What to Do in Kinston, North Carolina

Image result for kinston ncvia

Last year, I decided one of my passions and purposes for writing in this space would be to show off some of these sweet little towns in eastern North Carolina.  These towns were once thriving farming communities that unfortunately lost their way as tobacco farming became less profitable.  I have a major girl crush on Vivan Howard, chef of Chef & the Farmer and The Boiler Room, because she is helping revitalize the town of Kinston.  Kinston was about 40 minutes from Greenville, where I attended college.  This article came out this week in the New York Times about Vivian and as if I couldn’t love her more.  P.S. This is why I adore Joanna Gaines, too.  Way to bring attention to your town and all that it has to offer!

So, I try to get back east as much as I can to explore these towns (check out this day trip that my dad and I took together last year).  One of the reasons why I love that Vivan has A Chef’s Life on PBS is she showcases traditions and businesses in Eastern North Carolina.  DG and I decided that we’d go check out some of the places she discusses in her episodes and man, we loved it.  So, here are things to do when you make a day (or overnight!) trip to Kinston to eat at one of Vivian’s restaurants.

Eat at:

Chef & the Farmer

What to Do in Kinston, NC What to Do in Kinston, NC

This restaurant is everything I hoped it would be and more.  Hillary and I split an appetizer, entree, and dessert.  I asked every server what their favorite items were on the menu because I know they try the menu items every night prior to service (thanks A Chef’s Life).  It is well worth a drive.  I made a day trip of it when Hillary and I went, but you could also stay and enjoy their signature cocktails and wines.

Order: Ask the servers.  We had flash fried collards, pan-roasted catfish, and chocolate mousse cake.  I’d recommend all of those to you.

The Boiler Room

What to Do in Kinston, NC What to Do in Kinston, NC

On our way to Kinston, I asked DG to name his favorite restaurants in North Carolina (he’s from Buffalo, btw).  He only named two.  On our way back to Raleigh, DG said, “Hey, by the way, I’d add the Boiler Room to my list of favorite places to eat in North Carolina.”  I mean… stop the presses, y’all.  DG is really picky and not easily impressed.  He’s lived in NC for 7 years now, and could only tell me two places that he really loved to eat at in North Carolina prior to this experience.

Order: Pimiento cheese & sausage dip, surf & turf burger, housemade ice cream.  When we go back, I’m ordering the butterbean burger.


Neuseway Nature Center

Image result for neuseway nature center and planetarium

It was closed when we visited because of damages from Hurricane Matthew, but for the walkways we were able to use, we loved it!  I went to the planetarium years ago, and it was definitely worth checking out.  Check the website for when it will reopen!

CSS Neuse Replica

Image result for css neuse

This is a nice little piece of history to take a look at while exploring Kinston.  It’s right near Chef, Mother Earth, The O’Neil, and Boiler Room.   Check out more info here.

The Red Room

This is awesome that eastern North Carolina has such a unique music venue.  Check out the schedule for karaoke or your favorite band.  It’d be the perfect time to have dinner and a concert while visiting.

Mother Earth Taproom (& Brewery)

I’ve been a fan of Mother Earth for a while, and their taproom didn’t disappoint.  Also, they’ve started making spirits now, too.  Check out more information here.

Kinston Champions

This is perfect for summer visits!  The Kinston ball park will be back open!  Definitely make plans to check out a game here!

Honorable mentions:

There’s also a water park that we didn’t check out, but definitely worth it if you have kiddos.  And also, their are some Civil War battlefields, too.


The O’Neil Hotel

What to Do in Kinston, NC What to Do in Kinston, NC

DG and I adored staying at the O’Neil.  It was so comfortable, but swanky.  Again, DG is pretty picky about things, but our room was nice with the sitting room separate from our actual bedroom.  The bathroom was a great size with a beautiful shower and toiletries.  And the bedding was so comfortable.  The hotel stocks Mother Earth beer in the cooler and also has a coffee station, which is so nice in the morning.  I love how unique every room is in the hotel and the decor in the lobby is stunning.

Okay, so, y’all!  Make a day trip to Kinston so you can eat your heart out at Vivian’s delicious restaurants.  Or, make the choice to spend the night and enjoy Mother Earth’s options.  And if you do that… stay tuned for some other day trip guides across eastern North Carolina.  Check back on the 3rd Thursday of every month!


Linking up with Annie


7 thoughts on “What to Do in Kinston, North Carolina

  1. Hannah

    A few years ago a post with this title would have made laugh because there wouldn’t have been a thing to put on it. Oh how times have changed! Kinston has come a long way. Next time you’re in town, we’re going to Pizza Villa which is another Kinston classic and so good. My mouth is now watering just thinking about it!

  2. Beth Ann Chiles

    What a great post! I think I saw an article on Kinston in Our State magazine at some time. I bet it featured one of these places at least. I need to go hunt that up. But in the meantime I will drool over your food pictures . I am always looking for the small towns to explore as well . You never know what you are going to find, do you? Thanks for a fun post that makes me really want to plan a road trip.

  3. Nikki C

    I love this post! I also went to ECU and spent some time in Kinston but back then it was for Kinston Indians baseball games. I was glad to hear they’re bringing baseball back. I recently had the opportunity to visit Mother Earth brewery and to eat at Chef and the Farmer, and it was fantastic! The brewery was fun and they let us slide down their twisty slide during the tour. We got to taste the spirits, too, which was a pleasant surprise. And of course Chef and the Farmer was delicious. We got really lucky the night we went because we didn’t have reservations and we didn’t have to wait; apparently that’s somewhat rare. I can’t wait to go back!

  4. Liz

    !!! (<–this is me doing an excited squeal) I've heard so many great things about The Chef & The Farmer! Seriously, my fiance and I have talked about making the trip all the way to Kinston just to try that restaurant. I'm so glad to hear you liked it! Mother Earth brewery has been a solid staple of NC craft beer for years; I had no idea they'd started doing craft spirits though!

  5. Lee

    Kinston looks fun! I have to admit I had to look on a make to see where it was, lol. I love reading your travel recaps.
    xo, Lee
    Wine and Couture

  6. Lori Horton Vann

    We drive thru Kinston a lot, as my parents live down in Swansboro. I had no idea there was this adorable little town though! We must miss that on our drive thru! That hotel looks amazing!

Comments are closed.