A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Charlotte vs. Santa Fe for Food, Attractions, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Charlotte or Santa Fe?

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

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 Charlotte and Santa Fe can help you decide which place is right for you.

Charlotte

Charlotte is a evolving, up-and-coming, and growing city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a charming, artsy, and cultural historic town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the museums, skiing, and live music.

Charlotte and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Santa Fe than Charlotte. While Charlotte is larger than Santa Fe, Santa Fe has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Santa Fe is very popular for its skiing, food, music, historical sights, hiking, shopping, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Charlotte attracts visitors for its nightlife and big city activities. Santa Fe is more touristy than Charlotte and is known for its strong arts scene, its Pueblo-style architecture, and its unique local cuisine. It is also well known for The Museum of New Mexico Complex. Charlotte is famous for its banking industry and growing Uptown area.

How is Charlotte different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Skiing?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is very good for skiing. However, Charlotte is not a skiing destination.

Head to Santa Fe for some great skiing and other winter activities. There are a few good ski resorts not far from Santa Fe. Popular options include Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort.

Charlotte is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

You'll find a number of nice museums and attractions in both Santa Fe and Charlotte.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Charlotte. The Mint Museum is a popular place to visit, as is the Gantt Center for African American Arts. Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and sports enthusiasts will enjoy a stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Santa Fe is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Is the Food Better in Charlotte or Santa Fe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Santa Fe has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There are many local restaurants that use regional ingredients and offer great flavors. There are also cafes and bistros where you can enjoy breakfast or brunch. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chili peppers.

Charlotte offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. The food scene continues to grow and change around town. You'll find the latest trendy restaurant changes regularly, but dishes often include upscale southern faire or classic American. There are also many international restaurants, particularly Mexican, Thai, and Chinese.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Charlotte is very good for its evening party scene. However, Santa Fe is not known for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Charlotte has a few options to choose from. Head Uptown for some of the best nightlife. The city has many bars and clubs that keep things fun late into the night.

Most people don't head to Santa Fe specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night. Live music is popular and diverse. It often includes different genres such as the blues, country, salsa or bluegrass.


Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is very good for its music scene. However, Charlotte is not a live music destination.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in Santa Fe. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Charlotte is not a live music destination.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for its Old Town?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is great for its historic old town charm. However, Charlotte does not have a historic old town.

There is a nice variety of sights in the old town of Santa Fe. As the 2nd oldest city in the United States, the old town historic district is filled with charm. The Pueblo-style buildings are brightly colored and there are churches throughout.

Charlotte does not have a historic old town.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Hiking?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is very good for hiking. However, Charlotte is not a hiking destination.

Many people include a hike when visiting Santa Fe. Because it's located right by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there are many beautiful hikes right outside of town. Popular trails include the Picacho Peak Trail and the Nambe Lake Trail. Bandelier National also has many places to hike.

Charlotte is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is great for its shopping areas. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Santa Fe. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.

Charlotte is a great destination for shopping. Shopping malls such as SouthPark Mall or Carolina Place offer all of the standard retailers. Concord Mills is another favorite mall in the area. Aside from the malls, there is no shortage of shopping centers around town.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

You'll find nice kid-friendly activities in either Charlotte or Santa Fe.

Charlotte offers lots of family activities. There are a number of museums for kids, with one of the best being Discovery Place. It has many hands-on science based exhibits that kids will love. Another unique experience is a visit to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Carowinds Amusement Park is also in the area as are many great parks, playgrounds, and natural areas.

Santa Fe is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Both Charlotte and Santa Fe are nice destinations to visit as a couple.

Charlotte is a good city for couples to visit. There are a number of date night activities around town, particularly Uptown. You can see a show or concert at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center or hit up one of the trendy bars or restaurants. There are also sporting events and other festivals that are fun to experience.

Santa Fe is a nice destination for couples. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.


Is Charlotte or Santa Fe Better for Students?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

For students, both Charlotte and Santa Fe are nice places to visit.

It's common for students to visit Charlotte. There are a number of smaller colleges in town, but the biggest university is the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Santa Fe is a good city to visit for students. There are a few colleges and universities in town and students will appreciate the reasonable cost of living and outdoor activities nearby.

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

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Charlotte is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Santa Fe is not known for its public transit.

While Charlotte offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a light rail system as well as buses that travel around town.

Public transit is generally limited in Santa Fe. There is a bus system - the Santa Fe Trails Bus Service.

Is Charlotte or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Charlotte
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is great for its ease of walking around. Also, Charlotte is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its walkability.

Santa Fe is a very walkable destination. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

Charlotte is somewhat walkable. The Uptown area is the most walkable part of the city.


For even more information, also check out Is Charlotte Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Fe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Charlotte?

How long in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

In either Charlotte or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Santa Fe than Charlotte because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Charlotte, and 2-5 days is enough time in Santa Fe.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Santa Fe than Charlotte 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 Santa Fe.


  • How many days in Charlotte or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Charlotte 1-3 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

The city of Charlotte offers food and shopping. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

You'll find skiing and live music around the historic town of Santa Fe. Visiting the old town is also a must. 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 Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Charlotte, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

You'll find live music and food around the artsy destination of Santa Fe. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this historic town has to offer. This historic town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte 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.

You'll find food and shopping around the historic historic town of Santa Fe. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this historic town makes for a great vacation. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this historic town has to offer.


A week in Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

Santa Fe is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. One week 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. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


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


Which place is cheaper, Santa Fe or Charlotte?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Charlotte is $191, while the average daily cost in Santa Fe is $159. 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 Charlotte and Santa Fe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Charlotte $118
    Santa Fe $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Charlotte $236
    Santa Fe $162
Compare Hotels in Charlotte and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Charlotte or Santa Fe? 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 Charlotte


Hotels in Santa Fe


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: Charlotte Hotel Prices and Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Charlotte $33
    Santa Fe $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Charlotte

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

  • Charlotte Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Sedan: $150
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT) to Charlotte City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $137
  • Arrival Transfer: Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT to Charlotte in Business Car: $134
  • Departure Transfer: Charlotte to Charlotte Douglas Airport CLT in Business Car: $134
  • Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT): 1-Way Transfer to Charlotte: $99
  • Private Departure Transfer to Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT): $54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

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

  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62

Is it cheaper to fly into Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe and Charlotte 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
    Charlotte $46
    Santa Fe $43
Typical Food Prices in Charlotte

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Charlotte:


  • Pizza at Airport
    $4.03
  • Cracker Barrel Lunch (family of 4)
    $29

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Fe

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

  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $184
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market & Railyard Food Tour: $184
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Railyard Arts District: $189
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Downtown Plaza 'Sip & Savor': $209
  • Downtown Plaza "Sip and Savor" Half-day Food Tour: $209
  • Savor Wine Pairing Dinner: $228

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Charlotte $43
    Santa Fe $17

Tours and Activities in Charlotte

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

  • 2.5 Hour Black History Van Tour-Perseverance, Power, and Progress: $59
  • 90 Minute Historic Uptown Neighborhood Segway Tour of Charlotte: $75
  • Beer & BBQ Walking Tour - Craft Beer Experience : $115
  • Carolina History and Haunts Charlotte Historical Ghost Walking Tour : $27
  • Carolina Panthers Football Game Ticket at Bank of America Stadium: $40
  • Charlotte Artistic Family Friendly Adventure Tour : $30
  • Charlotte Comedy City Tour: $40
  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour - Smartphone guided audio/gps Tour at your own pace: $6.75
  • Charlotte Ghost Walking Tour: Smartphone Audio & GPS Tour: $6.50
  • Charlotte Haunted Booze and Boos Ghost Walking Tour: $35
  • Charlotte Historic : Queen Bee City Tour: $39
  • Charlotte Historical City Tour: $45

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Fe.

  • 2 Hour Pottery Experience (Wheel or Hand-Building): $160
  • 2-Hour Photography Class While Touring Downtown Santa Fe, Smart Phones Welcome!: $85
  • A Walking Tour of Santa Fe's Most Beautiful and Historic Sites: $217
  • Canyon Road Art & History Walking Tour: $70
  • Downtown Santa Fe Walking Wine & Tapas Tour: $149
  • Enchanted Eats of Santa Fe Half-Day Tour: $959
  • Explore Santa Fe's Old Town & the Museum of Art: Private Tour: $195
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Santa Fe, NM: $15
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $70
  • Plaza Sip, Savor, & History Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $119
  • Private Canyon Road Art & History Walking Tour: $138
  • Railyard Sip, Savor, & History Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $119

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Charlotte $20
    Santa Fe $9.68

Sample the Local Flavors in Charlotte

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

  • Guided Microbrewery Crawl on an Electric Cart: $48
  • Charlotte Brewery Crawl Tour: $48
  • Bar Crawl on a Rollin Disco Ball Golf Cart in Charlotte: $240

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Fe

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

  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery Tour and Tasting: $18
  • Architectural Walking Tour & Wine Tasting: $135


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

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


Which is Bigger, Charlotte or Santa Fe?

Charlotte has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Santa Fe. When comparing the sizes of Charlotte and Santa Fe, 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.