Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Beaufort, NC, Offers Opportunity For Waterfront “Safecation”

P1070718Beaufort is North Carolina’s third oldest town and offers a mix of dining, recreation and waterfront fun.

Shelter From The Storm

Without a doubt, these are crazy times. You wonder if it is safe to go to the corner grocery store, let alone take a weekend trip. The spread of COVID has made simple decisions really complex and crushed the travel and hospitality industries.

Persimmons of New BernYes, yes. We know this, but despite it all, we needed a getaway. We had been mostly confined to home by COVID and my recovery from surgery. We needed out.

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We decided on a “safecation” in Beaufort, NC. We mention North Carolina because there is also a Beaufort, South Carolina. In North Carolina it is pronounced BOW-fert. In South Carolina it is pronounced BEYEW-fert. We decided on the Pecan Tree Inn, a bed and breakfast just a half-block from the waterfront. Our room had its own private entrance and the Pecan Tree Inn adheres to the latest guidelines for cleaning and sanitation in light of COVID.

It’s about a three-hour drive from Raleigh to Beaufort and we decided to stop along the way in New Bern. While Beaufort is North Carolina’s third-oldest city, New Bern is the second. The town is notable for several reasons. Its German heritage (“bern” means bear in German) is on display with numerous painted fiberglass bears around the downtown.

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New Bern is also the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi was created in 1893 by Caleb Bradham in his drugstore. The original name of this new drink was called "Brad's Drink" after Bradham himself. It was made with a mix of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and cola nuts.

New Bern has a beautiful waterfront and one of our favorite restaurants is Persimmons, which overlooks the water. After a delicious salad we were off to Beaufort.

Relaxing kayaking near Beaufort NCUnder The Pecan Tree

Beaufort is part of the Crystal Coast, sometimes called the Inner Banks of North Carolina. It is located on the Beaufort Inlet, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean to the east and west are the North River and Newport River. As we viewed the sparkling water it felt like pounds of stress and tension were being released.

Pecan Tree InnThe Pecan Tree Inn was built in 1866 and remodeled in 1901 to the Victorian style. The inn is certified with the “Count on Me NC” program to ensure compliance with all COVID-19 safety protocols. Our room had a separate entrance and was delightfully comfortable and cozy.

Since the onset of the pandemic, we haven’t eaten inside any restaurant. The Pecan Tree Inn has a wrap around porch where we were able to enjoy breakfast while taking in a nice view of the neighborhood. We felt graciously welcomed during our entire stay. The inn has outstanding restaurants within a four-block radius from the hotel.

One of the restaurants we wanted to try turned out to be right across the street: Beaufort Grocery Co. We were able to dine outside on a pleasant evening while sipping wine and then journey about 20 feet back to the B&B. The Beaufort Grocery is French bistro style dining with everything from Smoked Sea Salt Seared Tuna to chargrilled steak and roast rack of lamb.

Beckoning Beaufort

Front Street is the main attraction in Beaufort. Facing the water of the Beaufort Inlet, it is lined with historic homes, a wide range of fun restaurants and interesting shops. Unfortunately, the Maritime Museum was closed due to COVID. Beaufort has gained notoriety for its wine festival and its Pirate Invasion. Beaufort has a history with Blackbeard, and is the final resting place of the famed pirate’s flagship.

Enjoying The Crystal CoastWhile in Beaufort we took a tour with Crystal Coast Lady Cruises to look for dolphins and the wild horses on Shackleford Island. The cruise was relaxing and fun as we saw the Beaufort waterfront and the coastal islands. There were no dolphins to see, but we did see a band of wild horses. The pier to board the boat is a less than five minute walk from The Pecan Tree Inn.

When you have been settled for as long as Beaufort, there’s a lot of history in the soil and waters. Beaufort has been a strategic location in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. To get a better taste of history, we visited Fort Macon State Park, which has a nice visitors center, plenty of walking trails and cannons ready to defend the coast.

We visited two beaches for swimming and preferred Atlantic Beach to the more crowded Radio Island. If you plan to eat at Atlantic Beach, make reservations a day or two in advance or you’ll be out of luck. After failing to find a table in Atlantic Beach, we were able to eat outside at Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant in Morehead City.  I feasted on a vegetarian option and a nice glass of wine as we enjoyed music at an outside table.

Leaving Beaufort wasn’t easy. It’s a beautiful coastal town with a friendly vibe and plenty to do. We’ll be returning to the Crystal Coast – and soon!

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