A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Charlotte vs. Wilmington for Families, Couples, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Charlotte or Wilmington?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Charlotte and Wilmington can help you decide which place is right for you.

Charlotte

Charlotte is a up-and-coming, growing, and evolving city. Since it's a large city, you'll find plenty of things to do. Other reasons to visit include museums, nightlife, and food.

Wilmington

Wilmington is a welcoming, charming, and historic city. It's also popular because of the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Charlotte and Wilmington: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Charlotte or Wilmington?

You'll generally find more things to do in Charlotte than Wilmington. Charlotte is bigger than Wilmington, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Charlotte is better known for its big city activities, while Wilmington is more popular for its beaches and historical sights. Wilmington is more touristy than Charlotte and is known for its laid back beaches, historical waterfront area, and university setting. Charlotte is well known for its banking industry and growing Uptown area. Also, Charlotte is famous for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

How is Charlotte different from Wilmington?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Wilmington and Charlotte. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Charlotte or Wilmington?

Charlotte
Wilmington

You'll find a number of notable museums and attractions in both Wilmington and Charlotte.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Charlotte. The Mint Museum is a popular place to visit, as is the Gantt Center for African American Arts. Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and sports enthusiasts will enjoy a stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Wilmington is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are art, history, and science museums around town. The Battleship North Carolina is a popular destination. Science enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science or the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. For art, head to the Cameron Art Museum or Art in Bloom Gallery.


Is the Food Better in Charlotte or Wilmington? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Charlotte and Wilmington.

Charlotte is becoming an appealing option for foodies. The food scene continues to grow and change around town. You'll find the latest trendy restaurant changes regularly, but dishes often include upscale southern faire or classic American. There are also many international restaurants, particularly Mexican, Thai, and Chinese.

Wilmington offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Head to the waterfront for local seafood restaurants that offer outdoor seating and fresh caught fish. There are also farm-to-table restaurants and local diners with casual food.

Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Nightlife?

Charlotte
Wilmington

The vibe at night is notable in both Charlotte and Wilmington.

If you're looking for night time activities Charlotte has a few options to choose from. Head Uptown for some of the best nightlife. The city has many bars and clubs that keep things fun late into the night.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Wilmington. Live music is popular around town. There are also bars, lounges and dance clubs. When the weather is warm, many places make use of the outdoor setting, which makes for a relaxed and fun evening.

Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Beaches?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Wilmington is great for the beach. However, Charlotte is not a beach destination.

Wilmington is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. Nearby you'll find Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, and Carolina Beach. They have long stretches of sand and great waves. The water is usually warm enough for swimming between the months of April and October. During these peak months parking can be challenging, but during the quieter times, you shouldn't have trouble.

Charlotte is not a beach destination.


Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for its Old Town?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Wilmington is very good for its historic old town charm. However, Charlotte does not have a historic old town.

Wilmington has an old town worth visiting. The Historic District is along the waterfront and has 18th and 19th century architecture. There are also great restaurants and interesting shops.

Charlotte does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Charlotte or Wilmington?

Charlotte
Wilmington

If you're looking to go shopping, Charlotte and Wilmington both offer plenty of notable spots.

Charlotte has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Shopping malls such as SouthPark Mall or Carolina Place offer all of the standard retailers. Concord Mills is another favorite mall in the area. Aside from the malls, there is no shortage of shopping centers around town.

Wilmington is a great destination for shopping. Head downtown for the most interesting local shops. You'll find boutiques and souvenir shops where you can pick up art, accessories, or antiques.

Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Families?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Wilmington is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Wilmington. Near town you'll find several beaches - Wrightsville Beach, Kure Beach, and Carolina Beach. They're all family-friendly and perfect for a day's activity. The city also has the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, the Children's Museum of Wilmington, and the Wilmington Railroad Museum. For a rainy day there are also indoor play areas and entertainment centers.

Charlotte is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a number of museums for kids, with one of the best being Discovery Place. It has many hands-on science based exhibits that kids will love. Another unique experience is a visit to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Carowinds Amusement Park is also in the area as are many great parks, playgrounds, and natural areas.


Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Couples?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Wilmington is great for couples. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for romance.

Wilmington is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. The beaches are great for a relaxing day of swimming and sunbathing. In the evening head into town and enjoy one of the local seafood restaurants on the waterfront. You'll also find great shopping and historical sights in the area.

Charlotte is a nice destination for couples. There are a number of date night activities around town, particularly Uptown. You can see a show or concert at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center or hit up one of the trendy bars or restaurants. There are also sporting events and other festivals that are fun to experience.

Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Students?

Charlotte
Wilmington

For students, both Charlotte and Wilmington are notable places to visit.

It's common for students to visit Charlotte. There are a number of smaller colleges in town, but the biggest university is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Wilmington is a good city to visit for students. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is a popular school that brings many students to town.

Is Charlotte or Wilmington Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Charlotte is a nice place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Wilmington is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Charlotte offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a light rail system as well as buses that travel around town.

Public transit is generally limited in Wilmington. There are public buses around town, but for practical reasons, you'll want to have your own vehicle.


Is Charlotte or Wilmington a more walkable city?

Charlotte
Wilmington

Charlotte and Wilmington are notable when it comes to walkability.

Charlotte is a somewhat walkable city. The Uptown area is the most walkable part of the city.

Wilmington is somewhat walkable. The Historic District is best explored on foot. You can also get around Wrightsville Beach on foot, but traveling between these places requires a car.

For even more information, also check out Is Charlotte Worth Visiting? and Is Wilmington Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Wilmington or Charlotte?

How long in Charlotte or Wilmington?

In either Charlotte or Wilmington, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Wilmington than Charlotte because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Charlotte, and 2-5 days is enough time in Wilmington.

Families should spend more time in Wilmington than Charlotte. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Wilmington, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Wilmington than Charlotte. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Wilmington that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Wilmington than Charlotte if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Wilmington.


  • How many days in Charlotte or Wilmington? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlotte 1-3 
    Wilmington 2-5

One day in Charlotte or Wilmington?

With museums and nightlife around the evolving city of Charlotte, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Charlotte, one day is sufficent for most.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Wilmington. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Charlotte or Wilmington?

With nightlife and food around the destination of Charlotte, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the charming destination of Wilmington. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.


Five days in Charlotte or Wilmington?

Charlotte, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

You'll find nightlife and food around the welcoming city of Wilmington. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. It's also a great beach destination, too. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer.

A week in Charlotte or Wilmington?

Charlotte is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Wilmington is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


Which place is cheaper, Wilmington or Charlotte?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Charlotte is $191, while the average daily cost in Wilmington is $204. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Charlotte and Wilmington in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlotte $118
    Wilmington $120
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlotte $236
    Wilmington $240
Compare Hotels in Charlotte and Wilmington

Looking for a hotel in Charlotte or Wilmington? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Charlotte


Hotels in Wilmington


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Charlotte Hotel Prices and Wilmington Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlotte $33
    Wilmington $47

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charlotte

Also for Charlotte, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Spartanburg - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $298
  • Arrival Private Transfer Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte by SUV: $187
  • Departure Private Transfer Charlotte to Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT by SUV: $168
  • Private Transfer: Charlotte to Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT in Luxury SUV: $164
  • Private Transfer: Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte in Luxury SUV: $164
  • Charlotte Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Sedan: $150
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Spartanburg - Arrival Private Transfer: $149
  • Charlotte Douglas Int. Airport One-Way Transfer to /from Charlotte: $148
  • Arrival Private Transfer Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte by Sedan car: $144
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Charlotte City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $137
  • Arrival Transfer: Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte in Business Car: $135
  • Departure Transfer: Charlotte to Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT in Business Car: $135

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlotte or Wilmington?

Prices for flights to both Wilmington and Charlotte change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Charlotte $46
    Wilmington $56
Typical Food Prices in Charlotte

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Charlotte:


  • Pizza at Airport
    $4.03
  • Cracker Barrel Lunch (family of 4)
    $29

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlotte $43
    Wilmington $17

Tours and Activities in Charlotte

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Charlotte.

  • 2 Hours African American History E-Bike Tour in Charlotte: $79
  • 90 Minute Historic Uptown Neighborhood Segway Tour of Charlotte: $75
  • Big Bite Brew Tour in Charlotte's LoSo District: $150
  • Carolina History and Haunts Charlotte Historical Ghost Walking Tour : $25
  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour - Smartphone guided audio/gps Tour at your own pace: $6.75
  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour: Smartphone Audio & GPS Tour: $6.50
  • Charlotte Haunted Booze and Boos Ghost Walking Tour: $35
  • Charlotte Historic : Queen Bee City Tour: $39
  • Charlotte Historical City Tour: $45
  • Charlotte Hornets Basketball Game Ticket at Spectrum Center: $19
  • Charlotte Indoor Skydiving Experience with 2 Flights & Personalized Certificate: $90
  • Charlotte Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25

Tours and Activities in Wilmington

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Wilmington.

  • 2-Hour Tour de Wilmington E-Bike Tour: $50
  • 2-Hour Wilmington E-Bike Day Tour: $48
  • 5-Hour Wilmington River to Sea E-Bike Adventure Tour: $90
  • Black Water Adventure Cruise: $33
  • Craft Beer and History Crawl Shared Experience in Wilmington: $30
  • Eagles Island 50 minute Narrated Boat Cruise: $21
  • Half-Day E-Bike Tour of Wilmington's History, Haunts & Breweries: $85
  • Half-Day E-Bike Tour of the Filming Locations in One Tree Hill: $85
  • History and Architecture Walking Tour : $25
  • Island Hopper Cruise in Wrightsville Beach: $50
  • Private Kayak Tour in Oak Island: $65
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Wilmington by Zombie Scavengers: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlotte $20
    Wilmington $39

Sample the Local Flavors in Charlotte

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Charlotte:

  • Charlotte Brewery Crawl Tour: $48
  • 3-Hour Brewery Crawl on 7 passenger Cart: $48
  • Original Charlotte Brewery Tour - Craft Beer Experience : $125
  • Bar Crawl on a Rollin Disco Ball Golf Cart in Charlotte: $240

Sample the Local Flavors in Wilmington

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Wilmington:

  • 3-Hour Wilmington E-Bike Bar Crawl: $55
  • 3 Hour Wilmington E-Bike Bar Crawl Ride: $55


When comparing the travel costs between Charlotte and Wilmington, we can see that Wilmington is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Charlotte Expensive? and Is Wilmington Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Charlotte or Wilmington?

Charlotte has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Wilmington. When comparing the sizes of Charlotte and Wilmington, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Charlotte or Wilmington?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Charlotte or Wilmington in the Summer?

Both Wilmington and Charlotte are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The city activities and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Charlotte this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Wilmington for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Charlotte is around the same temperature as Wilmington. Typically, the summer temperatures in Charlotte in July average around 81°F (27°C), and Wilmington averages at about 81°F (27°C).

It's quite sunny in Wilmington. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Charlotte. Charlotte usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington during summer. Charlotte gets 289 hours of sunny skies, while Wilmington receives 283 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Wilmington. It's quite rainy in Charlotte. In July, Charlotte usually receives less rain than Wilmington. Charlotte gets 4.6 inches (116 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 8.1 inches (207 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Charlotte 81°F (27°C) 
    Wilmington 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Wilmington in the Autumn?

Both Wilmington and Charlotte during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Charlotte for the city's sights and attractions and the shopping scene. Also, many visitors come to Wilmington in the autumn for the shopping scene.

In October, Charlotte is generally around the same temperature as Wilmington. Daily temperatures in Charlotte average around 63°F (17°C), and Wilmington fluctuates around 65°F (18°C).

In Wilmington, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Charlotte. In the autumn, Charlotte often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington. Charlotte gets 223 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 227 hours of full sun.

Charlotte usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Wilmington. Charlotte gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Charlotte 63°F (17°C) 
    Wilmington 65°F (18°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Wilmington in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Charlotte and Wilmington. Many visitors come to Charlotte in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to Wilmington for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Charlotte is cooler than Wilmington in the winter. The daily temperature in Charlotte averages around 42°F (6°C) in January, and Wilmington fluctuates around 45°F (7°C).

Charlotte usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington during winter. Charlotte gets 173 hours of sunny skies, while Wilmington receives 180 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Charlotte usually receives less rain than Wilmington. Charlotte gets 3.5 inches (89 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 3.9 inches (98 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Charlotte 42°F (6°C) 
    Wilmington 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Charlotte or Wilmington in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Charlotte as well as Wilmington. Most visitors come to Charlotte for the activities around the city during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Wilmington because of the beaches.

In the spring, Charlotte is around the same temperature as Wilmington. Typically, the spring temperatures in Charlotte in April average around 63°F (17°C), and Wilmington averages at about 63°F (17°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Wilmington. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Charlotte this time of the year. In the spring, Charlotte often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington. Charlotte gets 273 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 278 hours of full sun.

Charlotte usually gets more rain in April than Wilmington. Charlotte gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Charlotte 63°F (17°C) 
    Wilmington 63°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Wilmington and Charlotte

Charlotte Wilmington
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 42°F (6°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Feb 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (97 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Apr 63°F (17°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
May 71°F (21°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 70°F (21°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm)
Jun 78°F (25°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) 77°F (25°C) 6 inches (152 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm) 81°F (27°C) 8.1 inches (207 mm)
Aug 80°F (27°C) 4 inches (101 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.9 inches (176 mm)
Sep 74°F (24°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 75°F (24°C) 5 inches (128 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 65°F (18°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Nov 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm) 56°F (14°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Dec 46°F (8°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)