Exploring Historic Downtown New Bern, NC

Welcome to Downtown New Bern, NC—a charming destination complete with a variety of attractions, outdoor activities, events, dining, shopping, and accommodations! Located in the beautiful coastal region of North Carolina, this city is home to a flourishing history, culture and stunning landscapes. In this post, we will cover all of the amazing aspects of Downtown New Bern that make it such a sought after destination for visitors. We will explore the city’s history, top attractions, outdoor activities, festivals and events, dining, shopping, accommodations and transportation. There will also be a few important things to consider when you are planning your visit to Downtown New Bern. We hope that this post will inspire you to one day take the plunge and discover the vibrant culture and charm of Downtown New Bern. Let’s get started!

History and Culture in Downtown New Bern, NC

Steeped in rich history and culture, Downtown New Bern, NC, offers plenty of exciting things to do and see. Located on the Neuse River and in the coastal plains of North Carolina, the city was first settled by Swiss and German immigrants in 1710 and was the first capital of the state.

To this day, many of the 18th-century homes remain intact and offer residents a glimpse into the state’s past. The Christ Church, Stanly House, and Attmore-Oliver House are popular among visitors of the city and are must-sees when exploring its history.

Popular Attractions in Downtown New Bern

Many popular attractions can be found in Downtown New Bern. Guests should not miss seeing the New Bern Firemen’s Museum and Library, a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. The New Bern Battlefield Park offers visitors a chance to learn about the Battle of New Bern, an important battle in the Civil War, while Tryon Palace gives them the opportunity to experience colonial history first-hand.

Other popular attractions in Downtown New Bern include the Kiwanis New Bern Railroads Museum and the Historical Society of Early American Decoration. The Farmers’ Market is also great for finding local produce and handmade goods, while the Swiss Bear Downtown Cinema is great for a night out.

Celebrations and Events in Downtown New Bern

Whenever summer comes around, Local celebrations and events are held in Downtown New Bern throughout the year. One of the most popular festivities is the city’s Fourth of July celebration, which includes music and fireworks displays from the waterfront. Additionally, the North Carolina Symphony regularly hosts concerts in the city, and the Freedom Jazz Fest is a great way to experience New Bern’s local music scene. Every October, the city celebrates the Mumfest which is a family-friendly event with carnival rides, live performances, food, and lots of other activities.

Delicious Food and Drink Options Abound in Downtown New Bern

When it comes to food and drink, New Bern has plenty of delicious local restaurants to enjoy. The Chelsea, located in the historic district of Downtown, offers American fare and craft cocktails, while Carolina Cider Company offers a unique take on craft cider. For beer lovers, Neuse River Brewing Company and New Bern Uncorked are great breweries to visit.

No matter what you’re looking for, Downtown New Bern is sure to have something for everyone. From exploring the area’s rich history to enjoying delicious food and drinks, you’ll find plenty of things to do in this coastal North Carolina city.

downtown new bern nc

Top Attractions in Downtown New Bern, NC

As the second oldest city in North Carolina, Downtown New Bern offers visitors a wealth of attractions and experiences to enjoy. From its majestic colonial-era architecture to its beautiful riverfront views, Downtown New Bern has something for everyone. Here are some of the top attractions not to be missed during your visit:

Tryon Palace

The centerpiece of Downtown New Bern is Tryon Palace, a stunning, colonial-style building built in 1767. This historic palace is both a tourist hub and museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s past with a vibrant art exhibition, beautiful gardens, and interactive programs and exhibitions. From the stunning neoclassical architecture to the lush gardens, Tryon Palace is a place that should not be missed when in Downtown New Bern.

Hattie’s Garden

For a truly unique experience while in Downtown New Bern, take a visit to Hattie’s Garden. Located behind the historic Stanly House, Hattie’s Garden is an open-air courtyard that is filled with colorful creations from local artisans like jewelry makers, potters, and mixed media artists. From the vibrant artwork to the tranquil park-like atmosphere, Hattie’s Garden is a great place to spend an afternoon in Downtown New Bern.

Trent River Strolls

For a peaceful, scenic day in Downtown New Bern, take a stroll along the Trent River. The century-old houses, giant palms and pine trees, and towering magnolias create a picturesque backdrop for a leisurely walk along the river banks. Visitors can take in the beauty of nature while admiring the architecture of the downtown homes.

The Cedar Grove Cemetery

Pay your respects to the sons and daughters of New Bern who fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars by visiting the Cedar Grove Cemetery. With headstones dating back to the 1700s, this sacred cemetery is located in the historic district of Downtown New Bern. It’s a great way to get a glimpse at the city’s rich history, and to honor its brave citizens.

Snapfinger Creek Wildlife Management Area

For wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers, a visit to Snapfinger Creek Wildlife Management Area can’t be missed. This 700-acre area is home to plenty of native wildlife including ducks, swans, sandpipers, and other birds. Whether you’re looking to take a quiet hike through the woods or just admire the wildlife, Snapfinger Creek is a great place to get back to nature while in Downtown New Bern.

Southern Outer Banks

Take a day trip to the stunning Southern Outer Banks. Whether you’re looking to go on a fishing charter, hop on a dolphin cruise, or explore the many nearby shipwrecks, there is something for everyone on the Outer Banks. With miles of sandy beaches and stunning crystal-clear waters, you’re sure to find a new adventure here.

From its colonial-era architecture to its lush waterfront views, Downtown New Bern has plenty of attractions to offer its visitors. From the Tryon Palace to Wildfife Management Areas, there’s no shortage of things to explore in Downtown New Bern.

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Outdoor Activities in Downtown New Bern, NC

Let Trywater Touring Company take you on an adventure to explore downtown Historic New Bern. Enjoy the beauty of Eastern North Carolina while visiting the downtown area by kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or taking a bike rental.

Describe the Offerings

Trywater Touring offers a variety of activities, perfect for any level of enthusiast. Have an exciting experience with their guided tours and pick from a range of activities dependent on the time you plan to spend in Historic New Bern. If you are looking for a leisurely journey, take the half-day trip to explore the historical significant sights you can find along the waterfront. The canoe or kayak trips can be a great introduction for those who are getting comfortable with the open water experience. A more adventurous boat ride could be the perfect opportunity to experience the scenery and fresh air outside Historic New Bern. Stand up paddleboarding and guided kayak trips are also available to those who want to become immersed in Eastern North Carolina’s coastal waters.

Sample Activity

If you don’t want to get too far away from the downtown Historic New Bern area, why not try a scenic bike rental trip? You’ll experience the beauty of downtown at its own pace! Choose from a range of bike rental options, from rush-hour rentals designed to get you around the city in a hurry to afternoon leisure rides that can explore and take in the sights that downtown New Bern has to offer.

There are plenty of attractions in the area you can take in along your tour. You may find yourself travelling along a unique coastal route that starts at Tryon Palace and ends at St. Paul’s Church. A scenic bike ride like this can be one of the best ways to experience the history, culture, and natural beauty that downtown Historic New Bern has to offer.

What Visitors can Experience

By renting a bike from Trywater Touring you also gain access to some of the best attractions and areas of the Raleigh region. You will have the opportunity to explore spectacular waterfront views, unique gardens and take in the architectural beauty of historical buildings. If you are looking for a more interactive experience, bike rentals provide access to several cafes and restaurants close to popular sites. Visitors can easily make their way to the some of the area’s most vibrant destinations, like Lawson Creek Park, historic Bear Plaza, Union Point Park, and Craven County Courthouse while en route to explorations.

Whether you are looking for a leisurely journey or an adventurous tour, Trywater Touring Company has the perfect activities in store for you. From kayaks to bike rentals, there’s something that is bound to make your visit to Historic New Bern amazing.

Photo Of Beige Dome Building During Daytime

Events and Festivals in Downtown New Bern, NC

Downtown New Bern is a bustling hub of activity all year round, especially during the holiday season and summer months. There is no shortage of events and festivals in this charming coastal town! From holiday events and festivals to live music and entertainment, Downtown New Bern offers something to delight everyone.

Christmas and Holiday Events

The holidays are such a special time in Downtown New Bern, especially with the annual Secret Santa event. Held the first Saturday of December, volunteers decked out as Santa, elves, angels, and carolers give away candy and gifts to the town’s residents. On the same day, the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Competition draw huge crowds with its festive competitions of decorating and lighting the city’s trees.

Live Music and Performances

Live music and performances throughout the year fill Downtown New Bern streets with a unique sound. Jazz and Blues Nights are held every Wednesday evening at the local Speakeasy, and different Broadway plays are regularly performed live in various spots downtown.

Mardi Gras Party

colorful chaos of Mardi Gras invades Downtown New Bern every February. The street Mardi Gras Parade, King Cake Eating Contest, and free outdoor concert light up the streets and make for a special experience for those in attendance.

Beary Best Annual Festival

The Beary Best Annual Festival is the perfect place for a family outing. It is held every April and offers craft shops, food vendors, fun activities for the kids and live entertainment for the entire family to enjoy.

Fourth of July Downtown Fireworks

Every year, July Fourth starts off with a huge Downtown Fireworks show over the Neuse River. The whole day is stuffed with activities like the Downtown Street Fair and Competition plus the fireworks show that evening.

Downtown Apple Festival

Another favorite celebration in Downtown New Bern is the Downtown Apple Festival. This event is held every year on the first Saturday of October to celebrate the local apple harvest. There are apple pies, apple bobbing competitions, and an apple recipe contest for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

Downtown New Bern offers something for everyone throughout the year, from the joy and festivity of the holidays to the live music and theatrical performances to the lively festivals of the summer and fall. Don’t miss out on all the fun and excitement of Downtown New Bern!

Town in Valley Between Mountains

Dining and Shopping in Downtown New Bern, NC

Living in the historic downtown area of New Bern has its benefits, from plenty of places to shop to plenty of delicious places to dine. Whether you’re visiting New Bern or a local just looking for some new spots to experience, here’s a comprehensive guide to all the places you can find in downtown New Bern, NC.

Boutiques, Cafe’s, and Restaurants

From Bear City Fudge Company to Tumblers Café, there are a number of fun places to explore while in downtown New Bern and all offer different experiences.

Barista’s Café and Bakery is a great place to grab a cup of coffee and a pastry. They also have a great selection of sandwiches and salads to choose from, so you can make a small meal out of it. This famous café is also home to some of New Bern’s most unique concoctions like the Bear City Painkiller and the Bear City Latte.

The Chelsea Restaurant and Bar is a local favorite. It’s a farm-to-table American bistro serving up plenty of delicious and unique dishes. We recommend trying out the Pork Schnitzel or their famous Chelsea Burger. If you’re looking for a great night out, the Chelsea has some of the best craft cocktails in town.

Unique Shopping Experiences

Downtown New Bern is home to numerous stores featuring locally-made goods. Uniquely New Bern Gallery is an art gallery that carries handmade items crafted by local artists. From pottery to jewelry and décor, they have a diverse selection of lovely gifts and souvenirs to pick from.

If you’re looking for quality apparel, Micha Bedecking Fashion Boutique is the way to go. They specialize in selling upscale clothing from brands like Gucci, Prada, Dior, and more. They also have some unique accessories and jewelry that you won’t find elsewhere.

If you’re out to find something special, Historic Life Store is your place. This store is home to a variety of unusual and vintage items including furniture, books, and jewelry.

Events and Festivals

Downtown New Bern has been known to host events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Bear City Fudge Company’s Bear City Fantasy Fudge Festival and the Historic District Holiday Celebration. Such events bring people together to enjoy shopping, food, and more.

That’s just a few of the many places you can visit in downtown New Bern. We encourage you to explore the area and find new places to visit! Whether you’re looking for a bite to eat, unique local items, or just a good time, New Bern’s historic downtown area has something for everyone.

Woman Taking Pictures of Ruins

Accommodations in Downtown New Bern, NC

The city of New Bern, NC in Craven County, is a popular destination for tourists and travelers alike, with a wealth of attractions and events on offer throughout the year. There are plenty of accommodation options for visitors to select from, to suit any budget or preference. We’ll explore the range of accommodation options in downtown New Bern, from budget-friendly motels to luxurious hotels and everything in between.

A Range of Accommodation Options to Suit Every Need

From hotels to motels to smaller bed & breakfasts, downtown New Bern has a wide variety of accommodation options. One of the region’s most prominent hotel groups, Availity Café & Inn, offers a luxurious stay in the heart of downtown New Bern, boasting charming historic heritage and modern amenities.

Visitors looking for something a little more intimate should consider staying in one of the many bed & breakfasts that the city has to offer, such as the delightful Biscuit Hill Bed & Breakfast. Located just off the main downtown strip, this cozy B&B features antique-style decor and a tranquil private garden, making it a great retreat after a long day exploring the city.

Cost-effectiveness of Local Options

Travelers can save by staying in downtown New Bern, as local accommodations can often be more cost-effective than hotels in the surrounding area. Many accommodation providers offer discounted rates for extended stays and regular visitors, so be sure to inquire about these deals when booking your stay.

Specialized Accommodations

Depending on the season and time of year, specialized accommodations such as camping sites and marinas may be available for visitors. Availability for these services will vary, so it’s best to make reservations in advance when planning your trip.

Online Reviews

Online reviews are an excellent resource for reading about the experiences of previous guests and getting an idea of the quality of the accommodations available in downtown New Bern. With the sheer abundance of accommodation options in the city, travelers should be sure to read the reviews before selecting their accommodation.

Photo Of Water Drops On Glass

Getting Around Downtown New Bern, NC

Public Transportation

When visiting downtown New Bern, NC, public transportation is the best way to get around. The city’s Beach Bus system serves the downtown area with regular hours and frequent stops at all of the popular attractions. The bus runs on a schedule with routes going east and west, as well as north and south, for easy access to most of the downtown attractions. Additionally, the city offers taxi services and other form of transportation such as bike rentals.

Self-Guided Tours

Explore downtown New Bern, NC, at your own pace with a self-guided tour. The downtown visitor center offers audio and written guides as well as a map to help navigate the area. This makes it easy to explore the historical downtown area and experience the local shops, restaurants, and attractions. The tour is great for families, couples, and individuals alike.

Events and Activities

Downtown New Bern, NC, is filled with exciting events, activities, and attractions no matter what time of year you visit. On weekends, take part in the tea ceremony in the city’s gardens and cafe or visit the town’s historic buildings and museums. During the warmer months, there are various festivals and attractions, such as live music and art exhibitions, that take place in the area. No matter what time of year, downtown New Bern, NC, has something for everyone.


Downtown New Bern, NC, offers a variety of accommodations located in the heart of the city. From resorts and hotels to bed and breakfasts, there are plenty of places to stay so visitors can enjoy the charming streets and exciting attractions. Most of the accommodations are located within walking distance of downtown, making them convenient and attractive for visitors to the area.

Food and Drink

For those looking for a bite or drink while exploring downtown New Bern, NC, the city offers a diverse selection of restaurants and gastropubs. Enjoy the local foods with a variety of fresh ingredients. Additionally, you can explore the many craft breweries, vineyards, and wineries in the area. With a variety of options, there’s something for everyone when it comes to culture and cuisine in New Bern.

Two Person Carrying Black Inflatable Pool Float on Brown Wooden Bridge Near Waterfalls

Things to Consider When Visiting Downtown New Bern, NC

As an outdoorsy city in eastern North Carolina, Downtown New Bern has much to offer visitors. It’s important to plan ahead, allowing time to fully experience the city and its rich history.

Research New Bern’s History

Before arriving in Downtown New Bern, it’s important to do some research on the area’s unique history. Discover the area’s historical attractions, learn about integral figures in New Bern’s past, and identify landmarks to visit. Understanding the past is an integral part of traveling, and in this case, offers insight into the city and why the area is so special.

Check Attraction Times

Once you know the attractions you’d like to visit, plan ahead and make sure they are open when you are visiting. Reviewing the hours of operation in advance means you won’t get any unpleasant surprises after already having arrived in New Bern.

Account for Weather and Wear Appropriately

North Carolina generally experiences mild winters and hot, humid summers. Visitors should be aware of the temperature and precipitation in New Bern during their visit and dress accordingly. The right clothing makes your experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

In the warmer months, New Bern’s walkable streets are even more inviting. Wear comfortable shoes or sandals to make the most of exploring the downtown area, going on a historic walking tour, or simply taking a stroll along the waterfront.

Knowledge of Safety

Although Downtown New Bern is generally safe, like in any city, it is wise to practice common sense and stay aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night and carry just the valuables that you need for the day. Know the area and where the busier areas are if you should get lost or need assistance.

Local Transportation Options

If driving isn’t your preferred to explore Downtown New Bern, you can always opt for local bus or taxi services. Downtown New Bern is a relatively small area, so opting for public transportation comes with added convenience and affordability. Finding your way around town is easy and taking advantage of these transportation options will help minimize stress and eliminate the need to navigate street names and directions.

Picturesque scenery of mountain range with green forest under sky with polar lights and stars in winter


New Bern, NC is a wonderful destination with something for everyone. Whether you are looking to explore the area’s historical attractions, take part in outdoor activities, enjoy the various cultural events, or explore the excellent shopping and dining options, there’s something here for everyone. From family-friendly festivals to abundant waterfront activities and more, there’s something for everyone when visiting New Bern, NC. With its easy access and abundance of hotel, bed and breakfast, and lodging options, there’s never been a better time to explore the area. With its rich cultural diversity and abundance of activities, Downtown New Bern is sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget.

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