Tiny fitness center with only four cardio machines
Slim balconies allow for standing only
Surrounding area is sleepy during the winter
The Tides Folly Beach is a solid mid-range hotel that is notably clean and modern. A recent facelift can be seen at this waterfront property in each of the 132 rooms, decorated with bright colors, bamboo headboards, soft blue walls, and flat-screen TVs. Rooms are oceanfront and offer balconies that are slim but do have impressive ocean views. One perk here is the outdoor heated pool (open year-round) with plenty of lounge chairs. Some guests complain about a lack of amenities; there is no on-site spa and the fitness center with just four cardio machines is underwhelming. The city is a short nine-mile drive away, making the Tides an ideal pick for couples or families looking to break up tours of historic Charleston with days on the beach.
Directly on sandy Folly Beach, nine miles from Charleston
Folly Beach is a quiet community populated by beachfront homes and summer vacation houses. Tides is the only resort in the area and acts as a kind of hub, surrounded by a few local restaurants, bars, grocery stores, a fishing pier, and some small shops within walking distance. Summertime brings a surge of people and energy to the neighborhood, but many of the restaurants and bars close up for the cooler winter months. Even when the weather is too cold for the beach, historic Charleston is about a 20-minute drive away.
A six-mile long island, Folly Beach is called "the edge of America" by locals. It's 15 minutes from historic downtown and the main (and only) attraction is the beach. But that includes everything that comes along with a beach vacation -- swimming, fishing, jet-skiing, dolphin-watching, and kayaking. All of the beaches in this small community are public and swimming is allowed in all of them. Despite the relatively calm waters, Folly Beach is also a popular destination for surfers, and the island hosts numerous surfing tournaments throughout the year. The Washout is a good surfing spot, but most people opt to tan and swim at the crowded Center Street Beach. For more seclusion, check out the County Park beach.
It's a slower pace of life on the island -- many locals get around by scooter (tourists can rent them) and don't expect restaurant service to be super speedy (but the seafood is delicious and as fresh as it comes). There are a few art galleries, a lighthouse, and several restaurants and bars, but other than that, entertainment must be found on the mainland.
34-minute drive to Charleston International Airport
21-minute drive to historic Charleston
23-minute drive to City Market
23-minute drive to the South Carolina Aquarium
58-minute drive and ferry ride to Fort Sumter, the starting point of the Civil War
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