Beaufort NC and Area Attractions

Beaufort Historic Site  
100 Block of Turner Street 728-5225 
      The Beaufort Historical Association was formed in 1960. It was slow to grow, but eventually a small group, with a vision for preserving, raised money to purchase and move the historic buildings to the "restoration grounds," as it was called. Today the two-acre site depicts late-18th and early-to-mid 19th century life in Beaufort, including ten buildings, six authentically restored. Buildings include the 1796 Carteret County Courthouse, the 1829 Jail, 1859 Apothecary and the Rustull House (Mattie King Gallery). Living history demonstrations and guided tours describe the lifestyles, customs and architecture unique to the area. The site is open to the public year round.


North Carolina Maritime Museum 
315 Front Street 728-7317
     The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort collects, preserves, researches, documents, and interprets the maritime history, culture and environment of coastal North Carolina.
     Originally a small museum on Turner Street, known then as the Hampton Mariners Museum, by the late 1970s, Harvey and Evelyn Smith had become strong supporters. Smith owned and operated one of the largest Menhaden fishing and processing businesses in the country. Smith's menhaden fleets operated up and down the coast, and in South America. Over the years he had collected numerous ship models and other seafaring memorabilia and hoped to build a museum. In 1980, after her husband's death, Mrs. Smith donated the property on Front Street. Mrs. Smith offered curator Charles McNeill anything the museum could use from her husband's extensive maritime collection. Late in 1984, the State General Assembly authorized a name change, and the museum became the North Carolina Maritime Museum.
     The museum officially opened on May 18, 1985. The style of the 18,000 square-foot, $2.5 million structure combined 19th century Beaufort architecture with early designs of US Lifesaving Service buildings.

     Visit the museum for a taste of coastal cultures and maritime history. Exhibits feature the state’s rich seafood industry, life-saving stations, lighthouses, sailboats and motorboats. The Museum is the official repository for artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground near Beaufort in 1718.

     Don't miss the Harvey Smith Watercraft Center

Photos courtesy David Sobotta
Old Burying Ground
400 Block of Ann Street 

     In June 1724, the trustees of the town of Beaufort deeded to the “wardens of the Parish of St. Johns and the rest of the Vestrymen,” Old Town Lot 91. This acquisition of land is the earliest date indicating the use of the present burying ground. Although the earliest legible date of death is 1756, many of the older markers have no dates or inscriptions are illegible.
     Surrounded by a concrete wall, with recessed panels between posts topped by simple spheres, the burying ground is shaded throughout by many gnarled old trees, notably live oaks whose branches are covered by resurrection ferns, which revive after each rain. It is crowded with markers of various designs, including table stones, obelisks and official military markers. The best known is that of Otway Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812. His grave is marked by a large box-like stone; the top is embedded with a canon from his privateer Snap Dragon.      

     Many of the older graves have simple vertical cypress slabs—of some 17 designs in all, each with weathered, lichen-spotted texture. Another common grave treatment is the construction, in front of a stone marker, of a grave cover of brick, usually about two feet in height, which protects the grave from being washed out in the sandy soil. Some are rounded and some are of a gabled configuration, but all run the length of the coffin. These occur singly, but more frequently are lined up in family groups. Many of the family plots are surrounded by handsome wrought and cast-iron fences. Varying from simple stones to elaborate monuments with urns, figures and crosses, many are signed, providing a museum of the stonecutter’s art during the 18th and 19th centuries. Stones come from such places as Boston, Charleston, Brooklyn and Baltimore. From North Carolina only the port city of Wilmington is represented. There are some 200 stones from the pre-Civil War era, approximately 45 from the war period, about 150 from 1865 to 1900, and a few 20th-century markers. 
     A few notable graves include: Dr. Josiah Davis, who practiced medicine in the 1859 Apothecary; Vienna Dill, child who died of yellow fever and was buried in a glass top case; Samuel Leffers, schoolmaster; Jechonias Willis, killed during 1862 siege of Ft. Macon; Sgt. George Johnson, US colored infantryman during Civil War; British Officer, died on ship in Beaufort harbor and buried standing up; and Crissie Wright Common Grave, three sailors who froze to death in the shipwreck.  
     The Beaufort Historical Association provides guided tours. Self-guided tour brochures are available at the welcome center on Turner Street. 

Rachel Carson Reserve 
(252) 838-0883
      The Rachel Carson Reserve, part of Carolina Estuarine Reserve Foundation, is located near the mouth of the Newport River in southern Carteret County, directly across Taylor's Creek from the historic town of Beaufort. This site is a complex of islands: Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. These islands are more than three miles long and less than a mile wide, covering 2,315 acres.
     The Rachel Carson Reserve is open to the public for enjoyment. Fishing, boating, sailing kayaking, shell-fishing and shelling are all common activities on and around the site. Town Marsh, Carrot Island and Bird Shoal receive the most use because of their easy access by boat or kayak. 
     The island of Town Marsh has a marked self-guided trail. Visiting the Carrot Island boardwalk (directly across Taylor's Creek from the boat ramp on Lennoxville Road - east end of Front Street) is a great way to learn about the estuarine environment and what plants and animals are found at the reserve. Interpretive signs provide a self-guided tour. The platform at the end of the boardwalk is a great place for birding and a view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse.   
     The reserve is not a place for trash. When visiting the reserve, please take your litter with you when you leave. Unleashed dogs are also a constant problem on the reserve; dogs tend to chase colonial nesting birds disrupting feeding, breeding and nesting.
Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Rachel Carson Reserve are both home to wild horses.  The horses do not swim back and forth between Shackelford Banks and RCR, but they do swim between marsh islands on their respective reserves.
If you get too close to a wild horse, you could be charged, kicked or bitten. Watch from at least 50 feet. If horses come toward you, move away or, if you can't, stay very still while they pass. Horses have the right-of-way. If a horse stops what it's doing to stare at you, stop or back up. 
     The wild horses are protected by law. Feeding, touching, teasing or intentionally disturbing wildlife, including horses, is dangerous and illegal. The best way to enjoy observing the wild horses is to use binoculars and watch them from afar. 
Rachel Carson - An Overview 
 Rachel Carson's Facebook Page 

The Mullet Line Trolley
2400 Lennoxville Road
Beaufort, NC
(252) 838-1524
     The Beaufort Trolley, known as the Mullet Line Trolley, is the most convenient way to get around town. There is a Loop Route that runs Thursday through Sunday on a 20 minute schedule.   
     Other than special events, the Trolley only operates from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM for $1 all-day pass, per person.  
     Free Park-N-Ride lots are located at 204 US 70 along North & South Cedar Street, just past the Beaufort Draw Bridge. The route includes stops at Front Street Village, Beaufort Town Hall, Inlet Inn, Historical East, North & South Cedar St. Park-N-Ride lots, Historical West, NC Maritime Museum, Waterfront Boardwalk and the Town Docks.

Area Attractions
Cape Lookout Lighthouse 
(252) 728-0708
      The present Cape Lookout lighthouse was completed in 1859 at a cost of $45,000. The lighthouse stands 163 feet above sea level and was equipped with a 1st-order Fresnel lens. The powerful beacon could be seen from at least 19 miles away. After its construction, Cape Lookout became a model for all tower lighthouses constructed on the Eastern U.S. coast from that point on. When the remaining four North Carolina lighthouses were finished (Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras, Bodie, and Currituck), the Lighthouse Board painted each different designs to easily distinguish one from another. Cape Lookout was painted in a black and white diamond pattern. Three full white diamonds facing east and west. The north and south-facing sides have two full black diamonds and have a half of black diamond at the top and bottom of the tower.

     During the Civil War, the lighthouse became very important. The area surrounding the new Cape Lookout Lighthouse served as a military stronghold. When the Confederates were forced to retreat in 1861, they attempted to blow up both beacons so they would be inoperable for arriving Union soldiers. The original Cape Lookout was almost completely destroyed and the blast severely damaged the new lens. The following year, the Lighthouse Board re-lit the lighthouse with a 3rd order Fresnel lens. Currently, the Coast Guard owns and operates the lighthouse, and the National Park Service owns the surrounding area.
     The visitor center in the keepers' quarters adjacent to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse is open from 9AM to 5PM from April to November. The tower is open for climbing from mid-May to mid-September. Tickets may be reserved for climbing by calling (252) 728-0708 between 9:30AM to 4PM Monday through Friday. Reservations can only be made for dates the same week and must be made at least one day in advance.
East end of Bogue Banks 
Tours: April through October
11am, Noon, 2pm & 3pm   
     Built in 1826-1834 on the east end of Bogue Banks in Carteret County, Fort Macon replaced Fort Dobbs, a wooden structure built in 1756 and Fort Hampton, a similar structure which eventually washed away.
     Today the fort looks much the same as when it was built. The pentagon-shaped fortress is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. General Robert E. Lee was stationed at Fort Macon as a young Army officer. The
scene of an significant Civil War Battle while occupied by Confederate troops, the fort was under a Union artillery siege from March 23 - April 26, 1862. Its fall into Union hands gave the Northern forces complete control of the entire North Carolina coast. It was re-garrisoned during the Spanish-American War and again during World War II.
     Fort Macon is now a 398 acre state park, one of the most popular in the United States. Swimming, fishing, nature programs and trails, guided tours of the fort, a museum with numerous exhibits and audio-visual displays are some of the activities available.
     Fort Macon State Park is located on the eastern end of Bogue Banks. US 70 to Morehead City. Cross the bridge to Atlantic Beach. Turn left on NC 58 (Fort Macon Road). The fort is located at the tip of the island.
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center
1785 Island Rd.
Harkers Island, NC
(252) 728-1500
     Nestled at "the end of the road" on Harkers Island, the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center was established in 1992 and is a true grassroots partnership. For more than a decade the Waterfowl Museum has been a
clearinghouse for heritage, traditions and history of the Down East communities of Carteret County—a hub for heritage tourism. Exhibits and programs focusing on local heritage are offered year round, and the museum houses the area's finest collection of carvings and waterfowl art. The museum archives oral histories and artifacts from the Down East communities. Museum staff offers programs for school groups, bus tours, church trips and others.
     From the tower, visitors can view the spectacular expanse of Core Sound in a manner and from a visual perspective that has never before been possible, even for long-time residents. The panorama includes Shell Point, Shackelford and Core Banks, Core and Back Sounds, and Cape Lookout Lighthouse, and many Down East communities.
     Call to schedule a tour and plan for a real "Down East" experience with local carvers, boat builders, storytellers and musicians.

252-247-4003 or 800-832-3474
1 Roosevelt Blvd - Pine Knoll Shores, NC
Feel the spray of a mountain waterfall. Watch river otters play. Touch a stingray. Look a shark in the eye. Explore shipwrecks without getting wet. See a rare white sea turtle. Thousands of aquatic animals take you on a journey from the state’s grand peaks to the open Atlantic. See “Plan Your Visit” for more on these activities and other family fun at one of the coast’s most popular attractions.
Hours: 9AM to 5PM - Daily except Christmas
DIRECTIONS: 5 miles west of Atlantic Beach. From NC 58, turn onto Pine Knoll Blvd at the stoplight, Milepost 7; turn left onto Roosevelt Blvd.