New Bern is known for many things, whether that is for the themed bears, the scenic waterfront or the memorable downtown. Perhaps it is most famously known for being the site of the first state capitol building, Tryon Palace. While I have toured the awe-inspiring palace and grounds, I recently discovered the North Carolina History Center, located adjacently to Tryon Palace. The center is a magnificent museum-like place showcasing the history of the local area.

Considering all my visits to New Bern, I thought I knew more than the average person about the area’s history. As I walked through the exhibits, I realized there was so much more to learn.

North Carolina History Center

The North Carolina History Center is one of the greenest buildings in the state!

It was immediately obvious there was extensive thought, research and dedication that went into planning the visitor’s experience. Instead of simple, static displays, there are a variety of ways to learn, explore and discover, from interactive activities to limited-engagement exhibits. I appreciated the detailed narratives throughout, especially the ones about the coast’s history.

You may know Pepsi-Cola was created in New Bern, but there is so much more to the story. The Pepsi Family Center exhibit lets you in on how the beloved soft drink came about. While there was not a performance at the time of my visit, I had to peek into the spectacular Cullman Performance Hall. The hall is an intimate setting for music, plays and lectures.

After all this learning and discovering, I was pretty ravenous. Fortunately, there is an on-site restaurant, Lawson’s Landing. The food was fantastic (be sure to save room for the flourless chocolate cake), and the view of the Trent River added to the flavor.

New Bern has incredible restaurants, recreational activities, popular hotels, charming bed-and-breakfasts, beautiful waterfront views, accessible roadways and a convenient airport. However, what makes New Bern so unique to me is the consistent homage to the city and its origins. Other cities could take a lesson!