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

Should you visit Chicago 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 Chicago and Santa Fe can help you decide which place is right for you.


Chicago is a diverse, vibrant, and multicultural 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 food, beaches, and shopping.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a historic, charming, and artsy historic town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and skiing.

Chicago and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Big city activities
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less active music scene

How is Chicago different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Santa Fe

People who enjoy wandering through museums and other attractions will appreciate a visit to Chicago a bit more than Santa Fe.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Chicago on the map. 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).

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 Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Food?

Santa Fe

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at great restaurants in both Chicago and Santa Fe.

Chicago has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. While you're in town you have to try the famous deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dogs, and Italian beef.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Santa Fe. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chile peppers.

Is Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Santa Fe

Chicago has the better options when it comes to nightlife.

Chicago is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. Popular bars and clubs include the Smart Bar, Beauty Bar, and Le Nocturne.

Santa Fe doesn't have the most active nightlife scene. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night.

Is Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Santa Fe

Chicago generally offers more live music options than Santa Fe.

In Chicago you'll find nightly musicians performing at a variety of venues. The city is the birthplace of such interesting styles as modern gospel and the Chicago style blues.

The music scene helps keep Santa Fe active and fun. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Is Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Shopping?

Santa Fe

Shopping is a popular activity in both Santa Fe and Chicago.

Chicago is a world class destination for shoppers. The most famous shopping area is Michigan Avenue and the famous Magnificent Mile.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Santa Fe. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.

Is Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Santa Fe

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

Chicago is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Santa Fe offers lots of family activities. 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 Chicago or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Santa Fe

Both Chicago and Santa Fe are good destinations to visit as a couple.

Chicago is a good city for couples to visit. Couples will enjoy exploring the city's vibrant theater scene and diverse neighborhoods.

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 Chicago or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Santa Fe

Chicago and Santa Fe both are comparable when exploring on foot.

Chicago is a very walkable destination. The city has many restaurants, sights, and hotels that are easily accessible on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Chicago?

How long in Chicago or Santa Fe?

In either Chicago or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. You can fill a similar amount of time in either place.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Chicago is 3-5 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Santa Fe is 2-5 days.

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

One day in Chicago or Santa Fe?

Chicago is a big city with plenty to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

In Santa Fe, you'll find shopping and museums. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This historic town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Chicago or Santa Fe?

Chicago is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

In Santa Fe, you'll find museums and skiing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Santa Fe has to offer.

Five days in Chicago or Santa Fe?

Chicago is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Chicago, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Santa Fe is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Santa Fe has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Chicago or Santa Fe?

Chicago 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Santa Fe. Many people enjoy the live music and food when visiting Santa Fe. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe is $127. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Chicago and Santa Fe in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chicago $152
    Santa Fe $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chicago $304
    Santa Fe $128
Compare Hotels in Chicago and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Chicago 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 Chicago

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: Chicago Hotel Prices and Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chicago $29
    Santa Fe $49
Typical Local Transportation prices in Chicago

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

  • Parking
  • Taxi Ride
  • Taxi from Airport

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 O'Hare Private Ground Airport/Hotel Transfer - Round-Trip: $256
  • Chicago Midway Airport/Hotel Round Trip Private Ground Transfer: $256
  • Chicago Midway Airport (MDW) to Chicago City - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $184
  • Chicago Airport Transfer by Private Sedan: $170

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

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

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

Is it cheaper to fly into Chicago or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe 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.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Chicago $37
    Santa Fe $35
Typical Food prices in Chicago

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

  • Dinner for 1
  • Dinner for 3

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
  • Learn to Make Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza with a Local: $49
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour: $61
  • Private Fusion Cooking Class in Downtown Chicago: $64
  • Best in Chow: Chicago River North Food Tour: $64
  • Signature Food Tour at Chicago's Navy Pier: $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
  • River North Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Chicago's Wicker Park Food Tour: $75
  • Private Indian-Mexican Fusion Cooking Class with a Modern Cook: $78

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:

  • Dinner at the Coffee Farm: $55
  • Santa Fe Railyard Arts District Food Tour: $102
  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $138

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chicago $34
    Santa Fe $13
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)
  • Aquarium for 4
  • Water Taxi (family of 4)
  • IMAX Movie for Two
  • Shakespeare Play (2)
  • Art Institute (2)
  • U-Boat Tour (2)

Tours and Activities in Chicago

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

  • 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
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private SUV, ALL Inclusive: $220
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Sedan: $215
  • 4 Hours Chicago Sightseeing Tour - Luxury Private Stretch Limousine/8 passengers: $728
  • A Most Magnificent Mile Shopping and Sightseeing Tour: $40
  • A Storied Neighborhood: Dance the dialectic with Bill Ayers on an audio tour: $5.00

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

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

  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Small-Group Canyon Road Art Tour: $37
  • Beer and Art Tour: $40
  • Land Tour | Bantayan Island - Sightseeing - Guided Tour: $46
  • Walk Granada's Skyline Tour: $49
  • Canyon Road Curated Art Walking Tour: $52
  • Search for The Story-Documentary Film School Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $52
  • Santa Fe Architectural Walking Tour: $115
  • Small-Group E-Bike Adventure Tour through Hidden Santa Fe: $155
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: Private Walking Tour of Santa Fe: $170
  • Bantayan Island Day Tour From Cebu: $173
  • The Best of Santa Fe Walking Tour: $498

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, and The Best Museums in Chicago.

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chicago $20
    Santa Fe $7.74

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 Santa Fe

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

  • Join-In Wine Tours: $152
  • White Water Rafting and Wine Tour: $217

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Chicago and Santa Fe, we can see that Chicago 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 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 Santa Fe.

Budget Your Trip

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Chicago vs. Santa Fe Travel Comparison

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