Discover New Bern, North Carolina

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Looking for a family getaway steeped in small-town charm and historical sites? Located in Craven County, North Carolina, New Bern is a charming riverfront town along the picturesque Trent and Neuse rivers with plenty of things for kids and families to do, while learning a little about North Carolina history.

The town of New Bern, established in 1710, is the second oldest town in North Carolina. In addition to beautiful scenery and a historic downtown, it claims many firsts. It is home to the first Chartered Fire Department in North Carolina and the first state capital, Tryon Palace.

The New Bern Firemen's Museum is a must-see for young boys who love fire trucks. This small exhibit is moving to the original 1928 station that housed the fire department for 72 years, but we stopped by its current location just behind the firehouse, for a visit. Filled with fire wagons, fire trucks, and the famous fire horse named Fred, the fact-filled tour takes about 45 minutes with the help of a guide.

The NC History Center, Tryon Palace and its 16 acres of gardens are the focal point of history in New Bern, plus nearby historic homes and the Regional History Museum with several interactive displays, are all included in the ticket price if you have time. Allow several hours to see it all, but you may need to divide your time to prevent history overload.

newbern_315-2.jpgThe Palace, former home to Royal Governor William Tryon, was originally completed in 1770 and is staffed by tour guides in period costumes. Don't miss a stop in the working kitchen, where ladies prepare foods and explain uses for herbs from the palace garden.

Historic downtown New Bern is filled with retail, dining and more historic sites. Locals and tourists line up for breakfast at Baker's Kitchen. Arrive early to avoid the line, or grab a delicious cinnamon roll to go and jump on the 90-minute New Bern Trolley tour.

Save room for ice cream later at the Cow Cafe. This kid-friendly eatery has a barnyard play area called "The Farm" with rocking cows, tractors and toys especially for little ones. Stop in the nostalgic Pepsi store, the birthplace of Pepsi, down the street.

Within walking distance of downtown is Union Point Park on the water. It's a great place for the kids to burn off some energy, when they tire of historic sites. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to visit nearby Croatan National Forest with its miles of hiking trails.

New Bern is approximately four-and-one-half hours from Charlotte, but worth the drive. Stay in historic downtown to make walking discovery easy. Find walking tour maps and more information at