Beaufort, NC

One of America's Coolest Small Towns

Beaufort NC is the third-oldest town in North Carolina. Nestled on the Intracoastal Waterway, it was founded in 1709 and was  home to fisheries that processed menhaden, a type of herring, into oil and fertilizer. Today, dependent mostly on fishing and tourism, it's a picture-perfect town of about 4,000, with restored Victorian homes dotting the tree-lined streets and a colorful downtown with a myriad clothing boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and antiques shops. 

Named by Travel and Leisure as “America’s Favorite Town” in 2014 and in 2012, Beaufort was ranked as "America's Coolest Small Town" by readers of Budget Travel Magazine. 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. 

Small parks and benches border the seemingly endless docks, 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 Joe or a big breakfast while enjoying the scene. Home to some of the Outer 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 and let your inner mariner shine through. 

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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 unparalleled outdoor seating overlooking the always busy waterfront docks. All of these restaurants feature fresh seafood in abundance, including oysters, blue crabs, shrimp and scallops, and plenty of seasonal fish, Beaufort is a perfect destination for any seafood lover.

A quick ferry ride to Shackleford Banks is a very popular venture, as this island is home to the famous "Shackleford Ponies," the barrier islands' feral residents and the descendants of shipwrecked Spanish Mustangs from passing Spanish ships of the 1500s. In addition, the beaches produce some incredible 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, a waterfront taxi to a neighboring island is a must for anyone who loves spending the majority of their vacation time on the water.

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