The Many Treasures of Beaufort, North Carolina

Explore the rich history and culture of this Southern port town

Majestic sunsets over Beaufort, North Carolina have captured the hearts of locals and visitors for hundreds of years.

Considered "America's Favorite Town" by Travel + Leisure and “America’s Coolest Small Town” by readers of Budget Travel Magazine, Beaufort, North Carolina possesses an old-world, Southern charm that make travelers feel like they’ve hit the wanderlust jackpot. When Blackbeard the English Pirate ran his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge aground in the Beaufort Inlet in 1718, this was just one of the many hidden (and not so hidden) gems that would be left for travelers to discover. Follow us along 300 years of maritime history to the shores of North Carolina as we explore the historic and cultural treasures of one of the country’s oldest and most cherished destinations of the Deep South.

From Fish Town to Historic District

Beaufort’s waterfront district encompasses historic homes that mark the distinct eras of this age-old maritime community.

The Beaufort Historic District is a source of great pride for locals of the Inner Banks region. Comprised of 12 blocks along Taylor Creek, the neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The waterfront establishment grew in the late 1600s when the small port community was simply referred to as “Fish Town,” making it one of the oldest sections of the city. Today, there are 16 buildings and landmark sites featuring 18th and 19th century Greek and Gothic Revival architectural styles. Visit the Beaufort Historical Association to book a guided tour where you’ll learn about the stories behind the homes. The association members are also happy to help you design your own self-guided walking tour through the neighborhood.

Clear as Crystal Coast

Crystal Coast beaches offer sea lovers an endless array of things to do on the shore and in the water.

A day at the beach is rarely wasted at Crystal Coast. With 85 miles of coastline and 56 miles of protected waterfront, you can book a hotel in Beaufort close to the water and spend hours enjoying your favorite beach activities or simply idling away under the sun. When you’re ready for a good southern-inspired meal and some local entertainment, head to Atlantic Beach where you can enjoy live music, clothing boutiques and restaurants serving fresh seafood. For those who wish to take the adventure off the shoreline and into the water, there are plenty of diving spots where you can go hunting for sunken treasure beneath the water. Known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” the coast is full of decaying ships that have found their final resting place among the tides.

Look out for Diamonds on the Shore

The diamond pattern painted on the surface of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse distinguishes this landmark from other lighthouses in North Carolina.

Accessible by ferry along the shores of North Carolina’s Outer Banks is the original Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Built in 1812, the building proved at first to be too short. Many of the ships approaching the Carolina shoreline couldn’t see its light and ended up sinking in the darkness due to the water’s shifting sandbars and strong currents. The lighthouse that now stands in its place was completed in 1859 and was painted the iconic black and white diamond pattern in 1873 after surviving the Civil War. For a small fee, the lighthouse is worth climbing all 207 steps to the top where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding island landscapes.

Sky's the Limit on this Untouched Island

Experience what it would be like to spend time on a deserted island with a day visit to Shackleford Banks.

For a unique North Carolina coastal experience, make your way to Shackleford Banks. This natural, untouched barrier island is considered part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Just south of Beaufort, it’s easy to reach by ferry, water taxi, cruise or tour boat and offers much in the way of shelling, fishing, surfing and wildlife watching. More experienced kayakers could paddle the approximate two miles to the shoreline. If you chose this way to reach the bank, be aware of strong tidal currents that appear near the inlets. Also, be sure to pack your beach gear for the day, as this is truly a desolate island with no facilities or public restrooms.

Where the Wild Run Free

Banker ponies on the Rachel Carson Reserve have been known to inhabit the barrier islands since at least the early 19th century.

Not far from downtown Beaufort is the 2,315-acre North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve, which can easily be reached by ferry, private boat, kayak or canoe. If you like observing wildlife in their natural habitat, you’ll enjoy watching the many species of birds, reptiles, gray foxes and otters who make their home here. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the Rachel Carson Reserve wild horses that roam the island. These free-spirited creatures, also known as banker ponies, have inhabited the reserve since the early 1800s. Since they are not accustomed to being around people, they may find it necessary to protect themselves if provoked. The best way to admire these horses is to keep a safe distance during your visit and to bring binoculars if you wish to get a closer look at their strength and beauty.




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