Historic New Bern is a charming riverfront town set along the picturesque Trent and Neuse Rivers,and centrally located along the North Carolina coast. Filled with quaint boutiques and eateries, riverfront attractions,lively entertainment, and more, New Bern truly offers something for everyone. Come explore the tradition, the culture, and the distinct flavor that is unique to eastern North Carolina.
Varying complex cultures of indigenous peoples had lived along the waterways of North Carolina for thousands of years before Europeans explored the area. The Tuscarora, an Iroquoian-speaking people, had migrated south from the Great Lakes area in some ancient time and occupied this area for hundreds of years before any Europeans arrived. They had an ancient village, Chattoka, here at the confluence of the rivers. They resisted encroachment by the Europeans, rising up in resistance in 1712.
New Bern was first settled by Europeans in 1710 by Swiss and Palatine German immigrants under the leadership of Christoph von Graffenried, Franz Louis Michel and John Lawson. They named the settlement after Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Von Graffenried originally directed the town to be laid out in the shape of a cross, but later development obscured this shape. This became the first permanent seat of the colonial government of North Carolina.
New Bern has four historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places; their numerous contributing buildings include residences, stores and churches dating back to the early eighteenth century. Within easy walking distance of the waterfront are more than 164 homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also nearby are several bed and breakfasts, hotels, restaurants, banks, antiques stores and specialty shops. The historic districts contain many of the city’s 2,000 crape myrtles—its official flower—and developed gardens. New Bern has two “Local Historic Districts,” a municipal zoning overlay that affords legal protection to the exteriors of New Bern’s irreplaceable historic structures. These areas provide much of New Bern’s unique charm, appeal to retirees and heritage tourism, and contribute to the city’s economic success. The Local Historic Districts, while vitally important to New Bern, comprise only 2.43% of New Bern’s 27-square-mile area. There is considerable area available for new development in New Bern.
Tryon Palace –
Things to Do:
The stately Tryon Palace was known as the grandest public building in the colonies. Originally completed in 1770, Tryon Palace was the first permanent capital of North Carolina and home to the Royal Governor William Tryon. In 1798, the original Palace was destroyed by fire. The rebuilt Palace and restored grounds, which reopened in 1959, serves as a testament to history, community, and rebirth.
Pepsi Family Center –
Kids of all ages will adore all the Pepsi Family Center has to offer. This virtual time machine takes you back to 1835, with hands-on activities that allow you to sail a ship, distill turpentine and produce naval stores, piece an electronic quilt, and help the shopkeeper find merchandise for customers in the dry goods store. With so much to do, you could spend an entire day playing a variety of roles within New Bern’s history.
Regional History Museum –
The Regional History Museum offers artifacts, videos, and displays that tell the in-depth story of the key forces that shaped the development of the central coastal region. Explore the environment, geography, climate, and ecosystems through plant samples and interactive programs. Discover the lifestyles and cultural traditions of the diverse peoples Native Americans, early European explorers and settlers, and Africans brought as slaves to North Carolina and how they played, celebrated, worshipped, and lived their daily lives. Learn about the major industries that have defined the area and how the waterways, the ingenuity of local entrepreneurs, artisans, and more influenced the local economy. Youll hear countless voices tell their stories in the museum.
Duffy Exhibit Gallery –
The Duffy Exhibit Gallery is an art space found within the North Carolina History Center. Within the gallery, youll find pieces from local artists, artifacts from New Berns history, and installments that are showcased through the Craven Arts Council. Come learn about the artists who are inspired by New Bern and its rich history.
Lawsons Landing –
Lawsons Landing, located in the North Carolina History Center, is a waterfront cafי that offers light faire for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy pastries and desserts over coffee, lattes, and tea. Or try specially-prepared sandwiches, salads, soups, fruit, or cheese plates. Theres something delicious for everyone, no matter what time of day.
Museum Store –
The Museum Store at the North Carolina History Center is filled with a wide assortment of specialty products, including books, food, plants, pottery and fine crafts, jewelry, tabletop objects, toys and more. Pick up collections of heirloom flower and vegetable seeds. Purchase 18th- and 19th-century botanical print reproductions and books, authentic Seagrove pottery, specialty foods, jewelry, crafts, and more. Shop for gifts for yourself or for someone you love.
Tryon Gardens –
Tryon Palace features 16 acres of gardens, designed by noted landscape architect Morley Jeffers Williams in the 1950s, which represent the formal garden style of 18th-century Britain. In the fall, the Carraway Gardens elaborate displays of mums are not to be missed. In the spring, daffodils, tulips, and other colorful flowers dot the landscape. In addition, Colonial-era arrangements, a Kitchen Garden, Victorian-style gardens, and more are open for exploration throughout the year.
Historic Homes –