New Bern, N.C.

  • After a career as coach and a physical-education teacher on Long Island, N.Y., Jack Polo, 61, moved down the East Coast and settled in New Bern, N.C. He and his wife Jane now tie up their sailboat to a dock in their own backyard. More than a dozen public and private golf courses dot the vicinity, and because of the mild Carolina climate, Jack can tee up even in winter. The average temperature of 62.2[degrees] is a boon to gardeners; something is in bloom the year round.

    There are many good inns and hotels in the area, and New Bern is most definitely a place for people--residents and visitors alike--who relish being outdoors. The town is located at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse rivers, where there are annual sailing regattas as well as major seasonal fishing tournaments. Woods, streams, lakes and hiking trails can all be found in the 155,000 acres of nearby Croatan National Forest. Less than an hour away by car are the windswept dunes and white sand beaches of the Atlantic. At the shore, an aquarium and a restored Civil War coastal fort are fun to visit, especially for children, and just a short distance away by ferry are the Outer Banks.

    First settled in 1710, New Bern is rich in history. Pirates roamed the coast, and Blackbeard used to stay at Hammock House, in Beaufort, some 40 miles away. The wreckage of his ship Queen Anne's Revenge was recently discovered in waters offshore. In the heart of New Bern is Tryon Palace, once the residence of 18th century English royal governors. The town was a political hotbed during the Revolution and later became the first capital of the state. The red-brick Georgian palace, set on 14 acres of lush gardens and grounds, is among the town's more than 150 landmark buildings. But the biggest appeal of New Bern may simply be its modern amenities. Three years ago, Bob and Sandy Stevens moved from Chicago to Taberna, a golfing community on Brice's Creek, just five miles from town.

    "I love New Bern," says Bob. "It's historic, picturesque, safe, and the people are terrific."