A Small Town That's Leading the Way

Savor Kinston’s culinary scene from eastern North Carolina barbecue and down-home favorites to innovative dishes prepared by local chefs inspired by the area’s agricultural bounty. Natural Meats and fresh produce have been served up by area farmers for generations, and the farm-to-table tradition benefits all of Kinston’s barbecue restaurants, oyster bars, and pizzerias. Enjoy small-town shopping at locally owned boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, consignment stores, antique vendors, and even an old-fashioned general store. Relax at local brewery tap rooms and distilleries or just listen to live bands perform and dance. By night and day enjoy incredible art sculptures downtown, art displays in homes, hotels, studios, lofts, and an incredible Community Council for the Arts building. Learn the history of our local experiences during the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and world wars that followed. You and family will feel welcome here and might just enjoy a chat with a local farmer at our Farmers Market or meet some new local friend in a soda or coffee shop, golf course, park.

A Rich History

Established in 1762, Kinston’s settlers immediately took advantage of the fertile agricultural potential of the rich soil and began planting crops giving rise to a strong agricultural economy. Kinston became a bustling center of commerce.

Established prior to the Revolutionary War, Kinston was home to North Carolina’s first elected Colonial Governor. Governor Richard Caswell helped write the Halifax Resolves and gave heroic service to the colonies in the war with England. Historic Harmony Hall, which was Governor Caswell’s Office, and constructed in 1772, still stands today and is open to the public for viewing.

Kinston was also the scene of two Civil War battles. The Union and the Confederacy fought for control of the railroad, which carried vital supplies needed by troops in Virginia and Richmond. The first battle occurred in 1862 with the Battle of Wyse Fork coming near the end of the War in 1865. Kinston was the Eastern front for the confederacy in North Carolina throughout the entire Civil War.

The CSS Neuse Civil War Museum spotlights the remains of the only surviving commissioned Civil War ironclad, which was raised from the bottom of the Neuse River. A full-size replica of the Neuse stands at a nearby location.

Kinston is home to legendary blues and jazz musicians and if the streets and walls of Kinston could talk, music would be their language.

“We have a rich, lengthy history in jazz, blues and gospel,” says Sandy Landis, executive director of Kinston’s Community Council for the Arts.

Many of the musicians are honored around downtown and in the Kinston Music Park.

Relaxing Around Town

We invite you to take time out of your hectic schedule and stroll on our riverwalk along the Neuse River or ride along our bicycle trail. Maybe explore our Civil War Battlefields, visit the CSS Neuse Museum and CSS Neuse II. Discover Harmony Hall, where North Carolina’s Government held office during the Revolutionary War. Capture the minds and hearts of your little ones as they visit the Neuseway Nature Center’s raccoons, osprey, red-tailed hawk, turtles, alligators, and many other creatures native to Eastern North Carolina. Catch a ride on Big Daddy’s Express and reach for the stars at the Neuseway Planetarium and Health & Science Museum. Just a few miles away you may hear the roar of dragsters competing at the Kinston Drag Strip, where racers from Connecticut to Florida compete for lucrative purses. The crack of a baseball in historic Grainger Stadium, home of the Down East Wood Ducks, a farm team of the Texas Rangers, offers a taste of the way the game was meant to be played. Kinston has long been a hub for the Cultural Arts and our Community Council for the Arts is definitely one of the finest art centers in the state. Visitors can relax and enjoy the exhibits in the state of the art center housed in a building listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Southern cooking, fresh seafood, and Eastern North Carolina barbeque are features of Kinston restaurants and a variety of festivals and events provide year-round family fun! Our Parks and Recreation facilities provide abundant opportunities for outdoor play activities and include an awesome dog park which you and your entire family can enjoy.

Visit Kinston

Lenoir County, NC is centrally located in eastern NC approximately 75 miles east of Raleigh (our state’s capital) and 75 miles west of Morehead City (one of our seaports and the beautiful crystal coast). Our county is a blend of agriculture and manufacturing. Lenoir County has three incorporated municipalities: Kinston is the county seat, LaGrange, lies approximately 10 miles west of Kinston and Pink Hill approximately 15 miles south of Kinston.

We are proud to be 1 of 10 communities selected by the National Civic League as an All-America City in 2009.

The All-America City Award is America’s oldest and most prestigious community recognition award. Since 1949, the All-America City Award has encouraged and recognized civic excellence, honoring communities of all sizes cities, towns, counties, neighborhoods, and regions in which citizens, government, businesses, and voluntary organizations work together to address critical local issues.


2017 data:

Kinston had 20,509 residents

Lenoir County had 56,883 residents

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