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

Should you visit Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma?

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 Sonoma 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.

Sonoma

Sonoma is a scenic, serene, and relaxing county. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and beaches.

Joshua Tree National Park and Sonoma: 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
Pros
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with backpackers


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

Travelers will usually find more to do in Sonoma. Although Joshua Tree National Park and Sonoma are popular destinations, Sonoma has more sights and attractions for tourists. Sonoma is very popular for its food, nightlife, resorts, beaches, shopping, and impressive beauty, while Joshua Tree National Park attracts visitors for its hiking. Sonoma is more touristy than Joshua Tree National Park and is known for its world-class winemaking and sustainable agriculture. It is also well known for Buena Vista Winery. Joshua Tree National Park is famous for its unique vegetation and large boulders.

How is Joshua Tree National Park different from Sonoma?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sonoma 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 Sonoma?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

You'll find a number of reasonable museums and attractions in both Sonoma and Joshua Tree National Park.

While most people don't head to Joshua Tree National Park specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There are a couple of museums in the area that display local art or cultural and historical items.

Sonoma offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While most people don't think of museums when they think of Sonoma, there are actually some interesting local options. The California Indian Museum, the Cotati Museum, and the Depot Park Museum are also local are fascinating.


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

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Sonoma is renowned for its restaurants. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

Many restaurants in Sonoma have been singled out for their culinary prowess. Although wine may be the first thing you think about, the region is also filled with farm-to-table restaurants and award-winning dining options. The food is almost always fresh and local. You can sample many local ingredients such as vegetables, cheeses, olive oils, and fish.

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 Sonoma Better for Nightlife?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

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

Sonoma has a large number of nightlife venues. Lounges, wine bars, and live music venues offer a variety of activities for visitors during the evening hours.

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 Sonoma Better for Resorts?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Sonoma is a very popular place for its luxury resorts. However, Joshua Tree National Park is not a resort destination.

In Sonoma, you'll find some of the region's top resorts. Spa hotels, charming inns, and beautiful resorts all offer a variety of options for visitors.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a resort destination.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma Better for Beaches?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Sonoma is a very popular place for the beach. However, Joshua Tree National Park is not a beach destination.

The beaches at Sonoma attract visitors from all over. The county has a coastline that includes several great beaches as well as rocky shoreline. The beaches include secluded coves and picturesque cliffs as well as sand dunes and sandy beaches.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a beach destination.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma Better for Hiking?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Joshua Tree National Park is terrific for hiking. Also, Sonoma is not as popular, but is still a nice county for the nearby hiking options.

Around Joshua Tree National Park visitors will find world-class hiking trails. 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.

Sonoma is a popular spot for hiking. In between wine tastings you can explore the area's stunning natural beauty. There are hikes through the vineyards, along the coast, or through forested parks. Some of the best hikes are found in Jack London State Historic Park, Sugarloaf State Park, and Armstrong Woods State Park.

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

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Sonoma 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 Sonoma. You'll find a range of local vendors in the area, selling everything from jewelry to art, home decor, and olive oil.

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 Sonoma Better for Families?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Joshua Tree National Park is a great national park for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Sonoma is not as popular, but is still a nice county for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. 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.

Sonoma is a family-friendly place to visit. While most people think immediately of wine tours, there's actually a lot more to Sonoma County. Kids will enjoy the many outdoor activities in the area, which include beaches, parks, wildlife viewing, and more. There's also horseback riding and even ziplining opportunities.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma Better for Couples?

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Sonoma is renowned for couples. Also, Joshua Tree National Park is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Sonoma is a great county for couples, as it has plenty to offer. It has long been a favorite honeymoon destination for couples who come for the vineyards and wine tours. There are also charming hotels, award winning restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

Couples visit Joshua Tree National Park frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Couples who enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports like rock climbing, and hiking through spectacular landscapes will find this to be the ultimate romantic destination.

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

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Joshua Tree National Park is terrific for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Sonoma is not known 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.

Sonoma is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are a few budget hotel options in the area, but not much in the form of hostels.


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

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Neither Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma offer decent public transit.

Public transit is quite limited in Joshua Tree National Park. There's no reliable public transportation in the park.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Sonoma. While there are buses, they are almost never used by tourists. There is the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley which you should purchase tickets for in advance.

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

Joshua Tree National Park
Sonoma

Neither Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma are walkable places.

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

Sonoma is not a walkable national park. You really must have a car to get around the area and explore it efficiently.

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

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

How long in Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma?

It's fun to spend time in either Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma. In our opinion, Sonoma has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Sonoma than Joshua Tree National Park. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

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


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

One day in Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma?

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the destination of Joshua Tree National Park. 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.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the scenic county of Sonoma. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.


A weekend in Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma?

Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Sonoma. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. Most people visit for the food. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.

Five days in Joshua Tree National Park or Sonoma?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Joshua Tree National Park. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Sonoma is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. 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 Sonoma?

Travelers enjoy the when visiting the fascinating destination of Joshua Tree National Park. This national park 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.

Sonoma is a popular choice for travelers. Most people visit for the food. 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, Sonoma 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 Sonoma is $219. 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 Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Joshua Tree National Park $87
    Sonoma $93
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Joshua Tree National Park $174
    Sonoma $186
Compare Hotels in Joshua Tree National Park and Sonoma

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


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: Sonoma Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $47
    Sonoma $134

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

Prices for flights to both Sonoma 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
    Sonoma $56

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $27
    Sonoma $16

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Joshua Tree National Park $4.93
    Sonoma $41


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

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 Sonoma Expensive?.


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