Why Is New Bern Worth Visiting?
Before we go through all the things to do in New Bern, NC, let’s get to know it a bit. New Bern was founded in 1710 by Swiss and German immigrants. In addition to being a transportation center, New Bern was home to a flourishing lumber industry that provided material for ship construction. The town also had abundant supplies of tar, pitch and turpentine, making it an important producer of naval stores.
Today, the town serves as the county seat of Craven County. It’s located at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse rivers, which join to form the Pamlico Sound. If you’re looking for a weekend trip or a day trip from Raleigh or Charlotte, New Bern makes for an ideal destination. It’s rich in history, full of culture and has plenty of fun things to do in its picture-perfect downtown.
Things to Do in New Bern, NC – Downtown
New Bern has one of the most beautiful downtowns you’ll ever see. The streets are lined with elegant 18th- and 19th-century homes, and there’s even a fire station that dates back to 1887.
Downtown New Bern offers visitors many shopping and dining options along Middle Street and Pollock Street. You’ll find unique boutiques and antique shops throughout downtown where you can browse for just about anything under the sun.
And when you need a break from shopping, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to try. You definitely won’t go hungry in New Bern! There’s also the New Bern Farmers Market.
Tour Tryon Palace
At the center of downtown New Bern is Tryon Palace, a stunning Georgian-style building that served as North Carolina’s first permanent capital building. It was built in 1770 and is nestled in 16 acres of landscaped gardens. Today, it’s home to North Carolina History Center. A one-day pass to the palace is $20 for adults and $10 for youth.
Visit the Birthplace of Pepsi Cola
Did you know that Pepsi Cola was invented in New Bern by pharmacist Caleb Bradham? Visit the Birthplace of Pepsi Cola for a tour and learn about the history of this famous soft drink. You can also sample different kinds of soda pop at the museum shop.
Explore Union Point Park
If you’re looking for things to do in New Bern, NC that are a bit more active, downtown is also home to the historic Union Point Park. This 26-acre park offers walking trails, a playground, a basketball court and picnic shelters. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring!
Things to Do in New Bern, NC – Museums and Historical Sites
New Bern has a rich history, and it is told through the museums that are open to the public. Below are just a few of the museums in New Bern, apart from Tryon Palace. Make sure you visit them all to learn more about this historical city!
New Bern Academy Museum
The New Bern Academy Museum is located in the historic New Bern Academy building, which was originally built in 1809 as a school for boys and girls, just four blocks away from Tryon Palace. It contains permanent exhibits on local history, the Civil War, and New Bern architecture. Admission is free.
New Bern Firemen’s Museum
This museum is located two blocks from Tryon Palace. It tells the story of firefighting in America from the days before motorized fire trucks up until today. It includes interactive exhibits that show how firefighting equipment has changed over time and how firefighters use technology to save lives. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for students.
The Blades House
This house was built circa 1790 by Charles Blades, a freeborn black man who served in the Revolutionary War. It’s now a historic site operated by Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens. This home offers tours that allow you to step back in time and experience 19th century living. There are other historic homes in New Bern worth visiting, too.
Outdoor Things to Do in New Bern, NC and Nearby
A historic town on the water, New Bern is a wonderful getaway for those looking to spend some time outdoors. Whether you’re traveling with your family or just looking for a weekend activity, there are plenty of things to do in New Bern, NC and the surrounding area – for example, fishing in a waterfront park.
New Bern Battlefield Park
The site of the Battle of New Bern during the American Civil War, this park is home to a beautiful outdoor space perfect for a picnic lunch or afternoon stroll. The park features many walking trails that take you through the wilderness, and also boasts two monuments that commemorate the soldiers who fought in the Battle of New Bern.
For those who enjoy boating or fishing, a stop by the Neuse River is a must. There are several boat ramps located throughout the city, making it easy to put your boat into the water and explore nearby areas.
You can find docks along the river where you can tie up your boat and head to one of many local restaurants for a bite to eat. In addition, there are several public places near the banks of the river where you can fish without needing special permits.
Craven County Fairgrounds
The Craven County Fairgrounds hosts many events throughout the year ranging from festivals to concerts to expositions. While the fairgrounds are mostly used for agricultural purposes, they occasionally open their gates to the public for special events. Check their website to see what’s going on during your visit!
Croatan National Forest
Croatan National Forest is the only national forest located along the coast of North Carolina. It has 162,000 acres of undeveloped land with hiking trails through its marshes, swamps, bogs and forests. You can fish and kayak in some parts of the forest, but Croatan has more areas with restricted access than other national forests because it’s home to many rare species.
Enjoy Your Trip to New Bern, NC!
There you have it – a list of things to do in New Bern, NC that will keep you busy during your stay. Whether you’re interested in history or just looking to spend some time outdoors, New Bern has something for everyone.
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