This travel guide has been a very popular resource. I am now keeping a more up to date version on my home website. It is in a format that is easier for me to update.
You can see the updated version of this post by clicking this link to the revised Beaufort travel guide. If the latest information on Beaufort isn't critical to you, enjoy this post.
If you've read many of my posts, you know how much I enjoy the Southern Outer Banks. It's always a moral dilemma when you're faced with sharing one of your favorite places with others. You certainly never give away favorite fishing holes, but when it comes to tourist destinations, I think it's fine to share.
That would especially be the case with Beaufort, NC. It has to be one of the nicest places to visit that I have found. You can stay in town and walk any number of exceptional seafood restaurants. There are plenty of shops for the ladies. There are all sorts of water activities, harbor tours, boat rides beaches, and last but not least some of the best fishing on the east coast.
What really makes me comfortable sharing information about Beaufort is that it's actually harder to get to than most beaches that our favored in our area such as Nags Head, Corolla, Wrightsville, and Mytrle Beach. It takes almost three hours and 57 stop lights from Raleigh, NC to make it to Beaufort. That means that very few people will go through the extra hassle to get to Beaufort. That's fine by me, but you should understand what a great place you're missing.
The Beaufort Inn is our favorite spot to stay. They have wireless Internet, great king beds, a hot tub, and a nice free breakfast each morning which includes Katie's sausage and egg pie. Their water view rooms have a small porch overlooking the inlet. They have a 10% AAA discount/or senior discount if you ask for it on check in .
Map to Beaufort Inn
It you want something fancier there are some very neat B&Bs including the Cedars. We love the Cedars and it is more centrally located. It's more expensive, the beds are harder but they have some beautifully decorate rooms including some suites. There is a honeymoon cottage called the Carolina Cottage. Our favorite room is the second floor Bristol, which has a sitting room and a fireplace. You might not like it since it is supposedly haunted with a ghost of a sea captain. We never ran into him.
The Cedars also has wireless. They have great breakfasts with cheese grits served every morning. They are less flexible on their breakfast timing.
To my fisherman's mind, the Beaufort Inn is the best value since it has a dock which allows my fishing guide, Captain Tom Roller of Waterdog Guide Service, just to swing by and pick me up with his boat. If you love to fish, don't miss going out with Tom. He's young, intelligent, enthusiastic, and knows his fish. In reality nothing in Beaufort is very far from a dock. However, you just don't get any closer to a dock than the Beaufort Inn.
We have friends who have stayed at the Anne Street Inn, but it's not on the water. They thoroughly enjoyed their stay and found the free beer to be a great treat.
Among other places to stay, there's also the Pecan Tree Inn and the Bed & Biscuit.
Then there are the restaurants which have made Beaufort a popular year around destination.
There are more good restaurants than you can try in a week. All are walking distance from the places I have suggested .
Being able to ditch your car and to walk to everything is next to the fishing, my favorite thing about Beaufort. You can just forget your gas guzzler once you get there. Traveling by foot, boat, or bike are all popular and great ways to get around.
Also Beaufort has enough wide streets so nothing is crowded except perhaps on the 4th of July. This is unlike Ocracoke and Chincoteague where cars can hardly move most of the time.
The Net House is often first on the list of restaurants. It is a very casual place which has been recommended by some of the movie stars that pass through the area via the inter-coastal waterway. It is often favored by some year around residents.
Sometimes the Nethouse is only open for dinner, but you never know. The always on the special broiled grouper with a Dijon mustard sauce is pretty hard to beat, then there are the fried soft shell crabs, flounder or oysters, and also fantastic steamers when in season. The steamers are the best price in town. If you love classic Carolina fried seafood, the Net House is your spot.
Of course the traditional hush puppies come out first. Their chowder is the Hatteras type which means no cream. The service is friendly and you'll definitely think you're in a typical coastal fish house. Of course I think they serve better fish than almost any other I have visited.
One of our personal favorites is Spouters. They don't even have a deep fryer, and you can eat on the water. I love their mixed grill which comes with grilled Tuna, shrimp, and scallops. They also have great flounder, wahoo, and especially delicious desserts.
Then if you want a fancier atmosphere, exceptional service, a beautiful dining room or a deck on the water check out Front Street Grill at Stillwater. They sometimes have some very unusual entries on the menu. Their chowder is usually exceptional. Front Street is very popular for lunch but somewhat expensive. It is a better value at dinner
Finz's is our favorite place for lunch, they have a great shrimp melt sandwich and very good salads.
Another really nice place for lunch or dinner is the Beaufort Grocery. It is a very interesting restaurant with a varied menu and excellent service.
Then there is the Blue Moon Bistro where I took Glenda for our anniversary last year. Very good service and well prepared, exceptional food.
Clawson's is a good place for lunch, sometimes has exceptional flounder. More of a bar/restaurant like Clydes
We've also enjoyed Aqua which is one of those multi tiny plate restaurants.
There's is a steak house, Ribeye's but we have never gotten around to eating in it.
There are several others including a new very fancy one that we haven't tired (Sharpie's and there is the Dock House which is on the water, fine for beer and music but avoid the heavily battered food.
As for entertainment- there's a great Maritime museum which is also in walking distance.
Across the street from that is an addition to the museum where they build these beautiful wooden boats. These are not small boats so it is fascinating to watch them work.
Then there is the historic Beaufort site and museum which is like a tiny Williamsburg with some very old buildings, the old grave yards, all within walking distance. The Ghost walk, a London Bus tour of town. some evenings there are horse drawn carriage rides
Then you can drive about fifteen minutes over to Fort Macon or Atlantic beach for beach walks, or take one of the many water taxis over to Carrot Island which is just minutes away by boat.
Of course there are a plethora of boat rides, tours, sunset cruises etc, also kayak rentals etc. Our friend Robert went kayaking while I was fishing the last time we were down. He had a great time and got very close to the wild ponies.
The water in the Beaufort Inlet are very calm, the Mystery is a large tour boat which even those fearful of the sea can handle. There is a giant speed boat that goes to Cape Lookout and a catamaran that also goes there and does sunset cruises.
There are plenty of sail boats that do cruises also.
You can also drive up to Cape Lookout and take a quick ten minute boat ride over there. That's our preferred method since the ride up takes you through some interesting territory.
You can read about how much I enjoy going over to Cape Lookout in my post entitled, "The best twenty dollars you'll ever spend."
They are both favorites of our friend Diane. There is also a wine bar/wine shop, The Cru Wine Bar and Store, a shop for birders, and more antique shops and things than I can handle. Glenda, my wife, never has a problem finding one to wander into for a few minutes.
There's a great nautical bookstore, and another bookstore run by someone who used to write for one of the San Francisco papers and then retired to Beaufort. Of course there is the historic general store, a fudge and ice cream shop, and some nice spots with outdoor gear.
If you want more pictures you can check out this set of slides on my Flickr site.
On top of that there were plenty of fishermen in the inlet hoping to catch some "spots."
I've already written about my successful fishing trip in the post, "Not her first choice."
The real estate agents will tell you that Beaufort is a great place for "OPALS" or Older People with Active Life Styles.
I think it is great place for anyone who enjoys the water, sand, great food, friendly people and an absence of crowds.
Don't expect the stores to open at any particular time and count on eating lots of seafood and you'll have a great time.
I'll look forward to running into more Roanoke people down on the Southern Outer Banks or SOBX as the stickers call it.
Fall is a great time of year to visit, there's no humidity and the restaurants are even more eager to see you.