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New Bern offers history and fun close to home

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New Bern North Carolina is considered the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. The Pepsi Cola Museum offers visitors the chance to learn about that history while sipping drinks from a soda fountain.


By Tyler Stocks
Staff Writer

Monday, August 12, 2019

Visiting a palace, North Carolina's first permanent capital, and learning about the history of Pepsi during the same outing is as simple as a day trip to New Bern.

Located less than an hour from Greenville, New Bern offers a little bit of everything.

“Whether you plan ahead and schedule every minute or simply let the day unfold in front of you, there are dozens of ways to enjoy a day-trip to New Bern,” said Tarshi McCoy, executive director of the New Bern-Craven County Convention and Visitor Center.

Tryon Palace, which once served as the meeting place for the North Carolina General Assembly and hosted George Washington for dinner, is a great place for history lovers to visit.

The palace features kitchens, 14 acres of gardens, stables, a history center and gift shop to explore. While visiting the palace, famous historical characters might emerge.

Tours in the Governor’s Palace and historic houses are guided. However, tour schedules for the historic homes may vary throughout the year, according to the Tryon Palace website.

The museum staff recommends calling before the visit to learn the schedule for guided tours in the John Wright Stanly House and the George W. Dixon House.

Two of the buildings, the kitchen office and the stable office always are self-guided. The three galleries in the North Carolina History Center, which is next door to the palace, and the gardens also are self-guided tours.

The Pepsi Museum offers a cheap way to and relax with fizzy drinks and fresh popcorn all while sitting at an old-time soda fountain. The museum also houses artifacts from throughout the drink's history and a gift shop.

Other attractions in New Bern include the New Bern Battlefield Park and the Firemen's Museum.

The battlefield park offers Civil War buffs the opportunity to walk the hallowed grounds where the Union and Confederate soldiers engaged in the bloody battle of New Bern on March 14, 1862. The battle map and interpretive panels, along with a self-guided brochure, provide a comprehensive overview of the battlefield. Guided tours can be arranged with three days advance notice.

New Bern is also home to North Carolina's first chartered fire department.

One of the highlights of the museum for children is New Bern's own fire horse, Fred, and adults can view an extensive collection of early firefighting equipment, including steam engines, as well as rare photographs and Civil War relics.

Other things to do include several walking tours. The maps for each of these tours are located at the Visitor Center, which is inside the N.C. History Center at 529 S. Front Street.

If you enjoy being out on the water, Cruise the Neuse offers boat tours that offer totally different views of New Bern, from beautiful landscapes and historic homes to the home of North Carolina's own Nicholas Sparks. Both daytime and sunset cruises are available. Feel free to bring snacks and beverages to enjoy as you cruise. 

No matter what your interest, New Bern provides historical charm and family fun all in a day's trip.

"New Bern truly has something for everyone; incredible historic sites and tours, one of a kind pubs and eateries, unique shops and boutiques, and a waterfront with scenic views perfect for boating, paddling or just enjoying,” McCoy said.

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