This city of 29,899 was founded in 1710 by a Swiss nobleman who named it after his home: Bern, Switzerland. Since "bern" means "bear" in German, black bears are New Bern's mascot, peering from carvings, the city's seal, and town souvenirs. New Bern boasted the state's first printing press in 1749, the first newspaper in 1751, and the first publicly funded school in 1764. For nearly 30 years it was the state capital until it moved to Raleigh in 1792. George Washington even slept in New Bern … twice. In 1898, New Bern cemented its place in pop-culture history when pharmacist Caleb Bradham mixed up a digestive aid that would become known as Pepsi-Cola.
Today New Bern has a 20-block historic district that includes more than 150 significant buildings, some 50 of which are on the National Register. The diverse architecture covers colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian styles. Since 1979, more than $200 million has been spent preserving and revitalizing the downtown area, now a pleasant mix of shops, restaurants, and museums. Sailors and sun seekers enjoy the area, too, as the Neuse and Trent rivers are perfect for such activities as waterskiing and crabbing. The town has several marinas, and, if water sports aren't your thing, five public or semipublic golf courses.
New Bern at a Glance
- Captain Ratty's Seafood & Steakhouse
- The Chelsea
- Cow Cafe
- Harvey Mansion Historic Inn and Restaurant
Elsewhere in The North Carolina Coast
- Bodie Island
- Cape Lookout National Seashore
- Hatteras Island
- Kure Beach and Carolina Beach
- Morehead City
- Nags Head