KINSTON — With roots in Salisbury, Kinston and Beaufort, author Kristy Woodson Harvey has done her share of exploring the diverse regions of North Carolina.
“One of the best things about being a North Carolinian is that, in a matter of hours, we can daytrip anywhere from the mountains to the coast, eating the best food and meeting the nicest people that this state has to offer,” said Harvey.
Harvey used her home state and the small Southern towns that raised her as inspiration for her first two novels, “Dear Carolina” and “Lies and Other Acts of Love.” For her recently launched third novel, “Slightly South of Simple,” she was asked to write about the fictional town of Peachtree Bluff in Georgia. However, readers will find quite a few similarities between Peachtree and North Carolina’s very own gem of a coastal town, Beaufort.
“From the parades to the pirates, the salt to the sand, I drew quite a bit of the inspiration for my fictional town from one of my favorite real-life North Carolina haunts,” she added.
To celebrate all the fun and memories one can make in this quaint town on the water, we asked Harvey to make a list of her favorite Beaufort spots one should find this summer. Enjoy her recommendations below.
“If you’re looking for a fun day or weekend trip this summer, take a page from my protagonists, Ansley, Caroline, Emerson and Sloane, and pick a few of my favorite ‘Slightly South of Simple’ activities in Beaufort. You might just find that a weekend isn’t enough time!” she said.
1. Take an Island Ferry Adventures cruise
Catch a ferry or rent a boat and spend a day on Carrot Island. The fictional “Starlite Island,” where my protagonist Ansley and her three daughters, Caroline, Emerson and Sloane, spend so much time, is based on this gorgeous speck of sand right across from my own house. Whether you hike the Rachel Carson preserve or simply spend the day lounging, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wild horses!
2. Catch a cocktail at Front Street Grill at Stillwater’s Rhum Bar
My “Slightly South” girls love a good rose at the end of the day, and why not? It’s almost summer, after all! With its laid-back music, screened windows and spectacular view, the Rhum Bar is as close as you’ll get to the islands without leaving N.C. Sit on the lower deck at night for stars so bright you won’t soon forget them. Ask about Tim Becker’s fresh squeezed cocktail of the day. Actually, don’t ask just order it. You’ll thank me!
3. Sip coffee at Beaufort Coffee Shop
Unfortunately, Beaufort doesn’t have an actual “Coffee Kyle” that spends his days making coffee rounds to the locals. (Well, not to my knowledge, anyway), but Cru Bar features a variety of delicious morning beverages from macchiatos to matcha lattes. The cinnamon rolls aren’t so bad either! Or, for a stellar view, enjoy your morning brew with the locals at the Dock House.
4. Take a sunset Lookout Cruise
One of the best parts about Peachtree Bluff and Beaufort is the boating! Whether you arrive in Beaufort aboard your own vessel or not, don’t miss a Lookout Cruise sailing excursion. The sunset is the best around.
5. Grab lunch at Beaufort Grocery Company
The girls of Peachtree Bluff aren’t particularly ladies who lunch as the book opens. (When you read, you’ll understand why!) But this author’s favorite lunch spot and the site of many an afternoon writing session is one of Beaufort’s most popular dining establishments, headed by culinary greats Charles and Wendy Park. Start with the fruit and cheese board, order the special for your entrée and treat yourself to some of the best desserts anywhere to round out your meal. Trust me on this. I’ve done the leg work. (The dinner is divine too! There’s no rule saying you can’t eat there twice!)
One of the best things about Beaufort’s Taylor’s Creek location is that it’s the perfect spot for paddleboarding, something that my Peachtree Bluff ladies and I absolutely love. If you ask me, it’s the best way to see the sites from the water.
7. Treat yourself to a Double-Decker Bus tour
One of the things that makes Beaufort so special and Peachtree Bluff, for that matter is the history. Grab a Double-Decker Bus tour from the Beaufort Historical Site to bone up on your knowledge of Blackbeard the Pirate and Beaufort’s other infamous characters while learning a little more about the historic homes that lend Beaufort its charm.
8. Spend some time at Beaufort Linen Company
For the true “Slightly South of Simple” experience, a visit to Beaufort Linen Company is absolutely essential. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to Ansley Murphy’s waterfront design shop, Sloane Emerson. From fine linens to baby gifts, home dÃ©cor to copies of, well, “Slightly South of Simple,” you’ll find more than a few mementos to remember your fabulous trip. Have Christina Baker, the store’s owner, or one of the lovely ladies give me a call and I’ll come sign your books for you!
If you’re sticking around longer, make sure to grab a bite at Blue Moon, Aqua or The Spouter Inn, and don’t miss The Cedar Inn’s biscuits for breakfast. The Maritime Museum and Harvey Smith Watercraft Center are also totally one of a kind. OK, forget the day trip you’re going to have to stay all week!