New Bern is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. The city has four National Historic Districts and two local ones, which have helped preserve the character of the architecture. The Downtown Local Historic District is 368.64 acres; the Riverside Local Historic District covers 51.94 acres.
Union Point Park borders the Neuse and Trent rivers. It is the site of the city's major celebrations, such as Neuse River Days and the Fourth of July. Since 1979 the Swiss Bear Downtown Revitalization Corporation has worked to redevelop downtown; it has stimulated the creation of art galleries, specialty shops, antiques stores, restaurants and inns. This area has become a social and cultural hub. James Reed Lane is a downtown mini-park and pedestrian walk-through on Pollock Street across from historic Christ Church. Private restoration efforts have returned many of the downtown buildings to their turn-of-the-twentieth-century elegance.
In 2005, a segment of NBC's The Today Show noted that New Bern was one of the best places in the United States to retire. Retirees from the northern states have added to its population.
New Bern is located in the center of Craven County. It is sited at the junction of the Trent and Neuse rivers, two tidal waterways.