A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Nags Head vs. Wilmington for Families, Couples, Food, and Backpackers

Should you visit Nags Head or Wilmington?

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

Should I visit Nags Head 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.

Nags Head

Other reasons to visit include food.

Wilmington

Wilmington is a charming, historic, and welcoming city. Other reasons to visit include beaches, shopping, and museums.

Nags Head and Wilmington: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Nags Head or Wilmington?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Wilmington. Although Nags Head and Wilmington are both popular with visitors, Wilmington has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Wilmington is more touristy than Nags Head and is known for its laid back beaches, historical waterfront area, and university setting. It is also home to the Battleship North Carolina. Nags Head is popular for

How is Nags Head different from Wilmington?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Nags Head or Wilmington?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for its historical sights. However, Nags Head does not have museums and landmarks.

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.

Nags Head does not have museums and landmarks.


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

Nags Head
Wilmington

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Nags Head and Wilmington can be difficult as they are each good in their own way.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Nags Head. There are a wide variety of seafood restaurants that serve locally caught fish, shrimp, and crabs. Cajon flavors are popular and you'll also find cheese grits at many places.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Wilmington. 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 Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Nightlife?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for nightlife. However, Nags Head is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Wilmington has a few options to choose from. 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.

Nags Head is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Beaches?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is great for its beaches. However, Nags Head is not a beach destination.

Wilmington is considered a top beach destination. 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.

Nags Head is not a beach destination.


Is Nags Head or Wilmington Better for its Old Town?

Nags Head
Wilmington

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

Wilmington is a good destination for visiting its old town. The Historic District is along the waterfront and has 18th and 19th century architecture. There are also great restaurants and interesting shops.

Nags Head does not have a historic old town.

Is the Shopping Better in Nags Head or Wilmington?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for shopping. However, Nags Head is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Wilmington. Head downtown for the most interesting local shops. You'll find boutiques and souvenir shops where you can pick up art, accessories, or antiques.

Nags Head is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Families?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Nags Head or Wilmington.

Nags Head is a very family-friendly destination. It makes a wonderful base for the many family-friendly activities in the area. Jockey's Ridge is a fun place to visit with kids. There are also wonderful beaches and many kids enjoying flying kites.

Wilmington is a very kid-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 Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Couples?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is great for romance. Also, Nags Head is not as popular, but is still a nice for its romantic activities.

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.

Nags Head makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are great seafood restaurants and a number of activities in the area that are fun for couples.

Is Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Nags Head is a nice place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Wilmington is not a good destination for backpackers.

It's common for backpackers to visit Nags Head. This is one of the more affordable places to stay in the Outer Banks, so it appeals to more budget-oriented travelers.

Wilmington is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While it's usually overlooked by backpackers, the university and great beaches make this a surprisingly fun destination.

Is Nags Head or Wilmington Better for Students?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Nags Head is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Wilmington. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is a popular school that brings many students to town.

Nags Head is not popular with students.


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

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Nags Head does not have public transit.

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.

Nags Head does not have public transit.

Is Nags Head or Wilmington a more walkable city?

Nags Head
Wilmington

Wilmington is a popular place for its walkability. However, Nags Head is not a walkable destination.

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.

Nags Head is not a walkable destination.

Should I spend more time in Wilmington or Nags Head?

How long in Nags Head or Wilmington?

In either Nags Head or Wilmington, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Nags Head than Wilmington because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 4-7 days is a good amount of time for Nags Head, and 2-5 days is enough time in Wilmington.

Families should spend more time in Wilmington than Nags Head. 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 Nags Head. 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 Nags Head 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 Nags Head or Wilmington? Ideal Length of Stay
    Nags Head 4-7 
    Wilmington 2-5

One day in Nags Head or Wilmington?

With food around the of Nags Head, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

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 Nags Head or Wilmington?

With food around the destination of Nags Head, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

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 Nags Head or Wilmington?

Nags Head, a popular , is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this . Your budget might influence how long you stay.

You'll find nightlife and food around the charming 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 Nags Head or Wilmington?

Nags Head is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this makes for a great vacation. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this has to offer. 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 Nags Head?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Nags Head is $149, 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 Nags Head and Wilmington in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Nags Head $80
    Wilmington $120
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Nags Head $160
    Wilmington $240
Compare Hotels in Nags Head and Wilmington

Looking for a hotel in Nags Head 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 Nags Head


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: Nags Head Hotel Prices and Wilmington Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Nags Head $40
    Wilmington $47

Is it cheaper to fly into Nags Head or Wilmington?

Prices for flights to both Wilmington and Nags Head 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
    Nags Head $41
    Wilmington $56

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Nags Head $14
    Wilmington $17

Tours and Activities in Nags Head

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

  • 2-hour Outer Banks Wild Horse Tour by 4WD Truck: $57
  • Cape Hatteras Kayak Adventure in Rodanthe: $59
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $15
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Corolla Kayak Adventure: $59
  • Manteo Historic Walking Tour: $28
  • OBX Ghost Tours: $25
  • Outer Banks Audio Driving Tour: $13
  • Outer Banks Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $25
  • Wright Brothers Carolina Dunes Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $15
  • Wright Brothers Carolina Dunes: Self-Guided Driving Tour: $15

Tours and Activities in Wilmington

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

  • 2-Hour Wilmington E-Bike Day Tour: $48
  • 2-Hour Wilmington E-Bike Day Tour: $50
  • 5-Hour River to Sea E-Bike Day 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
  • Eco Kayak Tour in Wrightsville Beach: $75
  • 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

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Nags Head $12
    Wilmington $39

Sample the Local Flavors in Wilmington

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Wilmington:

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


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Nags Head and Wilmington, we can see that Wilmington is more expensive. And not only is Nags Head much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Nags Head would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Nags Head and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Wilmington would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Wilmington than you might in Nags Head.

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


Which is Bigger, Nags Head or Wilmington?

Wilmington has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Nags Head. When comparing the sizes of Nags Head 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 Nags Head 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 Nags Head or Wilmington in the Summer?

Both Wilmington and Nags Head are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Nags Head for the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Wilmington in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

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

It's quite sunny in Wilmington. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Nags Head. Nags Head usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington during summer. Nags Head gets 274 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 Nags Head. In July, Nags Head usually receives less rain than Wilmington. Nags Head gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 8.1 inches (207 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


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

Should I visit Nags Head or Wilmington in the Autumn?

Both Wilmington and Nags Head during the autumn are popular places to visit. Also, most visitors come to Wilmington for the shopping scene during these months.

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

In Wilmington, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Nags Head. In the autumn, Nags Head often gets less sunshine than Wilmington. Nags Head gets 205 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 227 hours of full sun.

Nags Head usually gets more rain in October than Wilmington. Nags Head gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Nags Head or Wilmington in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Nags Head and Wilmington. Most visitors come to Nags Head for the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Wilmington because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

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

Nags Head usually receives less sunshine than Wilmington during winter. Nags Head gets 147 hours of sunny skies, while Wilmington receives 180 hours of full sun in the winter.

Nags Head gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In January, Nags Head usually receives around the same amount of rain as Wilmington. Nags Head gets 4.1 inches (105 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 3.9 inches (98 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


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

Should I visit Nags Head or Wilmington in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Nags Head as well as Wilmington. Also, the beaches are the main draw to Wilmington this time of year.

Nags Head is cooler than Wilmington in the spring. The daily temperature in Nags Head averages around 59°F (15°C) in April, and Wilmington fluctuates around 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 Nags Head this time of the year. In the spring, Nags Head often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wilmington. Nags Head gets 262 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wilmington receives 278 hours of full sun.

Nags Head usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Wilmington. Nags Head gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Wilmington receives 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Typical Weather for Wilmington and Nags Head

Nags Head 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)