New Bern earned a special shoutout in one of Virginia’s top travel guides which highlights voyage destinations all around the world.
Virginia Travel Tips, a site that focuses on travel beyond Virginia, shined a spotlight on New Bern as one of North Carolina’s top 20 best charming small towns to visit.
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The town’s recognition was gained due to the variety of attractions New Bern offers visitors, and of course, the surrounded history.
New Bern was described as a town that has cultural diversity, beautiful nature, history and is “technically classified as a city these days but still exudes that small-town feel and comfort.”
The travel blog also made note of New Bern being the second oldest European settlement and first Colonial capital in North Carolina located near eye-appealing water scenery. The historic town sits 40 miles north of Emerald Isle and is near Crystal Coast.
Natives and business owners in the area said they would have to agree with the blog’s viewpoint, but also feel New Bern continues to embrace several reasons the town attracts a diversity of visitors.
“There’s a visitor’s book we ask people to sign and we’ve had people from all over the world. It always amazes me,” said Julie McKeon, manager of the New Bern Farmer’s Market. “I hear it all the time. New people moving to New Bern say that the small-town atmosphere is why they move here.”
The town holds many historic buildings such as Tryon Palace, the first capital of independent and post-Revolutionary War in North Carolina, and is also one of the top sites tourists add to their to-do list.
New Bern being the birthplace of Pepsi and where the Birthplace of Pepsi Cola store is located was also highlighted as a reason for visitors to be drawn to the area.
Historical downtown, must-see attractions, and the town’s overall atmosphere are why business owners feel people will continue to make New Bern a travel destination.
“Even in our slow season, the hotel is full of people coming to spend some time in New Bern,” said Cindy Patton, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Bern Riverfront. “I think it has a lot to do with all the historical things to do. The word’s getting out more about New Bern and it’s growing options for people to do when they’re here, such as shopping.”
McKeon jokingly said she would like to keep New Bern small and even secretive.
“I think that we’ve got it good. The bigger it gets the worse it could get,” she said. “That’s the draw for tourists. People from neighboring towns come and spend the day because everything is right there. They can go to some of the places downtown like Tryon Palace, go shop and eat breakfast. They’ve got it all right there.”
McKeon and Patton both agree that big town visitors make their way to New Bern to have a change of pace, but additionally, the people are what makes it even better. Patton said she receives a lot of guests from Northern Virginia or New York who may want a change of scenery and a friendlier element.
“I think they just enjoy the vibe, downtown and it’s good friendly people that are here,” Patton said.
McKeon has lived in New Bern her whole life and said keeping that small-town charm is necessary.
“It’s the people I love the most,” she said. “A lot of the times when I ask people why they’ve come here, they talk about the people being so friendly. And I think keeping a town small benefits you to have a community spirit.”
Reporter Symone Graham can be reached by email at [email protected]. Have a story tip or idea? Send it her way.