Weekend Guide: Outer Banks, NC
left: Beaufort's boardwalk off Front Street extends the length of the harbor downtown.
Off to the Beach
Unpack your gear, and park yourself at the beach near the bathhouse at Fort Macon State Park. This public beach, located on the eastern edge of Atlantic Beach, features clean bathrooms. Editor's tip: Join the crew from the local kite shop, Kites Unlimited and Bird Stuff, out here around 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings for their community fun flies.
Several outfitters, such as the Outer Banks Ferry Service and Island Ferry Adventures, carry visitors from Beaufort harbor out to Shackleford Banks for less than $15 per person. This island, on the southern tip of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, features excellent shelling and a herd of about 120 free-roaming, wild horses whose ancestors are believed to have inhabited the island since the 16th century.
left: Hop a ferry for an excursion to Shackleford Banks, home to wild horses and wonderful shelling.
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.
Request a water-view table for lunch at the Front Street Grill at Stillwater. Dill and bacon flavor the fresh clam chowder ($4.25), and you'll like the delicately fried soft-shell crab po'boy ($9.75).
One of our favorite stops in the area remains the Beaufort Grocery Company. You won't be disappointed with the Sonnamabeach sandwich ($9.99) with ham, capocolla, and salami served with a garlic-and-herb aïoli, grilled onions, and peppers. And unless you're ready to be tempted, divert your eyes from the rich, homemade desserts in the case up front. Editor's tip: Consider packing a picnic lunch from here for one of your beach excursions.
left: Seafood shines at The Sandbar in Town Creek Marina, with entrées such as the mixed grill featuring fresh wahoo, shrimp, and herb-rubbed lamb chops ($27).
With live music every weekend at The Sandbar and Tiki Bar at Town Creek Marina, you might actually hear this restaurant before you see it. The fun atmosphere and its waterside location only add to the great experience. Start with lightly dusted and fried calamari ($10), and then try the seafood platter (the fresh catch, shrimp, and scallops, $21) grilled with a honey-lime glaze. Editor's tip: Do yourself a favor, and reserve an outdoor table around sunset. There, you can catch the sun as it drops right into the Intracoastal Waterway.
left: Kites Unlimited and Bird Stuff in Atlantic Beach hosts weekly fun flies.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Crystal Coast Tourism Authority Visitors Center: www.crystalcoastnc.org or (252) 726-8148.
JUST THE FACTSLodging
- AmeriSuites Atlantic Beach: (252) 247-5118
- The Inlet Inn: 1-800-554-5466
- Sheraton Atlantic Beach: 1-800-624-8875
- Arts & Things: (252) 240-1979
- Dee Gee's Books and Gifts: (252) 726-3314
- North Carolina Maritime Museum: (252) 728-7317
- Tierra Fina: (252) 504-2789
- Beaufort Grocery Company: (252) 728-3899
- Cox's: (252) 726-6961
- Front Street Grille at Stillwater: (252) 728-4956
- The Sandbar: (252) 504-7263
- Watermark: (252) 240-2811
- Cape Lookout National Seashore: www.nps.gov/calo
- Fort Macon State Park: (252) 726-3775
- Kites Unlimited and Bird Stuff: (252) 247-7011
A NOTE TO OUR READERS:
"Cruising the Carolina Coast" is from the May 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.