A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Chicago vs. San Francisco for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Chicago or San Francisco?

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

Located in the Midwest, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. It has a population of almost 3 million and a metropolitan area that covers more than 10,000 square kilometers. It is also a hub for music, comedy and theater. It's skyline is beautiful with modern skyscrapers and Lake Michigan as a backdrop. It is easy to stay entertained in Chicago for weeks. There are world class museums, upscale or eclectic shopping opportunities, and impressive architecture.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city that is famous for it's picturesque neighborhoods, liberal character, and stunning location on the bay. Some people describe San Francisco as the United State's most "European City." This title most likely comes from its compact development and its easy walkability. It also has no shortage of parks and public spaces where you can pass some time. The city sits on the end of a peninsula and offers stunning views of the blue bay, rolling green hills, and the striking Golden Gate Bridge.

Which city is cheaper, San Francisco or Chicago?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Chicago is $221, while the average daily cost in San Francisco is $175. 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 Chicago and San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation

Chicago's average price for two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room is $304. A typical place to stay for one person, per day is $152.

The prices for places to stay in San Francisco can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $106, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $212.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chicago $152
    San Francisco $106
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chicago $304
    San Francisco $212

Food

The price of a meal in Chicago can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $37 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $15 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.

On average, meal and food prices in San Francisco cost around $32 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $13.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Chicago $37
    San Francisco $32
Typical Food prices in Chicago

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Chicago:


  • Dinner for 1
    $24
  • Dinner for 3
    $118

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chicago

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Chicago.

  • Traveling Spoon Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza Private Online Cooking Class: $27
  • Factories to Calories Fulton Market Food Tour: $46
  • Learn to Make Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza with a Local: $49
  • Chicago Crime & Pizza Walk: $50
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: Chicago History and Food Tour: $59
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour: $61
  • Signature Food Tour at Chicago's Navy Pier: $64
  • Best in Chow: Chicago River North Food Tour: $64
  • Private Fusion Cooking Class in Downtown Chicago: $64
  • Skip the Line: Tommy Gun's Garage Dinner and Show Ticket: $67
  • Small-Group Chicago Food Tour: Gold Coast and Old Town: $75
  • Best of Chicago Tour Including a Deep-Dish Pizza: $75

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $15
  • Traveling Spoon Pad Thai and Papaya Salad Private Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: North Beach & Chinatown Food Tour: $66
  • North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour: $69
  • Mission District Walking Food Tour: $75
  • San Francisco North Beach Food Tour: $75
  • Cooking with Ale: let's make Tiramisu - private groups: $80
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $80
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $82
  • American Cooking Class in San Francisco with a Local near Golden Gate Park: $82
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • Russian Hill Gourmet Food Tour: $97

Local Transportation

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $29 per day to get around in Chicago.

San Francisco'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 $13 per person, per day on transportation in San Francisco.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chicago $29
    San Francisco $13
Typical Local Transportation prices in Chicago

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Chicago:


  • Parking
    $19
  • Taxi Ride
    $10
  • Taxi from Airport
    $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chicago

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Chicago:

  • Private Sedan Transfer between ORD and Indianapolis IN: $587
  • Private SUV Transfer Between O'Hare airport & Downtown Madison WI: $427
  • Private Sedan Transfer Between O'Hare airport & Downtown Madison WI: $426
  • Departure Private Transfer Chicago to O'Hare Airport ORD in a Minibus: $333
  • Arrival Private Transfer Chicago O'Hare Airport to Chicago City by Minibus: $333
  • Private SUV Transfer Between O'Hare airport & Downtown Milwaukee WI: $298
  • Transfer to Chicago Premium Outlets: $288
  • Private Sedan Transfer Between O'Hare airport & Downtown Milwaukee WI: $266
  • Chicago Midway Airport/Hotel Round Trip Private Ground Transfer: $256
  • Chicago O'Hare Private Ground Airport/Hotel Transfer - Round-Trip: $256
  • Private One-Way Midway Airport Transfer: $225
  • Chicago O'Hare Airport Private Transfers: $195

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

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

  • Airport Transfer between San Francisco Airport & City Center: $17
  • Airport Transfer: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to San Francisco: $116
  • Arrival Private Transfer SFO Airport to Oakland in Business Car: $135
  • Arrival Private Transfer SFO Airport to Oakland in a Luxury Car: $155
  • Arrival Private Transfer SFO Airport to San Francisco City by Luxury Car: $145
  • Arrival Private Transfer SFO Airport to San Francisco City by SUV: $125
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Francisco Airport SFO to Oakland by SUV: $151
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Francisco Cruise Port to City by Business Car: $84
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Francisco Cruise Port to Oakland by Business Car: $100
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Francisco Cruise Port to Oakland in Luxury Car: $120
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Francisco Cruise Port to San Francisco Luxury Car: $104
  • Carmel 1-Way Transfer to/from San Francisco Airport: $410

Is it cheaper to fly into Chicago or San Francisco?

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.





Entertainment

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $34 per person, per day in Chicago. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in San Francisco can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $37 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chicago $34
    San Francisco $37
Typical Entertainment prices in Chicago

Here are a few typical costs in Chicago for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Sears Tower (family of 4)
    $102
  • Aquarium for 4
    $118
  • Water Taxi (family of 4)
    $22
  • IMAX Movie for Two
    $35
  • Shakespeare Play (2)
    $116
  • Art Institute (2)
    $36
  • U-Boat Tour (2)
    $8.00

Tours and Activities in Chicago

Here are a few actual costs in Chicago for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 2 Hour Chicago Art and Architecture Segway Tour: $71
  • 2 Hour Pier Fireworks and Evening Segway Tour in Chicago: $65
  • 2 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Stretch Limo / 8 Passengers: $250
  • 2-Hour Chicago City Lights and Skyline Segway Tour: $76
  • 2-Hour Chicago Fireworks Segway Tour: $76
  • 2-Hour Chicago Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour: $73
  • 2-Hour Haunted Segway Tour of Chicago: $76
  • 2-Hour History of Chicago Architecture and Art Segway Tour: $75
  • 3 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $392
  • 3-Hour Segway Tour of Chicago: $76
  • 360 Chicago Observation Deck Admission: Skip the Ticket Desk: $25
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $220

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Private Tour: 19th Century Gold Rush Exploration Game: $4.96
  • Food, History, and Resistance: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of San Francisco's Japantown: $5.34
  • San Francisco's Barbary Past Walking Audio Tour: $5.34
  • Syn City SF: The Synesthesia Walking Audio Tour of Haight-Ashbury by VoiceMap: $5.34
  • Union Square to Lotta's Fountain Walking Tour by VoiceMap: $5.40
  • Walk the Haight Audio Tour: Tune into San Francisco‚Äôs Hippie Counterculture: $5.99
  • San Francisco Private Tour: 70s Hippie Culture Exploration Game: $6.21
  • The Remarkable History of San Francisco's Glen Park and Glen Canyon Audio Tour: $7.55
  • Ultimate San Francisco Self-Driving Audio Tour: $8.00
  • Bike Tour of Tucson: $10
  • The Flyer San Francisco Admission Ticket: $12
  • San Francisco Scavenger Hunt: SF Park Tour and Haight-Ashbury Experience: $12

Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Chicago may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $20 per day on alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In San Francisco, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $15.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chicago $20
    San Francisco $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Chicago

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

  • Haunted Chicago Ghost and Pub Walking Tour: $25
  • Walking tour to Chicago dive bars: $41
  • Chicago Barrel Bus Craft Distillery Tour: $90
  • Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour: $90
  • Ultimate Girl's Night Out in Sparkling Wine, Photo Shoot, Burlesque: $900

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Bar Hunt: Soul of San Francisco Bar Crawl: $12
  • 3-Hour Pub Crawl in San Francisco: $18
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Tour: $58
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • From Tri-Valley Half-Day Wine Tour: $75
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $115
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • Napa & Sonoma Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour with Optional Lunch: $135
  • Full-Day Muir Woods with Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $135
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149


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.

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Chicago vs. San Francisco Travel Comparison

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