Enjoy the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort for Free

Outside view of the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort

Enjoy the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort for Free

Did you know you could visit the  NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort for free? You can! There’s so much to see and learn at Beaufort’s NC Maritime Museum. Rain or shine, the museum is a wonderful place to visit for people of all ages.

The museum contains relics and examples of North Carolina’s maritime history, a nautical library, and a wide assortment of boats, including sailboats and motorboats, as well as life-saving stations and lighthouses.

They offer summer programs in boat building and sailing, you can even build a boat in a day. Across the street from the museum is the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center. It carries on the rich tradition of the boatbuilding heritage of the North Carolina Coast. If you plan to visit the watercraft center, allow yourself at least half a day for these attractions, then eat, shop, and stroll along Beaufort’s beautiful waterfront.

Most visitors to the museum are impressed and excited to learn that the museum is the official repository for artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard the Pirate’s ship, which ran aground close to Beaufort in 1718.  

Videos run continuously in the museum chronicling the enormous effort involved in lifting a cannon aloft, and one cannon has been retained for display purposes. The museum has long-range plans for expansion that will one day house the entire arsenal, along with an array of artifacts that includes coins, glass fragments, ceramic fragments, copper alloy materials, lead shot, cannonballs, anchors, and gold dust.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge

Display of artifacts from the Queen Anne's Revenge

© North Carolina Maritime Museum

The Queen Anne’s Revenge was an early-18th-century ship, most famously used as a flagship by Edward Teach, better known by his nickname Blackbeard. In May 1718, Blackbeard ran the ship aground at Topsail Inlet, now known as Beaufort Inlet, in present-day Carteret County. Legend has it that Blackbeard intentionally ran two of his vessels aground to decrease the size of his crew and increase his share of the booty. 

About The Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center

men working on a boat at the Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center

© North Carolina Maritime Museum

In 1980, Harvey W. Smith’s widow Mrs. Evelyn Smith donated property on Front Street to build a new museum to replace the Hampton Mariners Museum. That facility had outgrown its location on Turner Street. At that time, first-time museum curator Charles R. McNeill was offered anything the museum could use by Mrs. Smith from her late husband’s maritime collection. That was the beginning of the North Carolina Maritime Museum as we know it today.

The museum’s Watercraft Center sits on Taylor Creek, across from the North Carolina Maritime Museum. Today, locals, visitors, and boaters alike are encouraged to watch and take boatbuilding courses offered throughout the year for all skill levels.

The museum also offers unique programs and events, so you will want to be sure to visit their website to check their calendar of events.

Plan a Vacation in Beaufort

Sailboats on the water in Beaufort NC

It isn’t uncommon to see dolphins at play while dining in Beaufort. The waterfront is also the perfect place to watch tour boats come in and out and marvel at the yachts docked downtown. If you’d like to stay closer to the museum and all that Beaufort offers, search for vacation rentals in Beafort.

Have you been to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort? What was your favorite thing to see or do there? Are you planning a visit to the museum? We’d love to know. Share your comments with us below! 

Visit the NC Maritime Museum

North Carolina Maritime Museum
315 Front Street
Beaufort, NC  28516


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