The Chelsea is a popular downtown gathering place for those interested in gourmet and low country menus. The bar is in the restaurant area (see our New Bern Restaurants chapter) and serves mixed drinks, beer and wine. Because the Chelsea is a local landmark in itself, a traditional choice for excellent...more about The Chelsea Restaurant
Although New Bern, NC seems like a fairly quiet town, it is home several secluded bars, taverns, restaurants and theaters where the nightlife remains alive with music, dancing, karaoke and a last call of 2 AM. Each spot is catered to interests of all ages, ranging from the ambiance of candlelit dinners and fine wine to historic underground taverns and clubs with DJs that pump out music until the wee hours of the morning. More cerebral nightlife lies with New Bern's active theater scene, which offers up a musical production nearly every weekend and Shakespeare productions in the summer.
New visitors to New Bern will find that the scene is spread out across town, with only three spots remaining open past 11 p.m. in the downtown area. These bars become quite popular during the weekends and summer months but don't expect to see a lot of live music. Noise ordinances and lack of performance space leave few options for live music in downtown New Bern. Occasionally you’ll find a band playing in the beer garden off Craven Street, the DoubleTree Deck Party or just across the bridge at the BridgePoint Marina. However, of these three, only the BridegPoint offers music beyond 9 p.m. There are still great choices for atmosphere downtown that range from rooftop wine tastings to classic underground taverns and a few 'holes in the wall.' This is also a good spot for wine connoisseurs and lovers of microbrews on draft.
Move across the drawbridge and farther out of town to find pubs where the band plays on into the night. The only downside is that these spots are spread out. So don't plan a night of walking from bar to bar in search of live music. Generally you'll want to plan your evening based on the band and then expect to hang there a while. This also means plan on contacting a cab for a ride home sooner, rather than later. New Bern has a very limited supply of taxis and their availability can be quite limited in the witching hours between 1 and 3 a.m. This is especially true in the summer or when larger groups of people are in town for MumFest, Bike MS or conventions being held at larger venues like the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center.
Those who prefer to get their nightlife in during the earlier hours of the night will find a lot more options, particularly when it comes to more cultural scenes. New Bern is buzzing nearly every weekend with an event. Whether it’s Artwalk, in which numerous art openings and businesses are serving up wine, or a new play by one of three theatre troupes in town or a jazz concert at the North Carolina History Center, New Bern is definitely a town that loves its arts. Check our events calendar for some of the year’s larger events or connect with our Facebook page for links to the weekend’s hottest events.