Visit New Bern, North Carolina

“Travel is more than having a destination in mind; it’s discovering a place in your heart you’ve never been before.” -Mark Amend

New Bern, North Carolina is a beautiful, historic Craven County riverfront town that is situated about 33 miles from Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. 

In the three days of our visit, we found New Bern to be an easily walkable downtown and we immersed ourselves in the well preserved history all around us. For our visit, we chose to stay in a centrally located Airbnb, one block from Front Street and enjoyed strolling among the historical homes of New Bern and along it’s riverfront. 

Settled by colonists in 1710, New Bern served as the North Carolina capital from 1770 to 1792.  The city was continuously occupied by the Union Army during the American Civil War which saved it from much of the wartime destruction that took place in other southern cities. 

Surviving war, fire, and hurricanes, today New Bern has four National Historic Districts with well preserved homes, public buildings, and churches that date back to the eighteenth century.  It is a glorious town to explore if you are a history buff and enjoy Colonial and Victorian architecture that New Bern residents and leaders have so carefully preserved.  New Bern is also surrounded by the Trent and Neuse rivers so it is easy to enjoy the town from the water.    

What to see in New Bern:

Baxter Clock: One of three Seth Thomas post clocks still in used and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was manufactured in 1920 and erected in 1930 in front of Baxter’s Jewelry Store.  See it at 300-398 Pollock Street.
Tryon Palace: formerly called the  Governor’s Palace, Tyron Palace was the official residence of the British governors of North Carolina from 1770-1775.  The original building burned  but was rebuilt. 
Explore history and the gardens of Tryon Palace at 529 S. Front Street.

Front Street: explore the historic homes on and around Front street and stroll along the Neuse River. 
Home on Front Street now and circa 1900.
William B. Blades House, Middle & Johnson Streets; now and circa 1910.
United States Court House & Post Office, Pollock & Craven Streets; now and circa 1900.
Home of Pepsi-Cola: step back in time and visit the former pharmacy where Pepsi-Cola was formulated.  This is a great spot to stop as you explore downtown for a sample of today’s Pepsi. 
Explore shops and eat in the local restaurants, especially the treats at Bear City Fudge Company.
Craven County Court House, Broad and Craven Streets, now and circa 1910.
First Baptist Church, Middle Street; now and circa 1900
The Athens Theatre, Pollock Street; now and circa 1915

Notable New Bern residents

Caleb Bradham: You likely don’t know Mr. Bradham but I bet you know his creation-Pepsi Cola.  New Bern is the proud birthplace of Pepsi and

Bayard Wootten was a groundbreaking female photographer who designed the Pepsi logo.

Josephine Burton became the first Registered Nurse in North Carolina and the first Registered Nurse in the United States.

Nicholas Sparks is a beloved novelist, most notably writing the The Notebook, which is set in New Bern.   

We enjoyed exploring the charms of New Bern and would recommend a visit to anyone.  The town is historic and it’s residents are friendly. 

Enjoy your visit!

*Historical photos sourced from “A New Bern Album” by John B. Green III