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

Should you visit Flagstaff or San Diego?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Flagstaff and San Diego can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Flagstaff

Flagstaff is a active, adventurous , and picturesque city. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Visitors also love the food, hiking, and shopping.

San Diego

San Diego is a hip, dynamic, and energetic 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 food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Flagstaff and San Diego: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
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
  • Good for students


Is there more to do in Flagstaff or San Diego?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Diego than Flagstaff, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. San Diego is more popular for its museums, nightlife, music, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, big city activities, and quaint atmosphere, while Flagstaff is known for its food and hiking. San Diego is more touristy than Flagstaff 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. Flagstaff is popular for its nearby craters and volcanic caves as well as its location along the historic Route 66.

How is Flagstaff different from San Diego?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is well known for its museums and landmarks. Also, Flagstaff is still popular, but not quite as popular for its historical sights.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into San Diego. 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.

Flagstaff is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Lowell Observatory is a highlight for many visitors, especially those who are fascinated by space. There's also the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Pioneer Museum, and Fort Tuthill Military History Museum.


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

Flagstaff
San Diego

Flagstaff is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Flagstaff has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The food scene is diverse and growing. There's a focus on local recipes and ingredients. You'll also find many casual and family-friendly restaurants. American cuisine is common, but you'll also find burritos, Indian curries, and frittatas.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the San Diego area. 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 Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Nightlife?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is well known for its evening party scene. Also, Flagstaff is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife.

San Diego is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. 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.

If you're looking for night time activities Flagstaff has a few options to choose from. You'll find a range of bars and cocktail lounges around town that come to life in the evening hours.

Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Music?

Flagstaff
San Diego

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

Music is a popular form of entertainment in San Diego. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Flagstaff is not a live music destination.


Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Resorts?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a coastal city with good options for its resorts. However, Flagstaff 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.

Flagstaff is not a resort destination.

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

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a coastal city with good options for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Flagstaff is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's fun to get in the water and check out the local marine life 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.

Flagstaff is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Beaches?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a must-visit destination for the beach. However, Flagstaff is not a beach destination.

San Diego is considered to be a world-class beach 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.

Flagstaff is not a beach destination.


Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Hiking?

Flagstaff
San Diego

Flagstaff is renowned for hiking. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for the nearby hiking options.

Flagstaff is well-known for its hiking and trekking. Nearby you'll find world class hikes through surreal landscapes and diverse environments. The area is filled with desert landscapes and varied rock formations that are best explored on foot. Trails range in length and skill level, but whatever your ability, the hiking in the area is among the best.

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.

Is the Shopping Better in Flagstaff or San Diego?

Flagstaff
San Diego

Shopping is a popular activity in both San Diego and Flagstaff.

Many visitors go to Flagstaff to go shopping. Located along historic Route 66, you'll find many shops that capture the city's history, particularly in the Southside Historic District. The town also has farmer's markets as well as shopping centers and large malls.

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 Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Families?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a must-visit destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Flagstaff is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

San Diego is an extremely popular coastal city to visit for families. 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.

Flagstaff is a very family-friendly destination. The city is filled with outdoor activities for kids like ropes courses and adventure parks. Kids will also enjoy climbing around the Lava River Cave, visiting Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, or hiking through the many diverse landscapes in the area. There are also museums that educate visitors on the city's history as well as Lowell Observatory, which will intrigue all the space enthusiasts among us.


Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Couples?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a must-visit destination for couples. Also, Flagstaff is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

San Diego is a great coastal city for couples, as it 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.

Flagstaff is a nice destination for couples. Hiking and outdoor adventure sports make this city a good destination for couples who enjoy active living. There are many parks that you can visit as well as hiking trails and unique natural settings.

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

Flagstaff
San Diego

Flagstaff is great for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Flagstaff. There are campgrounds nearby as well as tons of nature parks and countless hiking trails in the area.

Plenty of budget travelers visit San Diego. Backpackers will enjoy the young vibe of the city. There are a few great hostels near the beach or in town.

Is Flagstaff or San Diego Better for Students?

Flagstaff
San Diego

San Diego is a must-visit destination for students. However, Flagstaff is not popular with students.

San Diego is a very popular coastal city for students. 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.

Flagstaff is not popular with students.


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

Flagstaff
San Diego

You'll find somewhat comparable public transit options in both Flagstaff and San Diego.

Public transit is generally limited in Flagstaff. The Mountain Line offers eight routes through town.

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 Flagstaff or San Diego a more walkable city?

Flagstaff
San Diego

Flagstaff and San Diego both are good when exploring on foot.

Flagstaff is a somewhat walkable city. The downtown is compact and walkable, but you'll really want to have a car to explore the nearby hiking trails and natural areas.

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

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

Should I spend more time in San Diego or Flagstaff?

How long in Flagstaff or San Diego?

In either Flagstaff or San Diego, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in San Diego than Flagstaff because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Flagstaff, and 3-5 days is enough time in San Diego.

Families should spend more time in San Diego than Flagstaff. 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 Flagstaff. 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.


  • How many days in Flagstaff or San Diego? Ideal Length of Stay
    Flagstaff 2-4 
    San Diego 3-5

One day in Flagstaff or San Diego?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Flagstaff. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. 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.

You'll find shopping and museums around the coastal city of San Diego. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. 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 Flagstaff or San Diego?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the picturesque destination of Flagstaff. Hikers are also drawn to this area. 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.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the dynamic destination of San Diego. Hikers are also drawn to this area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Flagstaff or San Diego?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the picturesque city of Flagstaff. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Most people head to the area for the hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

You'll find nightlife and live music around the energetic coastal city of San Diego. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this coastal city makes for a great vacation. It's also a great beach destination, too. Most people head to the area for the beaches. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this coastal city has to offer.

A week in Flagstaff or San Diego?

Flagstaff is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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.

San Diego is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. 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 One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City, and The Best 2-Week Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, San Diego or Flagstaff?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Flagstaff is $166, 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 Flagstaff and San Diego in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Flagstaff $86
    San Diego $115
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Flagstaff $172
    San Diego $230
Compare Hotels in Flagstaff and San Diego

Looking for a hotel in Flagstaff 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 Flagstaff


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: Flagstaff Hotel Prices and San Diego Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Flagstaff $37
    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 Airport (SAN) to Carlsbad, CA - Arrival Private Transfer: $74
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego City by Business Car: $111
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego by Executive SUV: $134
  • Arrival Private Transfer: San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego in Business Car: $103
  • Arrival Private Transfer: San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego in Luxury SUV: $115
  • Departure Private Transfer San Diego to San Diego Airport SAN in Business Car: $92
  • Departure Private Transfer: San Diego to San Diego Airport SAN in Business Car: $103
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Diego Airport SAN: $50
  • Private Transfer Airport Tijuana/Valle de Guadalupe (Ensenada) or back.: $184
  • Private Transfer from San Diego (SAN) Airport to San Diego City: $80
  • Private Transfer from San Diego City to San Diego (SAN) Airport: $80
  • Private Transfer from San Diego Port to San Diego Airport (SAN): $74

Is it cheaper to fly into Flagstaff or San Diego?

Prices for flights to both San Diego and Flagstaff 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
    Flagstaff $55
    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: $89
  • San Diego Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $95
  • Guided Secret Food Tour: $104
  • Scenic Buffet Dinner Cruise: $108
  • San Diego Dinner Cruise: $116
  • Gourmet Dinner Cruise: $118
  • San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise: $118

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Flagstaff $28
    San Diego $48

Tours and Activities in Flagstaff

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

  • 2 HR Guided Electric Bike Tour of Flagstaff and Buffalo Park: $105
  • All-day Grand Canyon • Indian Ruins • Volcano • Christian Tour: $199
  • Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour from Flagstaff: $299
  • Antelope Slot Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Day Tour from Flagstaff: $285
  • Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park Tour with Lunch & Pickup: $245
  • Comprehensive Grand Canyon Tour from Flagstaff w/Lunch: $208
  • Downtown Flagstaff Haunted History Tour: $28
  • Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course-Adult Course: $65
  • Flagstaff Ghosts Tour By Us Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Flagstaff Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Flagstaff Segway Tour: $129
  • Flagstaff, AZ: Murder Mystery Detective Experience: $15

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.

  • Waterfront Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.35
  • A Seaside Stroll: La Jolla's Hidden Treasures Self-Guided Tour: $7.99
  • Beaches & Bluffs San Diego's Ultimate Coastal Driving Tour: $9.95
  • San Diego Natural History Museum Ticket: $12
  • Apple Pies & Desert Skies: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $13
  • Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour: $14
  • San Diego Gas Lamp: At your leisure & pace. An audio walking tour.: $15
  • Explore Balboa in a Private Tour of San Diego Hidden Gems: $20
  • San Diego's Historic Treasures and Old Town Tour: $20
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in San Diego by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • San Diego Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Embarcadero Waterfront Ghost Walking Tour: $22

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Flagstaff $29
    San Diego $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Flagstaff

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

  • Spirits With The Spirits, Haunted Pub Crawl Of Downtown Flagstaff: $50
  • Haunted Pub Crawl with Guide: $50

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:

  • Gaslamp Bar Crawls and Events: $20
  • History Tour Pub Crawl of Famous Gaslamp Quarter: $30
  • Brewery Tour with Tastings and Food Pairings: $85
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $119
  • Vino! Vino! Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Private Wine Tasting Tour in Valle de Guadalupe: $137
  • Baja Tour Guide wine tour: $169
  • Sidecar Wine Tasting Tour: $199
  • Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour: $199
  • California Sunset Brewery Tour: $199
  • Guided Temecula Wine Tour from San Diego: $259
  • Luxury Private Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley from San Diego: $259


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Flagstaff and San Diego, we can see that San Diego is more expensive. And not only is Flagstaff much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Flagstaff would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Flagstaff 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 Flagstaff.

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


Which is Bigger, Flagstaff or San Diego?

San Diego has a larger population, and is about 20 times larger than the population of Flagstaff. When comparing the sizes of Flagstaff 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.