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Try This: Spend a weekend exploring New Bern, NC

See what we saw and what we ate as we waltzed around the quaint city of New Bern, situated just ~2 hours from downtown Raleigh on the Neuse River.

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Slideshow of sights around New Bern, NC,

What we saw: New Bern’s idyllic downtown, the Trent and Neuse River (via a boat tour), the gardens at Tryon Palace + more.

Photos by RALtoday team

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A boat ride, good eats, and a history tour? Count us in. We recently decided to take a weekend trip to NC’s second oldest city (and our first state capital), just a ~2-hour drive from downtown Raleigh. See how we spent a weekend in charming New Bernand why we didn’t want to leave.

What we tried:

Where to begin — After checking into our waterfront room at the Courtyard Marriott, we walked downtown and window shopped at a few art galleries + boutiques before heading to Persimmon’s for dinner.

We dined right on the Neuse River, and enjoyed hushpuppies + crispy Brussels sprouts along with fish tacos and salmon with grits.

Our first post-dinner spot was New Bern’s first and newly-opened speakeasy Harry’s Blind Tiger — sister restaurant to Cypress Hall — where we sampled the Aperol spritz + a Negroni Sbagliato.

The last libations stop of the night was at Baxters 1892. Fun fact: The classic cocktail bar is inspired by the jazz clubs of the Roaring Twenties. We’re still dreaming about the bananas foster, crème brûlée, and espresso martinis (with freshly-brewed espresso, of course.)

Slideshow of restaurants in New Bern, NC

Where we dined: Persimmon’s (on the Neuse River), Harry’s Blind Tiger, Lawson’s On The Creek, Baker’s Kitchen, and Baxter’s 1892.

Photos by RALtoday team

What not to miss:

One of our favorite activities of the weekend was the 2-hour boat tour of the Trent and Neuse Rivers, courtesy of Anchors Up Marine Solutions. Our captain tailored our tour to show us the sights we wanted to see — prime waterfront real estate and wildlife, naturally.

We dined in the waterfront sunshine at Lawson’s On The Creek and sampled local beers on draft along with fresh deli-style sandwiches.

No trip downtown is complete without a stop in the birthplace of Pepsi — so we popped in for an ice cold sip before ending our day with a tour of Tryon Palace.

The Day Pass with a Palace Tour saw us spending the afternoon walking the beautiful gardens, milling around the military encampment, and learning from the museum exhibits.

What we’re still talking about:

How easy it was to fall in love with the city. Everyone was so welcome, accommodating, and eager to share their love of New Bern with us — from the restaurant hosts we chatted with to the captain of our boat tour.

The amount of variety in groups we saw around caught our eye, too. From young families to couples to groups of older adults with their grown kids, everyone was up to something fun downtown.

We left with a completely full itinerary for our next visit, thanks to generous local recs. Our first stop you ask? Morgan’s Tavern & Grill for some fresh local seafood.

How you can experience this:

At just a ~2 hour drive from the City of Oaks, New Bern is a wonderful weekend destination for Raleighites.

Pro tip: Keep an eye on RALtoday this the summer — you just might have the chance to win your own weekend stay in New Bern.

Things to know if you go:

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