Tucked away on the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina is the “Coolest Small Town in America.” I am not just saying that because Beaufort, North Carolina is one of my favorite little towns. It really does have the honor of being named the “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel Magazine for 2012.
There’s good reason, too. With a population of just over 4,000, this quaint town is rich with famous pirate history, and even though pirates aren’t walking the streets today, the docks are filled with yachts that would make any pirate drool with envy. Boaters typically refuel in this seaport town while sailing on the Atlantic toward the Caribbean.
The infamous pirate Blackbeard was known for spending some time in the town, and his ship “The Queen’s Anne Revenge” ran aground in the Beaufort Inlet. The shipwreck, which had been hidden for more than 270 years, was finally discovered in 1996 off the coast of Beaufort. Today, the Maritime Museum in Beaufort showcases a permanent exhibit with artifacts from the famous shipwreck.
I love to stroll on the docks of Beaufort. Even though we stayed with my father-in-law, who has property in the town, we still lived it up like tourists, ate in some of my favorite restaurants, and took the kids sightseeing. We spent three days exploring the town and North Carolina’s Crystal Coast area, which included tours of Fort Macon State Park and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.
You are not going to find posh, luxury hotels in Beaufort, but you will find charming inns that put you in the middle of the action. The Inlet Inn, located on Front Street, has beautiful water views and is within walking distance of almost every restaurant and attraction in the town. During the peak summer months, water-view rates are $170 for weekend nights.
When I’m town, I love to dine at the Boardwalk Café on the dock for a casual lunch. They have the best tomato bisque soup. This time, though, we ventured next door to have lunch at Queen Anne’s Revenge. It was a great lunch on the water, and I will definitely visit again. Even though the historic area of Beaufort is small, it’s a big epicurean scene. There are several restaurants that will certainly delight the culinary critic. Blue Moon Bistro, The Beaufort Grocery Company, and the Front Street Grill on Stillwater never disappoint. My husband and I had a date night this time at Aqua Restaurant. This tapas-style restaurant, with farm-fresh ingredients and 15 or more specialty martinis on its menu, is a great place to chill for a great meal after a day on the boat.
With the beach towns of Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores and Emerald Isle nearby, beachgoers can easily have dinner in Beaufort or embark on a cruise excursion. A boat trip to Shackleford Island to enjoy the day with wild horses is always a popular option.
And if you love touring homes, then mark your calendar for June 2013 for the 53rd Annual Old Homes and Garden Tour. Nothing beats seeing beautiful homes, then waltzing over to the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for an old-fashioned lunch.
I certainly agree that Beaufort, North Carolina, is the “Coolest Small Town in America.” Its maritime charm entices me to come back year after year. And luckily for me, I can live life to its fullest and visit family in a quaint, cool small town quite often.
Visit N.C.’s Crystal Coast for more information on this beautiful destination, and enter to win a trip to “Coolest Small Town in America” at VisitNC with the Crystal Coast Kick Back and Relax Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes ends on July 31. Good luck. See you in Beaufort!
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