Although fall is upon us, the mild climate of New Bern means we are still enjoying plenty of warm weather and sunshine, making it the perfect time of year to visit. New Bern has so much to offer – history, museums, galleries, boutiques, and a gorgeous riverfront – that it’s easy to fill several days without ever leaving the historic district. What makes New Bern an even more ideal location is that it is only a short drive or boat ride to explore the region’s other coastal towns and parks. There are several wonderful day trip options from New Bern, whether it be exploring lighthouses, fishing, boat trips, visiting an aquarium, or just spending a lazy day on the beach.
Here are a few ideas to help you plan the perfect trip:
1. Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout Lighthouse, and Beaufort.
One of our favorite day trips is a visit to Shackleford Banks, a barrier island on the outer banks. After breakfast, head out with a packed picnic lunch to Harker’s Island, a scenic one-hour drive. Catch the Island Express Ferry, which departs every hour on the quarter hour, for a 15-minute ferry ride to Shackleford Banks. It’s the southernmost barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore and is home to one of the best shelling beaches in North Carolina. It is also home to more than 100 wild horses of Colonial Spanish heritage. Watch the horses play and collect seashells and then take a quick ferry ride across to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Cape Lookout before heading back to the mainland. Take a quick drive over to Beaufort to explore the nautical shops and the North Carolina Maritime museum. Take a stroll through the Old Burying Ground and peruse headstones dating from the early 1700’s. Enjoy waterfront dining and watch the sunset at The Spouter Inn Restaurant & Bakery before heading back to New Bern. Be sure to get one of their delectable desserts to go! Finish off your day by enjoying your dessert on our romantic back patio.
2. Atlantic Beach, Fort Macon, and the North Carolina Aquarium.
There’s nothing like a day at the beach! I love the smell of the salty sea air, the warm breeze, and the sound of the waves. Just 45 minutes from New Bern, head to Atlantic beach for a lazy day. If you’re feeling like a little more activity, start out at the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores. The aquarium is fun for kids and adults alike. Plan to spend about an hour at the aquarium before heading over to Fort Macon State Park, the site of a restored Civil War-era fort. After touring the fort, enjoy some fishing, hiking, or swimming (in season). After all that sunshine and fresh air, head back to New Bern for a well-deserved nap before dinner at one or our fabulous downtown restaurants.
3. Morehead City – fishing.
Being on the coast means we get our fair share of fresh seafood. But that seafood tastes a whole lot better when you’ve caught it yourself! Why not spend an exciting day on the water trying to catch your dinner? Morehead City has several excellent charter boat options for deep sea fishing, sport fishing, or private charters.
4. Aurora Fossil Museum.
Short on time and want a half day trip instead? Consider a trip to the Aurora Fossil Museum. The museum houses a wide variety of marine fossils along with a world-class collection of gems and minerals. Visitors to the museum also have the opportunity to search and discover their very own Miocene age fossils in the museum’s fossil pits. You might discover the remains of ancient sharks, whales, bony fish, or coral.