Should you visit Big Sur or Sonoma?
Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Big Sur and Sonoma can help you decide which place is right for you.
Big Sur is the 90-mile stretch of the California Central Coast which runs from the Carmel River in Monterey County south to San Carpoforo Creek in San Luis Obispo County and 20 miles east into the Santa Lucius Foothills.
However you look at it, California's Central Coast is beautiful and undoubtedly a huge tourist trap. If you're not willing to fork over big bucks for overnight stays on coastal hotels, be prepared ahead of time with your camping gear and get ready to go off the beaten track to avoid crowds as best you can and save your wallet.
While the weather in Central Coast is overall, mild and temperate, between 50 and 70 degrees year-round. The highs and lows during the year are in August and January, respectively, with dry summers and wet winters, making April through October the best times to visit but be warned: there will be crowds.
When people say Sonoma, they are often referring to the region's wine country, but in fact, Sonoma is a county, a valley, and a town. The county covers 1,768 square miles and is more spread out than nearby Napa. There are more than 30 cities and towns in the county and 425 wineries with tasting rooms. The county also borders the Pacific Ocean, and the beautiful 55 mile stretch of coastline is rugged and dramatic.
Which city is cheaper, Sonoma or Big Sur?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Big Sur is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Sonoma is $176. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Big Sur and Sonoma in more detail.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $264 in Big Sur For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
Travelers usually pay around $148 for a double occupancy room in Sonoma If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.
Food in Sonoma costs travelers about $45 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.
Meals for one day
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sonoma
For Sonoma, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Wine Country Food Tours. Sightseeing to various local artisanal food producers:
Sonoma's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $107 per person, per day on transportation in Sonoma.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sonoma
Also for Sonoma, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private transfer from SFO to Sonoma:
Private transfer from Sonoma to SFO:
Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or Sonoma?
Prices for flights to both Sonoma and Big Sur 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.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Sonoma can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $13 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Sonoma
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Sonoma.
#1 Private Walking Food, Wine & History Tour:
6 Hour Private Wine Sonoma Tours Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passengers Van:
All-Inclusive Sonoma Wine and Picnic Tour:
Behind-the-Scenes Food and Wine E-Bike or Regular Bike Tour:
Pt. Reyes Food and Farm Tour with Lunch:
Rides by me, Sonoma Sidecar Wine-Tasting tours:
Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley:
Sonoma County Wine Segway Tour:
Sonoma Food and Wine Private Group Tour:
Sonoma Valley Full-Day Pedal Assist Bike Tour with Lunch - (Reg. Bike Optional):
Sonoma Valley Wine Buyer's Picnic Tour:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Sonoma, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $33.
Sample the Local Flavors in Sonoma
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Sonoma:
2-Hour Private Guided E-Trike Wine Tour at Sonoma:
Sonoma County Wine Tasting Tour:
#1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour:
All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch:
Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge:
6 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine:
8-Hour Private Wine Tour Experience for up to 6 Guests - San Francisco to Sonoma:
8 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Big Sur and Sonoma, we can see that Sonoma is more expensive. And not only is Big Sur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Big Sur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Big Sur 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 Sonoma would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sonoma than you might in Big Sur.
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