and most exquisite homes. During “The Fall Tours: Architecture, History and Gardens” you can step inside private homes and gardens, ordinarily closed to the public, and walk through history.
Take a step back in time
Aside from the taking in the sights and sounds of historic downtown Charleston by foot, Charleston is also a hub for cultural experiences from incredible art galleries to world-class museums. The Charleston Museum is notable as the oldest museum in the United States. The Gibbes Museum of Art showcases Southern art and Lowcountry history, offering a unique perspective on the region’s artistic heritage.
In early 2023, Charleston, celebrated the opening the International African American Museum as a fitting addition to its historic landscape. Situated at the Gadsden Wharf, where countless enslaved Africans disembarked, the museum stands as a powerful testament to resilience and history. The museum’s compelling exhibits narrate the African American journey, from the depths of the Middle Passage to the heights of cultural contributions. Through immersive displays, interactive installations, and personal stories, visitors gain profound insights into the rich tapestry and enduring legacy of the African American experience.
Slip on your flip flops and head to the beach
No trip to Charleston would be complete without spending time at its pristine beaches. Head to Folly Beach or Isle of Palms, where you can sink your toes into the soft sand, soak up the sun, and listen to the soothing sound of the waves. Cast a line from one of the popular fishing piers, or even try your hand at paddleboarding or kayaking. As the sun sets over the ocean, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking display of colors that paints the sky. You’ll find great dining options offering up coastal fare at both of these oceanfront communities.
Located on the iconic fishing pier of Folly Beach, Pier 101 serves up family friendly plates for the whole group. Sit inside or outside on the pier, enjoy ocean views, sea breezes, and watch the sky dance in vibrant colors as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find some of Folly Beach’s top restaurant’s located along Center Street, including Taco Boy, Jack of Cups, Rita’s Seaside Grill or Lost Dog Cafe. Head over to Dolce Banana Cafe for ice cream and frozen treats and for the cherry on top of a fun night on Folly, take a cone of your favorite flavor for a stroll on the beach.
This island paradise just a short drive from downtown Charleston is a favorite among kiteboarders who flock to Breach Inlet where the winds are reliably brisk year round. In addition to six miles of beaches, Isle of Palms includes a quaint downtown retail and dining district along Ocean Boulevard. Popular restaurants and cafes along this stretch of the island offer a wide variety of delicious seafood and other local specialties, including Coda del Pesce, Coconut Joes Beach Grill, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen and the locally loved Sea Biscuit Cafe, that serves up only breakfast, but is well worth the wait!
Nothing says fall in the South like a coastal fair
The October weather makes this the perfect time to celebrate fall at the fair, and there’s plenty for everybody to do at this favorite, family-friendly fair. Held in nearby Ladson, SC, just an easy 25 minute drive from the downtown Charleston peninsula, this is a fun-filled, small town fair filled with food, rides and entertainment. From the recognizable ferris wheel, to fiddler competitions, 4-H events, arcade games and cotton candy, The Coastal Carolina Fair is a fun-filled destination for kids – big and small alike.
Stay in Luxury
A fall weekend trip to Charleston, SC promises a blend of historic charm, cultural richness, and coastal beauty. With its historic downtown, captivating museums, mild October weather, and inviting beaches, Charleston beckons travelers to experience the very best of the Lowcountry. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking relaxation by the sea, Charleston is the ideal destination to create lasting memories against the backdrop of a picturesque Southern fall. Book a stay at any of our luxury vacation homes in the heart of Downtown Charleston or on Folly Beach, Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island and be that much closer to having your toes in the sand. The team at Luxury Simplified Retreats goes above and beyond to offer guests an outstanding experience with beautiful beach rentals and unparalleled concierge services. Browse our Experience Packages to consider making your trip especially unique, then sit back, relax, and leave all of the planning to us.
What is your ideal day at the beach? A big umbrella and a good book? Boogie boarding and sand castles? Wading in the waves? Whether you are planning a day trip or a weeklong summer stay, the top beaches to visit in Charleston SC include these four easily accessible public beaches, each with its own unique scene and amenities. Locals tend to visit the beach closest to their home (for obvious reasons), which means the beaches often mirror the communities that border them, but no matter where you are staying in Charleston, you’re always just a few minutes from putting your toes in the sand.
Isle of Palms
Across the intercostal waterway from Mount Pleasant awaits Isle of Palms (lovingly referred to by locals as just “IOP”). Ocean Boulevard is home to a several local beachfront restaurants serving up tasty food with a view. With the Isle of Palms County Park offering convenient parking, beachfront lifeguards, public restrooms and other amenities, IOP is frequented by families of all sizes. And beyond lounging on the sand, you’ll find countless fishermen on the pier just waiting to reel in the catch of the day. Isle of Palms offers a lot for families to do and is one of the most popular beach destinations in Charleston.
Affectionately known by locals as “funky Folly” for its laid back vibes, Folly Beach offers a classic, casual beach experience. The iconic fishing pier, home to local eatery Pier 101, is the perfect place to take in the panoramic ocean views and look back at the island’s shore. The pier and surrounding beach are part of Folly Beach County Park, which offers amenities including lifeguard supervision, beach patrol, public restrooms, snack bar and equipment rentals (beach chair/umbrella, fishing tackle, etc.). A short way down the beach surfing hotspot ‘The Washout’ draws amateurs and pro’s alike with some of the best surf in the Carolina’s.
Though it is the smallest of Charleston’s area beaches, Sullivan’s Island beach is among the most pristine. Less frequented than other area beaches, it’s often uncrowded, ideal for morning walks on the beach, or picnics on the sand with views of the Ravenel Bridge. With nearly a dozen local restaurants right off the beach – from tacos and margaritas at Mex 1 Coastal Cantina or dinner at the eclectic Poe’s Tavern – it’s no wonder Sullivan’s is a favorite for local Charlestonians. The island is also home to Fort Moultrie and the iconic Sullivan’s Island lighthouse (commonly called “Charleston Light”), which has the distinction of being among the country’s most modern lighthouses. Fully operational, it serves not only to guide ships safely to shore but also as a reminder of Charleston’s role as a bustling seaport importing and exporting food, goods, and tourists daily.
Beachwalker Park Kiawah Island
A picturesque drive just south of downtown Charleston, Kiawah Island Beach is a tranquil and serene retreat complete with winding oak trees, marsh views, and coastal landscape. As Kiawah Island is a private, gated community, Beachwalker County Park is one of the best kept local secrets – it’s open to the public, with everything you need from lifeguards to changing rooms, showers, handicap access, and plenty of shade. If you’re heading out for a long walk on the beach, make sure you bring a bag or bucket to collect the many sand dollars you’ll find along the way.
Stay in luxury
Choose your favorite beach, or explore them all and discover a few of Charleston’s treasures and secrets along the way. Don’t forget to pack all the beach bag essentials for your fun day on the sand! Book a stay at any of our luxury vacation homes in the heart of Downtown Charleston or on Folly Beach, Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island and be that much closer to having your toes in the sand. The team at Luxury Simplified Retreats goes above and beyond to offer guests an outstanding experience with beautiful beach rentals and unparalleled concierge services. Browse our Experience Packages to consider making your trip especially unique, then sit back, relax, and leave all of the planning to us.
If you see a beach vacation in your near future, consider packing your bags and and planning to take an unforgettable road trip to Folly Beach. If you live in the southeast, Folly Beach is already close to some of the coastal beaches you might already be familiar with or have traveled to on family vacations for years. While it may be a bit further if you reside in the northeast or the midwest, you can still easily make the drive in one day.
Folly Beach is one of the barrier islands that surround Charleston Harbor, so while you’re sure to enjoy all the sunshine and surf that comes with a beach vacation, you also get all of the charm, history, shopping and dining in historic, downtown Charleston, all wrapped into one amazing vacation. From world class Charleston restaurants like FIG, Husk or The Ordinary, to horse-drawn carriage tours, Revolutionary War sites, and breathtaking gardens, you’ll find that a day spent in the city is a nice addition to your beach vacation.
For more information about the some of the top destinations in the Charleston area, request a free copy of our Insider’s Guide for fresh, local insight!
Planning the Perfect Vacation starts with a Map
How to Get There
Getting to Folly Beach is a breeze. The major interstates that serve South Carolina, from the Upstate to the Midlands and the Pee Dee region, all make for easy, direct access to Folly Beach. Summertime means it’s peach season in SC, and you’ll want to allow extra time for your trip to explore the back roads and stop at some of the popular farm stands along the way to grab a bushel of ripe, juicy peaches, watermelons, tomatoes and even okra for true southern flavors. Whether your travels take you on I-40, I-77, or I-95 all will connect you to I-26 E to downtown Charleston.From there, it’s a quick jaunt over the Ashley River and you’ll be on Folly Road in no time.
Top things to do Once you Arrive
Get out on the Water
Whether you’re interested in trying a new watersport or hoping to just relax by the ocean, you’ll find no shortage of things to do on Folly! Some of our favorite ways to get out on the water include:
- Relaxing on the beach.
- Casting your line off the fishing pier.
- Cruising with a local boat or kayak charter.
- Taking surfing lessons.
- Sailing along the Folly River.
- Trying SUP for the first time.
Have Fun with the Family
Spend quality time with the people who matter most. Folly Beach sets the scene for an incredible family vacation. Here are some tips to ensure you make tons of memories:
- Don’t overpack. Our concierge team is happy to help with things like ensuring your rental is baby-proofed, and stocked with everything you need for your family’s arrival.
- Let us lend a hand in pre-booking all your activities (such as your visit to the aquarium, boat tours, and dinner reservations) to ensure you can squeeze in everything you want to do during your stay.
- Always have snacks on hand, as days spent on the beach and in the water just naturally seem to burn energy a little quicker and someone is sure to declare “I’m hungry”
- Sun protection is a must. Bring sunscreen, wear hats, and stay cool in the shade when you can. Charleston summers are hot. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than an excruciating sunburn!
Plan a day to Explore Historic Downtown Charleston
One of the best things about staying on Folly Beach is simply it’s close proximity to Downtown Charleston. We recommend setting aside a day or two to fully experience the Holy City:
- Stroll through the Charleston City Market.
- Peruse impressive exhibits at local museums and galleries.
- Enjoy breathtaking views from Riley Waterfront Park.
- Grab a tasty cup of coffee.
- Check out the best vegetarian restaurants on the peninsula.
Dine at the Best Restaurants
A stay on Folly means you won’t necessarily have to leave the island to find some of the best food in the Charleston area. We know exactly where to eat on Folly Beach. Here are some of our favorite restaurants:
Stay in Elegant Accommodations Right on the Beach
To complete the perfect getaway for your road trip vacation to Folly Beach after a long day on the road, you’ll appreciate arriving at a vacation rental to call home during your visit. Luxury Simplified Retreats goes above and beyond to offer guests an outstanding experience with beautiful beach rentals and unparalleled concierge services. Browse our Experience Packages to consider making your trip especially unique, then select your favorite vacation rental from our impressive portfolio. You’re going to love Folly Beach’s laid-back, small-town vibes. We can’t wait to host you!
While Charleston, SC is known for its hospitality, it’s incredibly dog-friendly too! Whether you live locally or simply like to bring Rover along when you travel, the walkability and mild climate in Charleston make it a popular destination for spending time outdoors with your pooch. Charleston has a strict leash law in place, and good dog-manners are a “must have,” but if there’s a restaurant with a patio or porch, your dog is more than likely welcome — though it’s always a good idea to call ahead. But if you’re planning on bringing your dog to one of our beautiful beaches and giving your pup the full sun, sand and surf experience there are a few rules to know, and it starts with being a responsible pet owner and always cleaning up after your pet.
Folly Beach loves its pups! Many restaurants have outdoor spaces for you to dine al fresco with your dog by your side. However, if you’re looking for a fun walk on the beach, know that dogs are not allowed on the beach from 10am to 6pm from May 1st to September 30th. At all other times, dogs are welcome but must remain on the leash or under voice control.
If you’re looking for alternatives when the beach is too packed, there’s a dog park located on the island at 512 E Erie Ave!
Known as the widest beach in the Charleston area, Sullivan’s Island is a dog’s playground with tidal pools and expansive beach! However, all dogs, including those of both residents and visitors, must have a dog permit from the Town of Sullivan’s Island. Non-resident permits are $50 per dog annually and resident permits are $25 annually. Permits are issued at Town Hall at 1610 Middle Street. Make sure you have proof of your rabies vaccine as well!
Summer hours for dogs on the beach run from May 1st to September 30th. During that time dogs can be off leash from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., on leash from 6:00 p.m. to 5 a.m. No dogs are permitted on the beach between the hours of 10:00 a.m and 6:00 pm. Winter hours for dogs on the beach run from October 1st to April 30th. During that time dogs can be off leash from 5:00 a.m. to noon and on leash from Noon to 5:00 a.m.
Isle of Palms
The City of Isle of Palms recommends you obtain a dog permit if you plan to have your dog on the beach. Permits are free of charge, and you must have proof of up-to-date rabies inoculation signed by a licensed veterinarian.
Dogs are allowed to be off-leash during summer hours, from 5am to 9am from April 1st through September 14th and then for winter hours, 4pm to 10am beginning September 15th to March 31st. If you’re on the beach during other hours, just make sure your dog is on the leash!
You can also visit the spacious dog park on Isle of Palms located behind the Recreation Department at 24 28th Avenue.
Pet Safety Beach Tips
Remember, if it’s hot at the beach for you, your dog will be extra toasty underneath all their fur! Limit the time your dog has on the beach and make sure you provide plenty of water throughout the day. Additionally, never leave your dog in the car. Within minutes, a car can reach dangerous temperatures.
If you’re planning a Charleston vacation and wonder if you should bring your dog, we’ve put together some tips to help you and your furry friends have the best vacation possible. Whether they’re sniffing their way through charming and historic downtown Charleston SC or splashing in the waves and digging in the sand on Folly Beach, your dog will be happy that you brought them along – after all, their favorite place in the world is wherever you are! So grab their leash and book one of our pup-friendly luxury vacation rentals today.