Beaufort is the easternmost town in the Crystal Coast region of North Carolina; the county seat; and the third-oldest town in the state. Established in 1713 on the Newport River, Beaufort was named after Henry Somerset, the Duke of Beaufort. Beaufort's two main claims to fame are its intact historical homes and its connection with the dreaded pirate Blackbeard. The town's name is pronounced differently than that of its South Carolina namesake; this Beaufort is "BO-furt" (IPA ['bou.frt]).
As with practically every other town in the area, you'll reach Beaufort via US-70, which runs through the middle of the town before turning north toward Atlantic.
- Beaufort became big news when the Queen Anne's Revenge, the pirate ship belonging to Blackbeard, was discovered under 20 feet of water in the Beaufort Inlet in 1996. It's still underwater, but retrieval and restoration processes are underway. Until it rises above the waves, there are various Blackbeard-related activities around town, including a walking tour around town and a display highlighting his ship in the Maritime Museum.
- Beaufort is renowned for its dozens of restored historic homes. The Beaufort Historical Association, founded in 1960, mounts plaques on the outside of homes that are over 80 years old and which have not been greatly altered. The oldest is considered to be the Hammock House of 1698, which was once an inn that regularly served Blackbeard. The Beaufort Historic Site offers tours of ten of these buildings, clustered in two acres of the downtown area.
- There's also a picturesque old cemetery, the Old Burying Ground on Ann Street, dating from 1709. Many of the gravestones are unmarked, the earliest inscriptions being from 1756. Tours are given June through September, from Tuesday through Thursday at 2:30PM, for $6 (adults). However, you can visit any time of the year before sundown for free.
- In fact, if you're interested in all things historical, the best thing to do would be to stop by the Beaufort Historical Association at 138 Turner Street, +1 252-728-5225.
- The Beaufort waterfront was revitalized in the 1970s, and now boasts a wooden boardwalk by the water's edge, and lots of gift shops and restaurants. Across the waterfront, you can often see wild ponies roaming Carrot Island.
- North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street, ☏ . Open M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM; closed around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Features exhibits on the area's maritime history, artefacts recovered from the wreck of Blackbearks Queen Anne's Revenge, local fossils, various types of watercraft, commercial fishing, waterfowl hunting and decoys, coastal marine life including venomous snakes and a model-ship-making shop. Boatbuilding classes are offered throughout the year. Free.
- Go for a guided tour of historic Beaufort; specialties include the Ghost Walk, the Legend of Blackbeard tour, the Dolphin Adventure and airplane tours of the Crystal Coast.
- Take a relaxing harbor tour along the historic waterfront in a covered Captains Launch.
- The Beaufort Old Homes and Gardens Tour is held annually during the last weekend in June. Narrated tours take visitors through restored and under-restoration private homes, gardens and other local attractions. An antique car show is also held the same weekend. The tour starts at the Beaufort Historical Association at 138 Turner; tickets are $16 in advance, $20 at the door.
- Beaufort Music Festival, ☏ . The. Free admission. Comes to town for one weekend in April/May, featuring musical groups on several performance stages in town.
- The nine-mile-long island of Shackleford Banks is home to the locally-famous Shackleford Ponies, the descendants of horses that reportedly swam ashore from a sinking Spanish ship in the 16th century. Today, the horses are endangered, but can be seen on cruises to the island for around $22 (adults).
- Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve. Is a sanctuary covering 2,675 acres on a string of islands on the Taylor Creek, between Beaufort and Shackleford Banks. The reserve is also home to marine laboratories from the three main Research Triangle universities, conducting marine research and education. Features a half-mile interpretive trail highlighting the reserve's native flora and fauna, and special features. Shackleford ponies often swim across to the islands for food. The reserve can be reached by private boat from Beaufort.
- Discovery Diving Company, 414 Orange Street, ☏ . The shipwrecks in this area make Beaufort an appealing spot for scuba diving; charter trips are available for $60-110 plus equipment rental, and the company also offers classes in various types of diving (including nighttime and cavern diving), emergency rescue and underwater photography.
- Island Ferry Adventures, 610 Front Street, ☏ . Ferries run from 9AM daily from mid-March to November, weather permitting. Passenger ferries to Shackleford Banks, Sand Dollar Island, Carrot Island and the Bird Shoals, as well as a dolphin watch and a scenic nature cruise. $8-14 round-trip per adult.
- Lookout Cruises, ☏ . Front Street on the waterfront. Daily sailing excursions on a 45-foot catamaran; offering a Cape Lookout cruise, dolphin watch, sunset cruise and moonlight cruise. Private charters available.
- Fly fishing is becoming a favorite local sport.
Visitors often come to Beaufort to stroll along the waterfront and browse in the town's unique shops; it's a relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
- Beaufort Mercantile, 410 Front Street. Handcrafted pottery, jewellery and glasswork, with an emphasis on North Carolina artists.
- The General Store, 515 Front Street, ☏ . Open 6 days a week. Ice cream, fudge and souvenirs.
- Blackbeard's Grill and Steam Bar, 1644 Live Oak St, ☏ . Open for lunch and dinner M-Sa from 11AM-10PM with a late night menu on Friday and Saturday from 10PM-2AM. Free Delivery. Delicious daily specials. Offers only local seafood, fresh cut steaks, and sushi. Family friendly atmosphere. Unique Grog cocktails. Exciting nightlife every weekend.
- Aqua, 114 Middle Lane, ☏ . Open for lunch Tu-F 11:30AM-2PM; and dinner Tu-Sa from 5:30PM. Fresh seasonal food inspired by Spanish tapas. ($4-12 per "little bite".)
- Clawson's 1905 Restaurant, 425 Front Street, ☏ . Open for lunch and dinner M-Sa. Formerly a general store at the turn of the 20th century, now an award-winning restaurant famous for their mud pie. Offers seafood, steaks, pasta and "dirigibles" - large potatoes stuffed with vegetables, cheese, and meat or seafood.
- Front Street Grill at Stillwater, 300 Front Street, ☏ . A waterfront restaurant with excellent views of Taylor's Creek and Carrot Island. Raw and baked oysters, gourmet appetizers and salads, and entrees with an emphasis on seafood. (Entrees range from $9.95-30.95.)
- City Kitchen, 232 W Beaufort Road, ☏ . Restaurant and tiki bar. Open daily for lunch and dinner; closed Sundays during the off season. Great views enable diners to watch the fishing boats and spectacular sunsets in the Caribbean-style outdoor bar. Live bands perform on weekends.
The very nature of Beaufort is sort of anti-giant-chain-hotel; instead, the town has several quaint bed-and-breakfasts and vacation rentals for visitors who are looking for a little something special to complete their stay.
- Sunset Lane Condos, toll-free: . Charming 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath, located in the Historic District just steps from downtown shopping and dining. $150-200/nt $750-1200/wk.
- Inn on Turner, 217 Turner St, ☏ . 4 rooms. Built in 1866 and considered by many to be Beaufort's most authentic historic bed and breakfast. Antique guest rooms, three common sitting areas, an upper and lower porch, an English courtyard garden and a complimentary continental breakfast. $88-124.
- Langdon House Bed and Breakfast, 135 Craven Street, ☏ . 4 rooms. Built in 1733 with first and second floor porches, a parlor and landscaped gardens. A two-course full breakfast is served in the morning, including fresh fruit, Belgian waffles and stuffed French toast. $78-115 off-season, $88-125 peak season.
- Pecan Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast, 116 Queen Street, ☏ , toll-free: . 7 rooms. Originally a Masonic lodge and schoolhouse in 1866. Three breezy porches, a 5,000-square-foot flower and herb garden, and a bountiful complimentary continental breakfast. $100-140 off-season, $130-175 peak season.
If you want someplace less intimate but with a similar down-home feel, there are a couple of larger inns in town:
- Beaufort Inn, 101 Ann Street, ☏ , toll-free: . 44 rooms (some overlooking Gallant's Channel), exercise room and outdoor hot tub, a boat slip and bicycles for rent. A hot breakfast is served in the dining room; owner Katie Etheridge's breakfast pie (with egg, sausage and cheese) is delicious.
- 1 Inlet Inn, 601 Front Street, ☏ , toll-free: . 36 rooms (most waterfront), complimentary continental room-service breakfast. Room prices vary with season. Check website for rates and availability.
The Crystal Coast area has a variety of other areas to visit:
Further afield, there are some interesting destinations for daytrips:
- Havelock, about 30 minutes north on US-70.
- New Bern, about 1 hour north on US-70.
- Jacksonville, about 1 hour west on US-24.
- Bath, about 3 hours north.
- Ocracoke Island, about 3 hours east.
|Routes through Beaufort|
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