Kinston, NC has been an economic presence in eastern North Carolina dating back to 1762. It is located right along the Neuse River and approximately 30 minutes from Greenville, NC and about an hour and half from Raleigh. This charming town offers quite a bit to do ranging from a Single-A baseball team, art galleries and public art projects, a thriving music venue, and robust history resources which makes for a nice stop on your way to the North Carolina coast or for a day trip.
6 Best Things to Do in Kinston, NC
Grab a Local Brew at Mother Earth Taproom
This Green-conscious brewery features unique brews, including a Tomato Cream Ale, in a solar-powered tap room and a drinks-only beer garden right in downtown Kinston. My go-to favorite is the Weeping Willow Wit, while David reaches for their Alpenglow Hazy IPA.
Cheer on the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium
Professional baseball in Kinston, NC dates back to 1908 when the city hosted a squad in the Eastern Carolina League. Grainger Stadium has been around since 1949 and has been the home of the Down East Wood Ducks since 2017. Sit behind home plate, enjoy loaded tots and an Eastern NC BBQ sandwich from the concessions and a Mother Earth brew. It’s a great experience!
Enjoy Eastern NC BBQ at King’s BBQ
Photo by Thomas Dove for Our State Magazine
King’s BBQ has been a Kinston staple for over 75 years and its packed parking lot is a good indication of its popularity. This cozy BBQ joint features red and white checkered table clothes and delicious Eastern NC BBQ & some of the best hushpuppies you’ll ever try! Definitely order the Pig in a Puppy for a BBQ sandwich between 2 halves of a hushpuppy.
Support Local Shops & Artists
One of my favorite ways to explore small towns is to visit their shops and Kinston has a variety of options. A few years ago, Kinston established a program called smART Kinston. This project invited artists to make their home in downtown Kinston. Today, our Arts District includes 14 full-time artists. The artists use their home as their studio including jewelry makers, photographers, illustrators, and painters.
Stop by Ironclad Marketplace to check out vintage pieces. Then, Leon Thomas Treasures for locally made treasures, clothes and accessories, Just Add Salt for the latest women’s fashion, and Neuse Sport Shop for everything from local produce, fishing gear, and men’s and women’s fashion. Check out Kinston’s full line up of shops here.
Explore Neuseway Nature Center
Photo via The Dyrt
Along the Neuse River, this sprawling park features a planetarium with daily shows, an interactive health and science museum, a nature center, train rides, and a campground. We enjoyed talking a walk along the trails that run adjacent to the Neuse River before heading to Mother Earth Taproom for a happy hour beverage.
Book a Stay at the O’Neil Hotel
The O’Neil Hotel is a boutique hotel located right in downtown Kinston. This space is the former Farmers and Merchant Bank and each room has its own individual personality. The hotel lobby is beautiful with its ornate ceiling and decor. While the rooms are comfortable, spacious, and well-appointed with plush linens. The hotel stocks Mother Earth beer in a cooler located in the former bank vault. Plus. it has a coffee station for the mornings. It is such a unique property and a truly charming experience.
Before heading out of town, be sure to stop at Viv’s Fridge and grab something to go from local chef, Vivian Howard. And keep an eye on her website to see when Chef and the Farmer may be opening back up this fall.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has since between updated and recirculated for 2022.