Which place is cheaper, San Francisco or Chicago?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
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 Chicago and San Francisco can help you decide which place is right for you.
Chicago is a vibrant, multicultural, and edgey city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the theater, nightlife, and live music.
San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind, scenic, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. Other popular activities here include museums, theater, and nightlife.
Travelers will generally find more things to do in San Francisco than Chicago. While Chicago is larger than San Francisco, San Francisco has more sights and attractions for tourists. San Francisco is very popular for its beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Chicago attracts visitors for its theatre productions, nightlife, music, and christmas markets. San Francisco is more touristy than Chicago and is popular for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. It is also well known for The Golden Gate Bridge. Chicago is famous for its thriving sports scene, its iconic local cuisine, and its world class shopping at the Magnificent Mile.
Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between San Francisco and Chicago. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.
For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Chicago or San Francisco.
You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Chicago on the map. There are countless landmarks, museums, and iconic sights in the area. Some of the most famous are the Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry. Notable landmarks include the famous Willis Tower - formerly the Sears Tower, Buckingham Fountain, and the iconic Cloud Gate (the bean).
Travelers visit San Francisco from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.
Chicago is an amazing city to visit for its shows and theatre. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for theatre.
Famous for its theaters and plays, you'll find world-renowned shows in Chicago. Theater is big here with many of the major Broadway productions visiting the city. There is also an endless list of smaller, local theaters to choose from.
San Francisco offers a number of shows and performances. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.
There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at terrific restaurants in both Chicago and San Francisco.
Chicago has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. With everything from award-winning luxury restaurants to local dives, this city has something for everyone. It also has very distinct local flavors and dishes that create an identity and bring great pride to the locals. While you're in town you have to try the famous deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef.
Known for it's food and restaurant scene, San Francisco is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown. Head away from the touristy neighborhoods if you want to sample some of the more local restaurants around town.
Chicago is an amazing city to visit for its evening party scene. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for nightlife.
Chicago has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. It has a wide range of activities at night, with everything from theater and comedy clubs to dance venues, sporting events, and local bars. It's easy to fill many evenings with whatever activity appeals to you. Popular bars and clubs include the Smart Bar, Beauty Bar, and Le Nocturne.
There's a variety of activities in the evening in San Francisco. It has a great nightlife with many local bars and trendy clubs. For the best nightlife away from the tourists, head to Valencia Street or Polk Street. If you want to be in a more touristy area, check out Union Square. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.
Chicago is an amazing city to visit for its music scene. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for live music.
Chicago has become a mecca for musicians from around the world. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.
You'll find some good live music in San Francisco. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.
San Francisco is a great destination for the beach. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for its beaches.
San Francisco is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away. Some of the best beaches include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and Muir Beach.
Chicago has a beach worth visiting. While you don't immediately think of beaches when you think of Chicago, there are some nice beaches by the lake. If the weather is nice, it's a great area to spend some time.
San Francisco is renowned for its hiking experiences. However, Chicago is not a hiking destination.
Many people visit San Francisco specifically for its hiking. The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.
Chicago is not a hiking destination.
Shopping is a popular activity in both San Francisco and Chicago.
Chicago is a world class destination for shoppers. There are countless neighborhoods that are filled with boutiques, local vendors, and art galleries. The city has some of the country's best shopping opportunities, and the most notable area is the famous Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile.
People travel from around the world to go shopping in San Francisco. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.
Chicago is a great city for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, San Francisco does not offer Christmas activities.
Chicago is a very popular destination during Christmas. There's a number of seasonal celebrations, ice skating, and excellent shopping.
San Francisco does not offer Christmas activities.
Chicago is a nice place to visit for visiting Christmas markets. However, San Francisco does not offer Christmas markets.
Chicago has Christmas markets worth visiting. Shopping is a highlight of a trip to the city, and the Christkindlmarkt is not to be missed.
San Francisco does not offer Christmas markets.
You'll find terrific kid-friendly activities in either Chicago or San Francisco.
Chicago is one of the most popular family destinations. The city has a large number of activities for kids, including zoos, Shedd Aquarium, impressive children's museums, and large and elaborate playgrounds in Millennium Park. It's easy to keep kids entertained in this very kid-focused city.
San Francisco is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination. There are also many amazing playgrounds with stunning views of the bay and city. Head to Chinatown for some unique and kid-friendly food, or down to Pier 39 for fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.
San Francisco is a great destination for couples. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.
Couples visit San Francisco frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway. There are also many scenic walks and breathtaking views that couples can appreciate.
Chicago is a nice destination for couples. Couples will enjoy exploring the city's vibrant theater scene and diverse neighborhoods. There are many varied restaurants and entertainment options that make for a great date night. There are also sporting events, parks, and gardens where couples can explore.
San Francisco is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Chicago is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.
San Francisco is a very popular coastal city for backpackers and budget travelers. The city is one of the more backpacker friendly cities in the United States. There are a handful of hostels throughout, many concentrated in the popular Union Square and Downtown neighborhoods of the city.
It's common for backpackers to visit Chicago. The city doesn't have a huge backpacker vibe, but it does have a number of hostels that help keep costs in check.
Chicago is an amazing city to visit for its student-friendly activities. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for students.
Chicago is a great destination for students. The city has a large number of universities that bring in students from around the country and around the globe. It's a huge international city with economic ties and many opportunities connected to the universities.
Students come from all over to stay in San Francisco. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.
You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Chicago and San Francisco.
Chicago has a great public transit system. There's a subway (the "L"), a commuter well, as well as buses and countless taxis available.
Public transit in San Francisco is top-notch. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.
Chicago and San Francisco both are excellent when exploring on foot.
Chicago is a very walkable destination. The city has many restaurants, sights, and hotels that are easily accessible on foot.
San Francisco is very walkable. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.
Both Chicago and San Francisco have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in San Francisco than in Chicago. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Chicago, and 3-7 days is enough time in San Francisco.
Families should spend more time in Chicago than San Francisco. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Chicago, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.
Couples should spend more time in San Francisco than Chicago. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in San Francisco that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.
Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Francisco than Chicago 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 San Francisco.
Chicago is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.
In San Francisco, you'll find food and shopping. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This coastal city offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in Chicago. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.
In San Francisco, you'll find shopping and museums. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.
Chicago is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.
San Francisco is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that San Francisco has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.
You'll find theater and nightlife around the city of Chicago. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.
It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. In San Francisco, you'll find theater and nightlife. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Chicago is $279, while the average daily cost in San Francisco is $222. 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 Chicago and San Francisco in more detail.
Looking for a hotel in Chicago or San Francisco? 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.
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.
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chicago:
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chicago:
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:
Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Prices for flights to both San Francisco and Chicago 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.
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Chicago:
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chicago.
For San Francisco, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Here are a few typical costs in Chicago for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:
Here are a few actual costs in Chicago for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Francisco.
For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Free Things to Do in Chicago, Chicago Bucket List: The Best Places to See, The Best Museums in Chicago, The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Chicago:
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Chicago and San Francisco, we can see that Chicago is more expensive. And not only is San Francisco much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to San Francisco would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in San Francisco 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 Chicago would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Chicago than you might in San Francisco.
Chicago has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of San Francisco. When comparing the sizes of Chicago and San Francisco, 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.
Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.
Both San Francisco and Chicago during the summer are popular places to visit. The beaches, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Chicago this time of year. Also, many travelers come to San Francisco for the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.
Chicago is a little warmer than San Francisco in the summer. The daily temperature in Chicago averages around 77°F (25°C) in July, and San Francisco fluctuates around 63°F (17°C).
It rains a lot this time of the year in Chicago. Chicago usually gets more rain in July than San Francisco. Chicago gets 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain this time of the year.
The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Chicago and San Francisco. Many travelers come to Chicago for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, many visitors come to San Francisco in the autumn for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.
In the autumn, Chicago is cooler than San Francisco. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Chicago in October average around 56°F (14°C), and San Francisco averages at about 63°F (17°C).
In October, Chicago usually receives more rain than San Francisco. Chicago gets 2.2 inches (56 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.
The winter brings many poeple to Chicago as well as San Francisco. Many visitors come to Chicago in the winter for the museums, the Christmas ambience, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine. Also, most visitors come to San Francisco for the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine during these months.
Chicago can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Chicago is generally much colder than San Francisco. Daily temperatures in Chicago average around 25°F (-4°C), and San Francisco fluctuates around 50°F (10°C).
Chicago usually gets less rain in January than San Francisco. Chicago gets 1.9 inches (47 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain this time of the year.
Both San Francisco and Chicago are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Chicago for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to San Francisco because of the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.
Chicago is cooler than San Francisco in the spring. The daily temperature in Chicago averages around 52°F (11°C) in April, and San Francisco fluctuates around 58°F (14°C).
It's quite rainy in Chicago. In April, Chicago usually receives more rain than San Francisco. Chicago gets 4.3 inches (108 mm) of rain, while San Francisco receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain each month for the spring.
|1.9 inches (47 mm)
|3.8 inches (96 mm)
|1.4 inches (35 mm)
|2.7 inches (69 mm)
|3.7 inches (93 mm)
|2.7 inches (69 mm)
|4.3 inches (108 mm)
|1.2 inches (31 mm)
|3 inches (75 mm)
|0.2 inches (5 mm)
|3.9 inches (100 mm)
|0.1 inches (3 mm)
|3.9 inches (100 mm)
|0.1 inches (2 mm)
|3.5 inches (90 mm)
|0.1 inches (1 mm)
|3.8 inches (96 mm)
|0.3 inches (7 mm)
|2.2 inches (56 mm)
|1.3 inches (33 mm)
|2.2 inches (56 mm)
|2.8 inches (71 mm)
|2.8 inches (71 mm)
|2.7 inches (68 mm)