New Bern NC, at the Sandcastle Village II. I love New Bern NC; it is an area with a rich history but just a perfect sense of pace and grace.
Day One Arrival at Sandcastle Village II
Going to New Bern is a nice drive from where I live in Virginia. If you love country roads, and that sense of true Americana it is a nice drive from almost anywhere.
As I drove into town, I remembered it had been years since my last visit. This is strange because New Bern is such a nice area. The weather, local history, waterways, and even its own pacing seem wonderful and unique.
Here the resort is simple but charming. It is an older resort but well-maintained and really a reminder of how well things have been done by developers. Here instead of a ton of options that make it hard to find the right fit for family or group travel you find a cookie-cutter townhouse design that fits just about everyone’s needs.
Two bedrooms with a nice loft and 1,469 sq ft of space are what you find. This kind of room means in-unit amenities are many and handle the needs of most families or groups.
Your villa comes nicely appointed with all of these features.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
- Whirlpool Bath
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- BBQ Grills
- Business Center/Fax
- Fitness Room
- Game Room
- Hot Tub
- Indoor Pool
- Internet Access
- Kid’s Activities
- Laundry Facilities
- Marina/Boat Launch
- Movie Rentals
- On-Site Security
- Outdoor Pool
- Sauna/Steam Room
A quick look online and you will find many positive reviews for this resort. I thought I would share a few with you here.
“It was a very pleasant stay. Beautiful place and location. We would do it again. Its a good starting point for touring the outer banks and local places. Had lots of fun in the outdoor pool, a rare treat for folks from Wisconsin.”
“Very peaceful and quiet. Nice lake for fishing and a great walking path around the lake. Unit was clean and comfortable. Saw a few bugs but no big deal. Did not use recreation center but looked fine. Easy access to and from New Bern.”
“Condo is updated with new furniture. Beds were very comfortable. There are 5 “levels” with 3 bedrooms on their own level. 2 levels have a queen bed with on-suite bath. 3rd bedroom is a loft with twin beds. Private deck has a view of a pond with a walking path. We enjoyed having coffee on the deck and enjoying a walk around the pond.”
My first impressions were this was a bit like a trip down memory lane. 10 years ago, I used to go with my family to a resort in Williamsburg VA. It had a very similar layout to the loft on the 3rd level and the same overall design. We even went to this resort when I was young enough to stay on the 3rd floor in the loft with my cousin. Still young single guys and the youngest in the family at that time. The layout means you can enjoy time with a bunch of family or friends.
Having separate bedrooms on one floor, then the kitchen, dining, and living room on another floor works great for entertaining a family or group. You can get up and cook without waking the entire unit. The adults can have private time in the bedrooms separate from the other parts of the villa. This is critical for comfort and happiness on a vacation.
One thing that stood out as a little odd was that the check-in location was a few miles from the resort. So, if you look up the resort location online never fear that is just the check in site or area. The resort is indeed in a lovely spot on the water.
After checking in and getting sorted, I was hungry. Here you can check in at 3 PM which is earlier than most locations and a nice feature. This meant after checking in was about 4 PM and I headed off into town to get something to eat. I had invited some friends to come and stay with me on this trip since the units were so large and a short drive for a weekend getaway. They were coming tonight, driving in from a town in NC called Goldsboro. So, before they got here, I wanted to do a grocery run, and while I am out get something to eat now since I was starving.
I went to a local spot called Famous that has been open for 30 years or more. This location is known for good sandwiches and great desserts. I planned to get something for now, and also more to take back to the unit so no one would have to cook tonight.
Sometimes it is nice after driving a few hours to be able to park and settle in for a while before eating out or going into town when you are on a vacation at a resort like this.
After eating a sandwich and getting some to go from Famous, I was ready to hit a local grocery store for some basics for the villa. We would be staying for 3 days so I did not need a, but I wanted to get some drinks, snacks, and things for breakfast at least 1 day if we wanted to stay around the resort at the start of a day.
Later about 30 minutes after I got back to the resort, my friends arrived, and we spent the night snacking and talking about our lives, and work, the normal things. Just catching up. Then we figured out a plan for tomorrow.
Day Two at Sandcastle Village II
Waking up at this resort was nice because it was so quiet. I love staying at modern resorts in major resort towns. They are nice and there is a lot to do. But sometimes you want to disconnect and get away from everything. This resort had that feeling and appeal but yet was close to New Bern which offers many opportunities. An amazing thing about this location was that it was very peaceful. Sure, there were families going in and out of units, but it was something you really did not notice unless you were outside on the move.
That was the great thing about this resort and really New Bern, NC, the peace and quiet. To start our day today, we headed out for breakfast. We were all up early, my friends and I, so we chose to go in one car and head to breakfast. For this meal, we wanted to try the Country Biscuit Restaurant. Few foods taste better in the south than anywhere else in my estimation and biscuits are one of those foods.
Here the thing to get was the restaurant’s namesake, and any version of eggs and sides you want. The pork tenderloin that they serve here is a great choice, but it is hard to beat good breakfast sausage too. They also serve omelets and you can get the country biscuits like a featured side with those. Biscuits and gravy is something you either hate or love kind of not in between, but biscuits with butter and your choice of jam or jelly are hard to beat.
After a great breakfast, I called in a favor to borrow a sailboat for a few hours. New Bern is very close to my old summer camp from my preteen years and they still have a fleet of sailboats. Small sunfish sailboats and larger lightning are 19 ft sailboats which is a good size for 2 or more people. Ideal for the 3 of us to go out for a few hours on the water. Today was a good day for it. Perfect weather with about 8 mph winds coming in from the Southeast.
You do not have to have connections to get a boat for the day you can rent, or for most people, the better option is to charter a trip on the local waterways near New Bern.
Here are a few companies you can see about renting from or chartering with.
There are others in the area that focus more on the charter side of the business as well.
Cruise the Neuse
Our time in the water was fun. I had not been on these local waterways in over a decade, but they had not changed much. I just took my friends from my old camp to the girl’s camp up the water to relive a trip we took from camp to camp each year for a dance.
The kind of young kid’s dance where everyone holds up a wall or fence just wishing they had the nerve to ask the pretty girl to dance for ½ the time. Then if you finally, did you fell instantly in irrational love for 1 hour. Innocent and silly but a good growth experience.
The waterways and rivers around New Bern near Sandcastle Village II are some of the nicest on the East Coast. Just do not go out by yourself if you are not a boater. It cost so little to have a licensed captain who knows the local waterways. Also, rarely there are North Eastern storms that come up fast and have strong winds. Being right on the water with not a great deal of land to slow the wind down it can blow hard seemingly out of nowhere.
You will enjoy the waterways here if you like to ride around a look at amazing properties from the water, fish, or even just enjoy the boat ride.
After sailing for several hours, we all were ready to eat again. Sometimes the salt air either makes you hungry or sleepy, it depends on the day and the strength of the sun I guess.
We chose to try an Indian restaurant called Bay Leaf.
Whenever I eat Indian, I have two must-haves. Butter Chicken and then their version of rice pudding for dessert. The butter chicken tastes a bit like it sounds but it also has many layers of spices that give it this amazing aftertaste, and comfort food experience. The rice pudding dish is called Kheer, and it is seasoned or spiced but also much sweeter than our traditional rice pudding, so it tastes unique.
After everyone had that giant lunch and I twisted everyone’s arm for dessert, we decided to do a bit of a local tour by car. One of our first steps was the little pharmacy store where Pepsi was invented. Like many sodas, Pepsi started its life as a concoction from a pharmacist. It was called Brad’s Drink up until they started to market the beverage in 1898. Here you can not only visit the birthplace of this beverage and related business giant, you can also learn more about the history of the brand itself and its inventor. Which is kind of neat.
I think today it would be like going to the garage where Microsoft was started, or the place where Apple was founded. A billion-dollar brand and enterprise that really started from almost nothing, and was built by the fans of the product.
Day Three a step into history in New Bern NC
We woke up and went to the North Carolina History Museum at Tyron Palace. If you are a fan of museums and history like I am, this is a must-see spot in New Bern. Here for a $20 ticket, you can access virtually everything at the site including the historic Tyron Palace, many galleries and exhibits, and the impressive gardens here.
There is so much to do and see here that we were going to go yesterday but after the sailing, visit to Pepsi, and lunch there was not enough day left. The site closes at 5PM most days so getting there at 10AM meant we could spend the whole day if we wanted to.
More often than not I find that even the best museums and sites only keep others’ attention for at most half a day. Unless you are at the Smithsonian or somewhere where you can change topics or areas of focus to keep everyone’s interest, planning half a day makes sense.
We had a short breakfast at the resort villa before heading over to Tyron Palace.
While you visit, you will have a scheduled time for the Palace itself since that is a guided tour with very knowledgeable Docents. The gardens and State Museum can be visited in your preferred order and pace.
Do make some time for the State Museum gift shop.
Make sure to save on your vacation and book TZort style.