This weekend, I finally got to get out of the house and take a day trip down to Tryon Palace in New Bern, North Carolina. I wanted to visit for a while now. Yet in late fall and winter, it’s hard to motivate yourself to leave the comforts of your own home. However, now that spring has sprung and the flowers are in bloom, it was the perfect time to see the Tryon Palace gardens and explore some of North Carolina’s rich history.
Starting in the North Carolina History Center, I explored the Regional History Museum and the Pepsi Family Center. This is really a different museum experience. Much of it is fun and interactive learning. In the Region History Museum, people can explore the central coastal area of North Carolina from prehistoric time to modern interactions with the world and cultures. I loved the computer booths where I could look at plant samples John Lawson had collected in the early 1700s or learn how naval stores made North Carolina flourish during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, if you go to the Pepsi Family Center, you can actually live the experience. Stepping into a virtual time machine, the guest is transported to the year 1835 where they can find work in a little river village of North Carolina. Hands-on activities let the visitor learn how to work on a small ship, distill turpentine (my personal favorite), piece an electronic quilt, keep a dry goods store, or write an article for a newspaper. But these activities are even more enjoyable in large groups, so be sure to bring the family and some friends along with you.
The next stop on the tour was taking the shuttle to the front of the Tryon grounds. Entering through a vast gate, you get a marvelous view of the Governor’s Palace. It was completed in 1770, serving as the first permanent capital of North Carolina. Every half an hour there is a tour which takes guests through the interior of the main house (warning: be sure to wear comfortable shoes). From our guide, I learned about the building’s history and the influences of society. Also, one can explore the kitchen and the stable house on either side of the main house either before or after the tour. However, the thing I went to see was the gardens. I was enchanted by the two Romantic gardens along the back. Fountains, hedges, and flowers all combined to create a mini, tranquil labyrinth one could just stroll through in the warmth of the sun.
Also, surrounding the Palace are several historic homes guests can view. I had the opportunity to see both the Dixon and the Stanly homes. Both were amazing and in some way more impressive to me than the Palace. The interpreters were lovely people to talk to and I felt more connected to the history and the families that once lived in New Bern.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience! Though, if you plan to visit, I might recommend a weekend trip, especially if you’re traveling from a long distance. There is just so much to see and do. And you probably won’t get sore feet.