New Bern, NC
You’ll find historic homes, the North Carolina History Center with magnificent Tryon Palace, a wonderful waterfront for strolling, and unique restaurants and bistros that offer the freshest seafood ever.
As the second oldest town in North Carolina, New Bern has a grand history, as well as an outdoor lifestyle that can be enjoyed year round. No matter what your leisure interests are, plan several days here. There is plenty to see and do. This site will help: www.visitnewbern.com
Before you visit New Bern, about halfway up the North Carolina coast, plan to choose from a number of picturesque B&Bs or inns for unique accommodations. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Aerie Bed and Breakfast, is just a block from Tryon Palace, the NC History Education Center, and Gardens. It’s a short walk to fine dining, antique shops, marinas, and The Birthplace of Pepsi. Outdoor activities are also very close. All rooms are elegantly furnished with private baths. Ask for one with a whirlpool.
The Captain’s Stay Bed and Breakfast is in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of many attractions including Tryon Palace and the harbor. Check out the Cottage. Dog lovers will fall for Dolly and Sox, two adorable Boston terriers who run the B&B.
Hanna House Bed and Breakfast is a Colonial-Victorian property only steps from the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. Recognized by NCGreenTravel for its environmental stewardship, the B&B offers relaxation for mind, body, and soul.
Harmony House Inn was built in 1853 for a wealthy turpentine merchant. Its Greek Revival architecture, coupled with exquisite furniture, is inviting and accommodating. Nine spacious rooms (three on the first floor) offer private baths. The breakfasts are legendary.
Meadows Inn, built in 1847, is an antebellum home that has been welcoming visitors for almost 40 years. Warm, inviting and relaxing, the inn is close to attractions and downtown. Each room is uniquely decorated. (The Bavarian Room is charming.)
In addition to these favorites, there are other options, including excellent national chains and smaller properties.
There are so many different ways to have fun here; in fact, for friends or family with different interests, everyone will be entertained, especially with accommodations close to the attractions. Make your first stop the Visitor Center, located inside the New Bern Convention Center. You’ll find up-to-the-minute events and favorite destinations. Here are our top choices:
Begin your visit with a guided tour. You’ll learn so much about the area, and you’ll have insider tips that will help you decide what’s worthy of a return experience.
New Bern Trolley Tours provides a great overview of the historic town, with stops at a local cemetery (with more than 1,000 graves) and a route that winds past old homes and businesses, including The Birthplace of Pepsi. Specialty tours are available, too. (Closed January and February.)
Palm Coast Sailing Tours takes visitors on eco-tours in a comfortable pontoon boat. Tours meander up creeks, and around Fairfield Harbour. A U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain and first mate are at the helm.
Ghosts of New Bern Walking Tour offers a fun-filled hour of mystery and suspense, as well as history and storytelling.
There are other tours, but these suggestions will get you started.
With 300+ years of war, peace, intrigue, and growth, New Bern has much to delight the history enthusiast.
The North Carolina History Center is a must-visit stop. Be sure to allow time to explore the gardens and buildings, including fabulous Tryon Palace and exhibits. Learn more at our Carolina Adventure.
New Bern Battlefield Park includes tours and walking trails, with lots of signs to help explain what happened on March 14, 1862 and how it impacted the Civil War.
Cedar Grove Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in the region, with a number of prominent politicians, artists, and business leaders buried there. There are cemetery tours available through the historical society, and with its triple-arch entryway and coquina wall, it makes an attractive and interesting attraction for the city and a perfect area for a selfie.
The Birthplace of Pepsi is the original pharmacy where Caleb Bradham invented the sweet nectar. You’ll find memorabilia for Pepsi and Mountain Dew – another Southern favorite acquired by the Pepsi Company in 1964. Shop for souvenirs, enjoy a snack, and order a Pepsi float for a really sweet walk down memory lane.
You outdoor enthusiasts can skip over this part, and head straight for Get Outdoors, but for those who love looking for that special something, New Bern has shopping for every taste and budget. Wander the downtown street, and find small boutiques and galleries with unique offerings. Be sure to check out Carolina Creations, where the work of more than 300 local, regional and national artists is for sale. Check out the Peace Poles, designed for garden display, with themes including peace, serenity, love and patriotism.
Switch gears and walk to Mitchell Hardware, where shoppers find household items not seen in decades, as well as current tools, gifts, garden and home supplies, and whimsy. Currently #1 on Trip Advisor for Things to Do in New Bern.
Blue Magnolia is charming, delightful and treasure-filled. The handmade jewelry is very popular, and they have a large selection of purses, candles and what they describe as “shabby chic.” Hey guys, you will find a great gift for the ladies in your life. Trust us.
Bank of the Arts is the home of the Craven Arts Council, as well as a gallery and gift shop positioned in (What else?) a historic bank building with soaring ceilings and appealing architectural details. Local artists’ work is often on display. Tickets may be purchased for special events.
Arts and Culture
ARTcrawl and ArtWalk is a really enjoyable way to stroll downtown, and see the art, artists, galleries, shops, restaurants, and pubs. It’s a party for the arts, held the second Friday of each month, year round.
Down East FolkArts Society was formed in 1993. They provide programs that “foster and promote the enjoyment of traditional, multi-cultural, and contemporary folk music, dance and storytelling.” Check out their website for special events to be held during your visit.
New Bern Civic Theatre is celebrating its 50th season in 2018, with a stellar line-up of shows, including Bonnie and Clyde, Sweeney Todd, and Bring it On. Check their website for shows.
RiverTowne Players features shows that spotlight local actors, artists, and musicians. Positioned in the historic Masonic Theatre, the building was used during the Civil War as a confederate arsenal and later, as a hospital for Union soldiers.
The New Bern Firemen’s Museum offers a great experience for any who appreciate the important role of our firefighters through the years. The museum seeks to preserve the history of firefighting in the town, which had the first chartered fire company in North Carolina. You’ll learn about the Great Fire of 1922, talk with “Fred,” the famous fire horse, and enjoy hands-on exhibits and great memorabilia.
The Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation exhibit at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center is a must for aviation aficionados. Experience everything, from Kitty Hawk, to the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, to the progression of aviation in general, and marine aviation in depth. Aircraft on display are fascinating.
With tours and a wonderful waterfront, there are plenty of ways to enjoy outdoors. If you want a sandy beach, consider Flanner’s Beach, in the Neuse River Recreation Area, within the Croatan National Forest. There are three miles of beach front along the river, which is approximately three miles wide at that point. With camping and picnicking, the area is great for exploring, fishing, swimming, and relaxing.
The Croatan National Forest covers almost 160,000 acres – providing great birdwatching as well as trails and water The expansive parcel of terrain is bordered on three sides by rivers or large bodies of water access – including the Bogue Sound, the Neuse River, and the White Oak River. It’s filled with recreation sites, campgrounds, launching areas, and picnic areas. Bring your boat, and enjoy this remarkable protected forest.
Where to Eat
There are dozens of restaurants, bistros, and casual chill-out establishments, but we’ve found a few that come highly recommended by locals and recent visitors. Depending on where you are when hunger hits, try them out.
The Chelsea is where you can find a mix of casual and fine dining, with a menu that changes daily, but always gives a nod to fresh seafood. Try their shrimp and grits – it’s much-loved. And, if you’re a Nicholas Sparks fan, you may see him here for lunch or dinner.
Morgan’s Tavern and Grill is a casual eatery, housed in a wonderful old building. They craft their own beer in partnership with the St. George Brewing Company. Be sure to order the lobster bisque.
Baker’s Kitchen is a bakery and breakfast restaurant rolled into one. We’ve got it on good authority that their French Toast is the best ever! (Perhaps the butter syrup helps.) Open every day from 7am-2:30pm. Full breakfast menu and full bakery.
Bay Leaf gets accolades on the review sites. All your favorite dishes from India, including Tandoori cuisine, biryana, and samosas. Open for dinner with a buffet, in addition to the menu.
MJ’s Raw Bar and Grill features some of the best crab dip in town. You can find traditional favorites as well as more upscale items. Lobster, crab, shrimp, oysters, mussels, and more are on the menu and it’s a local watering hole – always a recommendation.
Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant has fabulous views, with a mix of casual and fine dining. The restaurant focuses on modern cuisine, made from locally-sourced ingredients by their award-winning chef. The name comes from a large persimmon tree found submerged in the harbor, which was used to make the host stand.
Cow Café is a great destination for families with young children, as well as anybody with a love for ice cream (they make almost 40 flavors). Go for a tasty lunch or a fabulous dessert. Order the Death by Chocolate ice cream if you dare. Allow time for the youngsters to play in the barnyard.
Captain Ratty’s Seafood and Steak House is a local favorite with casual dining and a wine bar. In the summer, head for the rooftop dining – great burgers and seafood with your stellar view.
Beer Army Burger Co. is a military-themed, casual destination for lunch or dinner. With 16 beers on tap and more in rotation, beer is the theme. Locals rave over their burgers, but they feature other casual fare and special events. Are you a member of the beer army?
247 Craven offers an intimate setting with a mix of casual and fine dining. The menu changes frequently, based on what’s available nearby. Local owner and Chef, Ashley Mosser, features unique dishes with a fresh, local flair.
Lawson’s Landing Riverwalk Café is found at the North Carolina History Center. It’s great for lunch on a warm, sunny day, with a view of the Trent River to accompany your lunch, and bottomless Mimosas on Sundays. Thursday-Saturday, they become Aperitivo’s for dinner, serving Italian favorites, a killer lemon mascarpone cake, and that amazing view. Check hours of operation before you go.
Find a restaurant, attraction, boutique or outdoor adventure you’d like to share? Let us know, KPettit@CarolinaLiving.com and we’ll expand this already remarkable road trip.
More information. http://www.visitnewbern.com/