The New Year has come and gone, and 2017 is in full swing. You promised yourself that you’d make this year the year for trying new things, so why not start with a new vacation destination?
Here at Sundance Vacations, we know just the place for you to go. In the heart of Craven County, North Carolina, lies a town perfect for nature lovers, history buffs, and food connoisseurs alike–New Bern. Whether visiting Tyron Palace or the Croatan National Forest, this southern city is bursting with endless things to do.
Two of our beautiful properties, Sand Castle Village and Windjammer Villas, are located in New Bern. With everything from golf courses to the beautiful marina, either is a great spot to spend your week. And when you pair a great place with a great place to stay, you’re in for an unforgettable trip.
Taste the Feeling
What is a global giant in today’s world was once just a small idea originating from the corner of Middle and Pollock streets in downtown New Bern. In 1898, pharmacist Caleb Bradham mixed together a handful of ingredients to create a new cola named “Brad’s Drink”. Today, we know it as none other than Pepsi.
On Pepsi’s 100th anniversary in 1998, the Pepsi Store opened to the public. Since then, thousands of guests have spent an afternoon stepping back in time to learn more about the drink’s early days. To finish off your visit, grab a fountain Pepsi or souvenir on your way out to remember the day by.
The Pepsi Store is open on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit the Pepsi Store’s website.
Fall in Love with Colonial America
As New Bern’s top rated attraction, no vacation is complete without a trip to Tyron Palace. Built in 1770, the home first belonged to Royal Governor William Tyron and was North Carolina’s first state capitol. Tyron Palace is best known for its 14 acres of sculpted gardens, Gregorian architecture, and colonial feel. Documents even note that George Washington was one of the palace’s frequent guests! People are welcome to take a group tour or individual stroll through this American time capsule. As the saying there goes, “History is more than a story, it’s an experience!”
Right near Tyron Palace is yet another historical goldmine, appropriately named the North Carolina History Center. From the Regional History Museum to the Historic Homes, there’s (you guessed it) history for all ages.
The center is split into a few different sections. For the kid in all of us, the Pepsi Family Center boasts a virtual time machine that allows you to travel back in time to the 1800’s. Learn how to quilt, become a sailor, or even refine turpentine during your visit.
For more macro feel in the small town, check out the Regional History Museum. Here you can delve into every detail of the lives of early European settlers and other peoples in the area. Interactive programs also narrate the stories of the region’s development and the environmental conditions that affected them. You’ll leave knowing more about North Carolina and America than you ever knew you didn’t know in the first place.
After you’ve gone a mile wide and an inch deep, focus in on New Bern itself at the Duffy Exhibit Gallery. Here you’ll encounter artifacts from the town’s past as well as artistic creations by the locals in the area. To top off your visit, catch a glimpse of one of Craven Arts Council’s featured exhibits. The displays alternate frequently, so each visit you make to the gallery is sure to be unique.
Food, Shopping, and More History at the Center
Whether exploring has worked up an appetite or made you want to take the pieces home, the North Carolina History Center has a place for both:
At Lawson’s Landing, guests can grab a quick bite for any meal of the day and a waterfront view. Sticking around for the evening? The cafe serves fine Italian faire from dusk until close.
Inspired by the exhibits? The Museum Store offers everything from jewelry to vegetable seeds for purchase. You’ll also find historic botanical prints and books from throughout the ages–no matter what it is, there’s a piece of New Bern for everyone.
Once you’ve eaten and purchased all of the colonial crafts that your heart desires, head outside to visit Tryon Palace’s Gardens. Modeled after 18th century English styles, the 16 acres of gardens are truly a sight to see. 2017 marks nearly 70 years since their construction. The flowers alternate depending on the season, but every display brings something beautiful to the table.
When you have finished with the major parts of the area, make a plan to attend attractions in the surrounding area. The New Bern Academy Museum is located a short walk away from the palace. The 19th century building has worn many hats since its creation, from being a school to a hospital during the Civil War. When you visit, you will be able to explore exhibits regarding the history of education, Civil War, and architecture of the area. For more details on how to take a tour, call 800-767-1560 or click here.
Experience a Day in the Life of a Local
To top off your tour of colonial New Bern, pay a visit to the area’s Historic Homes. Within the town, there are three primary houses worth the visit. The Dixon House, Hay House, and Stanly House.
The George W. Dixon House was owned by a man who was both a tailor and town commissioner. During the early 1830’s, he and his family lived regally and splurged on the top trending styles. However, due to his own economic hardships, he was forced to give up the house in 1839 to pay back his debts.
After the Dixons left, the home became a Civil War hospital, then a home for the Stevenson family in the following years. Today, the house is a great place to learn about the architecture and colonial furnishing styles from an era that’s the definition of “back in the day”.
Named for the man and not hay itself, the Robert Hay House was the home of New Bern’s wagon maker. As a Scottish immigrant, Hay lived a modest lifestyle with his wife, Nancy Carney.
Unlike any of the other historic homes, the Hay House gives its visitors a hands-on experience–literally. After a four year process to restore the house to its original appearance, the home returned to its 1800’s prime. Today, furnishings have “Please Touch” signs on them and people are encouraged to kick back and lounge while there.
Also known by the man’s full name, the John Wright Stanly House is believed to be constructed in the 1780’s by John Hawks. It is the most well known and most visited of the three. Since then, it has seen multiple owners, uses, and has even been moved two times. The interior of the house is lavishly elegant, cluing visitors into the lifestyle of Stanly and his family. Together, he and his wife, Ann Cogdell, had nine children. A few years after the death of his parents, the oldest son, John Stanly Jr., was chosen as the owner of the home.
In the time since, the house has been the site for presidential visits, Civil War headquarters, and much much more. To get the full scoop, we highly recommend going to see it for yourself!
For all colonial attractions, book your tickets and learn about affordable touring options here.
Hit the Streets and Explore the Outdoors
One of New Bern’s most popular events is its year-round Farmers Market. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., over 75 vendors come together to sell local produce, crafts, plants, and even books. In addition to its once weekly schedule, the market is also open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from April to December. For farm raised and handmade items, the Farmers Market is the place in to go.
The weekly event is located on 421 S. Front Street in Historic Downtown New Bern, NC 28560. For questions call 252-633-0043 or visit the market’s website.
For more time in the open air, plan a trip to the Croatan National Forest. At 160,000 acres and surrounded by water, visitors can see a variety of wildlife and foliage. From alligators to Venus fly traps and everything in between, the forest is ideal for the truly outdoorsy type. To learn more about available camping and hiking opportunities, visit here.
Don’t Miss a Minute
For the best small town experience, hidden gem New Bern is the perfect place to spend a vacation. Whether enjoying the outdoors, US history, local cuisine, or anything else that the town offers, you’re sure to have a wonderful stay.
It’s time to head to the south and escape the winter weather. Arrange your travel plans with Sundance Vacations today to stay in New Bern for a one-of-a-kind trip!