I’ve Spent 20 Years in this Eastern North Carolina Hidden Gem. Why You Should Visit.

I live in a gorgeous small town in Eastern North Carolina. New Bern, NC, is full of history and old homes and is located on two beautiful rivers, the Neuse and the Trent, which allows lots of fun on the water.

I headed out one morning for a walk and was reminded of how blessed I am to have lived here for 20 years. It’s a spectacular town with amazing people, and everyone should take a few days to come and visit for themselves. I’ll share a little about New Bern, NC, and a few of my favorite things.

History Is All Around You in New Bern, NC

Tyron Palace New Bern, North Carolina

New Bern, NC, is the second oldest European-settled town in North Carolina. It was first settled in 1710 by the Swiss, who named it after Bern, Switzerland, where many new settlers had come from. It was also the first colonial capitol from 1770 to 1792, and Tryon Palace was the governor’s palace during those years until the capitol was relocated to Raleigh. You can tour the Tryon Palace during your visit. Here is all the information you need to visit Tryon Palace. In addition to tours, the palace hosts many unique events that are great to check out, especially around Christmas.

History is all around you in New Bern, NC, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and even to tales and rumors of Blackbeard having lived here. If history is your thing, make sure you visit the North Carolina History Center while you are here in town. It’s a perfect spot for the history buff.

Beautiful Downtown Views

New Bern, North Carolina

When you arrive in New Bern, NC, you quickly see how the two rivers dominate the downtown. The views are stunning at all times of the day. You need to drive around and see the downtown and then park and walk it. It’s an easy town to walk and take in the sights, and there are many places to park, get snacks, use the restroom, and read information about the area.

As you wander downtown, look for all the little nooks and crannies to take pictures, sit and visit, and people-watch. There is a lot to see and do. Many stores and buildings are historic, like the houses, and are truly beautiful.

Search for the New Bern Bears

New Bern, North Carolina

One of the visitor’s favorite things to do downtown in New Bern, NC, is to search for the New Bern bears. For our 300th anniversary in 2010, a non-profit, Bear Town Bears, was created, and they recruited local artists to decorate fiberglass standing and walking bears with hats, clothes, flowers, and other creative designs.

Local businesses sponsor the bears in the historic downtown and other areas around New Bern, NC. Visitors and locals alike enjoy going on a bear hunt when in town. You can pick up a bear hunt map at the New Bern, North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Historic Trolley Tour

New Bern, North Carolina

When visiting New Bern, NC, you must take a local tour to learn more about this cool town and its history. Many options exist, but I’ll share a favorite and link to others. Take a 90-minute Historic Trolley Tour for a more comprehensive history, stories, and information about New Bern. Here is the link for the Trolley Tour. The Trolleys are also rented for events, and we attended a wedding downtown where the bridal party arrived in the Trolley—so much fun. For information on guided riverboats and other local tours, check out this link.

Visit the Birthplace of Pepsi

New Bern, North Carolina

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a Diet Coke girl. It’s hard for a Diet Coke girl to live in the Birthplace of Pepsi, but luckily, this girl also likes history. So, it’s pretty cool to live in the Birthplace of Pepsi. While in town, you need to check out the Pepsi Store and see the site where Caleb Bradham first made his sweet concoction. In the Pepsi store, you can have a Pepsi at the old-time soda fountain, see lots of history in their shop, and shop Pepsi gear in their gift store. Check out more info about the Pepsi store here.

New Bern, NC Firemen’s Museum

New Bern Fire Station Museum

One of my favorite New Bern, NC, destinations is the New Bern Firemen’s Museum. I’m so proud to live in a town that honors its public servants with such a fantastic museum. It’s very well done and a neat place to check out for all ages of the family.

Union Point Park

New Bern, North Carolina

Don’t miss Union Point. There is a great pavilion, a playground for kids, ducks to feed, and several New Bern bears. There is also a great grassy area with wooden benches, picnic tables, and grills. So many fantastic events are held at Union Point Park year-round, including movies in the park, great music concerts on the lawn, yoga in the pavilion, and so much more. It’s a great place to make a picnic lunch or pick up some food to bring down and have a nice lunch or dinner.

Historical Homes

New Bern, North Carolina

You can’t have a 300-year-old town without beautiful historic homes, and we have many of them. My husband and I love to take different routes, walking downtown to see all the beautiful homes. People here take such great care of their old homes, and our historical society makes sure they are kept in their historical state. The New Bern Historical Society does historic home tours yearly, which is excellent to catch if your trip allows.

Some big old homes are now Bed and Breakfasts, and others are doing their best to keep them as family homes. Hurricanes do their darnedest to mess with downtown New Bern, but our city is resilient. During your walks, check out the signs near the home’s doors listing the year it was built.

Farmers Market

New Bern, North Carolina

If you are in town on Saturday, check out the Farmers Market. You will meet lots of great local people, see their crafts, foods, and goodies, and get a chance to visit with other locals and visitors alike. Even my grandkids love to go downtown and visit the Farmers Market.

Visiting New Bern, North Carolina

New Bern, North Carolina

As I mentioned before, there is so much to do and see here in New Bern that I couldn’t possibly list it all. Hence, a list of my favorite things. I hope this gives you a little idea of what you can do when you visit our small town.

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex.


I’ve Spent 20 Years in this Eastern North Carolina Hidden Gem. Why You Should Visit.
Stephanie Seymore

I’m a 50-something wife, mom, and Gra who is embracing travel and encouraging others to get out and explore. I’ve learned the hard way that life is short and there is a lot to see and experience, so don’t wait! Check out my blog SeymoreoftheWorldwithMe for more inspiration!