New Bern Area Guide

New Bern, NC
Area Guide

The City of New Bern is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region, the inland coastal region of eastern North Carolina. The “Inner Banks” (IBX) is a newly coined term for the area, distinguishing it from the string of islands off of the North Carolina coast collectively known as the Outer Banks area (OBX). The North Carolina Coastal Plains region comprises of both the IBX and OBX areas. The City of New Bern, as North Carolina’s premiere historic city, takes pride in its picturesque views and progressive community, situated at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers. Our neighborhoods and hamlets (Trent Woods, River Bend, Taberna, Historic Downtown New Bern, Greenbriar, Brice's Creek and Fairfield) offer our citizens a high quality of life, allowing residents and visitors the opportunity to explore and experience our culture; New Bern’s 300 years of history and tradition are apparent in our attractions, museums, parks and events. To learn more about New Bern, Craven County, other nearby regions and towns of interest, or eastern Carolina’s Inner Banks, please visit:

Our New Bern

New Bern Now

New Bern/Craven County Convention & Visitors Center

Downtown New Bern

Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Inner Banks of Washington NC Tourism

Cruising Carolina

Town of Swansboro

North Carolina Beaches

Town of Oriental Tourism

Town of Atlantic Beach

Morehead City

Avon, North Carolina Visitor Guide

The Official Travel & Tourism Website for North Carolina


Due to its easy accessibility to both the sound and the rivers of eastern Carolina, various groups of indigenous people inhabited the New Bern area prior to European civilization.  The area which is now northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia were among the first European-North American settlements. The area of New Bern is rooted in Swiss culture, established by Marian exiles and marriages of the Royal House of Stuart, whose strong links to Calvinism contributed in part to the Swiss immigrant settlement of New Bern. New Bern is the second oldest town in North Carolina and the original location of its state capital. Baron Christopher de Graffenried of Bern, Switzerland founded New Bern in 1710. Under the directive of von Graffenried, New Bern’s original layout was to resemble the shape of a cross; due to the growth of New Bern and its outlying cities, the original town schemata has since been lost. Craven County, established in 1712, was named in honor of William, Earl of Craven, first Lord Proprietor of Carolina. New Bern became county seat of Craven County in 1722; New Bern was also the capital of the North Carolina colony and its first state capital until 1794. Tryon Palace, completed in 1770, was the former home of British governor William Tryon and was used as newly independent North Carolina’s original state capitol building. Following its destruction by fire during the 1790’s, a replica was built in 1864 from the original plans on the original foundation, where it is now maintained as a historic site and tourist attraction. During the Golden Age of Piracy, the Outer Banks of eastern North Carolina, along with the coastal city of Beaufort, was a favorite of the pirate Blackbeard. Craven County grew in size and importance during the mid 18th century due in part to its location between the Albemarle and Cape Fear and also because of its county seat as a significant river port. 19th century Craven County continued to flourish with the development of the railroad system, furthering New Bern’s commercial dominance while adding to the city’s wealth and cultural growth. Communities surrounding the city also benefited from the heightened cultural and commercial sophistication of New Bern. Tobacco and cotton made up the early regional economy, which shifted to mixed farming by the end of the 18th century. The productive prosperity of the regional farmland became a target for frequent Union invasion during the American Civil War; many towns of the area were burned to the ground by Union troops. New Bern was captured and occupied by Union forces during the Battle of New Bern early in the American Civil War. The remains of some of the many battlegrounds in Craven County can still be found today. The restored coastal Civil War Fort Macon is located convenient to Beaufort, just outside of Atlantic Beach. The Union Army set up the Trent River contraband camp to house refugees, many of whom were escaped slaves who went to the Union camps for protection. Following the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, more freedmen came to the Trent River camp for protection. Horace James, a Congregational chaplain, was named the "Superintendent of Negro Affairs for the North Carolina District” by the Union Army, managing both the Trent River camp and the self-sufficient Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony. Many freedmen in the camps worked for pay for the Union Army, with 4,000 freedmen from North Carolina enlisted in the United States Colored Troops. The CSS Albemarle, launched by Confederate forces at Plymouth, marked the first use of an ironclad warship. Post-war, like much of the South, the economy of agriculture suffered a serious blow and the region was slow-changing in its economy. Whether enjoying the architectural beauty and charm of New Bern’s four National Register Historic Districts, peeking into the historical past of Colonial America or visiting one of our historic sites or museums, New Bern and its nearby areas have many gems awaiting discovery. To learn more about the history and museums of New Bern, Craven County, or nearby areas, please visit:

The Historical Society of New Bern

The Swiss American Historical Society

Documenting The American South Collections
The North Carolina Experience/ Baron Christoph von Graffenried

New Bern Civitan Club

Civil War Battlefield Park

Beaufort Historic Site Grounds

North Carolina History Center

North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Division of State History Museums

North Carolina Historic Sites

Tryon Palace Historic Site and Gardens

Museum of the Albemarle

Port O' Plymouth History Museum

New Bern Fireman’s Museum

North Carolina Civil War Exhibit at The North Carolina Museum of History

New Bern Academy Museum at the Tyron Palace

Attmore-Oliver House

Bellair Plantation

The North Carolina Maritime Museum
(252) 728-7317
Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge
315 Front St.
Beaufort, NC 28516

Parks and Recreation

New Bern, often touted as “North Carolina's Gateway” is located convenient to rivers, beaches and inland natural destinations, creating an ambience of diversity and adventure for any outdoor enthusiast. Hikers, beachcombers, and bikers have ample opportunity to explore the cliffs and shores of the New Bern area. The rivers and beaches offer fishing, shrimping, tubing, canoeing and kayaking; other popular outdoor activities in the area include swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, kite-boarding, hang-gliding, kite flying, sand gliding, surfing, riding all-terrain vehicles and camping. Our natural beauty awaits your exploration in the nature preserves, animal sanctuaries, picnic areas, amphitheaters, boardwalks, gazebos and playgrounds of our park systems. Historic districts abound throughout the communities of our unique towns and villages, inviting our guests to immerse themselves in the picturesque charm and rich history of the New Bern region. Experience the simple beauty of sea turtles nesting on sandy beaches, deer seeking shelter in maritime woods, or Banker Ponies galloping in the surf. The Croatan Forest, Dismal Swamp State Park And Wildlife Refuge, Goose Creek State Park and Neuse State Park are just a few of the places of interest where visitors can learn about our unique ecosystems and interact with nature. Upland forests co-mingle with coastal ponds and southern swamp forests, salt estuaries, bogs, and pocosins (“shrub bogs”); the smooth darkness of millponds creates an ambience of an “enchanted forest” in the parks of the New Bern region. Whether paddling the Bogue Sound, White Oak or Neuse River, enjoying the painted sunset and view of the stars from the multicolored cliffs of the Neuse State Park or visiting nearby Beaufort to catch a glimpse of the region’s famous Banker Ponies across the channel on Carrot Island, there’s a hidden gem of natural beauty and wonder hidden somewhere for you in New Bern. To learn more about the parks and natural destinations of New Bern, Craven County or nearby cities and counties, please visit:

New Bern Parks and Recreation

Craven County Parks & Recreation
(252) 636-6606

Union Point Park

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

Dismal Swamp State Park

Goose Creek State Park

Merchants Millpond State Park

Pettigrew State Park

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge

Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge

Croatan National Forest

Atlantic Beach

Harker’s Island

Attractions and Activities

There’s plenty to see and do in New Bern; with coasts and cities under an hour away you’re never far from adventure. New Bern is your “Gateway” to experiencing everything North Carolina has to offer. Downtown New Bern is a fusion of time-honored history and an up and coming venue for the arts and artists. New Bern is commonly known as the birthplace of Pepsi Cola as well as the setting of the Nicholas Sparks' book, The Notebook. Downtown streets are studded with eclectic shopping, art galleries and restaurants. From enjoying the public art of our “Art Parks” during a walking tour of historic and beautiful downtown New Bern, to trolley tours and “bear hunting”, New Bern visitors will be drawn in by the history, events and waterfront views available in New Bern. Golfers, fisherman and nautical enthusiasts have ample choices to enjoy the outdoors, while shoppers explore the unique downtown shops or the high-end vendors of the New Bern Mall. Weekly farmer’s markets invite the senses with seasonal produce, farm-fresh goods, baked treats and the handiwork of local artisans. Enjoy a cup of coffee and local music at Port City Java or the Trent River Coffee Company while exploring downtown New Bern. Gourmands and foodies can experience everything from local favorites the Ghent Sandwich Shop or the Country Biscuit to fine dining at the Chelsea, where top-trained chefs create imaginative and memorable meals. Sunday brunch at The Flame is a world-class event, and no coastal Carolina trip would be complete without sampling the seafood-- eat on the roof overlooking the river at Captain Ratty’s Seafood & Piano Bar for a true taste of New Bern. Ghost-hunters, take note: New Bern and its area are “home” to many spirits and legends. The Weeping Arch, Cedar Grove Cemetery and the Masonic Theater are just a few of the “otherworldly” places of note in New Bern. For those who prefer a different kind of “otherworldly” experience, choose instead to see the “inner space” of the oceans at the North Carolina Aquarium. From shows and events to galleries, shops and restaurants, New Bern is characterized by its small-town feel and big-city sophistication. Whether hunting for ghosts, golfing ranges, “bears”, bargains or the perfect cup of coffee, you’ll find it in New Bern. To explore more of New Bern’s attractions and activities, please visit:

North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Downtown Historic District of New Bern

New Bern Farmers' Market

New Bern Trolley Tours

New Bern Bears

Craven Arts Council & Gallery

New Bern Civic Theatre

New Bern Riverfront Convention Center

Bank of the Arts Gallery

Taberna Country Club

The Emerald (a Rees Jones course)

North Carolina Aquarium

Masonic Theater

Cedar Grove Cemetery

The Weeping Arch of New Bern

Haunted North Carolina

New Bern Shopping and Dining Guide

New Bern Mall

The Flame

The Chelsea

Ghent Sandwich Shop in historic downtown New Bern

The Country Biscuit

Captain Ratty’s Seafood & Piano Bar

Trent River Coffee Company

Port City Java


Life in New Bern is enhanced by many popular festivals, street fairs and seasonal events, with calendars packed full of nature, arts, civic and historical events. Some of the area’s highlighted events include MUMfest, the Blueberry Festival, the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and the Craven County Arts Council and Gallery annual juried sculpture contest, among others. ArtWalks, gallery exhibitions, classes, performances, festivals and fundraisers constantly rotate on the calendars of our regional communities. The historic downtowns of New Bern, Havelock and Pamlico bustle with live music, active local theatres, festivals, and special events year round. From pirates and pilgrims to blueberries and ducks, celebrate with New Bern—your Gateway to adventure in North Carolina. To find out more about what’s happening during your visit to New Bern, please visit:


North Carolina Blueberry Festival

The East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival

Outer Banks Wildlife Shelter Sand-Sculpting Contest (Sculpt for Wildlife)

1st N.C. Volunteers Civil War Re-enactments

Carolinian Shakespeare Festival

Craven Concerts, Inc.

New Bern Parks & Recreation Events

Craven Arts Luminary Newsletter

New Bern Historical Society Events Calendar

Craven County Arts Events Calendar

New Bern Masonic Theater Events

IBX Lifestyles

IBX Arts, a not-for-profit art organization, based in Columbia, NC