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.

Things to Do:

Tryon Palace –

 width= 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 –

 width= 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 –

 width= 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. You’ll hear countless voices tell their stories in the museum.

Duffy Exhibit Gallery –

 width= The Duffy Exhibit Gallery is an art space found within the North Carolina History Center. Within the gallery, you’ll find  pieces from local artists,  artifacts from New Bern’s 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.


Lawson’s Landing –

 width= Lawson’s 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. There’s something delicious for everyone, no matter what time of day.


Museum Store –

 width= 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 –

 width= 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 Garden’s 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 –

 width= Surrounding the Palace are several historic homes and buildings that help tell the story of life in historic New Bern,  including the Dixon House, Stanley House, and the Hay House. The John Wright Stanley House (c. 1780) reflects the  wealth  of its owner, whose merchant ships raided British vessels to aid the American cause during the Revolutionary  War. In  addition to the historic homes is North Carolina’s first publicly-chartered school (c. 1766). The Academy Museum  interprets life in New Bern during the Federal occupation, 1862-1865.