A Travel Price Comparison for California Carmel-by-the-Sea vs. Pasadena for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Couples

Should you visit Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint, charming, and picturesque town. Because it offers so much small town charm with a variety of activities, it attracts plenty of visitors for a good reason. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include food, beaches, and shopping.

Pasadena

Pasadena is a quaint, charming, and picturesque city. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and shopping.

Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular beach
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Pebble Beach Golf Course
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Although Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena are popular destinations, Carmel-by-the-Sea has more sights and attractions for tourists. Carmel-by-the-Sea is very popular for its beaches, small town charm, and impressive beauty, while Pasadena attracts visitors for its museums and nightlife. Carmel-by-the-Sea is more touristy than Pasadena and is known for its storybook architecture, its opulent setting, and its popularity with golf enthusiasts. It is also well known for Pebble Beach Golf Course. Pasadena is famous for being the home of the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl.

How is Carmel-by-the-Sea different from Pasadena?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Pasadena and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Pasadena is a well-known place for its sights and museums. Also, Carmel-by-the-Sea is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its museums and history.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Pasadena. There's a good number of museums around town that include kids' museums, art museums, and local museums. Popular museums include the USC Pacific Asia Museum, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Pasadena Museum of History. Many people also enjoy touring the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. The Carmel Mission is a beautiful and fascinating Spanish mission that dates back to 1770. It's also well worth visiting the nearby Pebble Beach Golf Course. There are also a few fairytale style cottages in the area with some of the most notable being the Hansel cottage, the Gretel cottage, and the Tuck Box cottage.


Is the Food Better in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at very good restaurants in both Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena.

Dining out in Carmel-by-the-Sea is an experience not to be missed. For such a small town there is a huge number of bistros and local cafes. Seafood is popular, but you'll also find international restaurants and more casual eateries.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Pasadena. Local restaurants feature southern California cuisine as well as international flavors. Dishes often use local ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. Restaurants range from casual to fine dining and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena Better for Nightlife?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Pasadena is a well-known place for its evening party scene. However, Carmel-by-the-Sea is not a good town for nightlife.

Pasadena offers plenty to do in the evening. Much of the nightlife scene is concentrated around Old Pasadena. You'll find clubs, bars, and lounges that begin the evening with Happy Hours and then become more party-focused as the evening progresses.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's not a late night town, but there are a couple of bars and some decent Happy Hours around town.

Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena Better for Beaches?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Carmel-by-the-Sea is notable for the beach. However, Pasadena is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Carmel-by-the-Sea for it's beautiful beaches. It's easy to walk to the beach from the village center. Just head down Ocean Avenue and you'll be at a beautiful beach with great scenery, surfing, and fun activities.

Pasadena is not a beach destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Both Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena are very good shopping destinations.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's easy to walk around the heart of town and pop in the many shops and galleries. The highest concentration of shops is found around the Carmel Plaza which has upscale brands as well as local items.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Pasadena. Old Pasadena is where you'll find some of the best shopping. It's filled with a charming atmosphere and interesting boutiques.

Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena Better for Families?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Pasadena is a city with good options for its family-friendly activities. However, Carmel-by-the-Sea is not a good town for its kid-friendly activities.

Pasadena is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a number of kid-friendly museums around town including Kidspace Children's Museum. There are also nature centers, playgrounds, and plenty of family-friendly restaurants.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is not always a place people visit with their families. Carmel is a good place to let the kids stretch their legs. There are also some good kid-friendly walks in the area.

Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena Better for Couples?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Carmel-by-the-Sea is notable for couples. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a very popular place to visit for couples. It's a charming town with a beautiful coastline and plenty of cute hotels that makes for a great romantic getaway. There's wonderful shopping and many great restaurants where you can enjoy a local meal.

Pasadena is a nice destination for couples. It's a charming town with a bit of a European vibe and plenty of outdoor activities. Fine dining and interesting shopping make this a nice weekend destination.


Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Pasadena is a city with good options for its public transit. However, Carmel-by-the-Sea is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Pasadena has a few public transit options. Buses and light rail offer local transit and connect the city to nearby Los Angeles.

Public transit is mostly limited in Carmel-by-the-Sea. There are a couple of buses, but you can't really depend on them to get around.

Is Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena a more walkable city?

Carmel-by-the-Sea
Pasadena

Carmel-by-the-Sea is notable for its ease of walking around. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its walkability.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a very walkable destination. The village center is very walkable so it's easy to park you car and shop or walk to the beach.

Pasadena is somewhat walkable. Most people head to Old Pasadena, which is the most concentrated and walkable part of the city.

For even more information, also check out Is Carmel-by-the-Sea Worth Visiting? and Is Pasadena Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Pasadena or Carmel-by-the-Sea?

How long in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena. In our opinion, Pasadena has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Pasadena than Carmel-by-the-Sea. However, 1-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

Couples should spend more time in Carmel-by-the-Sea than Pasadena. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Carmel-by-the-Sea that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Pasadena than Carmel-by-the-Sea 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 Pasadena.


  • How many days in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena? Ideal Length of Stay
    Carmel-by-the-Sea 1-3 
    Pasadena 1-3

One day in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small town where visitors enjoy the 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.

With shopping and museums around the destination of Pasadena, there's plenty to do. One day is often enough time to do most activities. It offers something for everyone.


A weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea 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 Carmel-by-the-Sea, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

With museums and nightlife around the quaint city of Pasadena, there's plenty to do. Your budget might influence how long you stay. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here.

Five days in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a popular choice for travelers. 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.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the quaint destination of Pasadena. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

A week in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a great place to explore. 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.

Pasadena is a popular choice for travelers. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Pasadena or Carmel-by-the-Sea?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Carmel-by-the-Sea is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Pasadena is $62. 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 Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Carmel-by-the-Sea -
    Pasadena $25
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Carmel-by-the-Sea $0.00
    Pasadena $50
Compare Hotels in Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena

Looking for a hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena? 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 Carmel-by-the-Sea


Hotels in Pasadena


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: Carmel-by-the-Sea Hotel Prices and Pasadena Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Carmel-by-the-Sea $125
    Pasadena $21

Is it cheaper to fly into Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Prices for flights to both Pasadena and Carmel-by-the-Sea 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
    Carmel-by-the-Sea $153
    Pasadena $19

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

  • Thai Cooking Class in Monterey: $99

Typical Food Prices in Pasadena

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


  • Casual Dinner Out (family of 4)
    $58

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Carmel-by-the-Sea -
    Pasadena -

Tours and Activities in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Carmel-by-the-Sea are as follows:

  • Fairy Tale Houses Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea's Fairytale Houses: A Self-Guided Walking Tour: $7.99
  • Historic Cannery Row: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of John Steinbeck's Monterey: $7.99
  • Downtown A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Bohemian Art Scene: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Smartphone Audio Driving Tour between San Francisco & Monterey: $7.99
  • Off the Beaten Path in A Self-Guided Tour: $7.99
  • Driving the California Coast: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.99
  • 17 Mile Drive: A Self-Guide Audio Tour of Pebble Beach’s Historical Highlights: $9.99
  • Scenic 17-Mile Drive Tour - Self Drive Audio Guide from Monterey & Carmel: $15
  • Coastal 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour (Monterey & Carmel): $15
  • Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour in Big Sur PCH Highway 1: $15

Tours and Activities in Pasadena

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

  • Haunted Walking Tour: $33
  • Old Pasadena Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $49
  • LA: East Side Guided Film Locations Tour: $350

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Carmel-by-the-Sea -
    Pasadena -

Sample the Local Flavors in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Carmel-by-the-Sea:

  • Wine Tasting and Walking Tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea: $149
  • Wine Tasting and Walking Tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea: $149
  • Wine Tours in a Vintage VW Bus: $185
  • Monterey: Wine tour in a 1970 VW bus.: $185


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

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Carmel-by-the-Sea Expensive? and Is Pasadena Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

Pasadena has a larger population, and is about 40 times larger than the population of Carmel-by-the-Sea. When comparing the sizes of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena, 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 Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena?

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 Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena in the Summer?

Both Pasadena and Carmel-by-the-Sea are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The beaches, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Carmel-by-the-Sea this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Pasadena for the family-friendly experiences.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is cooler than Pasadena in the summer. The daily temperature in Carmel-by-the-Sea averages around 63°F (17°C) in July, and Pasadena fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

In July, Carmel-by-the-Sea usually receives more rain than Pasadena. Carmel-by-the-Sea gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Pasadena receives 0 inches (0 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Carmel-by-the-Sea 63°F (17°C) 
    Pasadena 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena in the Autumn?

Both Pasadena and Carmel-by-the-Sea during the autumn are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Carmel-by-the-Sea for the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, many visitors come to Pasadena in the autumn for the shopping scene.

In the autumn, Carmel-by-the-Sea is cooler than Pasadena. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Carmel-by-the-Sea in October average around 62°F (17°C), and Pasadena averages at about 68°F (20°C).

Carmel-by-the-Sea usually gets more rain in October than Pasadena. Carmel-by-the-Sea gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while Pasadena receives 0.3 inches (7 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Carmel-by-the-Sea 62°F (17°C) 
    Pasadena 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pasadena. Many visitors come to Carmel-by-the-Sea in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, most visitors come to Pasadena for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

In January, Carmel-by-the-Sea is generally cooler than Pasadena. Daily temperatures in Carmel-by-the-Sea average around 51°F (11°C), and Pasadena fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

In January, Carmel-by-the-Sea usually receives around the same amount of rain as Pasadena. Carmel-by-the-Sea gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Pasadena receives 2.5 inches (63 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Carmel-by-the-Sea 51°F (11°C) 
    Pasadena 56°F (13°C)

Should I visit Carmel-by-the-Sea or Pasadena in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Carmel-by-the-Sea as well as Pasadena. Most visitors come to Carmel-by-the-Sea for the beaches, the small town charm, and the natural beauty during these months.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is cooler than Pasadena in the spring. The daily temperature in Carmel-by-the-Sea averages around 56°F (13°C) in April, and Pasadena fluctuates around 62°F (17°C).

Carmel-by-the-Sea usually gets more rain in April than Pasadena. Carmel-by-the-Sea gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while Pasadena receives 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Carmel-by-the-Sea 56°F (13°C) 
    Pasadena 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Pasadena and Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea Pasadena
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 56°F (13°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 58°F (14°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 59°F (15°C) 2 inches (50 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 65°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 69°F (20°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 74°F (24°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 62°F (16°C) 1.6 inches (42 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.7 inches (43 mm)