Local and Nearby Attractions.
There so much to do in Beaufort! Take a look at the local attractions. From the Old Burying Ground to the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center where traditional wooden boat building still takes place. Don’t miss the North Carolina Maritime Museum during your stay. It’s the official repository for artifacts from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. The notorious pirate ran his ship aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718. Learn about the Beaufort’s Historic District with a walking tour or bicycle tour through 300 year’s of Beaufort’s history.
North Carolina Maritime Museum
The North Carolina Maritime Museum documents, collects, preserves, and researches the maritime and natural history of coastal North Carolina, and interprets history through educational services and exhibits. The museum is the official repository for artifacts from Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. In 1718, the notorious pirate ran his ship aground in Beaufort Inlet, roughly two miles from where the museum stands today. The exhibit illuminates the life of pirates aboard the ship with artifacts, interactive features and fun facts. Other exhibits include Surfing in North Carolina, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and more. Free admission. Donations welcome. North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street. 252-504-7740. ncmaritimemuseumbeaufort.com
Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center
One of the best places to see Beaufort’s maritime history come to life is at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center. It’s a working boatbuilding facility that comes alive with the sounds and smells of traditional North Carolina wooden boatbuilding. It truly showcases the art and skill of traditional boat builders. When you walk through the doors and step onto the viewing platform, above the shop floor, you’ll discover it’s a great place to watch the boats take shape, from frame to finished product. You’ll notice the Watercraft Center also provides a unique opportunity to witness a craft as old as shipbuilding itself taking shape – the construction of wooden model boats. The watercraft center is home to the Carolina Maritime Model Society. Free admission. Donations welcome. Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street. 252-504-5540. thewatercraftcenter.com
Beaufort Historic Site
The Beaufort Historic Site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a 2-acre area attraction made up of ten buildings, six authentically restored, in the center of the town’s historic district. The Beaufort Historical Association has restored and preserved the buildings in award-winning detail. The collections and furnishings, some original to the structure, help interpret a particular period in Beaufort’s history. Visitors can explore the buildings, which include historically accurate private homes, the original Carteret County Courthouse, the Old Jail (a visitor favorite), and the Apothecary and Doctor’s Office. Priceless collections of artifacts and antiques can be found throughout the properties, and volunteers offer tours, activities and special programs throughout the year for all visitors, young and young at heart. Beaufort Historic Site, 130 Turner Street. 252-728-5225. beauforthistoricsite.org
Beaufort Historic District
Discover the historic homes in Beaufort that once belonged to the town’s earliest sea captains, seafarers, and merchants. Visitors, and locals alike, can breathe in the salty fresh air, stroll leisurely down the tree-lined streets as your professional guide tells you about Beaufort’s past. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about Beaufort’s beautiful restored historic homes and churches. You’ll learn about many of the 18th and 19th century homes as you step back in time or ride through 300 years of history in Beaufort’s historic district. Listed on the National Historic Register, the town’s historic district is ideal for biking, walking, and guided culinary tours. Your guide will share stories of what really happened inside the walls of some of those homes. Open Year-round. Hungry Town Tours is the #1 Activity on the Crystal Coast – TripAdvisor.com. Hungry Town Tours, 400 Front Street. 252-648-1011. www.hungrytowntours.com.
Rachel Carson Reserve
Located across Taylor’s Creek from Beaufort, diverse arrays of important coastal habitats are found at the site including: tidal flats, salt marshes, ocean beach, soft bottom, shell bottom, dredge spoil areas, sand dunes, shrub thicket, submerged aquatic vegetation, and maritime forest. The Rachel Carson Reserve is a complex of islands which includes Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. Horses were brought to the site by a local citizen in the 1940s and eventually became wild or “feral,” thus they are considered non-native inhabitants of the islands. Today, the Reserve is home to approximately 30 wild horses. More than 200 species of birds have been observed at the site. Monitored by the State of North Carolina. Serviced by Island Ferry Adventures, 610 Front Street. 252-728-7555. islandferryadventures.com
Located at the southern-most barrier island in Cape Lookout National Seashore, Shackleford Banks is home to more than 100 wild horses. Although how the “Banker horses” arrived is still a mystery, legend has it that these horses are descendants of Spanish Mustangs that survived a shipwreck. Venture out by boat or passenger ferry to “Shack” and enjoy the rare privilege of watching horses that live without the help of man. Appreciate the horses’ tenacity and watch their social behaviors. Respectfully stay far enough away to avoid disturbing the horses or endangering yourself, your children, or your pets. This picturesque and undeveloped barrier island shoreline is a popular destination for visitors. Monitored by National Park Service. Serviced by Island Express Ferry Service, 600 Front Street. 252-728-7433. islandexpressferryservices.com
Cape Lookout National Seashore
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a 163-foot high lighthouse located on the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina. It flashes every 15 seconds and is visible at least 12 miles out to sea and up to 19 miles. The Cape Lookout Light is one of the very few lighthouses that operate during the day. It became fully automated in 1950. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the only such structure in the United States to bear the checkered daymark, intended not only for differentiation between similar light towers, but also to show direction. The center of the black diamonds points in a north-south direction, while the center of the white diamonds points east-west. Monitored by the National Park Service. Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Information Center is located at Beaufort Town Hall, 701 Front Street. Serviced by Island Express Ferry Service, 600 Front Street. 252-728-7433. islandexpressferryservices.com
Please respect our islands and wild horses. When enjoying the barrier islands, please be aware:
• Carry your trash out of the park when visiting these remote beaches.
• Keep your dog on a 6 ft. leash.
• Stay 50 ft. away from the wild horses and do not feed them. They really are wild horses.
Robert W. and Elva Faison Safrit Historical Center
Located at the Beaufort Historic Site, the center welcomes visitors to the historic site with free exhibits and demonstrations. Town of Beaufort information and other attractions. Tours available & tickets: Double decker bus, Old Burying Ground, historic homes, jail and courthouse on site. Mon. to Sat. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun. closed. Beaufort Historic Site, 130 Turner Street. 252-728-5225. beauforthistoricsite.org.
Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Information Center in Beaufort</strong >
Exhibits on island ecology and history; map of the park; informational materials; and park passport stamp. Available Facilities: restrooms, first aid, and ferry ticket booth. Daily: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Beaufort Town Hall, 701 Front Street. nps.gov/calo
Crystal Coast Visitor’s Center</strong >
The Crystal Coast Tourism Authority operates a regional visitor’s center with Information about what to do and where to go during your Crystal Coast vacation or getaway. Daily: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Crystal Coast Tourism, 3409 Arendell Street, Morehead City. 252-726-8148 or 800-786-6962. crystalcoastnc.org.
Crystal Coast Discovery Map
Map your way through The Crystal Coast by using the Discovery Map for the must-see attractions, museums, dining, shopping, lodging, and family fun. From the FUN, hand-drawn Illustrated maps to the mobile-friendly web guide, Discovery Map is the easy way to get the most out of your visit. The Crystal Coast Discovery Map can be found in many shops, restaurants, welcome centers and attractions throughout the Crystal Coast. Start your journey now. Get the App.
A word about parking…
New Downtown Parking Regulations outlined below
Free Parking: January 1 – April 30
– All parking in Downtown Beaufort is FREE, with NO time limits.
Paid Parking: May 1 – Sep. 30
– Paid parking applies to ALL marked spaces with the following parking limits:
– Four-hour, non-renewable parking limit for on-street fee-based spaces on Front Street west of Queen Street, for two fee-based parking lots on Front Street, and five fee-based spaces in front of Town Hall on Pollack Street.
– Unlimited time parking for the fee-based surface lots on Turner, Craven, and Queen Streets.
– Unlimited time parking for the fee-based on-street spaces in the 100 blocks of Turner, Craven Streets, and on Front Street east of Queen Street.
Paid Parking Guidelines:
– $1 per hour on all numbered parking spots.
– Handicap/motorcycle/golf cart spaces exempt.
– 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
– All paid parking spaces are numbered.
– Twelve (12) Pay to Park solar powered kiosks are located along Front and Turner Streets.
– Look for ‘Pay Here’ signs to find kiosks.
– Coins and credit cards accepted, no paper bills.
– Receipt doesn’t need to be displayed in the vehicle, but is needed to extend time.
– Kiosks are covered after the season.
– All proceeds after expenses will go towards downtown streetscaping improvements.
Free Parking: October 1 – December 31
– All parking in Downtown Beaufort is FREE, with NO time limits.
Photo credits: Betsy Cartier