May 19, 2013
People occasionally ask us, why Beaufort?
Why do we love Beaufort and promote it every chance we get?
Good question, easy answer:
Across these United States, we have a problem with scale.
Things are often just too big.
Many of our vacation, resort, and tourism spots now have one thing in common – big chains, big franchises, and big mass-produced pop culture. These things are familiar, but the scale is off. As people, we can only be in one place at a time, doing one thing at a time, within a human-sized space.
I can drive now from Burlington, North Carolina to Bozeman, Montana and see the same dozen or so large-scale mass marketers hocking their wares at every interstate highway exit across the North American continent. No need to name the litany of mass production that makes up so much of our countryside. We all know the restaurants, the hotels and motels, the gas stations, truck stops, and big box retailers that are so awfully familiar.
Our vacation spots are often no different.
But…(and this is a good “but”)
But, some places resist this trend. Beaufort is one such place.
Beaufort, North Carolina is different.
Like a number of small places, Beaufort celebrates the local perfectly, without even intending to.
That is one of the reasons we love Beaufort.
Beaufort celebrates the small and the local. It celebrates a slow pace, too. That pace is often driven by the wind in your sails. That pace allows for time to savor good things. As people in business to advise our clients on how to relax, Beaufort is very near the top of our list of recommendations. The localist perspective that is inherent in a place like Beaufort will help you relax and get back in touch with the whole concept of leisure.
The historic waterfront area of Beaufort, from Front Street west to east and from Cedar Street south to Taylor’s Creek, is almost completely devoid of the franchise or the chain and is made up of almost entirely of residences and locally-owned businesses.
Visitors to Beaufort can choose between small local hotels, a number of inns and bed and breakfasts, and a variety of vacation rental homes. There’s not a chain motel in sight.
If you are looking for a trip to Shackleford Banks or a sail to Cape Lookout, there are only a few options, all rooted in the community. If you want to rent a kayak or a standup paddleboard to enjoy Taylor’s Creek and the Rachel Carson Reserve, there’s no REI in sight, only Beaufort Inlet Watersports.
As for food and drink, there’s only one, maybe two chain/franchised choices and they are so subtle that I challenge even the locals to name them. For the shoppers, there are plenty of nationally known name brands available – mostly nautically themed, as well as a North Carolina brand or two – but they must be purchased from Carteret County-based businesses.
Beaufort is possibly the most pedestrian friendly town in North Carolina.
A visitor can park the car and not need it again for an entire stay even of a week or more.
Beaufort is a place that you can come back to again and again. Even the occasional visitor will be known by face, if not by name, by more than a person or two in Beaufort. Folks wave from boats and from porches. They take time to say hello and chat. At the businesses, the warmth and apprecition for patrons is real. Think Antonio at the Rhum Bar, Joy at the Inlet Inn, or any of the ladies at the Blue Moon Bistro who are known to welcome you by name on your second visit. You’ve probably had the same experience somewhere else in Beaufort.
Beaufort and places like it are small and they are beautiful. And, they are the best places on the face of the planet to relax.
Not to say that those mass marketers can’t do it right sometimes, they can (if you’ve ever been on a Disney Cruise or to a Sandals Resort you’ll know that in a heartbeat), but sometimes we all need a human scale to relax and get back in touch with the true meaning of leisure.