RISMEDIA, Feb. 25, 2008-(MCT)–Once a bustling seaport, Beaufort likes to boast that it’s the third-oldest town in North Carolina, dating from 1709.Another distinction is its claim that it was once the headquarters of Blackbeard, the notorious pirate.
Today, it is better known for the dozens of historic homes and commercial buildings that line its small but marvelously preserved downtown.
Beaufort’s business district is reminiscent of a small European town, because old homes and businesses are still used today as they have been for the past three centuries.
The main street lies along Taylor’s Creek, a tidal tributary off Beaufort Inlet. Where the creek once saw commercial sailing vessels anchored and waiting to moor along the seawall, today’s vessels are nearly all pleasure craft.
Beaufort still has a significant fleet of commercial fishing boats, which was the major economic activity from the end of the Civil War until well into the last century.
We stayed at the Inlet Inn, built in 1985 to re-create a historic hotel that sat on the site from 1850 until it was torn down in 1967.
With its big, airy, high-ceilinged rooms, the inn (800-554-5466, www.inlet-inn.com) is one of the upscale hotels in the area, but the rates are modest, ranging from $95 in the off-season to $155 in summer for a waterfront room with a porch where you can have breakfast and perhaps see some of the wild horses that roam an island across the harbor.
Beaufort now offers tours of the historic district and the 300-year-old cemetery that holds soldiers from both the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
This area is being promoted as the Crystal Coast, an apt name for a place that boasts vast expanses of protected bays and inlets off 20-mile-wide Pamlico Sound and miles of nearby ocean beaches where the surf rolls onto golden sands.
The climate here tends to be milder in winter than it is 20 miles across the sound and 50 miles up the coast, where the Outer Banks make a sharp turn north at Cape Hatteras. But the entire area benefits from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream rolling past about 30 miles offshore.
For more information: www.beaufort-nc.com
© 2008, Detroit Free Press.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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