Beaufort, North Carolina
Named by Travel + Leisure as “America’s Favorite Town” among other accolades, Beaufort brings even more to the table than meets the eye. Dock your boat at a downtown marina and walk from one charming boutique to the next. Take in some history at the Beaufort Historic Site and NC Maritime Museum or drop your kayak in Taylor’s Creek. Then, relish in it all with cocktails and award-winning seafood overlooking the water at sunset. It’s no wonder so many people call Beaufort their home away from home.
The coastal town of Beaufort has quickly become one of the most popular vacation destinations for Inner Banks travelers and boating enthusiasts of all varieties, and for good reason. The small 2.7 mile town, (surrounded by nearly a mile of water), is a vacationer and maritime lover's dream, with a hearty downtown scene lined with shops, galleries, and acclaimed restaurants, in addition to dozens of maritime supply stores.
Small parks and benches border the surrounding docks, and cafes and coffee shops have sprung up all along the harbor front so folks passing through, or anyone enjoying an early morning stroll, can relax with a hot cup of coffee or a big breakfast while enjoying the scene. Home to some of the Inner Banks' best loved dining establishments and galleries, and a 20 minute water taxi or maritime shuttle away from the enticing Shackleford Banks, Beaufort has gained a recognizable name on the North Carolina tourism scene as one of the best spots to unwind.
Hundreds of years ago, well before European settlers appeared, the town of Beaufort was called "Fish Town" by the local Coree Indians who called the region home. Early settlers began purchasing property in the region around 1709, and by 1713. It should be noted that Beaufort's busiest stretch of town, located right along the downtown's waterfront, wasn't constructed until the early 1800s, and as commerce grew along this road, the street was eventually called "Front Street," in honor of its waterfront locale.
Unfortunately for the town, a thriving port town was just the sort of allure that attracted pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s, and sure enough, Beaufort was a popular destination for both Edward Teach, (more commonly known as Blackbeard the Pirate), and his former lieutenant, Stede Bonnett, a gentlemen by birth but eventually a successful pirate in his own right. Both notable pirates were frequent visitors to the Core Sound, located on the outskirts of Beaufort, and also of the town itself - Blackbeard was said to be a regular guest at Beaufort's own "Hammock House."
Today, not much has changed since the town was first patched together in the 1700s. Historic homes stand a block or two away from Front Street, carefully preserved by the Beaufort Historical Association, although more modern buildings have taken up residence along the busier waterfront downtown sections as well, catering to passing mariners, day-trippers, and long weekend or weeklong tourists who want to admire the coastal scene. The area has also become a favorite retirement or second-home spot for water lovers, and new communities can be found outside of the downtown with private boat docks or community boat launches for easy access to both the Shackleford Banks and the Core Sound.
A first-time visitor to Beaufort will find plenty of ways to stay entertained, beginning with the incredible dining options located throughout the town. Several restaurants are historic sites in their own right, dating back over a century, while a half-dozen downtown eateries feature relaxed outdoor seating overlooking the always busy waterfront docks. All of these restaurants feature fresh seafood in abundance, including oysters, blue crabs, NC shrimps and scallops, and plenty of seasonal fish, and are a perfect destination for any seafood lover.
The downtown also has a renowned collection of shops and galleries that vary from the practical to the whimsical. In Beaufort, travelers will find an abundance of maritime supply stores to replace or add onto existing boating equipment, innumerable galleries, and souvenir shops to take a few treasures back home. There are a number of adventures to be had in Beaufort as well, and local cruise ships and ferry vessels offer everything from a water taxi to the neighboring Shackleford Banks to full-on pirate cruises with the option to shoot cannonballs at rival vessels.
A ferry ride to Shackleford Banks is a very popular adventure, as this island is home to the famous "Shackleford Ponies," the barrier islands' feral residents and the supposed descendants of shipwrecked Spanish Mustangs from passing Spanish ships of the 1500s. In addition, the beaches produce seashells, sand dollars and starfish, and are a sunny and secluded respite for Beaufort visitors who want to soak up miles of the sand and sun. Located just 15-20 minutes away by passenger ferry, with summertime and seasonal departures every 30 minutes or so.
Accommodations are relatively limited, but very enticing. There are several waterfront inns, complete with boat docks and fantastic views, many cabins and vacation rentals, and several campgrounds on the outskirts of the town. There are also a number of Bed and Breakfasts located in converted historic homes along the downtown's side streets, which are idyllic romantic and quiet retreats. Due to Beaufort's growing popularity, especially in the summer season when the climate is warm and inviting and the town is home to events like the annual 4th of July Celebration.
Beaufort is, at its heart, a nautical town. Filled with maritime stores, restaurants featuring fresh seafood, and hundreds of docks bordering the waterfront Front Street, this North Carolina community never lost its ties to its history as a reliable port town. A popular destination for maritime traffic and day-trippers alike, visitors will find Beaufort a charming and unique destination, as well as a definite highlight of the Inner Banks' tourism scene.
Voted Best North Carolina Beach – 2018 USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards
Emerald Isle, NC is a 29-mile stretch of island on the lower Outer Banks between Morehead City and Jacksonville. Here you’ll experience a relaxing atmosphere, see amazing beaches and stay in the most comfortable and luxurious vacation rentals on the Crystal Coast. It’s no wonder visitors keep coming back year after year.
Known as a family beach destination, Emerald Isle is a coastal playground for vacationers looking for vacation rentals, relaxation and fun in the sun. No matter what you put on your vacation itinerary, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it and remember it for a lifetime.
Things to Do in Emerald Isle
Partake in outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, birding, scuba diving, golf and more! Go shopping to find the perfect souvenir or visit the area’s greatest attractions, such as the North Carolina Aquarium. And be sure to check out the Bogue Inlet Fishing pier to fish or just to people watch.