A few hundred years ago, patriots and legislators alike settled not in Raleigh but New Bern, North Carolina. Tryon Palace was the first permanent capital of North Carolina and home to Gov. Wallace Tryon.
It’s also the hometown of Nicholas Sparks, who wrote his first novel here, “The Notebook.”
Just two hours east of Raleigh, a day trip here works for all ages. A tour of the palace—and its brand-new $65 million history center—includes the Pepsi Family Center where a virtual time machine puts kids in charge of sailing a ship or working as a clerk in a dry goods store.
Employees in period dress show how life used to be in the bad old days when you had to churn butter and wash your own clothes.
The riverfront offers a great variety of bed-and-breakfast inns, shopping and dining as well as a peek at the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.
In December, check out the 35th Annual Candlelight Celebration (December 12 and 19), which features colonial pageantry along with 18th century magic acts, sword-swallowing and fireworks.
Also on the December calendar: Holiday Pops with the North Carolina Symphony (December 15) and the Coastal Christmas Flotilla (December 5 at Union Point Park).
Cold or not, it’s a great time to be on the water.
Pit Stops in New Bern
256 Middle Street
Monday -Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday Noon – 4 p.m.
In 1893, Caleb David Bradham invented “Brad’s Drink.” This blend of carbonated water, sugar, pepsin, kola nut extract, vanilla and “rare oils” was later named “Pepsi Cola.”
Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant
100 Pollock Street
Open Tuesday – Saturday for lunch & dinner;
Sunday dinner only.
Enjoy great views of the Neuse River. Persimmons offers a casual yet elegant atmosphere serving modern dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients. Insider Tip: Sit outside on the deck and try the Persimmons Crab Dip.
Bear Town Market & Beer Garden
402 South Front Street
Monday – Friday
5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
2 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Located in Historic Downtown, Bear Town offers the largest selection of draft beers in town with 38 taps and counting. That’s more flavors than Baskin-Robbins! Not a beer drinker? You’ll find a great wine selection and a full bar.
The sign says “members only” but don’t be fooled; locals, tourists and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Bear Town Adventure Co.
230 Middle Street
Looking for a way to really experience all that New Bern has to offer? Experience it through kayak or by bike.