Beaufort is more than just a dot on the map, it’s a lifestyle. From culinary experiences in one of its many fine-dining restaurants to strolling the boardwalk during sunset, the town offers unparalleled simplicity complemented by a beautiful waterfront.
In a town as old a Beaufort is, just about everyone has antiques of one sort or another. There are three antique shops in the downtown area, each with its own character. Furniture, bottles, jewelry, ship models, decoys, paintings…all these and more can be found in Beaufort.
Many artists make their homes in Beaufort. We have several galleries and stores devoted to local and nationally known artists’ work, some of which double as studios where you can study art.
People have been making boats in Beaufort since before Europeans came. Currently there are a few wooden boat builders left, primarily on Harker’s Island, in addition to the NC Maritime Museum Watercraft Center, which works on boats for other museums and not-for-profits and offers classes in traditional boat building arts.
The first weekend in May there are a couple events of interest to wooden boat builders:
Two local firms manufacture fiberglass boats in Beaufort:
Boating has always been a part of life in Beaufort, from the days when people came by boat from Harker’s Island to Beaufort to get their groceries, to the current day when all kinds of boats ply up and down Taylor’s Creek on a summer’s day with locals and vacationers enjoying the sea breezes.
You can buy a boat, build a boat, rent a boat, order one made, or just use your own boat to get off of the mainland and cruise the banks islands for an afternoon. Or you can walk on the boardwalk by the docks and watch other people on their boats coming and going. From paddleboards to the fanciest yachts, we have them all here in Beaufort.
Beaufort is known for its many fine restaurants serving a variety of foods for any palate. Being originally and partially still a fishing community, Beaufort boasts restaurants and markets with excellent seafood choices in addition to farm fare. Below are a few ways to find the right food for your palate:
Carteret Catch is an organization that will get you in touch with fishermen or restaurants serving local seafood.
Local markets include:
Beaufort has a strong farm-to-table tradition which continues to today.
The Olde Beaufort Farmers Market is every Saturday under the live oaks beside the courthouse on the corner of Turner and Broad Streets. It features local farm foods, local seafood, and crafts as well as live music.
The Farmers Market holds a yearly Farm-to-Table fundraising event in April showcasing local foods and raising money for the market.
Many of the local restaurants source local foods. Among them are:
Fresh seafood is available in almost every restaurant in Beaufort. If you are interested in fresh LOCAL seafood, the following restaurants are certified by Carteret Catch, an organization which promotes local seafood: Aqua Restaurant, Beaufort Grocery, Blue Moon Bistro, Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant, & Old Salt Restaurant and Oyster Bar.
We also have two markets selling fresh local seafood to the public:
Live Music is available at several venues in Beaufort:
Between the water, the boardwalk, the banks islands, the wild horses, shells, and other flora and fauna, in Beaufort there is something for everyone in the outdoors. Come and try something new, or stick with an old favorite activity, but do come and enjoy the outdoors!
Plein Air painting is available any time in Beaufort. You can rent supplies at the Beaufort Art Market or bring your own.
For those with a competetive streak, in the first weekend in May there is the Be Here En Plein Air Art Festival & Competition, managed by the Downtown Beaufort Development Association and the Arts Council of Carteret County.
Shrimping is North Carolina’s number one fishing industry, and it is important in Carteret County. In the year 2004 alone, 4.9 million pounds of shrimp were caught in North Carolina waters worth around nine million dollars (Division of Marine Fisheries). Most of these shrimp were caught with trawl nets in our sounds and rivers.
North Carolina has three main types of shrimp: brown, pink and white. Shrimp are estuarine dependent — that means they live in marshes and estuaries when they are very young because it’s safe and there is plenty of food. They grow very quickly, doubling in size every few weeks. When shrimp are almost full grown, they swim out of the estuaries into the ocean.
Shrimp are considered an annual crop because they do not live very long — only about two years. The amount of shrimp we have from year to year varies, depending on the weather. If we have a very cold winter, then we will have a small shrimp population the following spring. If we have lots of rain, then the shrimp will move out into the ocean before they are fully grown.
Brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) are North Carolina’s most abundant shrimp species and support a major commercial fishery along our central and southern coastline. Brown shrimp are spawned in the ocean and carried by tides and wind-driven currents into our estuaries in late winter and early spring.
Most brown shrimp are caught in the summer and have a maximum life span of 18 months. They can grow as large as nine inches. Brown shrimp account for 67% of North Carolina’s shrimp landings.
White shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus), or green tails, are the second-most abundant species in North Carolina. White shrimp are spawned in the ocean from March to November and are carried by tides and wind-driven currents into our estuaries.
White shrimp are harvested primarily in the fall. These shrimp have a maximum life span of 24 months and they can grow as large as eight inches. White shrimp account for 28% of North Carolina’s shrimp landings.
Pink shrimp (Farfantepenaeus duorarum), or spotted shrimp, are spawned in the ocean April through July and carried by tides and wind-driven currents into our estuaries where they overwinter.
Pink shrimp are harvested in the spring and the fall, and have a maximum life span of 24 months. They can grow as large as 11 inches. Pink shrimp account for 5% of North Carolina’s shrimp landings.
Sportsfishing is popular in Beaufort, and with the continental shell and Gulf Stream within striking distance it is no wonder! There are several area tournaments, and two that are in Beaufort: the Barta Boys and Girls Club Tournament and the Spanish Mackerel and Dophin Fishing Tournament.