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New Bern, NC: A Delightful Mix of Old and New

Wondering about things to do in New Bern, NC? How to spend a long weekend?

These questions were easy to answer, in part, because I (a co-author of this piece) once lived nearby and know the general lay of the land.

No, New Bern, NC is not named for me (Kathy Newbern) although it became a fun joke that turned heads during our stay.

Upon returning to New Bern, Fletcher and I found a much revived river city. Among the highlights:

  • exciting culinary offerings

  • a thriving weekend music scene,

  • expanded development along an attractive riverfront,

  • appealing hotels, inns and condos, and

  • boats and more boats.

We also discovered a revitalized downtown with plentiful boutiques and interesting spaces. And yet, New Bern’s historical identity remains intact.

What’s appealing?

  • New Bern is very walkable, with water views often in sight.

  • History buffs will appreciate Tryon Palace just as paraphernalia collectors will delight in Pepsi’s birthplace. "Outlander" series fans will recognize the Palace.

  • Nicholas Sparks fans can experience the self-guided “A Walk to Remember” tour highlighting mentions or scenes from three of his novels.

  • The seasonal downtown Farmers Market features varied fresh produce, artistic creations, fresh flowers and more.

  • The city’s fall MumFest draws big crowds featuring food, music and a range of attractions and is one of North Carolina’s award-winning festivals.

Take note

  • Parking for Tryon Palace is not actually at the palace but at the nearby North Carolina History Center at 529 South Front Street. The Center is worth exploring, too, with interactive exhibits and a focus on Eastern North Carolina history. The Palace offers additional free parking on Eden Street.

  • Look for decorated fiberglass bears all around town (like the 1999 decorated cows in Chicago that started the trend). They represent sister city Bern, Switzerland. New Bern was founded in 1710 by a group of settlers from there. Pick up a self-guided tour map to locate all the bears in the downtown district and greater New Bern. There are 80 in all; 28 downtown.

Read the full story here: For more and planning your stay, go to: and

Below: L-R - Bear at popular Firemen's Museum - New Bern, NC is sister city to Bern, Switzerland; Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola; Tryon Palace, NC's colonial capital; Yachts in the harbor; a popular B&B on Pollock Street; get out on the rivers for warn-weather fun. (Phot: and


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