The Town of New Bern is the home of North Carolina’s first state capital and was originally settled in 1710. New Bern was settled by German and Swiss immigrants and thus named their settlement after the capital of Switzerland. New Bern has quite a bit to do, including Tryon Palace, sunset cruises, delicious restaurants, beautiful architecture, and so many locally owned shops. I’m thrilled to share a complete New Bern travel guide for the ultimate fall weekend in this spectacular small town!
I spent quite a bit of time in New Bern when I was in undergrad as we’d drive down from Greenville for little day trips to have lunch and shop around. During the spring, I stopped in New Bern for an afternoon with a dear friend, and I knew I had to come back and spend a weekend exploring. We had a wonderful time learning more about the town and experiencing all that there is to offer!
The Ultimate Fall Weekend in New Bern, NC
Where to Eat in New Bern, NC
Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant
Persimmons has been a New Bern restaurant staple since 2010 and is located right on the banks of the Neuse River. It has gorgeous sunset views from the large windows and outdoor dining spaces. The menu features locally-sourced ingredients and a unique take on Southern cuisine. Persimmons are one of the only native fruits to eastern NC, and when they were dredging the area around the marina to build the restaurants, one of the logs they removed was one from a Persimmons tree. The wood from that log was repurposed for the host stand at the entrance of the restaurant.
If you go to Persimmons when tomato pie is in season, it’s a must order! It’s served like a tart and is a delicious take on one of my favorite dishes. Their sweet corn and pimento hushpuppies are insanely delicious, so you should absolutely start with these no matter the season. David ordered the crispy old bay spiced hot wings and I ordered the shrimp burger, which is one of the dishes that I will almost always order if it’s on the menu. The side of macaroni and cheese is also a good idea while you’re at Persimmons!
The Chelsea resides in a building that was first used by Pepsi-Cola inventor, Caleb Bradham, and built in 1912. The building was restored in the 1990s and includes careful preservation of its unique features, including the original pressed tin ceiling and the gorgeous mosaic tile floor. The menu features delicious local, seasonal menu options and an upscale, yet casual dining environment. And if you’re in the market for a private event space or catering, The Chelsea is a fantastic option in New Bern.
David ordered the Southern burger which was served with a fried green tomato, pimento cheese, and bacon and a side of fries. I ordered the blackened mahi sandwich with a side of homemade chips.
Cypress Hall Kitchen & Bar
Stepping into Cypress Hall feels like stepping into a swanky restaurant in Charleston or Chicago. There is outdoor seating on the street, seating that overlooks the sidewalk and downtown New Bern happenings, gorgeous bar seating, and sophisticated booth and table seating. The menu boasts eastern North Carolina staples making for a creative dining experience. Chef Ashley Moser has done a fantastic job with this restaurant concept and I cannot stop raving about Cypress Hall!
We started with the pimento cheese served with pork rinds. This is a must order, y’all! David ordered the spicy chicken sandwich while I had the pan seared salmon which was served over a hoe cake with ham hock succotash. Dining here alone is absolutely worth the trip to New Bern to experience this absolutely delightful restaurant.
While our bed and breakfast served a fantastic breakfast, we ventured out to try Captain Ratty’s brunch offering on our last day in town. Captain Ratty’s is located right on Middle Street in downtown New Bern and features a rooftop with views of downtown and the river. It’s a great, local spot and if you go for brunch, order the Southwest as a plate (not a sandwich) and get it with an English muffin on the side. You won’t regret it!
Things to Do in New Bern – What to Do
Sunset Cruise with T&G Motorsports
T&G Motorsports is a family and veteran owned business that offers quite a great variety of options to enjoy the Neuse and Trent Rivers, including jet skis, boat rentals, day and night cruises, plus sunset dinner cruises. We enjoyed a wonderful sunset cruise on the rivers to kick off our weekend in New Bern. Check out their seasonal options for enjoying the water while in town!
Tour Tryon Palace & Gardens
Despite being born and raised in eastern North Carolina, I had never been to Tryon Palace and toured to property prior to our trip this fall. New Bern was the original state capital in North Carolina before moving to Raleigh thanks to its location on the water. Tryon Palace was where four state governors, Richard Caswell, Abner Nash, Alexander Martin and Richard Dobbs Spaight, lived during the time in office. Unfortunately, the Palace proper caught on fire in 1798 (the state capital had moved to Raleigh in 1792). In the 1950s, Tryon Palace was rebuilt and opened to the public in 1959 and is now a state historic site.
The Palace and Gardens are part of the experience, though there are other historic landmarks included in the property now. It’s a great way to spend a morning learning more about the original history of the buildings and exploring the gardens.
Visit the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola
No trip to New Bern is complete without a stop at the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola! Pepsi-Cola was founded in New Bern by native North Carolinian, Caleb Davis Bradham. He opened a drug store on the corner of Middle and Pollock St., which is where “Brad’s Drink” was originally created and thought to be a healthy cola to help with digestion.
Stop by the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola for a tour of the drug store and grab a fountain Pepsi to go before exploring the rest of downtown!
Explore Downtown New Bern and Shop Local
There are so many fabulous shops to explore in downtown New Bern. For women’s fashion, be sure to stop by the Peacock’s Plume for gorgeous fashion options, including a great selection of accessories. Mitchell’s Hardware was founded in 1898 and s is an authentic working hardware store in the heart of Downtown New Bern offering unique gifts, souvenirs, home goods, and garden care. Savi’s Wine was founded by local New Bernian, Cammie Lee. Savi’s is a truly unique wine shop nestled in a restored 1770s home, located one block from historic Tryon Palace.
Surf, Wind, and Fire is surf-inspired outdoor lifestyle company featuring the best clothing and gear. Enjoy the Surfing Pig Tap Room where you can sip, shop, and enjoy craft beer and cider. Carolina Creations is New Bern’s most unique art and contemporary craft gallery. Small Batch provides a curated collection of gifts for the home and special occasion. They source from American makers and small businesses to provide a unique gifting experience and offer local delivery, shipping, curbside/in-store pickup.
Enjoy Local Brews in the New Bern Beer District
New Bern has a couple of great breweries located right near each other. It makes a perfect spot to walk through, cool off and enjoy the incredible atmosphere and laid back setting that Tap That, Brewery 99 and Freshwater Beer offer. David and I enjoyed our time at Freshwater Beer before heading back to get ready for dinner.
Try North Carolina Beers & Wines at Tonic Parlor
Tonic Parlor is a apothecary-esque cocktail parlor that works with North Carolina wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cider mills. It’s a gorgeous space located on the second floor of the Folks General Store.
Where to Stay for your Weekend in New Bern:
The Jarvis at 220
On my trip to New Bern back in the spring, I fell in love with the Jarvis house and was over the moon to experience a stay at this beautiful bed & breakfast. It is just as stunning on the inside as the outside. Denise and Michael are wonderful and personable hosts. Honestly, we could have stayed for hours chatting with them. Michael is a retired teacher and coach and Denise, an international flight attendant with American Airlines. They have transformed the Jarvis into a beautiful yet comfortable space. We enjoyed our breakfast where we had the opportunity to meet other guests and make connections with them. The Jarvis also has a great basement that features a pool table, foosball, a bar, and a TV perfect for catching a game. If you prefer to tour downtown New Bern by bike, there are bikes available for use on the property as well.
Guests will notice nods to other local businesses throughout the Jarvis. The inn displays artwork from Carolina Creations throughout the space. Gifts from Small Batch are available in the dining area plus body wash and lotion specially made for the Jarvis are in the bathrooms. And there is a special Jarvis fudge waiting for guests in their room. It’s also available for purchase at Bear City Fudge Company.
We stayed in the Jarvis room, which had a king size bed that was super comfortable, a large walk in shower, and a seating area. I even texted Denise after we left to get the details on the sheets and quilt she had on the bed we slept in because they were so soft. Not only is the Jarvis a wonderful place to spend a weekend while in town, it is also an event space. Michael’s green thumb really shines with their plants on the property and makes a beautiful backdrop.
We can’t recommend a stay at the Jarvis enough! Denise & Michael are truly invested in the community and we loved hearing about their work to support eastern North Carolina. Be sure to check them out on your stay and tell them we sent you!
For more North Carolina travel guides, be sure to check out this page.
Shop this Weekend in New Bern Post:
Thank you to Visit New Bern for sponsoring and coordinating our stay. As always, all opinions from my experiences are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support I’m Fixin’ To.