Beaufort is a pedestrian-friendly town.
Beaufort is probably one of the most pedestrian-friendly towns anywhere in the state of North Carolina.
If you are visiting and staying in Beaufort, you can drive into town, park, and never get back into the car until you have to leave. Everything you need to enjoy your visit is available via a short walk.
The ability to park and never get back in the car for an entire trip was one of the things that made Beaufort a perfect spot for us to relax. Staying out of the car and out of Carteret County tourist traffic (which can get sticky at times, especially during the summer) will make your trip to the area significantly more relaxing!
While you can just set off strolling in Beaufort and be perfectly fine, having some direction can help you see the best of Beaufort in short order.
That’s why we are beginning a series - Walking Around Beaufort. We’ll be detailing the best routes to walk and enjoy all Beaufort has to offer. This is our first Walking Around Beaufort route. Use it as a guide for a leisurely stroll or a route for a run, or just enjoy the photos.
We’ll begin this walking route at the corner of Front and Queen Streets.
The preceding link will take you to Google Maps for this spot. Google’s Street View will also give you some good shots of this entire route, though they do appear to be a few years old and were apparently taken on a clear winter day.
The corner of Front and Queen Streets is right beside the Inlet Inn and Taylor’s Creek Grocery as well as across from the Boardwalk Café and Queen Anne’s Revenge. This spot is also just down the block from Beaufort Grocery and Blue Moon Bistro, and is on the eastern end of Beaufort’s waterfront area.
Remember, Front Street runs east to west, along the length of Taylor’s Creek (not exactly a traditional creek but a harbor and a stretch of water bounded by Beaufort on one side and Carrot Island on the other).
Face the water and take a right (west). This will have you strolling down the sidewalk, along the storefronts. If it is before 8:00am or so, you will likely have most of the town to yourself. You can spend the first part of this walk window shopping.
If it is late afternoon when you start the walk, some crowds may be strolling along with you, but you’ll be catching the beginnings of a great sunset.
Beaufort has a great selection of small shops to walk by, most have a nautical theme of one sort or another whether it be clothes or gifts.
In the first block, you’ll pass the General Store, which is a great place for ice cream, and our kids love browsing the variety of gifty items. Continue walking and you’ll pass the Jarrett Bay Boathouse, and then come to a beautiful old home that I believe was formerly a school known as the Carteret Academy.
Just past Carteret Academy, you’ll cross the intersection with Craven Street and continue heading east. You are now in the center of Beaufort’s downtown waterfront area.
Next, you’ll pass the rather dramatic First Citizens’ Bank Building (the history of which I do not know) and come to the intersection of Front and Turner Streets.
Down Turner Street you can see the venerable Royal James Café, the Cru Wine Bar, and the newest Beaufort eatery, Old Salt Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Turner Street is the main thoroughfare from Highway 70 to the Beaufort waterfront and historic district.
Once you cross Turner Street, you’ll pass the North Carolina Maritime Museum and enter a residential stretch of Front Street until its end along Gallants Channel. If you are following the preceding link to Google Maps, you will see a small traffic circle by the water. This is the very western edge of Front Street.
The homes along this part of Front Street are some of the grandest in Beaufort, but even so, the residents will often be out on the front porches and are almost always the first to say hello.
Walk slowly and dream a little about what living in one of these homes would be like (just ignore the thoughts of how much the flood insurance must cost).
You’ll then come to the intersection of Front and Moore Streets.
Take a right and you’ll enter another small residential area with a flavor all its own. Pay attention to the yards, small gardens, and interesting fences.
When you come to the intersection of Moore and Ann Streets, cross Moore Street and head back towards the water and Front Street.
Once you are back on Front Street, take a right and you’ll pass a few more interesting houses until you reach the Duncan House, the very last home on the west end of Front Street – on this map the Duncan House is the house beside the traffic circle.
The Duncan House is one of the oldest homes still standing in Beaufort, and was a source of controversy earlier in 2012. The then owners of the home wanted to demolish it and build a new house on the property. A protracted debate over such an action broke out in town and the owners sold to another couple in town who wanted to refurbish the Duncan House and use it as their primary residence.
Walk by slowly, it really is a wonderful home, with one of the best views in Beaufort.
Once past the Duncan House, the sidewalk ends and you come to a small traffic circle that marks the end of Front Street and the shoreline where Taylor’s Creek and Gallants Channel meet. Across Gallants Channel is Pivers Island and the Duke University Marine Lab. Across Taylor’s Creek is the west end of Carrot Island and farther out is Beaufort Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.
Looking toward the Ocean and slightly to the west, you can see Bogue Banks and Fort Macon. The Fort is marked by a large white flagpole that is easily visible from this spot.
Several benches sit by the water just past the circle. Have a seat, take a break, and enjoy the view.
Once you have had the chance to take a short rest, start walking back east along the water. The first hundred yards along the water lacks a sidewalk, just walk along the street or step up into the grass.
After a brief walk back to the east, you will pick up the sidewalk.
Try not to trip, because you eyes will be drawn across the water and along the docks. After another 100 yards or so, the buildings start again. The first you come to is a large rectangular building which is actually a private residence.
Then, the businesses pick up again, and you’ll pass The Spouter Inn restaurant among other shops. You’ll then reach a small park, the Topsail Marine Memorial Park, on your right just before you get to the Front Street Grill at Stillwater. Take another short break and walk into the park and out on the dock for a great view of the west end of Taylor’s Creek.
Just past the park along both sides of Front Street is the North Carolina Maritime Museum (on the side opposite the water) and its companion project, the Harvey Smith Watercraft Center. While the Museum is good for a more extended visit, the Watercraft Center is the Museum’s working wooden boat building shop. The front doors are often open and you can pause during a walk for a quick look around. Many times, you can see local craftsmen at work building classic wooden boats.
Continue east down Front Street, and just as you pass Finz Grill, take a right and head towards Beaufort’s boardwalk and public floating docks.
Once you make the boardwalk continue heading east. On weekends and holidays, the docks will be filled with boats ranging from small skiffs to multi-million dollar yatchs.
Dream a little.
About halfway down the boardwalk on your left, you’ll see a small stone monument to Michael Smith. Capt. Smith was a US naval officer and astronaut who piloted the space shuttle Challenger on that disastrous day in 1986. Capt. Smith was from Beaufort.
Not far from the monument to Capt. Smith is one of Beaufort’s most familiar sights. The nautical flag pole at the center of the waterfront. The signal flags spell out B-E-A-U-F-O-R-T.
As you pass the flagpole, you’ll come upon a stand of live oaks beside the Dockhouse, the bar and restaurant, but also command central for the docks operation. Under the oaks is a great place to sit and watch the boats go by.
Alcohol is allowed on the boardwalk in the area immediately around the Dockhouse. In the evening, the Dockhouse often has live music and this area of the Boardwalk will be packed with people enjoying the music.
Continuing east, almost to the end of the Boardwalk, is the building often known as the Beaufort House, formally a single restaurant, but know home to several businesses, including the Boardwalk Cafe and Queen Anne’s Revenge. We mentioned both at the beginning of this guide, so the walk is almost over.
You’ll come around the corner of that building as you reach the end of the boardwalk and see the Lookout, a catamaran that is the flagship of Lookout Cruises. See our story about sailing on the Lookout.
When the boardwalk ends, you’ll be back at the corner of Front and Queen Streets.
This is the first route in our series of Walking Around Beaufort. Depending on how fast you walk, this one should take you somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour. It’s a great walk for any time of day, but we really love it first thing in the morning, just as the sun is coming up.
Do this walk at sunrise and you’ll feel like you’re the only person in Beaufort.