A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Durham vs. San Diego for Families, Couples, Attractions, and Nightlife

Should you visit Durham or San Diego?

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 Durham and San Diego can help you decide which place is right for you.

Durham

Durham is a sports oriented, diverse, and student-filled city. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

San Diego

San Diego is a relaxed, outdoorsy, and idyllic coastal city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around 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 nightlife, live music, and food.

Durham and San Diego: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers


Is there more to do in Durham or San Diego?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Diego than Durham, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. San Diego is more touristy than Durham and is popular for its relaxed coastal atmosphere, its many kid-friendly sights, and its beautiful beaches with critter-filled tidal pools. It is also home to The San Diego Zoo. Durham is popular for its college town vibe as well as being the home of the famous Blue Devil basketball team.

How is Durham different from San Diego?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Durham or San Diego?

Durham
San Diego

For an educational experience, head to a museum or a notable sight in either Durham or San Diego.

Many visitors head to Durham specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. Duke University is one of the most popular destinations in town. There are several museums on campus as well as the famous Duke Chapel. Elsewhere in Durham there's the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to San Diego can be an interesting and educational experience. While the city is famous for it's beaches, zoos, and aquariums, don't overlook the museums and other landmarks. Popular options include the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, the Old Town State Historic Park, and Point Loma and Cabrillo Monument.


Is the Food Better in Durham or San Diego? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Durham
San Diego

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Durham and San Diego can be difficult as they are each good in their own way.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Durham area. Barbecue is a favorite around town. You'll also find plenty of restaurants that cater to the student population, particularly along Nineth Street near Duke's campus.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around San Diego. The city has great seafood and a diversity of cuisines. There are many casual dining options that serve informal foods like burgers or salads, but there are also award-winning fine dining restaurants with elegant atmospheres. Popular local dishes include fish tacos and California burritos.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Nightlife?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is a well-known place for its evening party scene. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for nightlife.

San Diego offers plenty to do in the evening. The heart of the city's nightlife scene is in the Gaslamp District, which is filled with bars, clubs, and music venues. There's a young student population that keeps the nightlife scene casual and fun.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Durham. The younger population tends to hang out near campus and along Nineth Street. If you're looking for something less student oriented, head to downtown Durham.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Music?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is a well-known place for its music scene. However, Durham is not a live music destination.

The music scene in San Diego is very popular with diverse venues. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Durham is not a live music destination.


Is Durham or San Diego Better for Resorts?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is very good for its resorts. However, Durham is not a resort destination.

San Diego has a few great resort options. Most people prefer to stay in hotels or VRBOs, but several popular resorts include Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Paradise Point, and the famous Hotel del Coronado.

Durham is not a resort destination.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is very good for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Durham is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's worth going snorkeling or scuba diving in San Diego. Popular snorkeling and diving spots include La Jolla Cove, Mission Bay, and Turtle Town. The water's a bit chili, but it's still worth going for a dive or popping on a mask and snorkeling around for a bit.

Durham is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Beaches?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is an amazing coastal city to visit for the beach. However, Durham is not a beach destination.

With world-famous beaches, San Diego is a very popular vacation destination. The city has great beaches with tidal pools and interesting sea life at low tide. Adults and kids alike will enjoy hitting the beach when the tides are out and looking for local critters in the tidal pools. Popular beaches in the area include La Jolla Cove Beach, Coronado Beach, and Pacific Beach.

Durham is not a beach destination.


Is Durham or San Diego Better for Hiking?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is a well-known place for the nearby hiking options. However, Durham is not a hiking destination.

San Diego is a popular spot for hiking. The city is filled with parks and has tons of natural beauty. There is plenty of urban hiking in town, or you can visit more natural areas just out of town. Head to Torrey Pines State Park or Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail for some nice hikes.

Durham is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Durham or San Diego?

Durham
San Diego

Both Durham and San Diego are good shopping destinations.

Many visitors go to Durham to go shopping. The Streets of Southpoint is the best mall in the area. Other shopping areas include Brightleaf Square and Nineth Street.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in San Diego. Head to Fashion Valley or Westfield UTC for some fun shopping. There are suburban shopping malls in the area as well as souvenir shops in the more touristy areas.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Families?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is an amazing coastal city to visit for its family-friendly activities. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

San Diego is one of the most popular family destinations. The city is filled with kid-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. There's the world-class zoo, several amusement parks, the beaches, aquariums, and more. The year-round warm weather makes it easy to spend plenty of time outdoors in parks, playgrounds, and beaches where kids can stretch their legs and run around.

Durham is a family-friendly city. A highlight for kids is a visit to the Durham Museum of Life and Science. It has both an indoor and an outdoor section and brings science to life for families. There's also an impressive playground and climbing area. Other activities in town include the Notasium and Eno River State Park. If you plan ahead you could also organize a trip to the Duke Lemur Center.


Is Durham or San Diego Better for Couples?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is an amazing coastal city to visit for couples. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

For those traveling as a couple, San Diego has plenty to offer. For adventurous couples, there are many outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. The beaches offer a great playground for adults who enjoy the water and warm weather. There are also restaurants and a great nightlife in San Diego.

Durham is a nice destination for couples. Have a picnic at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens or spend the day hiking at Eno River State Park. In the evening there's a wonderful selection of restaurants around town. Then you can check out a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center or see a Durham Bulls game.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is very good for backpackers. However, Durham is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

San Diego is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. Backpackers will enjoy the young vibe of the city. There are a few great hostels near the beach or in town.

Durham is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. The student population means there are a number of parties and bars around town, but most backpackers overlook this city.

Is Durham or San Diego Better for Students?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is an amazing coastal city to visit for students. Also, Durham is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Students come from all over the world to visit San Diego. With its young population and many universities, international students will feel right at home in San Diego. There are also many great outdoor activities for the adventurous.

Durham is a great city to visit as a student. Duke University has a stunning campus with a world class garden. There's also nearby Nineth Street, which has shops, restaurants, and bars that are geared toward the student population.


Is Durham or San Diego Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Durham
San Diego

Both Durham and San Diego offer decent public transit options.

Public transit is generally limited in Durham. There are buses around town, but you really need a car to explore the area.

Public transit is mostly limited in San Diego. The city has a trolley (light rail system) as well as a bus system. Most people depend on cars to get around, and you'll likely enjoy your trip a bit more if you have your own vehicle.

Is Durham or San Diego a more walkable city?

Durham
San Diego

San Diego is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Durham is not a good city for its walkability.

San Diego is a somewhat walkable coastal city. The downtown area is walkable, but if you want to travel further, you'll need to find a different form of transportation.

Durham is generally not a very walkable city. Downtown Durham and a few areas near Duke University are the most walkable areas.

For even more information, also check out Is Durham Worth Visiting? and Is San Diego Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in San Diego or Durham?

How long in Durham or San Diego?

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

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Diego than Durham 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 Diego.


  • How many days in Durham or San Diego? Ideal Length of Stay
    Durham 1-3 
    San Diego 3-5

One day in Durham or San Diego?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Durham. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Durham has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Many travelers enjoy the live music and food when visiting the destination of San Diego. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.


A weekend in Durham or San Diego?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the student-filled destination of Durham. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

San Diego is a great place to explore. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Durham or San Diego?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the diverse city of Durham. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Diego. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A week in Durham or San Diego?

Durham is a popular choice for travelers. 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.

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the dynamic destination of San Diego. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from San Francisco, The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, and The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, San Diego or Durham?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Durham is $162, while the average daily cost in San Diego is $202. 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 Durham and San Diego in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Durham $92
    San Diego $115
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Durham $184
    San Diego $230
Compare Hotels in Durham and San Diego

Looking for a hotel in Durham or San Diego? 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 Durham


Hotels in San Diego


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: Durham Hotel Prices and San Diego Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Durham $33
    San Diego $24

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • San Diego International Airport (SAN) Private Arrival Transfer: $40
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in San Diego HTL-APT(SAN): $47
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Diego Airport SAN: $50
  • Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) to Tijuana hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $55
  • Tijuana to Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) – Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Marcos, CA - Arrival Private Transfer: $65
  • Transfer in private minivan from San Diego Downtown to San Diego Airport (SAN): $68
  • Transfer in private minivan from San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego Downtown: $68
  • San Diego Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to San Diego: $70
  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to Carlsbad, CA - Arrival Private Transfer: $75
  • Private Transfer from San Diego Port to San Diego city hotels: $75
  • San Diego hotel/address to San Diego Airport (SAN) - Departure Private Transfer: $75

Is it cheaper to fly into Durham or San Diego?

Prices for flights to both San Diego and Durham 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
    Durham $44
    San Diego $45

Typical Food Prices in San Diego

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


  • Mexican Lunch for Two
    $27
  • Breakfast at Starbucks
    $20

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Diego

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

  • Pizza and Gelato Tour in San Diego: $80
  • Old Town Tequila and Tacos Walking Food Tour: $81
  • Little Italy Food and Drink Walking Tour: Pizza, Pasta & Piazzas: $85
  • Gaslamp Quarter Downtown San Diego Food Tour: $89
  • Gaslamp Quarter Food Tour: $89
  • San Diego, Seaport Village: Waterfront Walking Food Tour: $99
  • Seaport Village Food Tour in San Diego : $99
  • Guided Secret Food Tour: $104
  • Scenic Buffet Dinner Cruise: $108
  • San Diego Dinner Cruise: $116
  • Gourmet Dinner Cruise: $118
  • Thanksgiving Day Buffet Brunch or Dinner Cruise: $121

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Durham $26
    San Diego $48

Tours and Activities in Durham

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

  • Downtown Durham Historian-Guided Walking Tour: $16
  • Durham African American History Tour: $16
  • Durham NC: Art Walking Tour: $20
  • True Crime Tour: $13

Typical Entertainment Prices in San Diego

For San Diego, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • San Diego Zoo
    $15
  • Sea World Parking
    $12

Tours and Activities in San Diego

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

  • Pies & Pickaxes: A Historic Walking Tour of Julian, CA: $4.49
  • San Diego Balboa Park Quest Experience: $7.16
  • Waterfront Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.30
  • A Seaside Stroll: La Jolla's Hidden Treasures Self-Guided Tour: $9.99
  • Historical Walking Tour of San Diego: $10
  • Discover In-App Audio Driving Tour: $11
  • Beaches & Bluffs San Diego's Ultimate Coastal Driving Tour: $12
  • San Diego Natural History Museum Ticket: $12
  • Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour: $14
  • Explore Balboa in a Private Tour of San Diego Hidden Gems: $20
  • San Diego's Historic Treasures and Old Town Tour: $20
  • Private Walking Tour and Gaslamp Adventure in San Diego: $20

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Durham $34
    San Diego $21

Sample the Local Flavors in San Diego

Also in San Diego, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • History Tour Pub Crawl of Famous Gaslamp Quarter: $30
  • Brewery Tour with Tastings and Food Pairings: $85
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Private Wine Tasting Tour in Valle de Guadalupe: $135
  • Cruise & Booze Brewery tours : $149
  • Baja Tour Guide wine tour: $169
  • Sidecar Wine Tasting Tour: $199
  • Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour: $199
  • California Sunset Brewery Tour: $199
  • Brewery and Beer Tasting Tour in San Diego: $215
  • Ensenada Valle De Guadelupe Private Wine Tasting Experience: $240
  • Valle de Guadalupe Wine Tour: $249


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

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


Which is Bigger, Durham or San Diego?

San Diego has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of Durham. When comparing the sizes of Durham and San Diego, 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 Durham or San Diego?

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.

Should I visit Durham or San Diego in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Durham as well as San Diego. Many visitors come to Durham in the summer for the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to San Diego for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In July, Durham is generally a little warmer than San Diego. Daily temperatures in Durham average around 79°F (26°C), and San Diego fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in San Diego. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Durham this time of the year. In the summer, Durham often gets less sunshine than San Diego. Durham gets 259 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while San Diego receives 306 hours of full sun.

Durham receives a lot of rain in the summer. Durham usually gets more rain in July than San Diego. Durham gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Durham 79°F (26°C) 
    San Diego 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Durham or San Diego in the Autumn?

Both San Diego and Durham are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Durham for the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to San Diego because of the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Durham is cooler than San Diego in the autumn. The daily temperature in Durham averages around 61°F (16°C) in October, and San Diego fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

It's quite sunny in San Diego. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Durham. Durham usually receives less sunshine than San Diego during autumn. Durham gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while San Diego receives 244 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Durham usually receives more rain than San Diego. Durham gets 2.8 inches (71 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Durham 61°F (16°C) 
    San Diego 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Durham or San Diego in the Winter?

Both San Diego and Durham during the winter are popular places to visit. The winter months attract visitors to Durham because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to San Diego this time of year.

The weather in Durham can be very cold. In the winter, Durham is much colder than San Diego. Typically, the winter temperatures in Durham in January average around 40°F (5°C), and San Diego averages at about 57°F (14°C).

In San Diego, it's very sunny this time of the year. In the winter, Durham often gets less sunshine than San Diego. Durham gets 162 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while San Diego receives 239 hours of full sun.

Durham usually gets more rain in January than San Diego. Durham gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 1.8 inches (46 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Durham 40°F (5°C) 
    San Diego 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Durham or San Diego in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Durham and San Diego. Furthermore, many travelers come to San Diego for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

In April, Durham is generally around the same temperature as San Diego. Daily temperatures in Durham average around 60°F (16°C), and San Diego fluctuates around 62°F (17°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in San Diego this time of the year. In Durham, it's very sunny this time of the year. Durham usually receives less sunshine than San Diego during spring. Durham gets 251 hours of sunny skies, while San Diego receives 277 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Durham usually receives more rain than San Diego. Durham gets 3.1 inches (78 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.8 inches (20 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Durham 60°F (16°C) 
    San Diego 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for San Diego and Durham

Durham San Diego
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 40°F (5°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.8 inches (46 mm)
Feb 43°F (6°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Mar 52°F (11°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Apr 60°F (16°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.8 inches (20 mm)
May 68°F (20°C) 3.3 inches (84 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 76°F (24°C) 3.7 inches (93 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Jul 79°F (26°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 78°F (26°C) 4.9 inches (125 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Oct 61°F (16°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm)
Nov 53°F (11°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (37 mm)
Dec 44°F (7°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm)