Beaufort is hands-down one of my favorite places in North Carolina. Three hours from Raleigh, the historic district has a great waterfront with some fantastic restaurants and bars, unique shops and great scenery. If you’re lucky, you may see some of the wild horses grazing on Carrot Island, which is just across the waterway. You can sign up for various water tours and cruises at the dock, or just kick back and watch the boats come and go at this charming little town by the sea.
If we stay in Beaufort instead of nearby Emerald Isle, we usually choose the Inlet Inn or the Beaufort Inn. During the summer, both require a minimum 2-night stay on the weekends. Neither have pools, which is their only drawback. I have also stayed at the Pecan Tree Inn, a great little bed and breakfast place if that is your thing (I’m not a big fan of B&Bs, but this one is nice.)
Unfortunately, you have to drive to the beach, but it is not too far away, approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on time of year and traffic. We like to go to Fort Macon, which is a great place to watch the boats go by, but no alcohol is allowed since it’s a state park. If you want to enjoy some adult beverages, head down Highway 58 and park at any of the public beach access places.