Beaufort NC is distinctive in that the cool waterfront town can appeal to visitors of all tastes, styles, and ages, and this is especially evident when it comes to the region’s youngest visitors.

From wild pirate-themed tours and cruises to afternoon ice cream trips, there are plenty of activities for the young and the young-at-heart to discover.

Check out these essential activities for kids on your next Beaufort vacation, and get busy creating fun and amazing memories that will linger well after your Crystal Coast stay is over.

NC Maritime Museum

North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort – The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort is a must stop for visitors of all ages, simply because of its wealth of exhibits that chronicles the area’s rich history throughout the centuries. Kids will especially adore the interactive pirate’s exhibit, with relics from Blackbeard’s favorite vessel the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the massive seashell room with shells from all over the world, and the cool boats that are on full display in the heart of the museum. Look for special kid friendly programs that may be offered at the museum throughout the year, including kid-friendly “Build a Boat in a Day” classes, and special story hours or craft classes and programs.

Beaufort Historic Site headquarters

Beaufort Historic Site – With a creepy jail, a lush herb garden, and hands-on ways to discover life in 18th century Beaufort, kids can dive into the historical scene of the community while having fun at the Beaufort Historic Site. This collection of nine buildings in the heart of the downtown area has a range of activities for kids that are led by costumed interpreters, and the site’s youngest visitors will especially adore touring the town in a vintage 1967 double decker English bus, complete with a wide open top level for breezy sightseeing.

A pirate ship tour in Beaufort NC

Beaufort Pirate Tours – Beaufort has a long history with infamous pirates, and these stories are on full display through a myriad of different tours that will fascinate kids and adults alike. For an on-land adventure, sign up for “The Legend of Blackbeard Tour,” which is a walking exploration of the town that’s guided by a pirate in full costume, and which outlines the stories of Calico Jack, Anne Bonney, and Blackbeard himself. For an on-the-water adventure, check out the popular Pirate Cruise / Tour, which features a costumed swashbuckling crew, a pirate invasion, and a battle of water cannons that will have kids shrieking with delight. Both tours are regularly available throughout the summer months, and will be a surprisingly educational vacation highlight for pirate fans of all ages.

Beaufort Dolphin Watches – A wide range of tours launch from the Beaufort waterfront along Front Street, and some of the most popular tours with the younger crowd are the dolphin watching cruises. These tours, which explore the barely inshore waters of the Back Sound, encounter pods of playful dolphins while en route, providing plenty of photo opportunities as well as a chance to learn all about these favorite local residents. Tours are often available throughout the summer season, and last just a couple of hours at most, making them easily accessible for visitors of all ages, and all attention spans.

A wild horse tour to the Shackleford Banks from Beaufort NC

Beaufort Wild Horse Tours – One of the most famous attractions off the coast of Beaufort are the herds of wild horses that are descendants of Spanish mustangs from centuries ago, and one of the best ways to see these remarkable residents is via a wild horse tour or cruise that launches from the Downtown Beaufort Docks. Circling the Shackleford Banks and the Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve where herds of the feral horses roam, kids and adults alike can learn all about these wild residents while enjoying some great photo opportunities from an on-the-water perspective.

Shackleford Banks adjacent to Beaufort NC

Shackleford Banks Excursions – It’s a fact that kids love a day at the beach, and Beaufort vacationers can enjoy an easy trek to a pristine and undeveloped shoreline by taking a water taxi to the nearby Shackleford Banks. The local water taxis depart from the downtown waterfront every 15-30 minutes in the summer months, making a trip to the beach an easy adventure. Once on the sand, kids will enjoy miles of swimming, shelling, sandcastle building, and fishing in every direction, with ample room to explore. Water taxis can be booked in advance online, or simply by stopping by the local docks, and the ensuing 15-20 minute trip across the sound is a fun ride for water fans of all ages.

Cape Lookout

Cape Lookout Excursions – For a more in-depth beach excursion, book a trip across the sound to the famed Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Cape Lookout National Seashore. This secluded shoreline that’s roughly a 40 minute cruise away from the Beaufort docks is home to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, which visitors can climb in the summer months to enjoy unparalleled views of the Crystal Coast shoreline. There is a small fee to climb the 208 steps to the top, and climbers who are 12 years old or younger must be accompanied by someone 16 years of age or older. (In addition, children must be at least 44” inches tall to climb the lighthouse due to the often strong winds at the top that can knock children off their feet.) Besides the lighthouse, the Cape Lookout National Seashore also features exceptional shelling and fishing, which makes it a fun beach day-trip destination for visitors of all ages.

Rachel Carson Reserve

Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve Excursions – For a natural expedition that’s easy to reach, visitors can hop aboard a water tax or kayak, and take a tour of the Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve. Located just across the creek from Downtown Beaufort, this isolated nature preserve is home to several nature trails as well as a wide range of wildlife, including feral horses, water birds and shorebirds, reptiles and amphibians, and all manner of coastal critters. The Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve often offers summertime programs and guided tours designed with kids in mind, which makes an expedition even easier, and even more educational.

Ghostly Walking Tours – Who doesn’t love a great ghost story? Older kids who aren’t afraid of the dark will love taking a tour of Downtown Beaufort after hours, where eerie sites like the live oak-lined Old Burying Ground and the Old Beaufort Jail are brought to vivid life. With tales of centuries-old ghosts, historic legendary figures, and plenty of pirates, a ghostly walking tour can put the town’s rich history in an entirely new and fascinating perspective.

A kayak tour on Rachel Carson Reserve

Kayaks and Paddle Boarding – Kayaking and paddle boarding are quickly becoming two of the most popular watersports in the Crystal Coast, and Beaufort visitors will find ample opportunities to get their toes wet in these undeniably fun on-the-water activities. Kayak and paddle board rentals are available all along the waterfront docks on Front Street, and several local watersports companies also offer guided sunset or nature paddling tours, so newcomers can discover the area with a little local guidance. Kayaks and paddle board rentals are available on an hourly, daily, or even weekly basis, giving explorers ample opportunities to embark on waterfront adventures. Just watch for the local maritime traffic along Taylor’s Creek, which can be thick in the summer months.

Kayak Fishing on the Shackleford Banks

Fishing – There are a myriad of ways for young anglers to enjoy a little fishing in Beaufort, where the open sound waters produce plenty of great, photo-worthy catches. Visitors can book an inshore or even an offshore charter trip via the businesses that are stationed along the Front Street Docks, can cast a line or toss a cast net from the waterfront along Taylor’s Creek, or can even head to local piers and fishing platforms, like the Causeway Pier that’s located on the edge of the Morehead/Beaufort Causeway. No matter where you go, the variety of seasonal catches provides plenty of opportunities for kids to develop a lifetime love of fishing along the Crystal Coast. 

Sweets, sweets, and more sweets! – Beaufort is the perfect town for visitors with a sweet tooth, thanks to a collection of shops that specialize in sugary treats. The downtown area is home to a fudge store, ice cream vendors, and general stores that are stocked with candy-lined aisles, making it easy to enjoy a sweet treat with every walking expedition. Grab an ice cream cone or pick up a pound of fudge, and enjoy your treat along the waterfront, where a number of benches and picnic tables make it easy to sit back, relax, and feast while enjoying a beautiful waterfront view.

Toy and gift shops line downtown Beaufort

Toys and Games – Downtown Beaufort is lined with shops of all varieties, which includes a number of general stores, toy shops, book stores, and other charming venues where kids can find a souvenir or two. From classic games and toys to beach gear and attire, the stores throughout Downtown Beaufort are perfectly kid-friendly, and are varied and unique enough to attract shoppers of all ages, and all tastes.

From wild encounters with pirates, to cool museums and walking tours where exploring the local history becomes a fun adventure, Beaufort is teeming with activities that kids will adore. Plan a day-trip or an extended vacation with your youngest crew members, and discover how this coastal town effortlessly appeals to the young, and the young at heart.

Shackleford Banks horses

Beaufort Wild Horse Tours – One of the most famous attractions off the coast of Beaufort are the herds of wild horses that are descendants of Spanish mustangs from centuries ago, and one of the best ways to see these remarkable residents is via a wild horse tour or cruise that launches from the Downtown Beaufort Docks. Circling the Shackleford Banks and the Rachel Carson Reserve where herds of the feral horses roam, kids and adults alike can learn all about these wild residents while enjoying some great photo opportunities from an on-the-water perspective.

Shackleford Banks beach time

Shackleford Banks Excursions – It’s a fact that kids love a day at the beach, and Beaufort vacationers can enjoy an easy trek to a pristine and undeveloped shoreline by taking a water taxi to the nearby Shackleford Banks. The local water taxis depart from the downtown waterfront every 15-30 minutes in the summer months, making a trip to the beach an easy adventure. Once on the sand, kids will enjoy miles of swimming, shelling, sandcastle building, and fishing in every direction, with ample room to explore. Water taxis can be booked in advance online, or simply by stopping by the local docks, and the ensuing 15-20 minute trip across the sound is a fun ride for water fans of all ages.

Ghostly Walking Tours – Who doesn’t love a great ghost story? Older kids who aren’t afraid of the dark will love taking a tour of Downtown Beaufort after hours, where eerie sites like the live oak-lined Old Burying Ground and the Old Beaufort Jail are brought to vivid life. With tales of centuries-old ghosts, historic legendary figures, and plenty of pirates, a ghostly walking tour can put the town’s rich history in an entirely new and fascinating perspective.

Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve
Beaufort, NC Fishing Guide
Camping in Beaufort, NC