Nestled on the southern tip of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Beaufort shines as a gem of coastal tranquility. Bathed in history and surrounded by saltwater charm, Beaufort is a must-visit for wanderers and RVers alike. With its colonial-era homes, narrow streets lined with boutiques, and vistas of wild ponies on Carrot Island, this town oozes a unique blend of Southern hospitality and maritime magic.
If you’re planning a day trip to this delightful spot, here are some experiences to consider for your itinerary. For more information on other small towns to visit in North Carolina, check out this awesome guide here!
7 Things To Do In Beaufort, North Carolina
Dive into Beaufort’s Rich Maritime History
Beaufort is not just a quaint coastal town; it’s a sentinel of North Carolina’s maritime past, bearing tales of sea captains, pirates, and the many sailors who once called this harbor home. As you venture deeper into this intriguing history, a few places and stories stand out:
North Carolina Maritime Museum
This establishment is more than just a building with artifacts. It’s a treasure trove that chronicles the town’s marine heritage. The centerpiece of the museum is the exhibit dedicated to Blackbeard, one of history’s most infamous pirates. In 1718, Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, met its watery demise near Beaufort, and the recovered artifacts from this shipwreck are on display here.
Visiting the Olde Beaufort Seaport
Close to the museum is the Olde Beaufort Seaport, a historic spot that was once a hive of activity. Today, you can wander the docks, imagining the bustling scenes of yesteryears – the calls of the sailors, the creaking of the ships, and the aroma of freshly caught fish being offloaded.
Historical Home Hopping
Beaufort’s history is etched into its buildings as much as it is chronicled in books. The town, with its centuries-old lineage, offers an architectural tapestry that narrates stories from different eras, cultures, and influences. If walls could talk, then the homes in Beaufort would have epic tales to share.
The 1700s were significant for Beaufort, and many homes from this era still stand with pride. These structures, often made of local timber and brick, showcase colonial architectural features: symmetrical facades, brick chimneys, and gabled roofs. Notably, the Hammock House, believed to date back to the 1690s, stands as one of the oldest homes, with rumors suggesting that Blackbeard once made it his residence.
The Victorian era brought with it a wave of decorative flair, and Beaufort was no exception. Homes from the late 19th century often boast intricate woodwork, turrets, and expansive porches. The Gibbs House, with its gorgeous wraparound porch and ornate detailing, is a shining beacon of Beaufort’s Victorian heritage.
Wander Along the Boardwalk
The soul of Beaufort, in many ways, can be felt most vibrantly along its picturesque boardwalk. Here, the gentle ebb and flow of the water, the distant cries of seagulls, and the intimate glimpses into the town’s daily life all converge to create an experience that’s both invigorating and meditative.
No stroll along the boardwalk is complete without diving into the array of local boutiques. From handcrafted jewelry and maritime art to unique souvenirs that capture the essence of Beaufort, these stores are a treasure trove for those seeking a piece of the town to carry back.
Ferry Over to the Rachel Carson Reserve
A stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Beaufort lies an untouched paradise, a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty—the Rachel Carson Reserve. This cluster of islands is a sanctuary, not just for its diverse inhabitants, but also for the wandering souls seeking an escape into the wild.
Among the many treasures of the reserve, the wild horses that roam freely on Carrot Island are undoubtedly the most iconic. These majestic creatures, with their untamed beauty, are a sight to behold against the backdrop of the island’s serene landscapes. Their lineage traces back centuries, and witnessing them is like peeking into a time when nature reigned supreme.
The reserve is car-free, making it a pristine escape from urban life. Ferries to the reserve are frequent and operate from Beaufort’s waterfront. Make sure to pack essentials like water, snacks, and sun protection. Remember, the ethos of the reserve is ‘Leave No Trace,’ so carry back everything you bring.
Embark on a Dolphin-watching Tour
Beaufort’s coastal allure isn’t limited to its scenic vistas and maritime history. The waters surrounding this charming town are teeming with life, and one of the most delightful creatures to encounter here is the playful dolphin.
Unlike many tourist destinations that offer staged dolphin shows, Beaufort prides itself on providing genuine encounters. On a dolphin-watching tour here, you’ll witness these creatures as they truly are—wild, free, and in harmony with their environment. This means every tour is unique, with spontaneous moments that can range from a mother dolphin nurturing her calf to a group engaging in playful antics.
Cast a Line off the Public Dock
Beaufort’s public dock, with its wooden planks weathered by time and tide, serves as a gateway to the vast marine world. Positioned at a strategic point, it offers both novice and seasoned anglers an excellent opportunity to reel in a variety of species.
Depending on the season, you might reel in flounder, red drum, speckled trout, or even the elusive bluefish.
While many seasoned anglers come equipped with their own gear, newcomers to the sport can easily rent or purchase basic fishing equipment from local bait and tackle shops.
Dive Deeper with Scuba Diving
Beaufort’s waters are often termed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the many shipwrecks that lie beneath. Divers can explore these sunken relics, each with its own story, ranging from pirate ships of yore to vessels that met their fate in storms. Over time, many of these wrecks have transformed into artificial reefs, providing sanctuary for diverse marine species.
Dive into the crystal-clear waters, and you’re met with a spectacle of colors and movement. Brightly-hued fish dart amidst corals, while larger species like rays and sharks patrol the deeper realms. Nudibranchs, with their intricate patterns, and curious octopuses add to the rich tableau, making every dive a unique exploration.
Beaufort, North Carolina, is more than just a day-trip destination. It’s a portal into a world where history intertwines with nature, where every street has a story to tell, and every wave brings with it a whiff of adventure. RVers will find ample spots to park and enjoy the stunning vistas, while every traveler, regardless of preference, will discover something in Beaufort that calls out to their heart.
So, on your next journey through North Carolina, make sure a day (or more!) in Beaufort is on your list.
Don’t forget to secure your RV rental for Beaufort, North Carolina today!