Stroll along Morehead City's waterfront, and check out the string of shops. Stop in Dee Gee's Books and Gifts for that perfect beach read. Nearby, Arts & Things showcases a wonderfully diverse collection from Australian paintings and rock sculptures from Shona tribes in Zimbabwe to local artists' renderings of North Carolina's coastal scenes.
Downtown Beaufort's waterfront also features a slew of shops, including Tierra Fina, one of our favorites. Owner Patti Davis specializes in bright and colorful dinnerware and pottery imported from Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.
If you're a boat lover, make your way through Beaufort's North Carolina Maritime Museum, which is full of cool finds, such as artifacts from Blackbeard's flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge. The museum also offers boat-building and restoration programs, and you might even catch a class in progress.
left: Researchers estimate about 120 wild horses roam the beaches of Shackleford Banks.