15 Best Things to Do in Beaufort NC

There are a lot of things close to the hearts of residents and tourists who visit Beaufort North Carolina.

The small town comes second to none and that is due to the fresh air that flows there, the smile on people’s faces, maritime history, rich historic architecture, beaches and various fun activities like fishing etc. that take place which are a must see to anyone.

The small city which inhabits 4,039 people of different Race, cultures and age groups was regarded as “America’s coolest small town” in 2012 by budget travel magazine readers.

This small town in North Carolina is often confused with Beaufort in South Carolina, though it is distinguished by location (its neighbours are Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, and Pine Knoll Shores) and pronunciation.

Beaufort in South Carolina is pronounced as “BEW-fund,” while that of North Carolina is pronounced, as “BOW-first,” both named after Henry Somerset, the second Duke of Beaufort.

The town has been the place of great memorable summer vacations for many families for generations.

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Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort -Beaufort Air Show

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort -Beaufort Air ShowSource: Cpl. John Wilkes | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Exploring Beaufort without a visit to the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is like experiencing a new city behind closed doors, it’s never fun because you miss the opportunity to meet new people and fully embrace the essence of the place.

The Beaufort Air Show is an event held at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, showcasing various military and civilian aircraft performances.

If you’re planning to attend the Beaufort Air Show, I recommend checking the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort website or local event listings for up-to-date information on dates.

You get to learn about the rich history of the military while on a walking tour around the old arsenal, the Parris Island Museum or the marine base.

This small-town, plays host to over 17,000 military members on active duty so it makes it a great place to see first. 

Address: Geiger Blvd, Beaufort, SC 29904, United States

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort 

North Carolina Maritime Museum in BeaufortSource: Wikimedia/Kd5463 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

This is a deal if you have any interest at all in pirates, sailing, shipbuilding, whales, and local history.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum is free! Leave a donation as you enter and you will not be sorry that you have wasted your paper.

The place is larger than it appears and has so much to offer such as the history of the Crystal Coast, lighthouses, fishing boats, pirates and its bond with the ocean.

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Address: 315 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Rachel Carson Reserve 

Rachel Carson ReserveSource: Wikimedia/Bonnie Gruenberg | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

The astonishing Rachel Carson Reserve is an amazing place to visit in Beaufort, NC.

It can easily be accessed by kayaking from downtown or by boat. This is one of the main fun attractions in the town and it is home to many species of wildlife.

Some of the activities include horse sporting, birdwatching, and so much more.

Address: Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Old Burying Ground

Old Burying GroundSource: Wikipedia/Carl Griffith | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

The Old Burying Ground is one fascinating place to be in Beaufort, North Carolina whether you’re exploring on a guided tour or a self-guided tour, this historic attraction has a lot to offer.

Located off Ann Street, it was established back in the 1700s and by the early 1900s, it wasn’t in use anymore.

Filled with native foliage and live oaks, this historic graveyard served many Beaufort locals as their final resting place. 

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Address: 411 Ann St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Cape Lookout National Seashore 

Cape Lookout National Seashore Source: Wikipedia/Jarek Tuszyński | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin

Getting to this next attraction is via the Island Express which takes you through scenic views from the mainland to the beaches which run miles along Cape Lookout National Seashore banks.

There are no roads to drive or hike, it is 3 miles offshore which makes this top Beaufort attraction a one-of-a-kind.

The landscape on the Cape is undeveloped making it a natural paradise with wild horses roaming the shores.

This place is home to several endangered species and right at the heart of it is a historic site where the first settlers inhabited with some exhibitions on display.

It is a great way to learn about the people!

Address: Cape Lookout Rd, Harkers Island, NC 28531, United States

Fort Macon State Park

Fort Macon State ParkSource: Wikimedia/Kevinbercaw | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

Fort Macon is located in Atlantic Beach, a small town on the coast of Beaufort, NC.

It was built back in the 19th century as a coastal fortification to protect against coastal attacks which later came in handy during the 1861 American Civil War.

Today, the fort is a state park owned with a lot of memorabilia for tourists while on a visit to the Crystal Coast.

It boasts public beaches, free access, free parking, lifeguards during summer seasons, bathrooms and changing facilities.

This is a great place to relax under the sun and ride the waves with family and friends.

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Address: 2303 E Fort Macon Rd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512, United States

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores 

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll ShoresSource: Wikipedia/KenThomas.us | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

Explore the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and see more than 4,000 animals and 50 exhibits showcasing its journey from the Smokey Mountains down to the Atlantic Ocean.

You get to talk to divers, keep an eye on river otters playing around, get up close and personal with water stingrays, see giant sharks swim and many other animals.

You can also feed them and engage in many other fun activities. It is open all year round and admission is free for kids aged 2 and below, while adults get to pay a fee.

Make sure to confirm fees before heading to this attraction to save you stress. 

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Address: 1 Roosevelt Blvd, Pine Knoll Shores, NC 28512, United States

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling 

Scuba Diving and SnorkellingSource: Unsplash/Aviv Perets (Representative Image) | Unsplash LicensePin

This next attraction is a maze of fun underwater activities for those who would love to get wet on tour.

Due to the high number of shipwrecks along North Carolina’s coast; Scuba divers, troop in for some fun activities and the ‘Discovery Diving’ is one great way to enjoy Beaufort.

The coast is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” which stretches from the northern stretch of the Outer Banks of NC down to Beaufort and beyond.

Thousands of wreckages can be explored by professional divers while there is also snorkelling for beginners to experience.

It is a great way to safely see the underwater lost treasures. 

There are a lot of agencies providing scuba diving. Here is the address for Discovery Diving Co Inc.

Address: 414 Orange St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Beaufort Historic Site

Beaufort Historic SiteSource: Wikipedia/Carl Griffith | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

The Beaufort Historic Site spans 2 acres of the rich history of the people who lived in the area from the 18th and 19th centuries.

It has over 300 years of historical records and exhibitions in its 9 buildings including the Old Burying Ground nearby, which are all managed by Beaufort Historical Association.

It would do you good to start your tour at the Visitor’s Center and through the famed buildings such as the John C Manson House, the Carteret County Courthouse, and Leffers Cottage & Garden.

Other notable structures include the family-owned Josiah Bell House, which served the famous family whose son served in the civil war as a Confederate spy.

It is an awesome place to dig deep into America’s history. 

Address: 130 Turner St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Olde Beaufort Farmers Market

Source: Unsplash.com/Jonathan Kemper (Representative Image) | Unsplash LicensePin

If you love cooking your food or would like to get souvenirs for your loved ones while on your trip then the Olde Beaufort Farmers Market is a typical starting point.

The market usually starts in the morning on a Saturday in mid-April to mid-November every year.

It is known as “Rain or Shine, but not in a Hurricane,” it helps to bring together artisans, farmers, bakers, foodies, and many more to showcase their goods to the community.

You best be planning your next trip from April to November for this experience. 

Address: 402 Broad St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Otway Burns’s Tomb

Otway Burns’s tombSource: Flickr/Michelle Underhill | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

The Tomb of Otway Burns is the final resting place of North Carolina’s first naval hero who fought in the War of 1812.

After the war, Burns built steamboats in Beaufort and later served America as a legislature, but later died a lonely lighthouse keeper, poor and unnoticed on Pamlico Sound.

The tomb is located in Old Burying Ground and is a must-see to learn about the nobleman.

Address: 417 Ann St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft CenterSource: Flickr/Michelle Underhill | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

The Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center is another top attraction located just across Front Street from North Carolina Maritime Museum.

It was established to preserve traditional shipbuilding craftsmanship.

The centre is open to the public and offers shipbuilding courses which include demonstrations all year round.

So, if you are into ships and want to know how it’s built, a visit to this attraction is a must.

Address: 326 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Beaufort Sunset – Crystal Coast Boat Tours

Beaufort Sunset - Crystal Coast Boat ToursSource: Flickr/Neurad1 | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

Relax and enjoy the beautiful Crystal Coast sunset on a boat cruise with your family and friends while taking amazing photos of the scenic views.

Bask in delight on a 15-mile cruise with music to calm the nerves as the captain shares facts about the history of wildlife and the coast including wild horses and bottlenose dolphins.

It is a spectacle for unwinding and enjoying the tranquility of Beaufort. 

Address: 600 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Eating Out in Beaufort NC – Clawson’s 905 Restaurant

Source: Unsplash/ Alexandru-Bogdan Ghita (Representative Image) | Unsplash LicensePin

After a long tour around Beaufort NC, it is best to relax and quench the hunger with the best food around town.

With a combination of some tour tickets, you get a free pass to explore the city and also access to some delicious meals at restaurants.

But if you don’t have that option, then Clawson’s is a great place to start your dining located on Front Street, there are other nice spots such as the Beaufort Grocery, The Backstreet Pub, and The Spouter Inn.

Just make sure you don’t go hungry while touring this town.

Address: 425 Front St, Beaufort, NC 28516, United States

Conclusion

You may say what you want about this small Beaufort town in North Carolina, but it is as charming as any other town.

With a rich maritime history and architecture, the town offers scenic beauty to everyone who visits over and over.

Ensure to book a trip to Beaufort to enjoy sunset cruises, diving, and exploring Cape Lookout National Seashore, the Marine Corps Air Station to name a few.

Bask in the charm of its history, warm hospitality, nature, and make unforgettable memories.

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  • Sarah ThackerPin

    Senior Travel Writer, Travelsc

    Sarah is a writer from Ohio, currently living in West Virginia. As an avid baking enthusiast, she always scopes out the best food in an area and can make gre...

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