Founded in 1710, New Bern was the first capital of NC and lies on the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. The historical district fronts the rivers and measures approximately six blocks by seven blocks, with on-street parking and several public parking areas.
If you feel like walking, the area is small enough to cover by foot. In addition to the historical homes, the area contains historical churches, museums, antique and speciality shops, as well as restaurants and pubs. Plan on several days to see it all.
The homes and buildings in the historical district date from the 1700s, and many architectural styles are represented. Some are open to the public and most have a plaque indicating the date of construction. Some have markers that give additional history. It appeared that the majority of homes and buildings date from 1700 and 1800s. Amazingly, most are restored! Awesome!
We visited the Tyron Palace Sites, the Pepsi Museum, New Bern Academy, the New Bern Historical Society Museum, the National Cemetery for veterans that dates to the civil war era, and a second very old cemetery, Cedar Grove, the Fireman’s Museum, and several old churches. There is also a live theater in the historic district, but the production was sold out during our visit.
Outside of the historical district, there are the usual found in a small city. Some of these receive little or no coverage in the tourism literature, which focuses on the historical areas. Be sure to ask locals! Close by the historical area, there is a Wal-Mart, a mall, and numerous good restaurants and smaller shops, etc. One local told us about The Craven County Fair that had just gotten underway—we attended and had a blast.
There are other special events through out the year. During our visit, the Second Annual Jazz and Blues Festival and the !5th Annual Ghost Walk were under way. The jazz festival included paid events at the Convention Center and free events at the river front Union Point park. We did the three day Ghost Walk whose theme was The Fabulous Fifties.
About 45 minutes away are Morehead City and Beaufort—both have neat water front districts with restaurants, shops, historical sites etc. The closest beach, also about 45 minutes away, is Atlantic Beach. It is a small beach town which has the usual beach shops, lots of restaurants, and several piers for fishing. Fort Macon State Park is found at the eastern tip of Atlantic Beach. The park includes a public beach and bathhouse. The fort dates to the 1800s, and is open to the public-- well worth the drive.
If you like looking back at the past, historical New Bern is the place to visit—see all my entries for this journal!