A Travel Price Comparison for Virginia Roanoke vs. Virginia Beach for Families, Couples, Nightlife, and Food

Should you visit Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

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

Should I visit Roanoke or Virginia Beach? 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 laid back, scenic, and outdoorsy town. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and hiking.

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a fun-filled, relaxing, and bustling coastal city. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the nightlife and beaches.

Roanoke and Virginia Beach: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students


Is there more to do in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Roanoke than Virginia Beach. While Virginia Beach is larger than Roanoke, Roanoke has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Roanoke is more popular for its museums, hiking, and shopping, while Virginia Beach is known for its resorts, beaches, and impressive beauty. Roanoke is popular for its welcoming hospitality and convenient access to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is also home to the Roanoke Star. Virginia Beach is popular for its fun boardwalk, many seafood restaurants, and classic beach town vibe.

How is Roanoke different from Virginia Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is a nice place to visit for its historical sights. However, Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.

Roanoke offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

Virginia Beach does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Roanoke or Virginia Beach? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at decent restaurants in both Roanoke and Virginia Beach.

Roanoke may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. There are burger joints, pizza restaurants, and plenty of other casual eateries where you can grab a quick meal.

Virginia Beach offers some easy restaurants to choose from. Seafood is plentiful around town and there are all-you-can-eat buffets as well as high end, waterfront seafood restaurants. Make sure you try the She Crab Soup, soft shell crabs, and oysters.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Nightlife?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find good options in both Roanoke and Virginia Beach.

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.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Virginia Beach. While it's a family-friendly beach, there's still a great nightlife scene with many bars and clubs in the area. Popular places to hang out at night include Omega Bar, Peabody's Nightclub, and Sky Bar.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Resorts?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for its luxury resorts. However, Roanoke is not a resort destination.

Virginia Beach has a few great resort options. Some of the best resorts in the area include the Historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club, the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and The Founders Inn and Spa.

Roanoke is not a resort destination.


Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Beaches?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for the beach. However, Roanoke is not a beach destination.

Virginia Beach is a good option for a beach vacation. The beaches are long and sandy, but they can get crowded during the summer months. The waves are just the right size for playing in the surf and the water temperature is usually warm enough to swim well into the fall months.

Roanoke is not a beach destination.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Hiking?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is great for hiking. However, Virginia Beach is not a hiking destination.

Many visitors go to Roanoke for the hiking trails. 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.

Virginia Beach is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is a nice place to visit for its shopping opportunities. However, Virginia Beach is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Roanoke. 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.

Virginia Beach is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Families?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a great coastal city 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 Virginia Beach. This is a popular family-friendly beach with a nice boardwalk, a fun waterpark, aquarium, and nice beaches. It attracts families in the area for its long beaches and fun atmosphere. Most restaurants have kid's menus and there are ice cream shops and minigolf around.

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 Virginia Beach Better for Couples?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is great for its romantic activities. Also, Virginia Beach is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for couples.

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.

Virginia Beach is a good town for couples to visit. Couples will enjoy a nice escape to the beaches and boardwalk. There are many great seafood restaurants, some with waterfront settings. There's also a variety of activities ranging from many golf to dance clubs.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is a nice place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Virginia Beach is not a backpacker-friendly destination.

It's common for backpackers to visit Roanoke. There are several campgrounds in the area as well as great hiking trails.

Virginia Beach is not a backpacker-friendly destination.


Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Students?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Roanoke is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Virginia Beach. It's not as popular as more southern beach towns, but you'll still find students heading here for the spring break holidays.

Roanoke is not popular with students.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach. There is very limited public transit in the area so you'll need to have a car to get around.

Is Roanoke or Virginia Beach a more walkable city?

Roanoke
Virginia Beach

Roanoke and Virginia Beach are decent when it comes to 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.

Virginia Beach is generally not very walkable. Most people prefer to have a car but do note that parking can be a nightmare, particularly during the summer season.


For even more information, also check out Is Roanoke Worth Visiting? and Is Virginia Beach Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Virginia Beach or Roanoke?

How long in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Both Roanoke and Virginia Beach have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Virginia Beach than in Roanoke. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Roanoke, and 5-7 days is enough time in Virginia Beach.

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

Couples should spend more time in Roanoke than Virginia Beach. 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 Roanoke than Virginia Beach 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 Roanoke.


  • How many days in Roanoke or Virginia Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Roanoke 1-3 
    Virginia Beach 5-7

One day in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

In Roanoke, you'll find nightlife and shopping. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. So, one day is just the right amount of time to spend here.

In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. This coastal city 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 Virginia Beach?

Roanoke is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. 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 Virginia Beach?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Roanoke. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. It offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Virginia Beach is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Virginia Beach has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the town of Roanoke. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Your budget might influence how long you stay. 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's hard to know how much time to spend in Virginia Beach. In Virginia Beach, you'll find nightlife. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, and The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach is $126. 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 Virginia Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Roanoke $96
    Virginia Beach $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Roanoke $192
    Virginia Beach $142
Compare Hotels in Roanoke and Virginia Beach

Looking for a hotel in Roanoke or Virginia Beach? 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 Virginia Beach


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 and Virginia Beach Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Roanoke $23
    Virginia Beach $39

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Virginia Beach

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Virginia Beach:


  • Beach Parking
    $10

Is it cheaper to fly into Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Prices for flights to both Virginia Beach 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
    Virginia Beach $30

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
    Virginia Beach $21

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 (Roanoke to Afton) Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • 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
  • Roanoke Holiday Season E-Bike Tour: $92

Tours and Activities in Virginia Beach

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

  • Dolphin Kayak Tour in Virginia Beach Must know how to swim: $77
  • Kayak Dolphin Experience in Virginia Beach Must know how to swim: $77
  • Neptune Ghosts: Ghosts of the Coast By US Ghost Adventures: $24
  • Small Group Dolphin Kayak Eco-Tour: $68
  • Sunset Dolphin Kayak Tours: $68
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Virginia Beach by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Virginia Historic Adventure!: $200
  • Wetland Zip Tour: $65
  • Ziplining and Climbing at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium: $59

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Roanoke $30
    Virginia Beach $11


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Roanoke and Virginia Beach, we can see that Roanoke is more expensive. And not only is Virginia Beach much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Virginia Beach would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Virginia Beach 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 Virginia Beach.

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


Which is Bigger, Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Roanoke. When comparing the sizes of Roanoke and Virginia Beach, 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 Roanoke or Virginia Beach?

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 Virginia Beach in the Summer?

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

In July, Roanoke is generally around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Daily temperatures in Roanoke average around 79°F (26°C), and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 79°F (26°C).

It's quite sunny in Virginia Beach. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Roanoke. Roanoke usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach during summer. Roanoke gets 273 hours of sunny skies, while Virginia Beach receives 279 hours of full sun in the summer.

It rains a lot this time of the year in Virginia Beach. It's quite rainy in Roanoke. In July, Roanoke usually receives less rain than Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 5.7 inches (145 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Roanoke 79°F (26°C) 
    Virginia Beach 79°F (26°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Virginia Beach in the Autumn?

Both Virginia Beach and Roanoke during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Roanoke in the autumn for the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Furthermore, most visitors come to Virginia Beach for the natural beauty of the area during these months.

Roanoke is around the same temperature as Virginia Beach in the autumn. The daily temperature in Roanoke averages around 60°F (16°C) in October, and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 62°F (16°C).

In Virginia Beach, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Roanoke. In the autumn, Roanoke often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 210 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Virginia Beach receives 211 hours of full sun.

Roanoke usually gets more rain in October than Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 3.7 inches (94 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Roanoke 60°F (16°C) 
    Virginia Beach 62°F (16°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Virginia Beach in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Roanoke and Virginia Beach. Most visitors come to Roanoke for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Furthermore, the winter months attract visitors to Virginia Beach because of the cuisine.

The weather in Virginia Beach can be very cold. Roanoke can be very cold during winter. In the winter, Roanoke is cooler than Virginia Beach. Typically, the winter temperatures in Roanoke in January average around 38°F (3°C), and Virginia Beach averages at about 39°F (4°C).

Roanoke usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach during winter. Roanoke gets 165 hours of sunny skies, while Virginia Beach receives 168 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Roanoke usually receives less rain than Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 3.3 inches (85 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Roanoke 38°F (3°C) 
    Virginia Beach 39°F (4°C)

Should I visit Roanoke or Virginia Beach in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Roanoke as well as Virginia Beach. Additionally, the beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Virginia Beach this time of year.

In April, Roanoke is generally around the same temperature as Virginia Beach. Daily temperatures in Roanoke average around 59°F (15°C), and Virginia Beach fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Virginia Beach. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Roanoke this time of the year. In the spring, Roanoke often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 246 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Virginia Beach receives 253 hours of full sun.

Roanoke usually gets more rain in April than Virginia Beach. Roanoke gets 3.1 inches (79 mm) of rain, while Virginia Beach receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Roanoke 59°F (15°C) 
    Virginia Beach 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Virginia Beach and Roanoke

Roanoke Virginia Beach
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 38°F (3°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 39°F (4°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Feb 41°F (5°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 41°F (5°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm)
Mar 50°F (10°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 49°F (10°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Apr 59°F (15°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 58°F (14°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 67°F (19°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm)
Jun 75°F (24°C) 3.4 inches (88 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 79°F (26°C) 5.7 inches (145 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm) 78°F (25°C) 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 72°F (22°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Oct 60°F (16°C) 3.7 inches (94 mm) 62°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm)
Nov 51°F (11°C) 3.1 inches (80 mm) 53°F (12°C) 3 inches (75 mm)
Dec 42°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)