Fall Getaway to Folly Beach & Charleston, SC

Fall Getaway to Folly Beach & Charleston, SC

The Restoration, a AAA Four Diamond property, offers incredible views of Charleston.
Fall Getaway to Folly Beach & Charleston, SC
Outside NY
Elizabeth Carey

Travelers across the U.S. have been taking advantage of the “off season” and making the most of fall travel. According to a recent survey from AAA, more than one in four Americans (28 percent) was planning a vacation this year between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

I’m happy to say that I was one of them. I enjoyed my first visit to South Carolina – taking in sites in Folly Beach and Charleston.

AAA asked travelers what benefits they enjoy with fall trips and these are the top responses:

  • Fewer crowds and children (68 percent);
  • Weather that is more favorable (63 percent); and,
  • The opportunity to find better value for the cost of their trip (55 percent).

I can attest to all of that. While the airports were busy with travelers, the destinations were definitely less crowded than in the typical summer tourism season.

If you’re headed to South Carolina from Western or Central New York, you’ll most likely have to take two planes, but our connections went smoothly.

One of our first stops was the Swig & Swine, a BBQ joint, where the waitress recommended the brisket. The map on the wall is covered in push pins showing how the restaurant clearly attracts customers from across the country. The brisket was good, along with the smoked turkey and sides ranging from Brussels sprouts to creamy mac and cheese.

We continued on to Folly Beach, where we rented a beach house that sleeps 17 – it was a steal with off season rates. Upon arrival, we headed straight to the beach where dolphins welcomed us (at no extra charge!) While the weather was enjoyable for a walk on the beach, it wasn’t warm enough for humans to take a dip.

Morris Island Lighthouse off the shores of Folly Beach, SC.
Morris Island Lighthouse off the shores of Folly Beach, SC.

I recommend a walk to see the Morris Island Lighthouse at the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve. It’s a pleasant walk and you’re treated to beautiful views even though the clouds moved in for our visit. You’ll also find plenty of sea shells to collect along Folly Beach.

On day two, we visited the touristy area of Folly Beach - some members of our group chose to tour by bicycle while others walked and two adventurous souls rented a golf cart to take in the views. A plate of oysters and gumbo, advertised with a SC twist, at Snapper Jack’s were the perfect lunch combination.

Rita's Seaside Grille in Folly Beach features a dog friendly patio.
Rita's Seaside Grille in Folly Beach features a dog friendly patio.

If you’re traveling with your pet, head over to Rita’s Seaside Grille, where you can dine on the patio with your pooch – the servers will even bring doggie water bowls to the table. There was no shortage of dogs on hand during our trip (apparently they like fall travel too). Pier 101 Restaurant & Bar offers sweeping ocean views, live music and fire pits on the pier.

After two days on the beach, it was time to head to downtown Charleston to enjoy sightseeing in the historic city. We headed straight for King Street and were drawn into John King Grill & Bar since they were showing the Buffalo Bills game. While the Bills lost, the Royale with Cheese burger was a true win. It was a melt in your mouth burger that you’d never be able to replicate at home. We also tried the pimento cheese – a local Southern favorite – which came with Texas toast.

Pimento cheese is popular down south. You can enjoy it while watching football at John King.
Pimento cheese is popular down south. You can enjoy it while watching football at John King.

For an award-winning dinner, the famed Hall’s Chophouse, just down a few doors from John King, is a AAA Four Diamond establishment that has held its title since 2010. Note: if you can’t make it for dinner, the Sunday Gospel Brunch is also a real treat!

For upscale accommodations, in the heart of Charleston’s shopping district, book a room at The Restoration, also a AAA Four Diamond property. You’ll be treated to incredible views from The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits, where a toast to your trip is perfectly fitting.

No matter what brings you to the Charleston/Folly Beach area - Southern hospitality, historic tourism, a girls’ getaway, a guys’ golf trip, a wedding, a summer escape or a fall weekend, remember travelers can always pop into their local AAA for expert advice from a travel consultant who can provide personalized service and in-depth destination knowledge to create a memorable vacation experience. For more information about fall travel or to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel, Contact a Travel Expert or call (800) 937-1222.