Destination: New Bern, North Carolina

This charming southern city is well worth the trip off the ICW.

This charming North Carolina city is just up the river from a popular ICW cruising destination.Jen Brett

Up the Neuse River from the popular cruising stop of Oriental, NC, is the charming city of New Bern. Being roughly 20 nautical miles or so off the ICW, New Bern is more of a destination, and after our week there aboard Lyra, I feel it's definitely worth the trip.

We took a slip at the New Bern Grand Marina, which has affordable rates and an in-town location that can't be beat. For history buffs, New Bern has plenty to offer — the city was settled in 1710, was briefly the capital of North Carolina and was the site of a Civil War battle. Fun fact — it's also the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. The city is easily walkable, and there are plenty of historic buildings, churches, shops, bars, restaurants and gardens to check out. The airport is close by, making New Bern ideal for crew changes.

Cruising Notes: There are plenty of slips available at several marinas, and anchoring is possible as well. No moorings. Marine services (mechanics, divers, canvas shops) of all kinds are available here.

There is a farmer’s market in town on Tuesdays and Saturdays that’s within walking distance of the New Bern Grand Marina. Several large grocery stores (Publix, Harris Teeter, Food Lion) and other “big box” stores including a West Marine are also in town, but you need a car (or Uber) to reach them.

Highlights: I enjoy going out for a morning run, and for this, New Bern is a treat — there is a walking path that stretches all along the waterfront, and plenty of pretty side streets. My kids (Caitlin, 11, and Juliana, 7) loved taking their scooters everywhere, and there are several playgrounds. New Bern also has a full calendar of town activities. If you're looking for a good sailor pub, check out the Brown Pelican.

Downtown New Bern, NC

Walking through downtown New Bern, NC, — with a Pepsi, of course.Green Brett
New Bern has a full calendar of fun, small-town activities. We enjoyed greeting Santa, and the night was complete with a "snowfall."Jen Brett