- Beaufort Historic Site The Beaufort Historic Site’s Apothecary dates back to 1859 (photo courtesy of Hungry Town Tours, Beaufort, NC)
As the third oldest town in the state of North Carolina, Beaufort is sown thick with history, and thanks in large part to the Beaufort Historical Society, much of the richness and charm of its past has been meticulously preserved. Brought together in a convenient cluster near the center of town, the ten-odd buildings that make up the Beaufort Historical Site date as far back as 1732 and include the oldest wood-framed courthouse in the state, an apothecary shop, and an 1829 jail, complete with twenty-eight-inch-thick walls, wooden stocks, and plenty of ghost stories. The Beaufort Historic Site’s offerings don’t stop at architecture, however: the interiors are filled with a wide range of exhibits, from contemporary galleries featuring local artists to artifacts of everyday colonial living.Though it was built in 1874, the Old Jail remained in use until 1954 (photo courtesy of Hungry Town Tours, Beaufort, NC)
- Old Burying Ground Vaulted graves, such as those found in Beufort’s Old Burying Ground, were popular in coastal areas, as they helped keep the graves safe from high water and wild animals (photo courtesy of Linda Dee)
Old Burying Ground has been a part of the city of Beaufort since the early 1700’s, and stands today as a hauntingly beautiful monument to the past. A collection of weather-softened and age-smoothed shell, wood, and vaulted brick markers, the Old Burying Ground bears more resemblance to a softly-tended garden than a necropolis, yet a close look at the monuments within reveals the many heartaches, hopes, and quirks of the city’s earliest residents, including a British officer who is interred standing up (to honor his request to be “buried with his boots on”), the most successful privateer in the War of 1812, Otway Burns, and a young girl who lost her life at sea and was brought back and buried in a barrel of rum. The weather-worn monuments in Old Burying Ground lend a softness to the cemetery (photo courtesy of Susan Smith)
- The Maritime Museum The Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina
Don’t let the unassuming exterior of the Beaufort Maritime Museum fool you: inside the cedar-shake walls lies a treasure trove of nautical knowledge and seafaring lore. The museum offers a little something for everyone, from the nine-hundred-pound, thirty-four-foot rearticulated skeleton of Echo, a sperm whale (along with his eighty-pound plastinated heart), a vast collection of seashells from around the world, and a recently-expanded exhibit on the notorious pirate Blackbeard, whose favorite haunts included the isolated coves and inlets around Beaufort. In 2006, after spending almost 300 years submerged underwater, Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered off of the Beaufort coast, and many of the artifacts that were uncovered—from gilded hilts to cast iron cannons—have found their home in the Museum.
- Shackleford PoniesThe wild ponies of Shackleford Island have been living off the marsh grasses and freshwater pools of the barrier island for over 400 years (photo by Will Padgett)
One of the most extraordinary draws of the North Carolina coast is only a short, fifteen-minute ferry ride from Beaufort, where, on the barrier island of Shackleford Banks, feral horses have roamed the beaches for over 400 years. Theories abound as to how the horses got to the islands, though whether they were the quarry of wrecked Spanish galleons washed ashore or the last remaining residents of failed European settlements, the horses have proved to be incredibly resilient, learning to live from sparse marsh grasses and digging holes down to the water table when the island’s temporary freshwater pools go dry. With no human habitation on Shackleford Island, the horses are free to run wild, enchanting any visitors who are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse. Accessible only by boat or ferry, the Shackleford Banks offer visitors the unique opportunity to view feral horses (photo courtesy of Lori von Gretene)
- Backstreet Pub The Backstreet Pub was voted one of the top fifty bars in the South by Garden and Gun magazine
The “friendliest, funkiest little bar from Maine to Venezuela,” Backstreet Pub is a must-see for anyone who visits Beaufort. Tucked inside a hundred-year-old former bakery, the Backstreet Pub is a favorite of sailors home from sea, tourists, and locals alike. Whether you dip in for one of the fantastic rock, funk, or blues bands that come across the weekend stage, the open-jam Wednesday “Hoot Nights,” or just to sit among the nautical memorabilia and strike up a conversation with one of the waitresses, writers, retired spies, or deep-sea divers that make up the regular crowd, the Backstreet Pub is sure to please.
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