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An Insider’s Guide to West Ashley, James Island, and Folly Beach

West Ashley, Folly Beach, and James Island encompass the variety of our beautiful Lowcountry. Take in the scenery of lush Spanish moss draping the canopies of ancient oaks in West Ashley and James Island, and then head out to “the Edge of America” where Folly Beach is brimming with coastal life, including surfers and beach lovers. These neighborhoods have been rising in popularity while bringing delicious food along for the ride.

Avondale storefronts in West Ashley


Berts Market sign on Folly Beach

Playing in the surf all day calls for a refuel. Bert’s Market on Folly Beach is a convenient variety store that sits right on the main strip, steps from beach access. Here you can pick up necessities such as sunscreen and drinks, but a must is to stop at their inside deli to grab one of their gourmet sandwiches. If you happen to be too sandy, this establishment also serves through an outdoor window. After, you can cool down from that Carolina sun and treat yourself to a refreshing pineapple soft serve at the Pineapple Hut beachfront truck located on the other side of the Folly Beach Pier.

West Ashley is full of great restaurants, but La Bonne Franquette has taken the neighborhood by storm. Say bonjour to this recently opened spot from a native French duo who transport you to the heart of their home country. What begins in the morning as an enchanting Parisian cafe shifts into an elevated dining experience for dinner service. If French doesn’t please everyone’s taste buds, Triangle Char & Bar will satisfy your whole party. Burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and more—this local’s stop serves all the between-the-bread staples. Whether you’re there for Taco Tuesday, their legendary brunch, or to escape the infamous Savannah Highway traffic, it’s sure to hit the spot.

So, you might be wondering, “Where’s that good Southern food?” James Island embraces the Lowcountry’s food culture with a broad selection of seafood and soul food joints. CudaCo. offers the freshest selection of sustainably sourced seafood—you know it’s fresh because it’s sitting on ice right in front of you. Don’t be fooled by the building’s humble façade: it’s a J.I. treasure. Farther down the street is Gillie’s Seafood, which is dedicated to the recipes and love of our grandmas. Indulge in Granny’s favorites with soul food staples like catfish, gumbo, and jambalaya, and pay tribute to your own grandmother by bringing a picture to hang on the restaurant’s “Grandma Wall.”


A few blocks back from Folly’s beachfront lies a tucked-away gem, Lowlife Bar. While the food is solid, the drinks are the reason to go. Relax in their open-air lounge while you sip on one of their mixologist-approved cocktails like the Cantarito: tequila, lime, and grapefruit soda with a chile rim. To better feel the ocean breeze, head upstairs to the rooftop at Snapper Jack’s and take in a 360-view of the island. Their beach-themed drinks and a generous selection of frozen cocktails perfectly fit the island vibe.

Odyssey Bottle Shop in James Island, a wall of wines and canned libations

In West Ashley, Avondale Wine & Cheese is the perfect place to meet for drinks. A large variety of handpicked wines accompanied by a crafted cheese board and tapas will leave you and your friends camped out for the evening.

For casual drinks, James Island is home to Paddock & Whisky and My Father’s Moustache, two neighborhood bars that sit on the same road. And if it’s Tuesday, head to Odyssey Bottle Shop for trivia with John Triviaolta (there might be a food truck pop-up if you’re lucky). This lively environment features an itinerary of events and, most importantly, plenty of beers on tap.


CharlesTowne Landing in West Ashley, a large sailboat against the horizon

While many flock to downtown attractions, the neighborhoods to the west of the Ashley River offer just as many activities for a good time. If you want to explore all of Folly Beach’s offerings, head to Folly Beach Moped Rentals. You and your sexy locomotive have the freedom to take a self-guided tour of one of the prettiest beaches in the Charleston area.

Many of Charleston’s history lessons lie away from the peninsula and over in West Ashley as well. Charles Towne Landing is the birthplace of South Carolina and the foundation of what has now become Charleston. This state park is preserved to resemble its original European settlement, taking guests back to the 17th century. For colonial era history, Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens neighbor each other on the same road. Both offer an honest look at the conditions of enslaved people, as well as being unique examples of historic architecture and landscapes, respectively.

If live music and cheap beer are your idea of a good time, Pour House on James Island is the spot for you, with music most nights and now boasting a permanent pop-up of Mount Pleasant’s Malika Canteen. Or get into the action at the annual Charleston Film Festival at Terrace Theater, which screens in-theater features as well as cult classics—keep an eye out for the occasional Rocky Horror Picture Show live shadow-cast screenings and costume contest.

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