Welcome to Crystal Coast
An industrial and commercial stretch of US 70 goes through Morehead City, with plenty of chain hotels and restaurants. The Bogue Banks, across the Sound from Morehead City via the Atlantic Beach Causeway, have several well-trafficked beach communities – try Atlantic Beach if you like the smell of coconut suntan oil and doughnuts.
Just north, postcard-pretty Beaufort (bow-fort), the third-oldest town in the state, has a charming boardwalk and lots of B&Bs. Blackbeard himself is said to have lived in the Hammock House off Front St. You can't go inside, but some claim you can still hear the screams of the pirate's murdered wife at night.