Even a town as sunny as Beaufort can be subjected to the occasional rainy day, but visitors will soon discover that a dreary afternoon is no reason to forego the fun in this small town destination that’s overflowing with on-site and neighboring activities.
From cool and educational classes to some of the best eateries in Eastern NC, Beaufort is designed for entertainment inside and out. So if a rainy day happens to coincide with your upcoming Beaufort vacation, use it as an excuse to discover these fascinating and engaging activities that can be effortlessly enjoyed, rain or shine.
Artistic minds and creative types flock to Beaufort for the miles of natural and inspirational settings, and visitors can join in the fun via a variety of classes and special programs that are available at both public attractions and privately run establishments. Visitors who want to learn how to paint a coastal scene can check the local events calendars for special “wine and paint” parties that are often held at local galleries, while folks who don’t mind getting their hands dirty can try creating their own seaworthy vessel via the NC Maritime Museum’s “Built a Boat in a Day” workshops. There are also a number of bead shops and crafting purveyors in the region and beyond for visitors who want to create their own jewelry or works of art, as well as special kids’ programs at local destinations like the NC Maritime Museum or the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. From creating a wine-infused masterpiece to crafting a vessel that can be utilized on the next sunny afternoon for exploring the local waters, there are a seemingly endless number of ways to explore your creativity in the heart of Beaufort and beyond.
A rainy day is the perfect excuse to explore the maritime culture of Beaufort and the Down East region, and there are several destinations that serve as “must see” attractions for visitors who want to discover all the nautical stories and legends that this town has to offer. Make a stop at the NC Maritime Museum first, which is located along Front Street, to discover artifacts from Blackbeard, the heroes of the Civil War, the region’s original boat builders, and more, and continue your nautical explorations by heading east to Harkers Island and popping into the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center. Here, your maritime education will continue with a peek inside the Down East’s rich fishing and hunting culture, complete with authentic local vessels and rows upon rows of handcrafted decoys. From the first fishing boats of the early Native Americans to the modern day vessels that commercial fishermen still use today, the Beaufort area is the perfect spot to further your nautical education.
Take a Step Back in Time
Beaufort has a place of honor as the third oldest town in North Carolina, and visitors can explore this history in detail at a number of distinctive locales in and around the area. The History Place in nearby Morehead City is a great first stop for delving into the roots of Carteret County, thanks to a collection of artifacts that include weapons and relics, period clothing, ancient photos and artworks, first-person accounts, and a myriad of other exhibits that change regularly. With an on-site research library and charming tea room, a stop at this museum can easily turn into a full afternoon of relaxing exploration. To discover more about Beaufort, swing by the Beaufort Historical Association, (the headquarters of the Beaufort Historic Site), and talk to local interpreters and volunteers to learn all about the historic structures that line the downtown streets. Stuffed with period antiques and / or local artworks, visitors can easily stroll from one site to the next while barely getting their toes wet, and can discover the rich history of the area via the interiors of a suite of historic homes.
Satisfy an Appetite
A rainy day is the perfect excuse to succumb to a ravenous appetite, and Beaufort has a collection of regionally and nationally acclaimed eateries where it’s easy to indulge in a multi-course meal. Swing by the local delis and coffee shops for a lingering lunch with fluid conversation, or make a reservation at one of the critically praised high end eateries that are sprinkled throughout the downtown area. With a focus on fresh locally grown produce, locally harvested seafood, and other regional goodies (like craft beers and Ashe County cheese), it’s easy to cater to palates of all tastes in downtown Beaufort. For a more in-depth foodie exploration, pay a visit to nearby Morehead City where a collection of equally enticing restaurants can be found in the downtown region, as well as along Arendell Street – the main road that cuts through town.
Go Treasure Hunting
Shoppers of all tastes adore Downtown Beaufort because to its inherently nautical backbone that trickles into the varying apparel, gifts, and other trinkets that are found within the collection of locally owned and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Best of all, because the downtown area is relatively small and centers along a single avenue – namely, Front Street – it’s easy to hop from one shop to the next without getting soaked. Several charming shopping centers are found within two or three story buildings along the waterfront, and several dozen stores are located within a few block area, making it easy to peruse wares from one shop to the next with little walking invovled. With a collection of fascinating and eye-catching art galleries, chic apparel shops, jewelers, candy stores, general stores, and nautical shops with gear for mariners passing through, virtually every interest can be appeased with a shopping expedition through Downtown Beaufort. For even more options, take a drive to neighboring Morehead City which is renowned for both its collection of antique shops and thrift stores, as well as its several major shopping plazas and box stores where the beach basics can be acquired.
Visit the Wild Locals
A rainy day can serve as a fine excuse to make a 20-30 minute drive to Pine Knoll Shores on the Crystal Coast shoreline, to meet and greet with the wild locals of the North Carolina Aquarium. This extensive attraction that will impress visitors of all ages has more than 50 exhibits that chronicle the state’s varying ecosystems, from the high and dry piedmonts to the offshore and open ocean waters. As a result, visitors can expect to have encounters with more than 4,000 different species that include playful river otters, gliding sting rays, docile sea turtles, and lurking sharks of varying sizes. A perfect destination for “kids” of all ages, this island destination is a great spot to enjoy a fascinating exploration of the region’s most wild and unusual local residents.
Take a Road Trip
One of the best ways to discover the sites of Beaufort and the Carteret County region is from the vantage point of a car, and a rainy day serves as the perfect excuse to take a drive and explore the area. Head northeast from Beaufort to take a spin along Harkers Island and Cedar Island, which are both part of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, and which present plenty of bridges and open water views that are ideal for sightseeing. In addition, a cruise through downtown Beaufort and downtown Morehead City can connect visitors with a wide range of tempting shops, restaurants, and waterfront destinations, while a drive across the causeway to Atlantic Beach and the Emerald Isle shoreline will result in brilliant vistas of the area’s favorite beach towns. Regardless of which direction you choose, the Down East region is renowned for its scenery that’s bordered by barrier islands and national wildlife reserves, (like the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Croatan National Forest), and any road trip around the region is sure to be an eye-catching venture.
A rainy day is the perfect excuse to enjoy a little family friendly competition, and Beaufort visitors will find a number of options in the area when it comes to indoor fun. Mac Daddy's in the nearby town of Cape Carteret is a popular bowling destination that also features an on-site arcade and sports bar, while several pubs in and around the Beaufort area have on-site entertainment including pool tables, dart boards, and other games where competitions are best enjoyed with a round of drinks. From local mini golf courses close to Atlantic Beach which boast indoor arcades and amusements, to bowling alleys and pool halls that are conducive to pros and amateurs alike, it’s easy to get your game on in the Beaufort region while enjoying a casual and laid back coastal environment.
Catch a Flick
A rainy afternoon or evening can serve as the perfect excuse to catch a summertime blockbuster or a fall season Oscar contender, and Beaufort visitors will find several theater complexes to catch a flick or two. The closest movie theater for many Beaufort vacationers is the Atlantic Station Cinema, which is found in the nearby town of Atlantic Beach, although additional options are also located in the mainland town of Havelock, (roughly a 20-30 minute drive away), as well as the town of Emerald Isle, which is situated on the western edge of the Crystal Coast shoreline. Open year-round, and offering both matinee and evening show times, a movie night or afternoon is an easy venture with just a quick drive from the heart of Beaufort.
Toast the Town
Craft beers and local wines are taking North Carolina by storm, and visitors can toast this advent of new brews with a stop at any of the local pubs and eateries that are sprinkled throughout the heart of Downtown Beaufort. A wide array of pubs and restaurants feature happy hour specials, game day TV packages which are shown on large flat screen TVs, and other in-house amusements like video games or pool tables, which makes it easy to use a rainy day as an excuse to enjoy a decadently long Happy Hour afternoon or evening. Try some of the craft NC brews from the neighboring communities of Morehead City, Farmville, or even the North Carolina Piedmont region, or sip a non-alcoholic North Carolina classic like an Arnold Palmer (half tea, and half lemonade.) With a bevy of beverage choices that range from fresh mint julips to local brews, a rainy Happy Hour can be a perfect opportunity to sample the flavor of Beaufort and the Down East region.
Whether you use a rainy day as an opportunity to explore the local museums, or as an excuse to relax in your vacation rental with a good book, a little dreary weather never puts a damper on a vacation in this town that’s brimming with activities.
From fabulous meals and shopping trips to historical adventures that span the centuries, Beaufort is a small town that’s overflowing with activities which can be effortlessly enjoyed by all visitors, regardless of the local weather forecast.