A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Duck vs. Wilmington for Beaches, Families, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Duck or Wilmington?

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

Should I visit Duck or Wilmington? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Duck

Duck is a traditional, compact, and charming beach town. With plenty of activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include shopping, food, and beaches.

Wilmington

Wilmington is a charming, historic, and welcoming city. It's also known for beaches, shopping, and museums.

Duck and Wilmington: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Duck or Wilmington?

Both Wilmington and Duck have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Duck is more popular for its resorts, beaches, hiking, shopping, small town charm, and impressive beauty, while Wilmington is known for its museums, nightlife, and historical sights. Duck is more touristy than Wilmington and is popular for its quaint atmosphere and small town charm. Wilmington is popular for its laid back beaches, historical waterfront area, and university setting.

How is Duck different from Wilmington?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Duck
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for its sights and museums. However, Duck is not a good beach town for its museums and history.

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.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Duck. Hanging out at the beach and enjoy water sports or outdoor activities are the main draw of this town. You won't find much in the form of museums or indoor activities.


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

Duck
Wilmington

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at good restaurants in both Duck and Wilmington.

Duck offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. For such a small town, there's a decent selection of restaurants that range from local seafood eateries to pizza delivery. Homemade ice cream is a favorite in the area, but you also can't skip out on the flagship Duck Donuts store.

Wilmington has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. 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 Duck or Wilmington Better for Nightlife?

Duck
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for nightlife. However, Duck is not a good beach town for nightlife and partying.

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.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Duck. It's known as a family-friendly destination that isn't often associated with a strong nightlife, but there is often live music and other festivals during the summer months.

Is Duck or Wilmington Better for Resorts?

Duck
Wilmington

Duck is a nice place to visit for its luxury resorts. However, Wilmington is not a resort destination.

Duck has a handful of resorts to choose from. Most of the accommodation around town is in the form of vacation beach rental houses that are perfect for family gatherings or larger groups.

Wilmington is not a resort destination.


Is Duck or Wilmington Better for Beaches?

Duck
Wilmington

Duck is a must-visit destination for its beaches. Also, Wilmington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for the beache.

The beaches in Duck are among the best in the world. Long sandy beaches with great surf and a wonderful boardwalk make this a great beach destination. Kids play in the tidal pools and families relax under their beach umbrellas in a classic beach setting.

The beaches at Wilmington attract visitors from all over. 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.

Is Duck or Wilmington Better for its Old Town?

Duck
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for its historic old town. However, Duck does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Wilmington to see the historical old town. The Historic District is along the waterfront and has 18th and 19th century architecture. There are also great restaurants and interesting shops.

Duck does not have a historic old town.

Is Duck or Wilmington Better for Hiking?

Duck
Wilmington

Duck is a nice place to visit for hiking. However, Wilmington is not a hiking destination.

Duck has hiking trails worth exploring. The Duck Trail runs for six miles and passes through town. It's popular with walkers, cyclists, and inline skaters.

Wilmington is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Duck or Wilmington?

Duck
Wilmington

Duck is great for shopping. Also, Wilmington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its shopping opportunities.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Duck. Head to the Waterfront Shops for some of the town's best shopping. You can wander along the boardwalk and check out the independent vendors and local restaurants.

Wilmington offers some nice shopping areas. 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 Duck or Wilmington Better for Families?

Duck
Wilmington

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Duck or Wilmington.

Duck is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kid-friendly beaches, local ice cream joints, and the famed Duck Donuts all make this an ideal kid's beach destination. There's a waterpark nearby and plenty of water sports that the whole family can enjoy. The boardwalk is also a very family-friendly environment.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Wilmington is very family-friendly. 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.

Is Duck or Wilmington Better for Couples?

Duck
Wilmington

With fun activities for couples, both Duck and Wilmington make for a very good place to visit.

Duck is a very popular place to visit for couples. It's a charming beach town with great local restaurants and a beautiful and peaceful setting. For couples who want to enjoy a relaxing beach town without the energy of a larger destination, then this is the perfect place. Much of the accommodation is in the form of rental houses, which can be a bit much for a couple, but the setting is perfect for a weekend escape.

Wilmington makes for a fun place to visit for 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.


Is Duck or Wilmington Better for Students?

Duck
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for students. However, Duck is not popular with students.

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.

Duck is not popular with students.

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

Duck
Wilmington

Both Duck and Wilmington offer decent public transit options.

Public transit is generally limited in Duck. It's best to have a car if you want to exploring the Outer Banks and its many activities.

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

Is Duck or Wilmington a more walkable city?

Duck
Wilmington

Duck is a must-visit destination for its walkability. Also, Wilmington is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its high level of walkability.

Duck is a very easy beach town to get around on foot. It's a wonderfully walkable and pedestrian-friendly town with a great boardwalk and many walking and cycling paths.

Wilmington is a somewhat walkable place. 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 Duck Worth Visiting? and Is Wilmington Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Wilmington or Duck?

How long in Duck or Wilmington?

In either Duck or Wilmington, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Duck than Wilmington because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 5-7 days is a good amount of time for Duck, and 2-5 days is enough time in Wilmington.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Wilmington than Duck 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 Duck or Wilmington? Ideal Length of Stay
    Duck 5-7 
    Wilmington 2-5

One day in Duck or Wilmington?

Duck might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Wilmington. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Duck or Wilmington?

Even though Duck is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. It's also a great beach destination, too. It offers something for everyone. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Wilmington is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It's also a great beach destination, too. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Five days in Duck or Wilmington?

Duck, a popular beach town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this beach town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the charming destination of Wilmington. This city offers something for everyone. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.


A week in Duck or Wilmington?

Duck is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this beach town makes for a great vacation. One of the main draws to the area is the beaches. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this beach town has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

The welcoming city of Wilmington offers nightlife and food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Historical Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Wilmington or Duck?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Duck is $188, 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 Duck and Wilmington in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Duck $107
    Wilmington $120
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Duck $214
    Wilmington $240
Compare Hotels in Duck and Wilmington

Looking for a hotel in Duck 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 Duck


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: Wilmington Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Duck $66
    Wilmington $47

Is it cheaper to fly into Duck or Wilmington?

Prices for flights to both Wilmington and Duck 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
    Duck $45
    Wilmington $56

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Duck $13
    Wilmington $17

Tours and Activities in Wilmington

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • 1 Hour Walking Film Tour in Wilmington Downtown : $12
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Wilmington by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Eagles Island 50 minute Narrated Boat Cruise: $21
  • History and Architecture Walking Tour : $25
  • Wilmington History and Architecture Tour: $25
  • Ghosts of the Port City Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Wilmington Ghosts: Phantoms of Pirates and Patriots Tour: $26
  • Craft Beer and History Crawl Shared Experience in Wilmington: $30
  • Black Water Adventure Cruise: $33
  • Trolley Pub Public Tour: $49
  • Island Hopper Cruise in Wrightsville Beach: $50

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Duck $45
    Wilmington $39

Sample the Local Flavors in Wilmington

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Wilmington:

  • 2-Hour Wilmington E-Bike Bar Crawl: $55
  • 2 Hour Night Rider E-Bike Bar Crawl: $55
  • Private and Custom Brewery Tour in a '72 VW Bus : $299


When comparing the travel costs between Duck 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 Duck Expensive? and Is Wilmington Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Duck or Wilmington?

Wilmington has a larger population, and is about 160 times larger than the population of Duck. When comparing the sizes of Duck 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 Duck or Wilmington?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Duck or Wilmington in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Duck as well as Wilmington. Many travelers come to Duck for the beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Wilmington in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

Duck is around the same temperature as Wilmington in the summer. The daily temperature in Duck averages around 78°F (26°C) in July, and Wilmington fluctuates around 81°F (27°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Wilmington. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Duck this time of the year. In the summer, Duck often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington. Duck gets 279 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 283 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Wilmington. Duck receives a lot of rain in the summer. Duck usually gets less rain in July than Wilmington. Duck gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 8.1 inches (207 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Duck 78°F (26°C) 
    Wilmington 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Duck or Wilmington in the Autumn?

Both Wilmington and Duck are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Duck in the autumn for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, most visitors come to Wilmington for the shopping scene during these months.

In the autumn, Duck is cooler than Wilmington. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Duck in October average around 62°F (16°C), and Wilmington averages at about 65°F (18°C).

It's quite sunny in Wilmington. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Duck. Duck usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington during autumn. Duck gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while Wilmington receives 227 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Duck usually receives more rain than Wilmington. Duck gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Duck 62°F (16°C) 
    Wilmington 65°F (18°C)

Should I visit Duck or Wilmington in the Winter?

Both Wilmington and Duck during the winter are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Duck for the shopping scene and the cuisine during these months. Furthermore, the winter months attract visitors to Wilmington because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Duck can be very cold during winter. In January, Duck is generally much colder than Wilmington. Daily temperatures in Duck average around 41°F (5°C), and Wilmington fluctuates around 45°F (7°C).

In the winter, Duck often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington. Duck gets 168 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 180 hours of full sun.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Duck. Duck usually gets around the same amount of rain in January as Wilmington. Duck gets 4.1 inches (105 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 3.9 inches (98 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Duck 41°F (5°C) 
    Wilmington 45°F (7°C)

Should I visit Duck or Wilmington in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Duck and Wilmington. The spring months attract visitors to Duck because of the beaches, the small town charm, and the natural beauty. Furthermore, the beaches are the main draw to Wilmington this time of year.

Duck is cooler than Wilmington in the spring. The daily temperature in Duck averages around 59°F (15°C) in April, and Wilmington fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Wilmington this time of the year. In Duck, it's very sunny this time of the year. Duck usually receives less sunshine than Wilmington during spring. Duck gets 253 hours of sunny skies, while Wilmington receives 278 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Duck usually receives around the same amount of rain as Wilmington. Duck gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Duck 59°F (15°C) 
    Wilmington 63°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Wilmington and Duck

Duck Wilmington
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 41°F (5°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm) 45°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Feb 42°F (6°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Mar 50°F (10°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Apr 59°F (15°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm) 70°F (21°C) 4.4 inches (113 mm)
Jun 74°F (23°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm) 77°F (25°C) 6 inches (152 mm)
Jul 78°F (26°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 81°F (27°C) 8.1 inches (207 mm)
Aug 78°F (25°C) 5 inches (127 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.9 inches (176 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm) 75°F (24°C) 5 inches (128 mm)
Oct 62°F (16°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 65°F (18°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 56°F (14°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Dec 45°F (7°C) 3.4 inches (85 mm) 49°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)