Posted on September 14, 2015

Kinston, NC : An Inner Banks Gem with Lots of Charm

North Carolina innkeepers love it when guests ask for suggestions about off-the-beaten-path places to visit, eateries the locals favor and other fun things to do.

Often, a Bed and Breakfast becomes “home base” for vacationers who want to explore an expanded radius. It’s a common question we get from our guests — “What are the best day trips?”

Of course, the answer depends on many variables — the types of things you enjoy doing, which part of North Carolina you’re in, the time of year, etc. We thought it would be fun if every now and then, our bed and breakfast blog featured a favorite day trip from different areas of NC.

To kick things off, we start in eastern North Carolina — the Inner Banks — and look at some fun things to do in Kinston, NC.

Something for Everyone in Kinston, NC

In its heyday, Kinston was one of the largest tobacco markets in the world. As that industry fell on hard times, so did Kinston’s economy. But in recent years, it’s clear that Kinston enjoys a well-deserved renaissance. And, in 2009, Kinston received (for the second time) the All-American City award.

If you’re making a day trip from an NCBBI member inn, we recommend you go Tuesday – Saturday. Many of the best spots are closed on Sunday and/or Monday and we don’t want you to leave disappointed.

A Leisurely Start to the Day

To start your day, head for Neuseway Nature Park and Planetarium. Yes, you read that correctly! Kinston may be small, but it is full of surprises.

There is a 52-seat planetarium inside the Health & Science Museum. Sharing the grounds, is the Nature Center with wildlife exhibits, a salt water touch tank, fishing off the pier and plenty of self-guided nature trails. And, If you’d like to explore parts of Kinston by water, canoes and kayaks (and life jackets) are available for use.

Neuseway Nature Park is open year round, but closed on Sunday and Mondays. Look here for more information:

For lunch, you cannot do better than a Dough Burger from Lovick’s Cafe, located near the Neuse River. The Dough Burgers at Lovick’s are legendary – and you can’t beat the price. Last time we checked, a $5 spot would get you a dough burger, fries and a drink.

According to the locals, dough burgers trace their roots back to the Great Depression — created to fill stomachs without emptying the pocketbook. A dough burger is a fried beef patty, flour, onions and salt and pepper served on white bread. You owe it to yourself to try one … or two. Seriously.

After lunch, stroll and shop downtown Kinston and discover more charms of a small town. Read about a few of them on the Snapshots of Eastern NC blog.

And be sure to visit the Community Council for the Arts over on N. Queen Street. Inside this state of the art museum, you’ll find up to 300 works by up to 200 local, regional, national and international artists on display at any given time. It’s one of the finest arts centers in North Carolina. Open Tuesday – Saturday, admission is free.

Kinston, NC Gains a National Audience

If you are a fan of the PBS cooking show, A Chef’s Life, the town of Kinston will be familiar to you. The popular television show looks into the life (and recipes!) of chef and co-owner of Chef and The Farmer restaurant, Vivian Howard.

Chef and the Farmer opened in 2006 as a culinary celebration of the culture and cuisine of eastern North Carolina. The fine dining menu features locally grown food from farms and dairies. You’ll want to make dinner reservations well in advance. They fill up quickly.

North Carolina’s Inner Banks

While the Outer Banks of North Carolina gets the lion’s share of attention, there are gems waiting to be discovered in the Inner Banks. Select a nearby member NC Bed and Breakfast Inns and start planning your day trip to Kinston!

Here are NC Bed and Breakfast Association members in Eastern NC and the Piedmont area within easy driving distance of a fun day trip to Kinston, NC.