You won't find a more picturesque vacation spot—or a more resilient one.

north carolina new bern waterfront
You won't find a more picturesque vacation spot—or a more resilient one.
| Credit: Zach Frailey/Getty Images

The Atlantic Coast of North Carolina is worlds apart from its sister sands on the tranquil Gulf. Big waves and powerful surf are its calling cards, particularly when it gets a push from a hurricane. And the towns fronting this water have a vibe more akin to New England than the Florida Panhandle.

New Bern, North Carolina, was still recovering from Hurricane Florence, which struck in September 2018, when Dorian paid an unwelcome visit roughly a year later. But this gorgeous town of almost 30,000 locals is open for business, its welcome mat most definitely out for all the visitors who come here for water views, authentic coastal character, historic charm, and plenty to see and do. And eat. And drink.

New Bern marks the spot where the Neuse and Trent Rivers converge. The Neuse flows into Pamlico Sound, a gateway to the Outer Banks and the Atlantic Ocean. Maritime culture enriches the experience here, as do SUP tours, kayaking, fishing, and boating. You'll definitely want to get outside, but first you'd better check in.

Sure, there are hotels in New Bern, but this is the kind of place that begs you to stay in a B&B so you can really get into the spirit of the place. Try one of the town's historic properties like The Aerie, a Victorian home built in 1882, or the Benjamin Ellis House, originally a "two and two" (two rooms upstairs, two rooms downstairs, hallway down the middle), completed in the early 1850s. It was expanded as the Ellis family grew over the years. The Jarvis at 220 is also a historic home but with more modern interiors. All three are on Pollock Street, offering you stays that are walkable to downtown. (The Aerie is just a little farther from the waterfront than the other two.)

Check out all the shops and restaurants (we hear good things about Beer Army Burger Company, MJ's Raw Bar & Grill, Persimmons on the Neuse River, The Chelsea, Morgan's Tavern & Grill . . . better wear your stretchy pants).

You can walk or pedal off your lunch as you explore the North Carolina Estuarium and the Croatan National Forest.

Don't leave New Bern without touring two of its most famous landmarks: Bradham's Drug Store, birthplace of Pepsi Cola, and Tryon Palace and gardens, North Carolina's first permanent capitol, completed in 1770.

Plan your trip here.

WATCH: Hurricane Dorian Exposed a Remarkable Sight

If you want to meet locals who are passionate about the environment, particularly their dunes and native wildlife, just head to the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina.