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Beaufort, North Carolina
Downtown Beaufort
Downtown Beaufort
Official seal of Beaufort, North Carolina
Location of Beaufort, North Carolina
Location of Beaufort, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Carteret
Named for Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort
 • Total 6.85 sq mi (17.74 km2)
 • Land 4.85 sq mi (12.56 km2)
 • Water 2.00 sq mi (5.18 km2)
10 ft (3 m)
 • Total 4,391
 • Estimate 
 • Density 918.13/sq mi (354.51/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-04260
GNIS feature ID 1019024

Beaufort ( BOH-fərt) is a town in and the county seat of Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. Established in 1713 and incorporated in 1723, Beaufort is the fourth oldest town in North Carolina (after Bath, New Bern and Edenton). On February 1, 2012, Beaufort was ranked as "America's Coolest Small Town" by readers of Budget Travel Magazine.

The population was 4,039 at the 2010 census. It is sometimes confused with a city of the same name in South Carolina; the two are distinguished by different pronunciations.

Beaufort is located in North Carolina's "Inner Banks" region. The town is home to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Duke University Marine Laboratory (Nicholas School of the Environment), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. It is also the location of the Rachel Carson Reserve, part of the N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve system.


The Beaufort Historic District, Carteret County Home, Gibbs House, Jacob Henry House, and Old Burying Ground are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In June 1718 Blackbeard the pirate ran his flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge and his sloop Adventure, aground near present-day Beaufort Inlet, NC. The Queen Anne's Revenge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 with the reference number 04000148. Thirty two years later, in August 1750, at least three Spanish merchantmen ran aground in North Carolina during a hurricane. One of the three, the El Salvador, sank near Cape Lookout.


Beaufort is located south of the center of Carteret County at 34°43′N 76°39′W / 34.717°N 76.650°W / 34.717; -76.650 (34.7207, −76.6525). It is located on Beaufort Inlet, a channel leading south to the Atlantic Ocean. To the west is the tidal Newport River, separating the town from Morehead City. To the east is the unincorporated neighborhood of Lenoxville, extending to the North River, another tidal river.

U.S. Route 70 passes through Beaufort, leading west across the Newport River to Morehead City and northeast 31 miles (50 km) to its end in the town of Atlantic.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Beaufort has a total area of 5.6 square miles (14.5 km2), of which 4.6 square miles (12.0 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), or 17.75%, is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 437
1850 1,661
1860 1,610 −3.1%
1870 2,430 50.9%
1880 2,009 −17.3%
1890 2,007 −0.1%
1900 2,195 9.4%
1910 2,483 13.1%
1920 2,968 19.5%
1930 2,957 −0.4%
1940 3,272 10.7%
1950 3,212 −1.8%
1960 2,922 −9.0%
1970 3,368 15.3%
1980 3,826 13.6%
1990 3,808 −0.5%
2000 3,771 −1.0%
2010 4,391 16.4%
Est. 2019 4,452 1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
Carteret County Courthouse
Carteret County Courthouse in Beaufort

2020 census

Beaufort racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 3,608 80.82%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 499 11.18%
Native American 7 0.16%
Asian 44 0.99%
Pacific Islander 4 0.09%
Other/Mixed 181 4.05%
Hispanic or Latino 121 2.71%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 4,464 people, 2,156 households, and 1,071 families residing in the town.


As of the census of 2008, there were 4,189 people, 1,780 households, and 1,048 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,374.4 people per square mile (531.4/km2). There were 2,187 housing units at an average density of 797.1 per square mile (308.2/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 75.87% White, 19.99% African American, 0.37% Asian, 0.11% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.39% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.77% of the population.

There were 1,780 households, out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.1% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.65.

In the town, the population was spread out, with 18.3% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $28,763, and the median income for a family was $39,429. Males had a median income of $30,859 versus $22,955 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,356. About 13.3% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.0% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.



  • US 70
  • NC 101


  • Michael J. Smith Field


Beaufort hosts several annual events, including: Beaufort is also home to the Carteret County main public library.

Honors and designations

  • On February 1, 2012, Beaufort was ranked as "America's Coolest Small Town" by readers of Budget Travel Magazine.
  • Beaufort NC was named a 2015 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Sister cities

Horses by Museum
A horse-drawn carriage in front of the North Carolina Maritime Museum

According to Beaufort Sister Cities, Inc., the city of Beaufort has 19 sister cities:


Elementary schools

  • Beaufort Elementary School
  • Beaufort Elementary School (permanently closed)
  • Tiller School (charter)

Middle school

  • Beaufort Middle School

High school

  • Beaufort students attend East Carteret High School, located north of town

Higher education

  • Nicholas School of the Environment Marine Lab
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