A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Roanoke vs. Shenandoah National Park for Hiking, Backpackers, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

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

Should I visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park? 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.

Roanoke

Roanoke is a scenic, outdoorsy, and laid back town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and hiking.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a scenic, breathtaking, and serene national park. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the hiking, skiing, and food.

Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Skyline Drive
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Shenandoah National Park. Although Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park are popular destinations, Shenandoah National Park has more sights and attractions for tourists. Shenandoah National Park is very popular for its skiing, food, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Roanoke attracts visitors for its museums, nightlife, and shopping. Shenandoah National Park is more touristy than Roanoke and is known for its local wildlife, dramatic viewpoints, and world class hiking trails. It is also well known for Skyline Drive. Roanoke is famous for its welcoming hospitality and convenient access to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

How is Roanoke different from Shenandoah National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Skiing?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a popular place for skiing. However, Roanoke is not a skiing destination.

Head to Shenandoah National Park for some great skiing and other winter activities. You'll find skiing and snowboarding at nearby Massanutten Resort, which is near Harrisonburg, Virginia. It's a family-friendly setting with slopes that are classified as "easiest", "more difficult", and "most difficult".

Roanoke is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Roanoke is a town with good options for its historical sights. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Roanoke. There are several museums and sights around town such as the Living-Coral Reef Aquarium, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, and the Taubman Museum of Art. There's also the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and even the Roanoke Pinball Museum.

Shenandoah National Park offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While most people spend their time outdoors enjoying the setting, there are museums in the area, as well as visitor centers that have exhibits and informative displays.

Is the Food Better in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a popular place for its local flavors and cuisine. However, Roanoke is not known for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Shenandoah National Park is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are several restaurants along skyline drive where you can pick up a casual meal like fried chicken, burgers, or pasta.

Roanoke offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are burger joints, pizza restaurants, and plenty of other casual eateries where you can grab a quick meal.

Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Nightlife?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Roanoke is a town with good options for its evening party scene. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Roanoke has a few options to choose from. There are local venues in the area that have drinks and often live music. You'll find jazz, country, rock, and bluegrass, particularly along Crooked Road in Franklin County.

Most people don't head to Shenandoah National Park specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. There are a number of breweries in the area, but most people enjoy stargazing and sitting by the campfire at night.


Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Hiking?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is renowned for hiking. Also, Roanoke is not as popular, but is still a nice town for the nearby hiking options.

People visit Shenandoah National Park specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. There are more than 500 miles of trails in the park that pass through varied landscapes and take you to beautiful viewpoints. Visitors range from weekend visitors to long term hikers who come to experience the breathtaking beauty and serene setting.

Roanoke is a popular spot for hiking. The surrounding countryside is filled with mountain hikes. The Blue Ridge Mountains are crossed by trails that take you to waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, and through serene forest. McAfee Knob, Sharp Top Mountain, and Roaring Run Trail some of the best hikes in the area.

Is the Shopping Better in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Roanoke is a town with good options for its shopping areas. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for shopping.

Roanoke has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Market Street in Downtown Roanoke is lined with local vendors, particularly at the Historic Roanoke City Market. The town also has a mall and several shopping centers.

Shenandoah National Park is a good destination for shopping. There are a handful of gift shops along Skyline Drive were you can pick up souvenirs or t-shirts.

Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Families?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a great national park for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Roanoke is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Shenandoah National Park. There are tons of kid-friendly hikes to overlooks or waterfalls. Kids will love scrambling over the rocks or running through the forest. There are also plenty of campgrounds where families can hang out, toast marshmallows and enjoy some quality time together.

Roanoke is a family-friendly place to visit. The Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with kid-friendly hiking trails and fun outdoor activities. You can visit the Blue Ridge Institute & Farm Museum or Smith Mountain Lake Farm. There's also Virginia Children's Theater.


Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Couples?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

With fun activities for couples, both Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park make for a excellent place to visit.

Roanoke is a great town if you're traveling as a couple. Staying at a quaint bed and breakfast, tucked into the beautiful mountain setting is the perfect romantic getaway. Nearby there are vineyards and wine cellars, as well as gardens, hikes, and other outdoor activities.

Shenandoah National Park is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples who enjoy nature will love a visit to the park. There are beautiful views and scenic spots that will make for a wonderful and romantic trip. Hiking, biking, and exploring will fill your time with adventure and fun.

Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is renowned for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Roanoke is not as popular, but is still a nice town for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Shenandoah National Park, as it is a very popular national park for budget travelers. Backpackers love the hiking trails and backcountry camping. Many people head to the park to escape into nature and enjoy some low key time in a serene setting.

Roanoke is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There are several campgrounds in the area as well as great hiking trails.

Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Roanoke is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Roanoke. There are buses as well as a free trolley service through the downtown, but you really do need a car to get most places.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Shenandoah National Park. There's no real public transit in the park.


Is Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park a more walkable city?

Roanoke
Shenandoah National Park

Roanoke is adequate for its ease of walking around. However, Shenandoah National Park is not a good destination for its walkability.

Roanoke is generally not a very walkable town. The downtown area is the most walkable part of town, with sidewalks and more dense development styles.

Shenandoah National Park is not a walkable town. While there are plenty of hiking trails, a car is a must to reach most trailheads.

For even more information, also check out Is Roanoke Worth Visiting? and Is Shenandoah National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Shenandoah National Park or Roanoke?

How long in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

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

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Shenandoah National Park than Roanoke 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 Shenandoah National Park.


  • How many days in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    Roanoke 1-3 
    Shenandoah National Park 3-5

One day in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

With shopping and museums around the scenic town of Roanoke, there's plenty to do. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then one day is just the right amount of time to spend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

In Shenandoah National Park, you'll find skiing and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. This national park offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

With museums and nightlife around the outdoorsy destination of Roanoke, there's plenty to do. Hikers are also drawn to this area. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation.A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

In Shenandoah National Park, you'll find food and skiing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

You'll find nightlife and shopping around the outdoorsy town of Roanoke. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Shenandoah National Park is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Shenandoah National Park has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

Roanoke is a great place to explore. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Shenandoah National Park. Many people enjoy the food and skiing when visiting Shenandoah National Park. One reason most visitors come is for the hiking. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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 G Adventures Tours to United States of America, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles.


Which place is cheaper, Shenandoah National Park or Roanoke?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Roanoke is $164, while the average daily cost in Shenandoah National Park is $125. 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 Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Roanoke $96
    Shenandoah National Park $53
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Roanoke $192
    Shenandoah National Park $106
Compare Hotels in Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park

Looking for a hotel in Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park? 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 Roanoke


Hotels in Shenandoah National Park


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: Roanoke Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Roanoke $23
    Shenandoah National Park $70

Is it cheaper to fly into Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

Prices for flights to both Shenandoah National Park and Roanoke 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
    Roanoke $48
    Shenandoah National Park $28

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Roanoke

For Roanoke, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Roanoke Ebike Food Tour: $150

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Roanoke $35
    Shenandoah National Park $34

Tours and Activities in Roanoke

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

  • 3-Hour E-Bike Sightseeing and Breweries Tour in Roanoke: $109
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – Driving Audio Tour (Roanoke ↔ Afton): $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Roanoke to Afton) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia) Driving Tour with Audio Guide: $9.99
  • Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia Audio Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Complete Blue Ridge Parkway Tour Bundle: $24
  • Downtown Roanoke Food, History & Cultural Tour: $78
  • Mountain Bike Tour from The Roanoke Star: $139

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Roanoke $30
    Shenandoah National Park $7.14


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

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



When is the best time to visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park?

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 Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park in the Summer?

Both Shenandoah National Park and Roanoke are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Roanoke in the summer for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Shenandoah National Park for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Roanoke is around the same temperature as Shenandoah National Park in the summer. The daily temperature in Roanoke averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 77°F (25°C).

It's quite rainy in Roanoke. In July, Roanoke usually receives more rain than Shenandoah National Park. Roanoke gets 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Roanoke 79°F (26°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 77°F (25°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park in the Autumn?

Both Shenandoah National Park and Roanoke during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Roanoke for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Shenandoah National Park because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Roanoke is a little warmer than Shenandoah National Park. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Roanoke in October average around 60°F (16°C), and Shenandoah National Park averages at about 56°F (13°C).

Roanoke usually gets more rain in October than Shenandoah National Park. Roanoke gets 3.7 inches (94 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.3 inches (84 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Roanoke 60°F (16°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 56°F (13°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Roanoke and Shenandoah National Park. The winter months attract visitors to Roanoke because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the skiing, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Shenandoah National Park this time of year.

It's quite cold in Shenandoah National Park in the winter. The weather in Roanoke can be very cold. In January, Roanoke is generally much warmer than Shenandoah National Park. Daily temperatures in Roanoke average around 38°F (3°C), and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 32°F (-0°C).

In January, Roanoke usually receives around the same amount of rain as Shenandoah National Park. Roanoke gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 2.8 inches (70 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Roanoke 38°F (3°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 32°F (-0°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Shenandoah National Park in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Roanoke as well as Shenandoah National Park. Additionally, many travelers come to Shenandoah National Park for the natural beauty.

Roanoke is a little warmer than Shenandoah National Park in the spring. The daily temperature in Roanoke averages around 59°F (15°C) in April, and Shenandoah National Park fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

Roanoke usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Shenandoah National Park. Roanoke gets 3.1 inches (79 mm) of rain, while Shenandoah National Park receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Roanoke 59°F (15°C) 
    Shenandoah National Park 54°F (12°C)

Typical Weather for Shenandoah National Park and Roanoke

Roanoke Shenandoah National Park
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 38°F (3°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 32°F (-0°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm)
Feb 41°F (5°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 35°F (1°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Mar 50°F (10°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Apr 59°F (15°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 63°F (17°C) 4 inches (102 mm)
Jun 75°F (24°C) 3.4 inches (88 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.9 inches (100 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 77°F (25°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 68°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Oct 60°F (16°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) 56°F (13°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Nov 51°F (11°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm) 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Dec 42°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 36°F (2°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)