A Travel Price Comparison for California Berkeley vs. South Lake Tahoe for Nightlife, Families, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe, 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.

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a idyllic, scenic, and breathtaking town. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include shopping, skiing, and nightlife.

Berkeley and South Lake Tahoe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Tourists will generally find more to do in South Lake Tahoe. Although Berkeley and South Lake Tahoe are both popular with visitors, South Lake Tahoe has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. South Lake Tahoe is more popular for its skiing, nightlife, resorts, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Berkeley is known for its museums, food, and shopping. Berkeley is popular for its progressive and liberal mindset as well as its farmer's markets and local boutiques. South Lake Tahoe is popular for its casino resorts, ski resorts, and beautiful setting. It is also home to the Heavenly Gondola.

How is Berkeley different from South Lake Tahoe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Skiing?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is notable for snow skiing. However, Berkeley is not a skiing destination.

South Lake Tahoe is a well-known ski destination which attracts visitors from far and wide. There are three ski resorts in the area. Heavenly Mountain Resort is the largest, but if you're looking for something smaller, head to Kirkwood, which is tucked away and less well known. There's also Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, which is popular with groups and families because it caters to a range of skill levels.

Berkeley is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, South Lake Tahoe is not a good town for its museums and history.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Berkeley can be an interesting and educational experience. 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.

While most people don't head to South Lake Tahoe specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Most people spend their time exploring the area's nature, but you can also stop by Tallac Historic Site or the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum.

Is the Food Better in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, South Lake Tahoe is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Berkeley. 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.

South Lake Tahoe is becoming an appealing option for foodies. While most resorts have their own restaurants, there are a number of options around town that specialize in "alpine comfort cuisine", which is worth sampling. You'll also find plenty of cafes that serve up a hearty breakfast - the perfect way to start an active day.

Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Nightlife?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is renowned for its evening party scene. Also, Berkeley is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for nightlife.

South Lake Tahoe is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. The resort town has plenty of nightclubs, bars, and music venues. There are outdoor options when the weather is warm as well as indoor settings for cooler weather. You'll also find casinos and live shows.

Berkeley has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.


Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Resorts?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is notable for its resorts. However, Berkeley is not a resort destination.

South Lake Tahoe is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. It's a resort town, so there are plenty of options to choose from, many with pools, spas, or casinos.

Berkeley is not a resort destination.

Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Hiking?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is renowned for the nearby hiking options. However, Berkeley is not a hiking destination.

Known for its hiking, South Lake Tahoe draws a crowd to experience the nature and the trails. There are miles of beautiful hikes in the area that follow the lake's shore or explore the diverse terrain. Skyline Trail Hike is a favorite. It is accessible by lift and offers spectacular views. For a relaxing stroll check out Fallen Leaf Lake Hike.

Berkeley is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, South Lake Tahoe is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its shopping areas.

Berkeley is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. 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.

South Lake Tahoe has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Most of the shopping involves retailers selling ski gear or outdoor equipment. There are also clothing shops, gift stores, and some art galleries.


Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Families?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe 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.

South Lake Tahoe is an amazing family-friendly town to visit. Kids will love the outdoor adventures that the area is filled with. There are gondolas, lakefront beaches, adventure parks, and tubing. There are also miles of hiking trails and a beautiful setting that even the young ones will appreciate.

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 South Lake Tahoe Better for Couples?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is renowned for couples. Also, Berkeley is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

South Lake Tahoe has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. It's beautiful setting and wide variety of adventurous activities make this the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. The lake has hidden coves and nearby hiking trails. There are also hot springs, gondolas, and carriage rides. You can go hiking when the weather is warm or skiing when the weather is cold.

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 South Lake Tahoe Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is a well-known place for backpackers. Also, South Lake Tahoe 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.

South Lake Tahoe is a good city to visit for backpackers. There are a couple of hostels in the area and the skiing and hiking attracts the backpacker crowd.


Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Students?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is a well-known place for students. However, South Lake Tahoe is not popular with students.

Berkeley is a great city to visit as a student. 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.

South Lake Tahoe is not popular with students.

Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is an amazing city to visit for its public transit. However, South Lake Tahoe is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

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.

Public transit is mostly limited in South Lake Tahoe. While there are some shuttles and buses, if you really want to explore the area, you'll need your own car.

Is Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe a more walkable city?

Berkeley
South Lake Tahoe

Berkeley is an amazing city to visit for its high level of walkability. Also, South Lake Tahoe 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.

South Lake Tahoe is a very walkable destination. Once you get to town, the area is very walkable.


For even more information, also check out Is Berkeley Worth Visiting? and Is South Lake Tahoe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in South Lake Tahoe or Berkeley?

How long in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

In either Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in South Lake Tahoe than Berkeley because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Berkeley, and 3-5 days is enough time in South Lake Tahoe.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Berkeley than South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Berkeley 2-3 
    South Lake Tahoe 3-5

One day in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

You'll find food and shopping around the diverse destination of Berkeley. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

The beautiful town of South Lake Tahoe offers nightlife and food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

You'll find shopping and museums around the progressive city of Berkeley. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities.

South Lake Tahoe is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Berkeley is a popular choice for travelers. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

South Lake Tahoe is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in South Lake Tahoe, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A week in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Berkeley is a great place to explore. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

South Lake Tahoe is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, 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, South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe is $118. 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 South Lake Tahoe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Berkeley $131
    South Lake Tahoe $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Berkeley $262
    South Lake Tahoe $108
Compare Hotels in Berkeley and South Lake Tahoe

Looking for a hotel in Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe? 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 South Lake Tahoe


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 South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    South Lake Tahoe $24

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Berkeley

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Berkeley:

  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco hotel/address - Private Arrival Transfer: $64
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK: $81
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland hotel or address - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $89
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport (OAK) to Oakland: $93
  • Oakland Airport (OAK) to San Francisco - Round-Trip Private Car Transfer: $129
  • Private Transfer: Oakland International Airport to Hotel: $200
  • Arrival Transfer from Oakland Airport OAK to San Francisco by SUV: $232

Is it cheaper to fly into Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Prices for flights to both South Lake Tahoe 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
    South Lake Tahoe $38
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.

  • Best of North Berkeley Food Tour: $130
  • Black Food Tour - Downtown Oakland: $130

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Berkeley $30
    South Lake Tahoe $56

Tours and Activities in Berkeley

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

  • Oakland Athletics Baseball Game Ticket at RingCentral Coliseum: $11
  • Ruth Bancroft Garden General Admission Ticket: $12
  • 2 Hours Private Walking Tour in Berkeley: $20
  • Self-Guided Oakland Tour in an Urban Excursion: $20
  • Comedy Oakland at The Washington Inn Show Tickets: $20
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Berkeley by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Antioch by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Redwoods of Marin and Mt. Tamalpais Walking Tour with Local Guide: $59
  • Historic Houseboat Tour: $65
  • Oakland's Temescal Tastes Tour: $120
  • Classic Sausalito Wooden Boat Tour: $135

Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:

  • Self-Guided Driving Tour from Lake Tahoe to Virginia City: $12
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour From Incline Village to South Lake Tahoe: $12
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City: $12
  • Ultimate Lake Tahoe Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Full Day Self-Guided Bike Tour of Lake Tahoe: $69
  • Guided Tour of Historic Virginia City and Carson City from South Lake Tahoe: $70
  • Sunset Kayak Experience in Lake Tahoe: $75
  • Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley: $80
  • Kayak Tour of Historic Lake Tahoe West Shore: $80
  • Tahoe National Forest Moonlight Snowshoe Tour Under a Starry Sky: $90
  • Self Guided E-Bike Tour on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore Bike Path: $100
  • Tahoe Coastal Self-Guided E-Bike Tour - Half-Day | World Famous East Shore Trail: $109

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Berkeley $13
    South Lake Tahoe $34

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


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

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


Which is Bigger, Berkeley or South Lake Tahoe?

Berkeley has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of South Lake Tahoe. When comparing the sizes of Berkeley and South Lake Tahoe, 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.