A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Arlington vs. San Francisco for Attractions, Food, Families, and Nightlife

Should you visit Arlington or San Francisco?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Arlington or San Francisco, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Arlington

Arlington is a educational, international, and historical city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a outdoorsy, quirky, and eccentric coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the shopping, museums, and theater.

Arlington and San Francisco: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to Arlington National Cemetery
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge


Is there more to do in Arlington or San Francisco?

Tourists will generally find more to do in San Francisco than Arlington. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, music, beaches, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Arlington attracts visitors for its nightlife. San Francisco is more touristy than Arlington and is known for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. It is also well known for The Golden Gate Bridge. Arlington is famous for its international connections, its biking and walking trails, and being the location of the Pentagon.

How is Arlington different from San Francisco?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Arlington or San Francisco?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is terrific for its museums and history. Also, Arlington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, San Francisco has many famous sights for visitors. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Arlington. Arlington National Cemetery is where you'll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the tomb of John F. Kennedy Jr. There are many memorials around town, with the most famous being the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial. There are also several museums like the DEA Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.


Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Theater?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is a nice place to visit for its shows and theatre. However, Arlington is not a theatre destination.

You'll find a nice selection of shows in San Francisco. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Arlington is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in Arlington or San Francisco? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is terrific for its restaurants. Also, Arlington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, San Francisco is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown. Head away from the touristy neighborhoods if you want to sample some of the more local restaurants around town.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Arlington makes for a great culinary experience. It's a global city, and the restaurants reflect that. You'll find amazing Thai, Japanese, and Mexican restaurants. There are also less common cuisines to choose from such as Ethiopian, Moroccan, and Peruvian.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Nightlife?

Arlington
San Francisco

Arlington is a great city for its evening party scene. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for nightlife.

The nightlife in Arlington has something for everybody. The city has a huge young population that drives the nightlife scene. There are clubs, bars, and lounges in many neighborhoods. There are also comedy clubs and plenty of live music.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in San Francisco. It has a great nightlife with many local bars and trendy clubs. For the best nightlife away from the tourists, head to Valencia Street or Polk Street. If you want to be in a more touristy area, check out Union Square. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.


Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Music?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is a nice place to visit for its music scene. However, Arlington is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep San Francisco active and fun. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Arlington is not a live music destination.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Beaches?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Arlington is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in San Francisco. Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away. Some of the best beaches include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and Muir Beach.

Arlington is not a beach destination.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Hiking?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is terrific for its hiking trails. However, Arlington is not a hiking destination.

Known for its hiking, San Francisco draws a crowd to experience the nature and the trails. The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.

Arlington is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Arlington or San Francisco?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is terrific for its shopping areas. Also, Arlington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many people travel to San Francisco specifically to go shopping. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

Arlington is a great destination for shopping. Many neighborhoods have local shops or farmer's markets. There are also shopping centers and malls such as Ballston Quarter, The Crossing Clarendon, and The Village at Shirlington.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Families?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Arlington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

San Francisco is an amazing family-friendly coastal city to visit. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination. There are also many amazing playgrounds with stunning views of the bay and city. Head to Chinatown for some unique and kid-friendly food, or down to Pier 39 for fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Arlington. Kids will enjoy seeing the planes talk off from Gravelly Point park. There are also plenty of outdoor spaces and educational opportunities in the area, including world class museums.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Couples?

Arlington
San Francisco

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for couples. Also, Arlington is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

San Francisco makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway. There are also many scenic walks and breathtaking views that couples can appreciate.

Arlington is a nice destination for couples. There's a vibrant cultural scene and many international restaurants that couples can enjoy. It's also a great place to take in a show or concert.


Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Arlington
San Francisco

Arlington and San Francisco are both superb destinations for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Arlington. There are a couple of hostels and many free activities nearby. There's also great public transportation that makes for a convenient backpacker destination.

Backpackers come from all over to visit San Francisco. The city is one of the more backpacker friendly cities in the United States. There are a handful of hostels throughout, many concentrated in the popular Union Square and Downtown neighborhoods of the city.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Students?

Arlington
San Francisco

Both Arlington and San Francisco are superb destinations for students.

Arlington is a great city to visit as a student. There are a huge number of colleges and museums in the area as well as many great internship and educational opportunities.

Students come from all over to stay in San Francisco. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.

Is Arlington or San Francisco Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Arlington
San Francisco

Visitors will find amazing public transit in both Arlington and San Francisco.

The thorough and effecient public transit system of Arlington can take you anywhere. There is a reliable bus system around town as well as many metro connections.

San Francisco has a great public transit system. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.


Is Arlington or San Francisco a more walkable city?

Arlington
San Francisco

Arlington and San Francisco are superb when it comes to walkability.

Arlington is a very walkable destination. There are many pedestrian-friendly areas around town, particularly in the neighborhoods that are concentrated around metro stations.

San Francisco is very walkable. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.

For even more information, also check out Is Arlington Worth Visiting? and Is San Francisco Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in San Francisco or Arlington?

How long in Arlington or San Francisco?

Both Arlington and San Francisco have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in San Francisco than in Arlington. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Arlington, and 3-7 days is enough time in San Francisco.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Francisco than Arlington 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 San Francisco.


  • How many days in Arlington or San Francisco? Ideal Length of Stay
    Arlington 2-4 
    San Francisco 3-7

One day in Arlington or San Francisco?

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the historical destination of Arlington. 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.

People visit San Francisco because there is so much to do. 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 Arlington or San Francisco?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Arlington. 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.

People visit San Francisco because there is so much to do. Hikers are also drawn to this area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from.


Five days in Arlington or San Francisco?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the international destination of Arlington. 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.

People visit San Francisco because there is so much to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this coastal 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 coastal city has to offer.

A week in Arlington or San Francisco?

You'll find food and shopping around the city of Arlington. 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.

San Francisco is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in San Francisco, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America, The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America, and The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, San Francisco or Arlington?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Arlington is $264, while the average daily cost in San Francisco is $222. 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 Arlington and San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Arlington $131
    San Francisco $130
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Arlington $262
    San Francisco $260
Compare Hotels in Arlington and San Francisco

Looking for a hotel in Arlington or San Francisco? 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 Arlington


Hotels in San Francisco


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: Arlington Hotel Prices and San Francisco Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Arlington $49
    San Francisco $16

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Arlington

Also for Arlington, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Ronald Reagan DCA Airport Transfers: $160

Typical Local Transportation Prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in San Francisco HTL-APT (SFO): $119
  • Transfer in private Minivan from San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Downtown city: $183
  • Sedan Airport Transfer from Vallejo to SFO (one way): $259
  • SFO Airport Private Transfer to Downtown: $120
  • San Francisco to/from Yosemite National Park: 1-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to Yosemite One-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - Departure Private Transfer: $110
  • San Francisco Airport to San Francisco Private Arrival Transfer: $78
  • San Francisco Airport 1-Way Transfer to/from the City: $150
  • San Francisco Airport 1-Way Transfer to and from the San Francisco: $150
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO): Transfer to San Francisco: $342
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO): Transfer to Cruise Terminal: $556

Is it cheaper to fly into Arlington or San Francisco?

Prices for flights to both San Francisco and Arlington 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
    Arlington $81
    San Francisco $46

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $19
  • North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour: $79
  • Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $83
  • Mission District Food Tour with Tastings: $85
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $87
  • San Francisco Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $89
  • Mission District Food Tour: $89
  • Mission District Walking Food Tour: $89
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco North Beach Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $90
  • Secret Food Tour of North Beach and Chinatown: $95

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Arlington $11
    San Francisco $46

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • "Summer of Love" tour in Haight-Ashbury in French: $63
  • 1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $73
  • 2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $85
  • 2-Hour Double Decker City Tour of San Francisco: $73
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Loop GoCar Tour: $172
  • 2hr - INTERACTIVE Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2hr - SUNSET Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2hr PRIVATE Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay 6 Guests: $695
  • 2hrs- Beyond the Bridge - Marin Headlands GoCar Tour: $234
  • 3-Hour Private Group San Francisco Open Top Jeep Tour: $249
  • 3HR Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park GoCar Tour: $228
  • 3hr PRIVATE Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay 6 Guests: $795

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Arlington $17
    San Francisco $22

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:

  • Chinatown San Francisco’s Bar Crawl: An Audio Tour: $4.99
  • SF Pub Crawl and Clubbing Experience: $27
  • Ghosts, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Sunset Distillery with Local Whiskey or Cocktail Tasting: $40
  • Walk with Spirits: A Haunted Pub Crawl in San Francisco: $45
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $85
  • Half-Day Wine Country Tour with Wine Tastings: $126
  • The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Small Group: The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • From The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Alcatraz and Sausalito California Wine Tasting Experience: $150


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

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


Which is Bigger, Arlington or San Francisco?

San Francisco has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Arlington. When comparing the sizes of Arlington and San Francisco, 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 Arlington or San Francisco?

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 Arlington or San Francisco in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Arlington and San Francisco. The summer months attract visitors to Arlington because of the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to San Francisco this time of year.

Arlington is much warmer than San Francisco in the summer. The daily temperature in Arlington averages around 79°F (26°C) in July, and San Francisco fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).

In July, Arlington usually receives more rain than San Francisco. Arlington gets 3.5 inches (88 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Arlington 79°F (26°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Arlington or San Francisco in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Arlington as well as San Francisco. The shopping scene are the main draw to Arlington this time of year. Also, many travelers come to San Francisco for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Arlington is cooler than San Francisco. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Arlington in October average around 60°F (15°C), and San Francisco averages at about 63°F (17°C).

Arlington usually gets more rain in October than San Francisco. Arlington gets 2.9 inches (73 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Arlington 60°F (15°C) 
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C)

Should I visit Arlington or San Francisco in the Winter?

Both San Francisco and Arlington are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Arlington for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to San Francisco in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Arlington. In January, Arlington is generally much colder than San Francisco. Daily temperatures in Arlington average around 35°F (1°C), and San Francisco fluctuates around 50°F (10°C).

In January, Arlington usually receives less rain than San Francisco. Arlington gets 2.7 inches (68 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Arlington 35°F (1°C) 
    San Francisco 50°F (10°C)

Should I visit Arlington or San Francisco in the Spring?

Both San Francisco and Arlington during the spring are popular places to visit. Furthermore, most visitors come to San Francisco for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months.

Arlington is around the same temperature as San Francisco in the spring. The daily temperature in Arlington averages around 56°F (14°C) in April, and San Francisco fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).

Arlington usually gets more rain in April than San Francisco. Arlington gets 2.8 inches (72 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Arlington 56°F (14°C) 
    San Francisco 58°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for San Francisco and Arlington

Arlington San Francisco
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 35°F (1°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 37°F (3°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 47°F (8°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 56°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 66°F (19°C) 3.5 inches (89 mm) 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 75°F (24°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 71°F (22°C) 3.3 inches (85 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 60°F (15°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 50°F (10°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 39°F (4°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)