A Travel Price Comparison for California Joshua Tree National Park vs. Monterey for Families, Backpackers, Attractions, and Couples

Should you visit Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey 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.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique, fascinating, and adventurous national park. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the hiking.

Monterey

Monterey is a nature-oriented, laid back, and relaxing city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Monterey. Although Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey are popular destinations, Monterey has more sights and attractions for tourists. Monterey is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and shopping, while Joshua Tree National Park attracts visitors for its hiking and impressive beauty. Joshua Tree National Park is famous for its unique vegetation and large boulders. Monterey is famous for its rugged coastline, diverse marine life, and excellent seafood. It is also well known for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

How is Joshua Tree National Park different from Monterey?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Monterey and Joshua Tree National Park. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a very popular place for its museums and history. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its museums and landmarks.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Monterey. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a not-to-be-missed destination in town. You can also visit the Monterey State Historic Park or the Monterey Museum of Art.

Joshua Tree National Park offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. There are a couple of museums in the area that display local art or cultural and historical items.


Is the Food Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a very popular place for its restaurants. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

Monterey has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Seafood and local produce are what make the food special. There are many great restaurants to you can choose from that will let you enjoy the classic seafood dishes like clam chowder or oysters, as well as fresh artichokes and local wine.

While Joshua Tree National Park is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. There aren't any restaurants inside the park, so you'll want to pack your own food and eat at one of the picnic areas.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Nightlife?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a very popular place for its evening party scene. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for nightlife.

Monterey has a large number of nightlife venues. There's a buzzing atmosphere at night with bars, breweries, and casual eateries all coming to life. Some of the best venues are found at the Old Fisherman's Wharf and along Alvarado Street.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Joshua Tree National Park. Stargazing and gathering around campfires are the most popular activities during the evening.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a city with good options for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Joshua Tree National Park is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's fun to get in the water and check out the local marine life in Monterey. Scuba diving offers an unforgettable experience. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary gives you the unique experience of seeing sea lions, otters, kelp forests, crabs, and more.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Beaches?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a city with good options for the beach. However, Joshua Tree National Park is not a beach destination.

Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Monterey. The beaches highlight the laid by California vibe with sunbathers and beachgoers soaking up the atmosphere. There are both inlets and sandy beaches where you can see sea lions or explore the tidal pools.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a beach destination.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Hiking?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing national park to visit for its hiking trails. However, Monterey is not a hiking destination.

Joshua Tree National Park is well-known for its hiking and trekking. There are a wide range of hikes that include easy, moderate, and strenuous options. Some of the best hikes include Discovery Trail, Boy Scout Trail, and Black Rock Canyon Panorama Loop.

Monterey is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a very popular place for its shopping areas. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Monterey. You'll find both local vendors and tourist shops around town. Cannery Row is a popular destination, as is Old Fisherman's Wharf and the Old Farmer's Market.

Joshua Tree National Park has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. There is a park store where you can pick up gifts or other items.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Families?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is renowned for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Joshua Tree National Park is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

Monterey is an extremely popular city to visit for families. Monterey Bay Aquarium is a highlight for kids and adults alike. There's also the Monterey Zoo as well as lighthearted activities like a mirror maze. MY Museum is an interactive museum that's perfect for younger kids. There are also whale watching trips and nearby beaches.

Joshua Tree National Park is a very family-friendly place to visit. With its giant boulders that kids can scramble on and its Dr. Seuss-like Joshua Trees, this really is nature's best playground. There are also kid-friendly hikes and Junior Ranger Programs that will both educate and entertain the kids.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Couples?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Both Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey are very good destinations for a couple's getaway.

Joshua Tree National Park makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples who enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports like rock climbing, and hiking through spectacular landscapes will find this to be the ultimate romantic destination.

Couples visit Monterey frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. There are many romantic inns in town as well as quaint restaurants and fun activities. There are also spas, wine bars, and plenty of shopping for couples to enjoy as well.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing national park to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Monterey is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Joshua Tree National Park, as it is a very popular national park for budget travelers. There are campgrounds and hiking trails that are popular with backpackers and nature enthusiasts.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Monterey. There's a hostel in town as well as fun activities that will appeal to backpackers.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Monterey. There is a bus system through the area.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Joshua Tree National Park. There's no reliable public transportation in the park.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey a more walkable city?

Joshua Tree National Park
Monterey

Monterey is a very popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its walkability.

Monterey is a very walkable destination. If you stay near the town center, it's very walkable and easy to get around on foot.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a walkable national park. You need a car to truly explore the park.

For even more information, also check out Is Joshua Tree National Park Worth Visiting? and Is Monterey Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Monterey or Joshua Tree National Park?

How long in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Joshua Tree National Park than in Monterey. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Joshua Tree National Park, and 1-3 days is enough time in Monterey.

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

Couples should spend more time in Monterey than Joshua Tree National Park. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Monterey that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Monterey than Joshua Tree National Park 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 Monterey.


  • How many days in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey? Ideal Length of Stay
    Joshua Tree National Park 2-4 
    Monterey 1-3

One day in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

The beautiful national park of Joshua Tree National Park offers . Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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.

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the laid back city of Monterey. So, one day is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.


A weekend in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Joshua Tree National Park is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this national park makes for a great vacation. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Joshua Tree National Park, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Monterey. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

Five days in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Joshua Tree National Park is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. Five days 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. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Monterey is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. It offers something for everyone.

A week in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that hiking is why people visit. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This national park offers something for everyone.

Monterey is a popular choice for travelers. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


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, Monterey or Joshua Tree National Park?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Joshua Tree National Park is $152, while the average daily cost in Monterey is $170. 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 Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Joshua Tree National Park $87
    Monterey $90
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Joshua Tree National Park $174
    Monterey $180
Compare Hotels in Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey

Looking for a hotel in Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey? 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 Joshua Tree National Park


Hotels in Monterey


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: Monterey Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $47
    Monterey $32

Is it cheaper to fly into Joshua Tree National Park or Monterey?

Prices for flights to both Monterey and Joshua Tree National Park 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
    Joshua Tree National Park $35
    Monterey $56

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Monterey

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

  • Guided Walking Food Tour with Tastings: $150

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $27
    Monterey $27

Tours and Activities in Monterey

For Monterey, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • App self-guided tour Monterrey in California: $4.37
  • Big Sur: Sightseeing Tour with 4 to 5 Stops: $164
  • California: Self-Guided Audio Tours Bundle: $50
  • From San Francisco: Monterey and Carmel Day Tour: $119
  • Monterey Bay: Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise: $95
  • Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour: $70
  • Monterey Cannery Row: Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $49
  • Monterey County Salinas Valley Farm Tour: $158
  • Monterey Fisherman's Wharf & Presidio Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $49
  • Monterey Peninsula Drive: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $8.99
  • Monterey Peninsula Sightseeing Tour including 17 Mile Drive: $145
  • 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour: $79

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Joshua Tree National Park $4.93
    Monterey $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Monterey

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

  • Carmel Valley Wine Tasting Tour: $188


When comparing the travel costs between Joshua Tree National Park and Monterey, we can see that Monterey is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Joshua Tree National Park Expensive? and Is Monterey Expensive?.