It was time to pack up camp and head north.  Our drive to New Bern/Beaufort area was only 2 hours; allowing ample time to do some exploring!

View of Flanners Beach – Flanners Beach Campground – New Bern, NC

 

 

 

 

 

Our camping destination was Flanners Beach Campground, located in the Neuse River Recreation Area in eastern North Carolina.  This campground sits on a bluff which overlooks Neuse River and only a half-hour drive to the quaint town of Beaufort, NC.

Site #2 – Flanners Beach Campground – New Bern, NC

We made our way to our site which was perfect for us. It was a large with trees all around lending privacy.  We were close to the bath house as well, very handy as there is no water/sewer service.  After our site was set-up, it was back on the road for some adventure.

Tips: Bring your bikes as the trails are easy and beautiful.  If it is summer, you may not want to count on cooling off in the river.  The water would be considered not warm but hot and stays shallow for a long way out.  It was a dismal experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our first stop in Beaufort was the North Carolina Maritime Museum.  We learned about this museum at the Crystal Coast Visitor Center back in May 2016 on our New Bern adventure and was told it was a “not-to-miss” museum for pirates fans!

The first thing we did when we arrived at the museum was watch a documentary on Blackbeard’s life history (and that of other pirates), and his exploits in the waters off North Carolina.  It was very well done and kept the kids interested to the very end.  The best part?  Artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge that we saw in the documentary are on display in the museum!

Inside N.C. Maritime Museum – Beaufort, NC

Helen Aitken, a volunteer at the front desk, greeted us warmly and offered to get Drake and Mia set-up with a clipboard and pencil so they could participate in the museum scavenger hunt.  She also mentioned to them that if they completed it, she would allow them to touch a REAL whale heart.  What better motivation is there?

Artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge – North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort, NC

More artifacts from Queen Anne’s Revenge – North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort, NC

The museum is chock-full of interesting exhibits documenting life at lighthouses and lifesaving stations, the NC seafood industry, and motorboats through the years.  The highlight, of course, was the artifacts from Blackbeard’s wrecked flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.  You won’t see treasure (we learned Blackbeard removed all the good stuff when he ran aground) , however, you will see cannons, grenades, belt buckles and beads. Truly amazing to see!

Touching a real whale heart – North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort, NC

When the kids were done with their scavenger hunt they went back to see Ms. Aitken.  True to her word, she had them follow her to the whale heart exhibit.  As she was telling us interesting facts about whales (did you know that the size of heart a whale is born with is the same size they’ll have as an adult?), a little crowd gathered around.  Next, she opened up the display case and allowed everyone to gently touch the whale heart.  Incredible!

Next, she pulled out a small jar of whale oil.  Of course we all know that it was used for centuries for heating but I wasn’t as educated that it was also used in the auto industry.  She rubbed a tiny amount on our hands to feel how incredibly silky the consistency was.  It did have a pungent odor which I did identify as smelling before.  Perhaps when my grandfather and father worked on vehicles many years ago.  Ms. Aiken said that if you left it on for awhile the smell becomes similar to coconut oil.  Not sure that I got that, but I can say it softened my skin!

Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center – Beaufort, NC

Tip: Don’t forget to walk across the street to visit Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center where they teach boat-building for all ages.

By this time we were starving!  On a recommendation from the Aitken’s, we made our way to Clawson’s 1905 Restaurant & Pub for lunch; located on the main drag; Front Street. Housed in the former Clawson’s Grocery building, the owners display historical memorabilia on the walls to help preserve this piece of Beaufort’s history.

The Aitken’s had mentioned the Seafood Bisque as being a “must-try” so we got a bowl to share.  This creamy based soup with loads of scallops and shrimp was definitely a hit with Drake & Mia!  I found it to be delicious as well.  Too soon the bowl was empty and our main courses arrived.

The delicious Flounder plate at Clawson’s – Beaufort, NC

I had the Flounder plate; a generous portion of lightly fried-golden fish paired with French fries.  Clawson’s offers a kids menu and had a Fried Shrimp plate for kids which my seafood-loving kids loved.  Troy had the Angus Burger, cooked perfectly and also delicious.

Old Burying Grounds – Beaufort, NC

Now that we had filled our bellies, it was time to check out one more recommended place in Beaufort; the Old Burying Grounds.  Located just a couple- minutes walk from Fleet Street, it is definitely worth a visit.  We paid a quarter to get a brochure on the “Grave Sites of Interest” and started our tour.

Oldest Graves – Old Burying Ground – Beaufort, NC

The graves here date back to the early 1700’s and believed to house victims as far back as the Indian Wars with the Coree and Neusiok Indians.  There are many other old graves with the oldest legible date being from 1756.

“Girl in Barrel of Rum” grave marker – Old Burying Ground – Beaufort, NC

Many graves hold ship captain, soldiers and local residents, however, there are several graves that have unique stories to be told.  One of the most colorful is “Girl in Barrel of Rum.”  A young girl went to visit London with her father in early 1700’s and died on the voyage home.  The father didn’t want to break his promise to his wife of bringing his daughter home so instead of burying her at sea, he purchased a barrel of rum from the captain and placed his daughter in it so she could be buried at home.

After our visit, we returned to the living and enjoyed an ice cream while checking out the numerous quaint stores lining the waterfront.

 

Our last stop of the day was to Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center.  Here, Drake and Mia picked up their Junior Ranger books and we were able to learn more about what we could expect on our day at both Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Tips: Island Express Ferry Service does operate out of Beaufort, however, during my research, I realized that we would have to choose one destination; either Cape Lookout National Seashore or Shackleford Banks (home to more than 100 wild horses).  The other deciding factor not to take the ferry out of Beaufort was the trip to Cape Lookout would be a 3 ½ hour round-trip!  If you want to save time and hit both destinations on the same day, my recommendation is to use Island Express Ferry Service out of Harkers Island (about 1 hour drive from Flanners Beach Campground).

 

Next up?  Our amazing day at Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout National Seashore and a quick trip to Oriental, boating capitol of North Carolina. It was one of my favorite days of the whole trip!