New Bern, North Carolina is a town rich in history with the distinction of being the first capital of our state. This riverfront community is known for Tryon Palace, residence of the first governor of North Carolina. For some it is the birthplace of their favorite soda, Pepsi. For families looking for a charming and close get-a-way from the Port City, New Bern has a lot to offer.
My family had the pleasure of visiting New Bern recently to explore the town and hunt for bears. No, not real bears…fiberglass bear sculptures that are located around the downtown area and in the greater New Bern area. In all there are 50 bears, but we focused our hunt on the 22 downtown. My 3 year old daughter was very excited to search for the bears, while my husband and I enjoyed the leisurely stroll taking in the sights of beautiful old churches and homes in the historic town.
The beauty of this small town is that you can park your car and simply walk everywhere in the downtown area. The Comfort Suites Riverview Hotel, the lovely hotel we chose to stay in, is located right on the Trent River and within walking distance to all the sights in downtown New Bern. Beside the hotel is Union Point Park which provides a great open space for children to run and play.
New Bern’s most famous attraction is Tryon Palace. Tickets for this attraction include admittance into the Governors Palace, historic homes, gardens and the NC History Center. The History Center, which just opened in October 2010, offers interactive historical activities that children and adults can enjoy.
Another notable attraction is “The Birthplace of Pepsi.” This is the original location in which Brad’s Drink (later re-named Pepsi) was formulated. A visit to New Bern wouldn’t be complete without stopping in for a drink and perusing some Pepsi relics and paraphernalia. If you have a Pepsi lover in your family, this is a great spot to pick up a gift!
Trolley and carriage tours are also available. We chose to hop aboard a horse drawn carriage for a tour of the city. Carolina Carriage and Tours runs a small operation with a couple of horses and carriages and are very accommodating of families allowing children to choose their carriage and even pet the horses.
Other attractions in the town include a Fireman’s Museum, Bank of the Arts (art exhibits), and many historic homes and churches.
During our stay we dined at The Chelsea Restaurant. The Chelsea offers a wonderful selection of delicious fresh dishes for lunch and dinner. The shrimp and grits are the best we have ever had and my daughter loved her macaroni and cheese (homemade).
A short drive from Wilmington, New Bern is a great spot for a weekend get-a-way for the whole family or just a couple’s retreat. My family and I will make this historic city an annual travel destination.