Kinston Travel Guide

Explore the cultural and natural attractions of Kinston, NC with this comprehensive travel guide. Learn about the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more.

Introduction to Kinston

Located in the North Carolina Coastal Plain, in the south of the United States, Kinston is a charming town with a rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty. The region is known for its beautiful river views and outdoor adventures, along with its delicious food and drink. In this comprehensive travel guide to Kinston, we will take a closer look at the top places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more.

List of Places to Visit in Kinston

Kinston has plenty of must-see destinations, ranging from museums and historical places to outdoor adventures and scenic views.

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Kinston is home to several museums and historical sites that offer immersive experiences and insight into the town’s history and culture.

  1. CSS Neuse II - A reconstruction of the original ironclad gunboat used by the Confederate army during the Civil War.
  2. African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina - Featuring exhibits and performances that celebrate the contributions of African American musicians to the region.
  3. Kinston-Lenoir County Visitors and Information Center - Offers information about the town’s history, cultural events, and attractions.
  4. Mother Earth Brewing - A local brewery that offers tours, tastings, and events.

Natural Attractions of Kinston: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

If you are a nature lover, don’t miss these top natural attractions in Kinston.

  1. Neuseway Nature Park - Featuring a nature center, planetarium, and hiking trails.
  2. Neuse Riverwalk - A scenic walkway along the Neuse River that offers stunning views of the water and nature.
  3. Harmony Hall Plantation - A historic plantation that features gardens, walking trails, and educational exhibits.
  4. CSS Neuse State Historic Site - Featuring a full-scale replica of the CSS Neuse, along with exhibits and artifacts from the Civil War.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kinston

Kinston has plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Here are some of the best trails to explore.

  1. Neuse River Trail - A 27-mile trail that runs from Clayton to Goldsboro, featuring beautiful scenery and wildlife.
  2. Neusiok Trail - A 21-mile trail that runs through the Croatan National Forest, featuring diverse terrains and stunning views.
  3. Cliffs of the Neuse - A state park that features a 6-mile trail that winds through a beautiful forest and offers stunning views of the cliffs.

Best Things to Do in Kinston: Activities and Tours

Here are some of the top things to do in Kinston that will keep you entertained and engaged.

  1. Visit local farms and farmers markets for fresh produce and homemade products.
  2. Take a food tour to sample local cuisine and learn about the town’s culinary history.
  3. Go on a kayak or canoe adventure along the Neuse River.
  4. Attend the Kinston BBQ Fest, which showcases delicious southern BBQ and live music.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kinston

If you’re visiting Kinston for a week, here’s an itinerary that will help you make the most of your time.

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit CSS Neuse II and the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina.
Day 2 Hike or bike the Neuse River Trail, or explore Harmony Hall Plantation.
Day 3 Take a food tour and visit local farms and farmers markets.
Day 4 Explore the Neuse Riverwalk and CSS Neuse State Historic Site.
Day 5 Visit the Kinston-Lenoir County Visitors and Information Center, and go on a kayak or canoe adventure.
Day 6 Attend the Kinston BBQ Fest and enjoy live music and delicious BBQ.
Day 7 Relax and unwind at a local spa or enjoy a round of golf at a nearby course.

Food and Drink Scene of Kinston

Kinston is known for its delicious southern cuisine, especially its BBQ and seafood dishes.

Must-Try Dishes

Here are some must-try dishes that you should not miss while in Kinston.

  1. Eastern NC BBQ - A slow-cooked, vinegar-based style of BBQ that is unique to the region.
  2. Fried Green Tomatoes - A classic southern dish that is perfect for a snack or appetizer.
  3. Shrimp and Grits - A savory, hearty dish featuring fresh shrimp and creamy grits.
  4. Sweet Potato Pie - A delectable dessert made from the region’s signature sweet potatoes.

Local Beverages

Kinston is home to several must-try local beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits.

  1. Mother Earth Brewing - A local brewery that features a wide variety of beers, including IPAs, porters, and stouts.
  2. Hinnant Family Vineyards - A local winery that offers tastings and tours of its beautiful vineyard.
  3. Social House Vodka - A local distillery that makes high-quality vodka using traditional methods.

Where to Stay in Kinston: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Kinston has several accommodations options to suit every budget and preference.

  1. The O’Neil Hotel - A charming historic hotel in downtown Kinston that offers elegant rooms and suites.
  2. Harmony Hall Bed and Breakfast - A cozy B&B located on the Harmony Hall Plantation, featuring comfortable rooms and gourmet breakfast.
  3. River Inn - A budget-friendly hotel located near the Neuse Riverwalk, featuring clean and comfortable rooms.

What to Buy in Kinston: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Kinston offers a variety of locally made products and souvenirs that make great gifts and keepsakes. Here are some options to consider.

  1. Local BBQ sauce, made from the region’s signature vinegar-based BBQ.
  2. North Carolina pottery, featuring unique shapes and designs.
  3. Sweet potato products, such as jams, pies, and candy.
  4. Local artwork and crafts, featuring inspired designs and colors.

Local Culture and Customs of Kinston

Kinston is known for its southern hospitality and friendly locals. It is important to note that the town is conservative in some aspects, particularly around religion and social issues.

Best Time to Visit Kinston

Kinston can be visited at any time of the year, but the best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the weather is mild, and the town hosts several festivals and events.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kinston

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while visiting Kinston.


  1. Do try local cuisine and beverages, including Eastern NC BBQ and local craft beer.
  2. Do visit the area’s natural attractions, such as the Neuse Riverwalk and Neuseway Nature Park.
  3. Do respect local culture and customs.


  1. Don’t be disrespectful or disruptive in public places.
  2. Don’t litter or damage natural areas.
  3. Don’t visit areas outside the town’s limits without proper preparation and precautions.

Safety and Health

Kinston is a generally safe and healthy environment, but visitors should always take necessary precautions and protect themselves while exploring the town and its surroundings.

Safety in Kinston

Kinston is a safe destination, but visitors should always keep their valuables out of sight and be aware of their surroundings in public places.

Health in Kinston

Kinston has several medical facilities and hospitals for emergency and routine health care needs. Visitors should also be aware of ticks and other outdoor-related health risks.

Getting to Kinston: Transportation Options and Logistics

Kinston is easily accessible from several major cities in the region, and there are several transportation options available for visitors.

Airports Near Kinston

  1. Pitt-Greenville Airport (PGV) - Located 30 miles from Kinston, offering flights to several destinations across the country.

Bus Stations Near Kinston

  1. Greyhound Bus Station - Located in downtown Kinston, offering several daily bus services to major cities in the region.

Other Options

  1. Amtrak Train Station - Located in nearby Wilson, offering several daily train services to major cities in the region.

How to Get Around in Kinston

Kinston is a small town, and most attractions are within walking or biking distance. However, visitors can also use taxis, ride-sharing services, or rental cars to get around the town and its surroundings.

Where to Go Next from Kinston: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Kinston is a great base for exploring other nearby destinations in the North Carolina Coastal Plain region.

  1. Atlantic Beach - A beautiful beach town located about an hour and a half south of Kinston.
  2. New Bern - A historic town located about an hour north of Kinston, featuring beautiful architecture and cultural attractions.
  3. Wilmington - A coastal city located about two hours south of Kinston, featuring beautiful beaches, historic sites, and great food and drink scene.


Kinston is a town with a diverse range of attractions, from museums and historic sites to scenic nature trails and local food and drink scene. With this comprehensive travel guide, you can make the most of your visit to Kinston and all its charms.