A Travel Price Comparison for California Berkeley vs. Santa Monica for Families, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Berkeley or Santa Monica?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Berkeley or Santa Monica, 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.

Berkeley

Berkeley is a progressive, diverse, and quirky city. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a active, lively, and funfilled town. Other popular activities here include museums, nightlife, and food.

Berkeley and Santa Monica: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to the Santa Monica Pier


Is there more to do in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Santa Monica. Although Berkeley and Santa Monica are both popular with visitors, Santa Monica has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Santa Monica is more popular for its beaches, while Berkeley is known for its museums and impressive beauty. Santa Monica is more touristy than Berkeley and is known for its active lifestyle and fun-filled activities. It is also home to the Santa Monica Pier. Berkeley is popular for its progressive and liberal mindset as well as its farmer's markets and local boutiques.

How is Berkeley different from Santa Monica?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Berkeley is notable for its sights and museums. Also, Santa Monica is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its museums and history.

Berkeley offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There are a wide range of museums around town, many of which are affiliated with the university. There are natural history museums, art museums, cultural museums, as well as historical and science museums.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Santa Monica. There's a thriving arts scene and a number of museums around town. Check out the Museum of Flying, the California Heritage Museum, or the Santa Monica History Museum.


Is the Food Better in Berkeley or Santa Monica? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at very good restaurants in both Berkeley and Santa Monica.

Dining out in Berkeley is an experience not to be missed. There's a huge diversity of restaurants that range from international to California flavors. There are also eateries that cater to the student population, as well as fine dining and everything in between. You'll also find many farmer's markets, vegan options, and restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Santa Monica. You'll find a diversity of restaurants in the area, many of which make use of the town's many farmer's markets. The restaurant scene has a beachy vibe with a lot of outdoor dining opportunities. There are also a range of cuisines to choose from such as Mexican, Italian, casual, and upscale.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Nightlife?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Evening events are very good in both Berkeley and Santa Monica.

Berkeley has plenty to do after the sun goes down. With its large student population, you'll find no shortage of nightlife activities around town. There are bars and pubs as well as live music venues and plenty of unique experiences.

Santa Monica has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. There's a relaxed and laid back vibe to the nightlife scene. Many venues offer outdoor seating and live music in a casual setting. You can hang out on a patio and enjoy the California climate while you sip cold drinks and the beach town atmosphere.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Beaches?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is renowned for the beach. However, Berkeley is not a beach destination.

The beaches in Santa Monica are among the best in the world. Santa Monica Beach is large and lined with bike trails. It's also filled with activity and you'll find many water sports, beach volleyball, and surfing in the area. There's also the famous Santa Monica Pier, which has an amusement park aquarium, Ferris wheal, dining, and shopping.

Berkeley is not a beach destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Both Berkeley and Santa Monica are very good shopping destinations.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Berkeley. Quirky and local is what shopping in Berkeley is all about. There are also plenty of thrift stores and farmer's markets. Head to Fourth Street or Telegraph Avenue for some of the most interesting shopping opportunities.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Santa Monica. It's easy to pass the time shopping in Santa Monica. There are independent vendors, fashion boutiques, and art galleries. Head to Montana Avenue or Main Street for some of the best shopping.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Families?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Berkeley is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Santa Monica is an amazing family-friendly town to visit. Many families spend their days hanging out on the beaches, soaking up the sun, and even trying to surf. There's a boardwalk as well as bike paths that are perfect for people watching. You should also check out the Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, which is a thrilling amusement park.

Berkeley is a family-friendly city. There are many outdoor places to explore with kids like Tilden Park or UC Botanical Garden. There are also science museums, nature centers, and plenty of kid-friendly restaurants.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Couples?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is notable for couples. Also, Berkeley is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

Santa Monica is a very popular place to visit for couples. Fun days on the beach, peaceful walks at sunset, and a wild nightlife scene make this the perfect couples destination for couples who enjoy activity and excitement.

Berkeley is a nice destination for couples. There's a wonderful mix of cultural activities and outdoor parks that you can explore. There's the Berkeley Rose Garden, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and many charming restaurants.


Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Berkeley is notable for backpackers. Also, Santa Monica is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Berkeley is a great city to visit for backpackers. With its eclectic and alternative vibe, backpackers will find their place in this city. There's also a huge student population and a couple of hostels in the area.

Santa Monica is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There's no shortage of activities in the area, whether you're into surfing, partying, or sunbathing. There's also at least one hostel that's great for budget travelers and backpackers.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Students?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Berkeley is notable for students. However, Santa Monica is not popular with students.

Berkeley is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. University of California, Berkeley is a well reviewed university that attracts a progressive and motivated student population. The city is an expensive, but very rewarding place to study with many activities and opportunities for students.

Santa Monica is not popular with students.

Is Berkeley or Santa Monica Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Berkeley is an amazing city to visit for its public transit. However, Santa Monica does not have public transit.

Public transit in Berkeley is top-notch. It's located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it has access to buses and several BART stations.

Santa Monica does not have public transit. The Metro E Line connects the city to downtown Los Angeles. There's also the Big Blue Bus as well the Santa Monica Circuit, which are small electric carts that offer free rides between Wilshire Boulevard and Marine Street, and from the ocean to Fifth Street.


Is Berkeley or Santa Monica a more walkable city?

Berkeley
Santa Monica

Berkeley is an amazing city to visit for its high level of walkability. Also, Santa Monica is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its ease of walking around.

It is easy to get around Berkeley on foot. Most of Berkeley is very walkable, particularly the parts around the university.

Santa Monica is a very walkable destination. The city is very walkable, particularly in the more touristy areas.

For even more information, also check out Is Berkeley Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Monica Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Monica or Berkeley?

How long in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Berkeley and Santa Monica. In our opinion, Berkeley has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Berkeley than Santa Monica. In general, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Berkeley, and 1-3 days is enough time in Santa Monica.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Berkeley than Santa Monica 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 Berkeley.


  • How many days in Berkeley or Santa Monica? Ideal Length of Stay
    Berkeley 2-3 
    Santa Monica 1-3

One day in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

In Berkeley, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this progressive city offers. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

The town of Santa Monica offers food and shopping. Most people come for the beaches. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Berkeley is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Santa Monica is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Santa Monica, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the progressive destination of Berkeley. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Santa Monica is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Berkeley is a popular place to visit. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Santa Monica is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. It's also a great beach destination, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This town offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America, and The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Monica or Berkeley?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Berkeley is $190, while the average daily cost in Santa Monica is $210. 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 Berkeley and Santa Monica in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Berkeley $131
    Santa Monica $123
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Berkeley $262
    Santa Monica $246
Compare Hotels in Berkeley and Santa Monica

Looking for a hotel in Berkeley or Santa Monica? 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 Berkeley


Hotels in Santa Monica


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: Berkeley Hotel Prices and Santa Monica Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    Santa Monica $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Berkeley

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Berkeley:

  • Oakland hotel or address to Oakland Airport (OAK) - Departure Private Transfer: $43
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland hotel or address - Private Arrival Transfer: $44
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco hotel/address - Private Arrival Transfer: $63
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK: $81
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland hotel or address - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $87
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland: $93
  • Private Departure Transfer to Oakland Airport OAK: $97
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco - Round-Trip Private Car Transfer: $126
  • Private Transfer: Oakland International Airport to Hotel: $200
  • Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK to San Francisco by SUV: $232

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Monica

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Monica:

  • Santa Monica to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $67
  • Santa Monica to Los Angeles Airport Departure Private Transfer: $74

Is it cheaper to fly into Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Prices for flights to both Santa Monica and Berkeley 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
    Berkeley $36
    Santa Monica $52
Typical Food Prices in Berkeley

Some typical examples of dining costs in Berkeley are as follows:


  • Chocolates at Sweet Dreams
    $4.46

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Berkeley

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

  • North 3-Hour Food Tour: $116
  • Best of North Berkeley Food Tour: $130
  • Black Food Tour - Downtown Oakland: $140

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Monica

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

  • Flavors of Venice Beach Food Tour: $96
  • Marina del Rey Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner Cruise: $175
  • Marina del Rey Christmas Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $175
  • Los Angeles Premier Dinner Cruise from Marina del Rey: $178
  • Marina del Rey Father's Day Plated Dinner Cruise: $222

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    Santa Monica $38

Tours and Activities in Berkeley

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Berkeley are as follows:

  • Ruth Bancroft Garden General Admission Ticket: $12
  • Comedy Oakland at The Washington Inn Show Tickets: $20
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Berkeley by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • 2 Hours Private Walking Tour in Berkeley: $20
  • Self-Guided Oakland Tour in an Urban Excursion: $20
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Antioch by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Oakland Athletics Baseball Game Ticket at RingCentral Coliseum: $26
  • Redwoods of Marin and Mt. Tamalpais Walking Tour with Local Guide: $59
  • Historic Houseboat Tour: $65
  • Classic Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour: $135

Tours and Activities in Santa Monica

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Santa Monica are as follows:

  • Explore Malibu's Coast: PCH & Beyond - Self Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • LA & Self-Guided Aerospace Legacy Audio Tour: $15
  • Santa Monica Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $22
  • Santa Monica Ghosts Haunted Ghost Tour on the Pier: $30
  • Santa Monica Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Santa Monica Downtown Walking Tour: $40
  • Santa Monica Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $44
  • Virtual Reality Escape Room Experience: $45
  • Los Angeles: Latin Dance Club Crawl Experience: $65
  • Sights and Sips Cruise Tour in Marina del Rey: $69
  • LA: Santa Monica & Venice Beach Guided Bike or eBike Tour: $72
  • 3-Hour Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Guided Tour : $72

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Berkeley $13
    Santa Monica $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Berkeley

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

  • Guided Wine Tasting at Berkeley Wineries with Local Sommelière : $175
  • Guided Wine Tasting with Local Sommelière: $175

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Monica

Also in Santa Monica, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Private Vintage VW Hippie Tour to Malibu with wine tasting: $195


When comparing the travel costs between Berkeley and Santa Monica, we can see that Santa Monica is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, Berkeley or Santa Monica?

Berkeley has a larger population, and is about 13% larger than the population of Santa Monica. When comparing the sizes of Berkeley and Santa Monica, 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 Berkeley or Santa Monica?

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 Berkeley or Santa Monica in the Summer?

Both Santa Monica and Berkeley are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Berkeley in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Santa Monica for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Berkeley is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Daily temperatures in Berkeley average around 63°F (17°C), and Santa Monica fluctuates around 70°F (21°C).

In July, Berkeley usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Berkeley gets 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0 inches (0 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Berkeley 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 70°F (21°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Santa Monica in the Autumn?

Both Santa Monica and Berkeley during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Berkeley for the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Santa Monica because of the shopping scene.

Berkeley is cooler than Santa Monica in the autumn. The daily temperature in Berkeley averages around 63°F (17°C) in October, and Santa Monica fluctuates around 67°F (20°C).

Berkeley usually gets more rain in October than Santa Monica. Berkeley gets 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (6 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Berkeley 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 67°F (20°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Santa Monica in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Berkeley and Santa Monica. The winter months attract visitors to Berkeley because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Santa Monica this time of year.

In the winter, Berkeley is cooler than Santa Monica. Typically, the winter temperatures in Berkeley in January average around 50°F (10°C), and Santa Monica averages at about 57°F (14°C).

In January, Berkeley usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Berkeley gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Berkeley 50°F (10°C) 
    Santa Monica 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Berkeley or Santa Monica in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Berkeley as well as Santa Monica. The natural beauty are the main draw to Berkeley this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Santa Monica for the beaches.

In April, Berkeley is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Daily temperatures in Berkeley average around 58°F (14°C), and Santa Monica fluctuates around 61°F (16°C).

Berkeley usually gets more rain in April than Santa Monica. Berkeley gets 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Berkeley 58°F (14°C) 
    Santa Monica 61°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Monica and Berkeley

Berkeley Santa Monica
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 57°F (14°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm)
Feb 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.4 inches (10 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm) 61°F (16°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
May 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Sep 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm) 67°F (20°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Nov 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Dec 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 58°F (14°C) 0.6 inches (15 mm)