A Travel Price Comparison for California Los Angeles vs. San Diego for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Music

Should you visit Los Angeles or San Diego?

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

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Los Angeles and San Diego. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a multicultural, sprawling, and energetic city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. Visitors also love the live music, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

San Diego

San Diego is a energetic, 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. It's also popular because of the live music, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

How is Los Angeles different from San Diego?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Museums and Historical Sights?

You'll find a number of museums and attractions in both San Diego and Los Angeles.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, Los Angeles has many famous sights for visitors. The city has an eclectic list of monuments and museums. Notable landmarks include the famous Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, the Getty Center, and the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around 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.


Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Food?

For a nice culinary experience, head to Los Angeles, which is well known for it's local dishes.

Eat your way through Los Angeles, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. As a huge and diverse city, there is no shortage of amazing food options around town. Popular dishes include Cobb Salads, Mexican Tacos, and the French Dip Sandwich.

San Diego has a delicious food scene that relies on local flavors. The city has great seafood and a diversity of cuisines. Popular local dishes include fish tacos and California burritos.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Nightlife?

The nightlife scene is relatively similar in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. The city's nightlife scene is as diverse as the city itself. There are glamorous clubs where you might spot a celebrity, as well as local dives with a more down-to-earth vibe. Some of the most famous clubs in the city include Academy, Avalon, and Boardner's.

Many people head to San Diego for the nightlife scene. The heart of the city's nightlife scene is in the Gaslamp District, which is filled with bars, clubs, and music venues.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Music?

It can be fun to see live music in either Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles has become a mecca for musicians from around the world. Music, movies, and show business - it's all part of what Los Angeles is known for. Several famous music venues include The Greek Theatre, Whiskey a Go Go, and The Roxy Theatre.

The music scene in San Diego draws a good crowd. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Resorts?

There are resorts to choose from in both Los Angeles and San Diego.

There are plenty of resorts in Los Angeles to choose from. The city is home to a number of high end resorts including The Beverly Hill Hotel, The Langham Huntington Pasadena, and The Ritz-Carlton.

With a selection of resorts, San Diego makes a nice vacation spot. 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.


Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

You'll find places where you can go scuba diving or snorkeling in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Grab a mask and fins and explore the underwater scenery in Los Angeles. Popular snorkeling or diving spots near the city include Santa Catalina Island, Diver's Cove, and Crystal Cove State Park.

Grab a mask and fins and explore the underwater scenery in San Diego. Popular snorkeling and diving spots include La Jolla Cove, Mission Bay, and Turtle Town.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Beaches?

Los Angeles and San Diego both offer beautiful beaches.

Los Angeles offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. Ranging from beaches with stunning natural beauty to those with glamourous high energy, this city has a number of beaches to choose from. Some of the most popular are Santa Monica, Malibu, Huntington Beach, and Redondo Beach.

San Diego offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. The city has great beaches with tidal pools and interesting sea life at low tide. Popular beaches include La Jolla Cove Beach, Coronado Beach, and Pacific Beach.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Hiking?

Hiking trails can be found around both Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles is well-known for its hiking and trekking. In and around the city you'll find world class urban hiking with views of the mountains and the ocean. Some of the most well-known hikes include the Charlie Turner Trail to Mount Hollywood, Runyon Canyon, and the Sara Wan Trailhead at Corral Canyon.

Many visitors go to San Diego for the hiking trails. The city is field with parks and has tons of natural beauty. Head to Torrey Pines State Park or Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail for some nice hikes.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Shopping?

Los Angeles is generally considered to be a more popular shopping destination.

Many people travel to Los Angeles specifically to go shopping. Famous for Rodeo Drive, there are many other shopping venues throughout the city. Other famous shopping areas include Robertson Blvd and the Grove.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting San Diego. Head to Fashion Valley or Westfield UTC for some fun shopping.


Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Families?

Both Los Angeles and San Diego are family-friendly destinations.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Los Angeles is very family-friendly. With its many amusement parks, including nearby Disneyland, and its countless family friendly parks and playgrounds, there is no shortage of things to do with kids around the city.

With a huge array of activities for kids, San Diego is very family-friendly. It has a number of kid-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. There's the world class zoo, several amusement parks, the beaches, aquariums, and more.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Couples?

Los Angeles and San Diego both fun destinations for a couple.

Los Angeles makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. It is a large, sprawling city with tucked away romantic scenes that are perfect for a couple's getaway or a dream honeymoon.

San Diego makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. For adventurous couples, there are many outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. There are also restaurants and a great nightlife in San Diego.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Los Angeles and San Diego are both good destinations for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Los Angeles. The city is a major travel destination for all types, and backpackers will find no shortage of hostels or budget friendly accommodation around town.

It's common for backpackers to 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 Los Angeles or San Diego better for Students?

Both Los Angeles and San Diego are popular destinations for students.

Los Angeles is a very popular place to visit for students. International students have long flocked to this for its major universities and diverse setting. Major universities in the area include UCLA, the University of Southern California, and the California Institute of Technology.

San Diego is a very popular place to visit for students. With its young population and many universities, international students will feel right at home in San Diego.


Is Los Angeles or San Diego better for Public Transit?

Visitors will find public transit in both Los Angeles and San Diego.

Los Angeles has some public transit options. Many of the public transit options are overlooked by visitors for a number of reasons, but options include the subway, light rail, and buses.

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.

Is Los Angeles or San Diego a more walkable city?

Los Angeles and San Diego are similar when it comes to walkability.

Los Angeles is a somewhat walkable city. The city is sprawling, but some of the neighborhoods are more walkable than others. Some of the more walkable neighborhoods include Hollywood, Koreatown, Downtown, and MacArthur Park.

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

Los Angeles and San Diego: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Good music scene
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Cons
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for shopping


Should I spend more time in San Diego or Los Angeles?

How long in Los Angeles or San Diego?

In either Los Angeles or San Diego, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Los Angeles than San Diego because of the overall number of sights and activities.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Los Angeles is 5-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to San Diego is 3-5 days.


  • How many days in Los Angeles or San Diego? Ideal Length of Stay
    Los Angeles 5-7 
    San Diego 3-5

One day in Los Angeles or San Diego?

People visit Los Angeles because there is so much to do. People often spend their time 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. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the outdoorsy coastal city of San Diego. It's also a great beach destination, too. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire area has lots to do.

A weekend in Los Angeles or San Diego?

People visit Los Angeles because there is so much to do. 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 city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Visitors enjoy the live music and food when visiting the idyllic destination of San Diego. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This coastal city offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Los Angeles or San Diego?

People visit Los Angeles because there is so much to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this city makes for a great vacation. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer.

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the dynamic coastal city of San Diego. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Los Angeles or San Diego?

Los Angeles is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Los Angeles, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Many people enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting San Diego. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people visit for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Which city is cheaper, San Diego or Los Angeles?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Los Angeles is $192, while the average daily cost in San Diego is $161. 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 Los Angeles and San Diego in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Los Angeles $111
    San Diego $91
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Los Angeles $222
    San Diego $182

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Los Angeles $33
    San Diego $19
Typical Local Transportation prices in Los Angeles

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


  • Hotel Parking for a Day
    $22
  • Taxi to Airport
    $55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Los Angeles

Also for Los Angeles, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles Airport LAX to Las Vegas by Minibus: $1,883
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles Airport LAX to Las Vegas by SUV: $1,616
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles Airport LAX to Las Vegas by Executive SUV: $1,598
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles LAX to Palm Springs or San Diego by Minibus: $569
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles LAX to Palm Springs/San Diego by Luxury Car: $524
  • LOS ANGELES to Palm Springs Airport (PSP) - Departure Private Transfer: $485
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles LAX to Palm Springs/San Diego by Exec. SUV: $480
  • Arrival Private Transfer Los Angeles LAX to Palm Springs or San Diego by SUV: $453
  • Los Angeles Private Transfer To Coechella Valley, CA.: $439
  • Private Transfer - LAX Airport to San Diego/ Las Vegas in a Luxurious SUV: $420
  • San Diego Private Transfer From Hollywood or Burbank.: $398
  • Los Angeles Private Transfer To Tijuana Border Crossing.: $398

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • Transfer from San Diego International Airport to San Diego: $62
  • Tijuana Border Crossing Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $398
  • SAN Airport Private Transfer: $77
  • San Diego to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Departure Private Transfer: $357
  • San Diego to Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) - Departure Private Transfer: $342
  • San Diego hotel/address to San Diego Airport (SAN) - Departure Private Transfer: $60
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Palm Springs.: $398
  • San Diego Private Transfer To N. Hollywood/Burbank area.: $398
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $389
  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego hotel/address - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $119
  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer: $60
  • Private transfer: San Diego to San Diego Airport (SAN): $622

Is it cheaper to fly into Los Angeles or San Diego?

Prices for flights to both San Diego and Los Angeles 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
    Los Angeles $35
    San Diego $36
Typical Food prices in Los Angeles

For Los Angeles, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Mexican Dinner (family of 4)
    $32
  • Burritos for Two
    $15
  • Coffee and Danish
    $7.70

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Los Angeles

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

  • How to Cook the Perfect Steak Virtual Cooking Class: $42
  • West Hollywood Food Tour: $75
  • Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour: $77
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours Los Angeles Venice Beach: $96
  • Private Authentic Middle Eastern Cooking Class in Reseda, Los Angeles: $102
  • Luxury Vegan Food Tours of Los Angeles: $125
  • Secret Food Tour of Venice Beach, Los Angeles w/ Private Tour Option: $207

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:

  • San Diego North Park Food Tour: $49
  • Liberty Station Food Tour: $49
  • Market and Guacamole Cooking Class in Tijuana Mexico: $89
  • Private Cooking Demonstration of Indian Fusion Cuisine in San Diego: $96
  • Farmers Market Tour & Social Cooking With A Chef: $100
  • San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise: $111
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Diego: $129
  • Secret Food Tours San Diego w/ Private Tour Option: $277

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Los Angeles $64
    San Diego $38
Typical Entertainment prices in Los Angeles

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Los Angeles's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Santa Monica Pier Rides (family of 4)
    $37
  • Bowling
    $13
  • Hollywood Tour for Two
    $30
  • Six Flags for 2
    $96

Tours and Activities in Los Angeles

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

  • 1 Hour Instagram Pics Hollywood Sign Tour: $39
  • 15 mins Driving Tour in a Ferrari California T spider in hollywood: $69
  • 1HOUR FERRARI CALIFORNIA driving Tour from Hollywood to Beverly Hills: $300
  • 2 Hour Celebrity Homes Tour: $39
  • 2 Hour Venice Beach Bike Tour: $61
  • 2 hour Horseback Riding Tour near the Hollywood Sign with Transportation: $127
  • 2-Hour Hollywood Bike Tour: $60
  • 2-Hour Hollywood Walking and Hiking Tour with Skyline Views: $34
  • 3 Hour Hollywood to Beverly Hills small group Tour: $41
  • 3 Hour Venice Beach Bike Tour: $71
  • 3 Hours Los Angeles VIP Tour: $49
  • 3 Hours Private Los Angeles Tour: $357

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.

  • 1-Hour Voodoo Escape Room Experience in San Diego: $35
  • 1Hr GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Harbor/Gaslamp Quarter: $63
  • 2 Hour Whale Watching Kayak Tour for Two: $77
  • 4 Hour Whale Watching/Eco Adventure: $163
  • Affordable, Luxury Sailing Tour of San Diego's Bay and Coastal Waterways: $112
  • All Day San Diego City and Shopping Tour: $95
  • All Inclusive Beer Tour-Party bus: $169
  • Behind-the-Scenes at Petco Park Tour: $23
  • Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past: $69
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 12 Guests: $1,200
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 6 Guests: $600
  • Coastal Beauty - Private Sunset & Night Photography Tour: $455

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Los Angeles $11
    San Diego $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Los Angeles

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

  • Brews Cruise- DTLA Brewery tour by bike: $50
  • Brewery Walking Tour -- Downtown / Arts District: $81
  • Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Day Tour from Los Angeles: $249
  • Los Angeles Wine Tour: $250
  • The Private Malibu Wine Tour: $419
  • Food and Wine Tasting Party: $750
  • Private Tour: Malibu Wine Tasting for Two by Limousine from Los Angeles: $999

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:

  • San Diego Bar Hunt: Slammin' San Diego Bar Crawl: $12
  • Wine Tasting Or Beer Tasting: $15
  • San Diego Brewery Tour: $85
  • San Diego Micro Brewery Tour: $91
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $95
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $101
  • Private San Diego Brewery Tour: $107
  • All inclusive brewery tour-Fire Truck: $189
  • Luxury Private Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley from San Diego.: $249
  • Private Wine Tour of Temecula from San Diego: $475


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

Budget Your Trip

Budget Your Trip has average travel costs for thousands of cities around the world, all provided by other travelers. You can also register to organize your spending by category and location with graphs, maps, charts, and tables.

Share This Page
Pin This Page
Los Angeles vs. San Diego Travel Comparison

Some of the links on this website are sponsored or affiliate links which help to financially support this site. By clicking the link and making a purchase, we may receive a small commission, but this does not affect the price of your purchase.