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. Open daily Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Free admission. Donations welcome. North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street. 252-728-7317. ncmaritimemuseums.com
Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center
Visitors can watch boat restoration and construction from a platform above the boat shop floor. In the John S. MacCormack Model Shop, builders construct scale models of a variety of vessels. Courses in boat-building skills are offered for novices and experienced woodworkers alike. Open daily Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Free admission. Donations welcome. Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center, North Carolina Maritime Museum, 315 Front Street. 252.728.7317. ncmaritimemuseums.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. The Site also includes an art gallery where local artists’ work is exhibited. 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. Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Beaufort Historical 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 – many of which are on the National Historic Register. You’ll learn about many of the 18th and 19th century homes as you step back into 300 years of history in Beaufort’s historic district. Bike, walking tours and culinary available. 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 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. These islands are more than three miles long and less than a mile wide. Middle Marsh, separated from the rest of the site by the North River Channel, is almost two miles long and less than a mile wide. 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. The horses are valued by locals and tourists alike as a cultural resource and symbol of wildness and freedom. 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. 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. 12 noon to 4 p.m. Beaufort Historic Site, 130 Turner Street. 252-728-5225. beauforthistoricsite.org.
Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Information Center in Beaufort
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 Tourism Visitor’s Center
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 in Beaufort…
Pay-to-Park hours (Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend) are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. This includes waterfront parking lots and all marked spaces, excluding handicap parking on Front Street only. Free parking on all other streets.
The minimum amount is 25 cents for 15 minutes and can be paid by coin. The minimum amount that can be paid by credit card is $1, which covers an hour. Customers enter their parking space number and pay for as much time as they want. Additional payments can be made by credit card at any kiosk. Paper bills are not accepted. The funds raised from parking revenue will be used for streetscaping improvements along Front Street.
Photo credits: Betsy Cartier