New Bern, NC, is that classic Southern town that stories and movies are often built around. Arriving into the historic downtown area over the convergence of soaring, high-rise bridges has a bit of a time travel feel to it. From the elevated view on top of the bridges, you look toward the town and observe church steeples popping up above a tree-lined grid of streets and shops, most all of which are clearly restored or maintained structures from a past era. It's a beautiful little town that successfully mingles old and new charm. New Bern, NC, is a community proud of its rich history, yet it has a fresh and fun feel to it. Art galleries dot the streets, over there is a well-stocked toy store (making obvious the appeal of this town to younger families), around the corner is an olive oil shop, laid-back coffee shops support the caffeine lovers, dotted along almost every street are clothing stores with appealing apparel, nearby are good wine shops (making the cultural appeal of this town clear – or the other way around . . . that the residents of New Bern have helped create that cultural feel). Walking around the historic block is an adventure in small townishness: on the grounds of the Episcopal church, parents and kids are celebrating some holiday event; you pass a corner where a group of friends has stopped for a chat. It feels connected here, like history has laid a solid foundation that has held strong for the people who live and visit here. There are also plenty of nearby natural resources for outdoor recreation here where the Trent River and the Neuse River come together such as boating and fishing. And people gather for festivals and events to celebrate the seasons or to support local charities.
In New Bern, NC, you'll find charm and culture, shopping, dining, attractions, activities and recreational opportunities. It’s no wonder that the town boasts historic B&Bs among its lodging options. It’s also no surprise that many people who come to visit eventually end up moving here to become full-fledged residents. New Bern is a popular retirement area due to its manageable size and moderate weather. Whether it’s a stroll through downtown, a visit to the shops and boutiques, a paddleboard excursion or a stop at one of the countless historic sites, there’s plenty of everyday fun in New Bern.
Add in the special events that punctuate the months, and you can see why New Bern, NC, is such an attractive place to live or to visit. There's MumFest in the fall with more than 100,000 participants gathering to enjoy the annual festival. Other get-togethers highlight culinary events such as farm-to-table foods or a chili competition. Some focus on outdoor activities such as running or biking.
Finding History in New Bern, NC
The community of New Bern, NC, has origins stretching back more than 300 years. The town has a wide appeal for anyone visiting, but those with a keen interest in history will have a special appreciation for what they find here. Tryon Palace, a replica of the structure built in the late 1760s to house the governor of the then-Province of North Carolina (still under British rule) is a living history lesson. The opulence of the palace – and the subsequent increased taxation of the local population that already found the building to be an over-reaching example of British greed – was one of the sparks of the American Revolution that began approximately six years after the Palace was completed. After the Rebels seized control of it, the Palace was the site of several general assemblies before the newly formed state of North Carolina's capital was relocated to Raleigh. The facility's focus on living history, the addition of The North Carolina History Center and its seasonal events make Tryon Palace a much-visited site and a great place to begin exploring the historic past of the entire region.
New Bern's focus as an early seat of the state's governmental power is made obvious by the breathtaking period homes that border the commercial area, almost all of which are restored. It's a pleasant activity to walk the blocks, giving yourself plenty of time to take them all in. Moving forward in time brings you to the Civil War and the Battle of New Bern, and there are interesting local resources for learning more about this period such as New Bern Historical Society Civil War Battlefield Park. Other attractions with a history twist include the drug store where Pepsi was invented and several cemeteries. New Bern sightseeing tours will help even the most hard-core history buffs dive in deeper.