A Travel Price Comparison for North Carolina Raleigh vs. Winston-Salem for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

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

Should I visit Raleigh or Winston-Salem? 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.

Raleigh

Raleigh is a suburban-style, friendly, and southern city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and food.

Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is a friendly, under-rated, and welcoming city. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Raleigh and Winston-Salem: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Raleigh than Winston-Salem. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Raleigh is very popular for its big city activities, while Winston-Salem attracts visitors for its historical sights and shopping. Raleigh is famous for its many museums and being the home to North Carolina State University. It is also well known for North Carolina State University. Winston-Salem is famous for it's southern character and quaint college campuses.

How is Raleigh different from Winston-Salem?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Raleigh or Winston-Salem.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Raleigh. As the state capital, there are a number of free museums in the area. There are also some kid-friendly options and other activities that are affiliated with the colleges and universities. Popular options include the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (free), the NC Museum of History (free), the NC Museum of Art (free), and Marbles Kids Museum.

Winston-Salem is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Old Salem has a nice concentration of museums and gardens. Outside of the old town you'll find several art museums like the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art.


Is the Food Better in Raleigh or Winston-Salem? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Both Raleigh and Winston-Salem offer nice local cuisine and restaurants.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Raleigh area. In addition to the standard chain restaurants, you'll find a number of local eateries with great southern dishes. Try some southern classics like barbecue, pimento cheese, and fried chicken and waffles. There are also good international options including Nepalese, Laotian, and Ethiopian flavors.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Winston-Salem. North Carolina barbecue is popular around town. The city is also the birthplace of Krispy Kreme donuts and during the holiday season you should sample the local Moravian Cookies.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for Nightlife?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Party-goers will find similar levels of energy in Raleigh and Winston-Salem.

Raleigh has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. Head to downtown Raleigh or the areas around NC State University for some of the best nightlife. Trivia nights and happy hours are popular and you'll find breweries popping up in many places.

If you're looking for night time activities Winston-Salem has a few options to choose from. Local breweries are popping up around town. You'll also find active nightlife venues near the colleges and universities.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for its Old Town?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is a popular place for its historic old town charm. However, Raleigh does not have a historic old town.

Winston-Salem offers a nice historic old town area. Nearby Old Salem is filled with historic museums, gardens, and restaurants. A ticket is required for most of the venues, but the atmosphere and architecture are charming.

Raleigh does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors go to Winston-Salem to go shopping. You'll find a mix of larger shopping malls, retail outlets, and shopping centers around town.

Raleigh is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for Families?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Raleigh or Winston-Salem.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Raleigh. For such a small city, Raleigh has a number of unique kid-friendly activities like the popular Pullen Park and Marbles Kids' Museum. Pullen Park has small rides and a playground that are perfect for young kids. There's also the NC Museum of Natural History which is free and fun to explore with kids.

Winston-Salem offers lots of family activities. There are interactive museums like the Kaleideum science museums. There are also outdoor parks and playgrounds, kid-friendly restaurants, and a children's theater.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for Couples?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Most people don't think of either Raleigh or Winston-Salem as a couple's destination.

Raleigh is not always the best place to visit for a couple. While it's often overlooked by couples who want a weekend away, there are a number of museums and some nice restaurants to explore.

Winston-Salem is not the best destination for a couple to visit. There are restaurants and movie theaters that make for a nice date night. There are also parks and walks that will get you outdoors.


Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for Students?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Raleigh is notable for students. Also, Winston-Salem is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Raleigh is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. The city has a diverse student population with many nearby universities and colleges.

Plenty of students visit Winston-Salem. Wake Forest University as well as colleges such as Salem College give parts of the city a collegiate vibe.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is a city with a few options for its public transit. However, Raleigh is not particularly known for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in Winston-Salem. There are bus routes, but they are limited in their frequency and convenience, making a car essential for most visitors.

Public transit is quite limited in Raleigh. The city's public transportation options are limited to a few bus lines that are mostly used by students.

Is Raleigh or Winston-Salem a more walkable city?

Raleigh
Winston-Salem

Raleigh and Winston-Salem both are reasonable when exploring on foot.

Raleigh is generally not very walkable. The city is somewhat walkable in the downtown area, but everywhere else you'll need a car.

Winston-Salem is generally not a very walkable city. The downtown area is the most pedestrian-friendly part of town, but most of the city requires a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Raleigh Worth Visiting? and Is Winston-Salem Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Winston-Salem or Raleigh?

How long in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Raleigh or Winston-Salem to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Raleigh than Winston-Salem because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Raleigh, and 1-2 days is enough time in Winston-Salem.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Winston-Salem than Raleigh 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 Winston-Salem.


  • How many days in Raleigh or Winston-Salem? Ideal Length of Stay
    Raleigh 2-3 
    Winston-Salem 1-2

One day in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the friendly destination of Raleigh. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

In Winston-Salem, you'll find nightlife and food. This city offers something for everyone. This would be the perfect place to spend one day, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A weekend in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Raleigh. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

In Winston-Salem, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Winston-Salem has to offer.

Five days in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Travelers enjoy the food and museums when visiting the southern destination of Raleigh. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Five days 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.

Winston-Salem is a great place to explore. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the city of Raleigh. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Winston-Salem. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Winston-Salem. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City, The Best 2-Week Tours from New York City, and The Best 2-Week Tours from Anchorage.


Which place is cheaper, Winston-Salem or Raleigh?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Raleigh is $189, while the average daily cost in Winston-Salem is $150. 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 Raleigh and Winston-Salem in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Raleigh $104
    Winston-Salem $91
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Raleigh $208
    Winston-Salem $182
Compare Hotels in Raleigh and Winston-Salem

Looking for a hotel in Raleigh or Winston-Salem? 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 Raleigh


Hotels in Winston-Salem


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: Raleigh Hotel Prices and Winston-Salem Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Raleigh $37
    Winston-Salem $23

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Raleigh

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Raleigh:

  • Raleigh to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $60
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh Arrival Private Transfer: $60
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Arrival Private Transfer: $63
  • Durham to Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) - Departure Private Transfer: $63
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Raleigh - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $119
  • Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) to Durham - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $126

Is it cheaper to fly into Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Prices for flights to both Winston-Salem and Raleigh 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
    Raleigh $57
    Winston-Salem $42
Typical Food Prices in Raleigh

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Raleigh:


  • The Pit Authentic BBQ (for 3)
    $84

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Raleigh

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Raleigh.

  • Private Cooking Class in Durham with an Expert Home Cook: $104

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Raleigh $37
    Winston-Salem $20

Tours and Activities in Raleigh

Here are a few actual costs in Raleigh for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure Self-Guided City Game: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Durham by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Chapel Hill, NC: $15
  • Raleigh Historian-Guided Downtown Walking Tour: $16
  • Guided Walking Historian Tour in Downtown Durham: $16
  • Raleigh Downtown: Historic Walking Tours: $16
  • Raleigh Ghost and Urban Legend Tour: $16
  • Raleigh African American History Tour: $16
  • True Crime History Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Walking Tour: $26
  • Raleigh Ghosts and Ghouls Hauntings Tour: $30
  • Raleigh Puzzling Adventure: $35

Tours and Activities in Winston-Salem

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Winston-Salem are as follows:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Winston-Salem by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Carolina History & Haunts Winston-Salem Historical Ghost Tour: $26

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Raleigh $27
    Winston-Salem $24


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Raleigh and Winston-Salem, we can see that Raleigh is more expensive. And not only is Winston-Salem much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Winston-Salem would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Winston-Salem 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 Raleigh would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Raleigh than you might in Winston-Salem.

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


Which is Bigger, Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

Raleigh has a larger population, and is about 43% larger than the population of Winston-Salem. When comparing the sizes of Raleigh and Winston-Salem, 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 Raleigh or Winston-Salem?

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 Raleigh or Winston-Salem in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Raleigh and Winston-Salem. The summer months attract visitors to Raleigh because of the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Winston-Salem this time of year.

Raleigh is around the same temperature as Winston-Salem in the summer. The daily temperature in Raleigh averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and Winston-Salem fluctuates around 81°F (27°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Winston-Salem this time of the year. In Raleigh, it's very sunny this time of the year. Raleigh usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Winston-Salem during summer. Raleigh gets 259 hours of sunny skies, while Winston-Salem receives 273 hours of full sun in the summer.

Winston-Salem receives a lot of rain in the summer. Raleigh gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Raleigh usually receives more rain than Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while Winston-Salem receives 4.4 inches (112 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Raleigh 79°F (26°C) 
    Winston-Salem 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Raleigh or Winston-Salem in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Raleigh as well as Winston-Salem. The city's sights and attractions are the main draw to Raleigh this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Winston-Salem for the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Raleigh is around the same temperature as Winston-Salem. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Raleigh in October average around 61°F (16°C), and Winston-Salem averages at about 62°F (17°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Winston-Salem. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Raleigh this time of the year. In the autumn, Raleigh often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 211 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Winston-Salem receives 212 hours of full sun.

Raleigh usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain, while Winston-Salem receives 3 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Raleigh 61°F (16°C) 
    Winston-Salem 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Raleigh or Winston-Salem in the Winter?

Both Winston-Salem and Raleigh are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Raleigh for the museums and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Winston-Salem in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Winston-Salem can get quite cold in the winter. Be prepared for some very cold days in Raleigh. In January, Raleigh is generally around the same temperature as Winston-Salem. Daily temperatures in Raleigh average around 40°F (5°C), and Winston-Salem fluctuates around 40°F (4°C).

Raleigh usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Winston-Salem during winter. Raleigh gets 162 hours of sunny skies, while Winston-Salem receives 169 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Raleigh usually receives around the same amount of rain as Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Winston-Salem receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Raleigh 40°F (5°C) 
    Winston-Salem 40°F (4°C)

Should I visit Raleigh or Winston-Salem in the Spring?

Both Winston-Salem and Raleigh during the spring are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Raleigh in the spring for the activities around the city.

Raleigh is around the same temperature as Winston-Salem in the spring. The daily temperature in Raleigh averages around 60°F (16°C) in April, and Winston-Salem fluctuates around 61°F (16°C).

In Winston-Salem, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Raleigh. In the spring, Raleigh often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 251 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Winston-Salem receives 248 hours of full sun.

Raleigh usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Winston-Salem. Raleigh gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while Winston-Salem receives 3.1 inches (80 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Raleigh 60°F (16°C) 
    Winston-Salem 61°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Winston-Salem and Raleigh

Raleigh Winston-Salem
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 40°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 43°F (6°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm)
Mar 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm)
Apr 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 61°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 69°F (21°C) 3 inches (77 mm)
Jun 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 77°F (25°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm) 81°F (27°C) 4.4 inches (112 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm) 80°F (26°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 73°F (23°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Oct 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 62°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Nov 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 53°F (12°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm)