NC Travels, North Carolina, Travels

What to Do and Where to Eat in Beaufort, NC

Hi, friends! A couple of weekends ago, Alex and I had a short trip to Beaufort, NC (pronounced “bow-fort”; not to be confused with Beaufort, SC, which is pronounced “b-yew-fort”). It was my first time going to the beach in years, and Beaufort was just lovely. Named “American’s Favorite Town,” Beaufort has both small town charm and rich history, not to mention the waterfront views and amazing food! If you are considering a low-key weekend getaway, I definitely recommend heading out to the coast! In today’s post, I am sharing everything we did and ate.

What to Do

We were pretty lazy during our stay but we did check a few things off of our Beaufort Bucket List! Beaufort is just small enough for most attractions to be very walkable. All places mentioned here (including restaurants) are in walking distance from each other. If you’re staying close enough to Historic Beaufort District/Front Street you really don’t have to worry about parking at all!

Go for a Stroll and Hang Out on Front Street

Beaufort is pretty small and pretty much everything you would want to do and/or see is near Front Street, you might as well take a stroll and check out what is all down there! There are some local shops and restaurants on Front Street so you can spend an entire afternoon on Front Street. We checked out Scuttlebutt Nautical Books & Bounty, which is part bookstore and part gift shop. It is the only independent bookstore in town, and you know I had to pick up a book (28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand–my very first book from her)! Beaufort Mercantile Co. has wine and beer for sale beginning in the late afternoon (might be just a weekend thing). We watched the sun set while sipping on wine.

Check Out Old Burying Ground

The oldest cemetery in town, Old Burying Ground is located in the Beaufort Historic District. We found it to be tranquil and serene. They have a brochure that lists some graves with a story or a historical figure behind it (this is what we used to explore Old Burying Ground). You can also download their mobile app for a free audio tour. Some of the graves are pretty close together so be mindful as you walk through it.

Visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum

With free admission, the North Carolina Maritime Museum is worth a visit! The museum is on the smaller side so you can get through it pretty quickly! Since the Museum is on Front Street, I would stop by here when you have a lull in your itinerary. This would be a fantastic activity if you are visiting Beaufort with children. Museum hours are 10am-4pm Monday through Saturday.

Ferry Out to Shackleford Banks

To be honest, I didn’t care for exploring the nature during this trip but I am SO GLAD Alex insisted on taking a ferry out to the islands. We took a ferry out to Shackleford Banks, where you can watch wild horses, go shelling, swim or sunbathe! While we didn’t get to see the wild horses (just a lot of horse poop lol), it was fun wandering around the island as you’re completely surrounded by wild nature. I do think you can spend all day out there, especially during the season so keep in mind if you plan to take a ferry out.

We used Island Express Ferry Service LLC and were very happy with our decision! One of my pet peeves during the trip was some of the locals not taking the mask-wearing seriously. Island Express Ferry Service was very clear with the mask policy and actually enforced it, which I appreciated immensely. During the ferry ride, you get a little bit of a tour and learn about the town’s history, Shackleford horses, and some of the best local restaurants. The captain of our ferry ride carried just the perfect balance of business and humor! I definitely recommend their ferry service. During the season, they also offer a four-hour ferry trip to Cape Lookout, where you can see the lighthouse.

Where to Eat

You know we researched ahead of time to plan all of our meals and maximize our local food intake. After browsing the Internet (particularly Yelp and my friend Cece’s blog post on Where to Eat in Beaufort), we had a solid list of places we wanted to try! Here are the places we ate at and loved:

Look at that cheese, y’all

Beaufort Grocery

Though I saw Beaufort Grocery come up in almost every search, it was not on our list because I was afraid it would be a tourist trap. When I shared on Instagram that I’ll be in Beaufort for the weekend, a few foodie friends told me I had to go here. We had lunch at Beaufort Grocery for our very first meal in Beaufort. I ordered the No.9 Sonnamabeach sandwich (pictured above), which came LOADED with capicola, Polish ham and salami. Definitely messy but absolutely delicious. Alex enjoyed No.6 Sumpin’s Jumpin’, their Fresh fish sandwich. They have a large outdoor space behind the building, which was lovely. Lianna from Pasta for Breakfast and the lady working at Mercantile Co. recommended this place for a swanky dinner so we’ll definitely be back for dinner in the future!

The chocolate croissant I almost cried over.

Les Ciseaux

I LOVE a good croissant and if you do as well, you MUST check out this place! Beaufort’s Friendly Neighborhood Boulangerie, Les Ciseaux has the best chocolate croissants (vouched for by me) and baguettes (vouched for by the locals who were in the line with me) in the area! We went on one of the last off-season Saturdays and there was a long line before they opened so make sure you get there early! I wrote a dramatic Instagram post and a very detailed Yelp review if you want to read more about Les Ciseaux. A few notes for the out-of-towners like me:

  • Les Ciseaux is only open Thursdays through Saturdays.
  • Baguettes are only available on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Viennoiseries, such as croissants, are only available on Saturdays.
  • They open at 9am but release a new batch of baked goods at 1pm in the afternoon.
This crab dip + this view = happiness

Black Sheep

This is one of the spots Cece sold me on. Located on Front Street, Black Sheep offers sandwiches and brick oven pizzas; it is the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner! After hearing about the Island Express Ferry guide mention their monthly Mac and cheese specials she recently got (crab dic Mac and cheese!!), we almost got the Mac and cheese to start with (shrimp jalapeño was the flavor of the month) but opted for the crab dip instead. It was such a solid choice and we didn’t regret it! I can only imagine how delicious the crab dip Mac and cheese must have been though. We shared the anchovy pizza and I really enjoyed the thin and crispy crust on it. I feel like Black Sheep would be a regular spot for me if I were local.

Aqua Restaurant

Forgive me for these photos as I took them on my iPhone in terrible lighting, but believe me when I tell you this place needs to be on your itinerary! It is definitely one of the pricier options in town, but the food, service, and ambiance all justified the price tag in my opinion. I really appreciated that their menu consists of tapas, small plates, and large plates all with reasonable portions (I hate when restaurants serve the tiniest amount of food and call it tapas/small plate). We shared one of the tapas plates, a good appetizer for two, and each ordered a small plate, which was an equivalent of an entree. I imagine the large plates are sharable sizes.The fried artichokes were some of the best thing I have ever eaten in my life. We already decided to try all of the tapas for our next meal here aka next time we’re back in town. If the rest of the tapas are as good as the fried artichokes, we shall be in food heaven.

On My List for Next Time

City Kitchen & Turner Street Market – These were two of the highest-rated places on Yelp. I consider Yelp reviewers to be stingier than Google or TripAdvisor reviewers so I have no doubt these restaurants have some amazing food!

Mezcalito Grill & Tequila Bar – This place fell off the radar, but the ferry guide mentioned how this was one of her favorite places in town! We almost went here for lunch instead of Black Sheep.

Mill Whistle Brewing – Checking out a local brewery is a must if you’re an alcohol drinker like me! Mill Whistle was on our itinerary but we didn’t get to make it. They have great reviews online and are taking social distancing seriously, which I like to see in any business.

Moonrakers – With their rooftop bar, Moonrakers supposedly has the best view in Beaufort! Unfortunately, the rooftop bar is only open during the season and while the rest of the restaurant was open, we didn’t have time to fit it in. Sipping on some cocktails on their rooftop bar is at the top of my list when I go back during the season!

Olde Beaufort Farmers’Market – If you find yourself in Beaufort during the warmer months, definitely check out the Farmers’ Market. They were not yet open when we visited but will reopen mid-April. Checking out local farmer’ markets is something I try to do on every trip!

Take a Hungry Town Guided Tour – Taking a tour, whether it’d be historical, comedy, or ghost, is my favorite way to learn about a new city when I am visiting for the firs time! We didn’t have time to fit a tour in but when we come back, I want to take a tour from Hungry Town. Fun fact: They get their name from Beaufort’s old name Hungry Town.

What’s your must stop in Beaufort?

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