After diving in 2020, New Bern recorded a record number of tourists in 2021.
Whether it was the desire for a small town in the middle of a chaotic world or to be named one of the top destinations in a national magazine, the streets of downtown New Bern seemed packed with visitors all over the place. year.
“New Bern has what is called an off-peak season for tourism, which usually runs from mid-December to February. However, this year we ended December like the rest of the year with a record number of occupations and visitors, ”said Melissa Riggle, Executive Director of the Tourism Development Authority of New Bern.
Riggle said TDA’s hotel partners all reported higher sales than in previous years and that Craven County occupancy tax collections from hotels, bed and breakfasts and rentals were flat. previous.
The months of January and February are traditionally slower, but there is never a point in New Bern where there is no tourist activity.
“Our hotels and guest houses are already registering a high volume of advance bookings until January. With changing travel and tourism trends, as well as our incredible attractions, events and marketing efforts now reaching more audiences than ever before, we are seeing an increase in our forecast for the New Year, ”said Riggle.
Businesses, restaurants and accommodations are taking advantage of this minor lull to make physical improvements to their facilities, update their offerings, and create new marketing plans.
While enjoying the water is a big attraction in New Bern, there are plenty of things visitors can do to spend a cool day in New Bern – indulge in decadent meals, hide in the shops, go shopping. self-guided tours and immerse yourself in history.
A winter day in New Bern
One thing New Bern never misses are the dining options. Guests can start their day with a hearty meal at classics like Baker’s Kitchen or The Country Biscuit. Both serve traditional southern savory platters, and the latter revisits a sweet favorite with his cookie donut.
For a lighter start to the day, New Bern is home to a plethora of cafes offering breakfast bites and plenty of caffeine choices.
After a few minutes at Five Point’s Crema Brew, visitors will be greeted like regulars and can munch on breakfast sandwiches and pastries while sipping on lattes.
With full stomachs, the next stop for a winter day of exploring has to be Tryon Palace, built for North Carolina Governor William Tryon in 1767.
Tickets, $20 for adults and $10 for children ages six to fourteen, grant access to a guided tour of the Governor’s Palace, 16-acres of gardens to peruse at leisure and admittance to several surrounding historic homes.
The North Carolina History Center is only a short walk from Tryon Palace grounds and is perfect for staying warm and learning more about how New Bern came to be what it is today.
Different spaces offer glimpses into a variety of eras. The Regional History Museum uses artifacts, videos and interactive opportunities to fill visitors in on the people and events that shaped the area. The Pepsi Family Center takes guests back to life in New Bern in 1835, when the city was just a bustling river village.
After hours of history and touring, refuel with lunch at the new Lawson’s on the Creek, serving up sandwhiches and salads, or stop by MJ’s Raw Bar and Grille, consistently known as the best seafood in town and famous for its crab cakes.
Retail therapy is next on the agenda. Pick up home goods from Blue Magnolia, gifts from Mitchell Hardware, foodie finds from Midtown Olive Oil or a T-shirt from Nautical Wheelers.
Hit The Birthplace of Pepsi for a snack break of popcorn and of course, a glass of the carbonated beverage.
Before it gets dark, bundle up and walk or ride the African American Heritage Trail which takes participants to ten different sites that have been instrumental in the fight for racial equity.
Other self-guided tours for an informative afternoon are An unforgettable walk, which stops at key landmarks from some of Nicholas Sparks’ most famous novels, or the Architectural walking tour that showcases New Bern’s mix of home styles.
Unwind with a dinner that brings a big city feel to New Bern at Cypress Hall Kitchen and Bar. The establishment puts innovative touches on classic southern cuisine with entrees like cider-braised porch cheek and pan-seared duck breast.
End a well-spent winter day in New Bern with a scoop or two of ice cream from Cow Cafe or a glass of wine from The Bruin Craft Beer and Wine.
“Looking at 2022, we are very excited about many upcoming projects and new assets developing in New Bern. A lot of hard work, partnerships and vision has gone into continuing the success and momentum that we have seen in tourism in Craven County, ”said Riggle.
Growth and Development reporter Julia Masters can be reached at [email protected] or 828-318-3108.