Far Away Friday: New Bern, NC

Looking for one of those southern small towns like you'd see on a TV set? It's only a nap time's drive away, in New Bern, North Carolina. New Bern is the home of Pepsi, and they won't let you forget it. You can visit the pharmacy where Caleb Bradham invented "Brad's Drink" which later became Pepsi. They have a store in the recreated store. Downtown you'll find an array of locally owned stores from antiques, to art, books, markets, florists and apparel. 

Be sure to have lunch at the Cow Cafe. It claims to be the most udderly amazing spot in Moo Bern. So. Many. Puns. The Cow Cafe has a Doumars feel and makes their own ice cream in the store. They have sandwiches and wraps, but what really makes it stand out is the play area in the back room and the train running around the ceiling. Kids can play in the farm themed area, climb on a tractor, or ride a cow while adults finish eating. 

A block away is the New Bern Firemen's Museum. Established in 1955, the museum details the history of New Bern's fire department which has ties to the oldest in North Carolina and one of the oldest in the state. Downstairs kids can see all stages of fire fighting, but the real star of this museum is upstairs. A kids play area, fire truck, fire pole, and train table kept our kids engaged in imaginary play while we sat and chatted. Be on the lookout; they are currently developing some preschool aged events! Admission is free for children under 5 and $7.00 for adults. Hours are 10-4 Monday through Saturday. 
A ten minute drive outside of the main square will bring you to one of the most awesome locally owned businesses I've ever seen. Local owner Amy decided she needed to be with her family more when she learned that her son was on the spectrum. She left her job and started a baby goods store. The store was a place that moms could come and try out car seats and baby wraps and high chairs. That store became a local resource for moms who were searching for all types of resources, related to being on the spectrum or not. From that they continued to grow into the No Boundaries Sensory Gym. One side store, one side gym. This gym is open to all children. There are no rules that you can't be on the spectrum, and there are no rules that you must be. It's a place for all children, but it is designed to particularly help those who might need it. Kids will improve balance and motor skills while developing cognitive- behavioral and social skills. I can't say it enough- play is so important! I was so impressed with Amy, her story, and her business. There were slides, a zip line, a foam pit, trampolines, several kinds of swings, puzzles, building materials, dress up clothes, little houses, and even a rock climbing wall. There was also an area for babies which I am always  a fan of. A heads up, everyone takes off their shoes and needs socks, even adults. Admission is $6.00 for kids 12 months and up. Kids under 12 months are free with a sibling admission. They are open Tuesday-Saturday 9:30-5:40, but check for birthday parties on Saturday before you go.

Lastly, if the weather is nice be sure to check out New Bern's newly redone playground Kidsville 2.0. This playground is really cool and has several different climbing structures and things to do. What really stands out is that it has a seesaw. Playgrounds in the past 20 years have gotten rid of seesaws due to kids falling off, but they teach some important skills including balance and coordination. Seesaws with some safety changes have been making their return on new playgrounds! 

Free To Do in New Bern:
  • Bear Searching: Similar to Norfolk's mermaids, New Bern has bears everywhere! Count how many you can find with your crew. 
  • Heritage Walking Tours: Highlights downtown New Bern, Historic Homes, Churches, Cemeteries, African American History, Civil War and Revolutionary History and architecture. (For the adults during nap time maybe) 
  • Birthplace of Pepsi recreated soda fountain
  • Bank of the Arts: Painting, sculpture, photography, pottery, and fiber arts rotate on display. (Adults) 
  • Aviation Exhibit at the Havelock Tourist & Event Center: over 100 years of aviation, seven restored aircrafts are on loan from the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy are on display. We would have hit this if we had more time. Good for plane enthusiasts. 
  • New Bern Civil War Battlefield Park: Self guided tours. (Adults or for kids who enjoy running around!)
We spent the sixth night of Hanukkah with our dear friends down in New Bern, NC and had an amazing time exploring the city. The drive down 17 isn't bad and we hit almost no traffic besides the few cars in Chesapeake. With more to explore, I wish we could have stayed a few more days!