A Travel Price Comparison for California Monterey vs. Napa Valley for Food, Families, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Monterey or Napa Valley?

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 Monterey and Napa Valley. 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.

Monterey

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

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a idyllic, scenic, and picturesque area. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the food, hiking, and shopping.

Monterey and Napa Valley: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Monterey. Although Monterey and Napa Valley are popular destinations, Monterey has more sights and attractions for tourists. Monterey is very popular for its museums, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches, while Napa Valley attracts visitors for its food, hiking, and impressive beauty. Monterey is famous for its rugged coastline, diverse marine life, and excellent seafood. It is also well known for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Napa Valley is famous for its world class wineries and beautiful countryside.

How is Monterey different from Napa Valley?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is a great city for its historical sights. However, Napa Valley is not known for its sights and museums.

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.

Napa Valley offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. Most visitors spend their time visiting vineyards, but there are a couple of local museums and galleries in the area that are worth checking out.


Is the Food Better in Monterey or Napa Valley? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Napa Valley is an amazing area to visit for its restaurants. Also, Monterey is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Eat your way through Napa Valley, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. It's most known for its world-class wine, but Napa Valley is also filled with Michelin starred restaurants and charming local eateries. Whether you're looking for a casual meal or something more upscale, there is no shortage of options. Most places take advantage of local ingredients that are very fresh. Menus change regularly and seasonal ingredients are common. And, of course, you'll find a wide selection of local wines.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Monterey makes for a great culinary experience. 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.

Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Nightlife?

Monterey
Napa Valley

The very good nightlife scene is relatively similar in Monterey and Napa Valley.

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.

Napa Valley is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. In the evening, visitors will enjoy the area's live music scene, theaters, and bars. There are also plenty of wine bars where you can continue to enjoy local wines.

Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is a city with good options for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Napa Valley 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.

Napa Valley is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Beaches?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is a city with good options for the beach. However, Napa Valley 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.

Napa Valley is not a beach destination.

Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Hiking?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a very popular place for its hiking trails. However, Monterey is not a hiking destination.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Napa Valley. There are a number of state parks in the area, and there are also trails that pass by vineyards. Some of the best hiking trails are found in Alston Park, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, or Las Posadas State Forest.

Monterey is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Shoppers can find a variety of very good stores in both Monterey and Napa Valley.

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.

Napa Valley is an extremely popular place for shoppers. There are many interesting local boutiques in the different towns. You'll find shops selling clothing, jewelry, local items, and gifts. Some of the best shopping is found along First Street in downtown Napa.


Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Families?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Napa Valley is not as popular, but is still a nice area 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.

Napa Valley is a family-friendly place to visit. Vineyards and wine tasting may be what comes to mind for most travelers in Napa Valley, but those visiting with kids will appreciate the hiking trails, markets, and outdoor activities.

Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Couples?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Napa Valley is an amazing area to visit for couples. Also, Monterey is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Napa Valley is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. It's long been considered a favorite honeymoon destination for newly-weds. The scenic vineyards and charming hotels make this the perfect couple's destination, whether you're celebrating an anniversary or simply want some time away together.

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 Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is a city with good options for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Napa Valley is not known for backpackers.

Monterey is a good city to visit for backpackers. There's a hostel in town as well as fun activities that will appeal to backpackers.

Napa Valley is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's considered to be more of a luxury destination than a backpacker's retreat, but there are a few affordable places to stay in the area.


Is Monterey or Napa Valley Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Napa Valley is not known 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 Napa Valley. Public transit in the area is limited but within the city of Napa there are buses operated by the Vine Transit.

Is Monterey or Napa Valley a more walkable city?

Monterey
Napa Valley

Monterey is a great city for its ease of walking around. However, Napa Valley is not known 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.

Napa Valley is not a walkable city. The vineyards are spread out and require a car or bike to access.

For even more information, also check out Is Monterey Worth Visiting? and Is Napa Valley Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Napa Valley or Monterey?

How long in Monterey or Napa Valley?

It's fun to spend time in either Monterey or Napa Valley. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Napa Valley due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Monterey, and 1-4 days is enough time in Napa Valley.

Families should spend more time in Monterey than Napa Valley. 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 Napa Valley than Monterey. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Napa Valley that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Monterey than Napa Valley 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 Monterey or Napa Valley? Ideal Length of Stay
    Monterey 1-3 
    Napa Valley 1-4

One day in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the laid back city of Monterey. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

The beautiful area of Napa Valley offers nightlife and food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one day here. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


A weekend in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the nature-oriented destination of Monterey. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Napa Valley is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this area 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 Napa Valley, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Monterey or Napa Valley?

The nature-oriented city of Monterey offers museums and nightlife. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Napa Valley is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that food 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.

A week in Monterey or Napa Valley?

Many people enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting Monterey. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Napa Valley is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that food 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 area offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America, The Best Cultural Tours in United States of America, The Best Photography Tours in United States of America, and The Best Camping Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Napa Valley or Monterey?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Monterey is $170, while the average daily cost in Napa Valley is $288. 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 Monterey and Napa Valley in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Monterey $90
    Napa Valley $126
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Monterey $180
    Napa Valley $252
Compare Hotels in Monterey and Napa Valley

Looking for a hotel in Monterey or Napa Valley? 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 Monterey


Hotels in Napa Valley


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 and Napa Valley Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Monterey $32
    Napa Valley $183

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Napa Valley

Also for Napa Valley, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Napa, CA to Sacramento Airport (SMF) - Departure Private Transfer : $111

Is it cheaper to fly into Monterey or Napa Valley?

Prices for flights to both Napa Valley and Monterey 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
    Monterey $56
    Napa Valley $62

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.
    Monterey $27
    Napa Valley $28

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: $4.32
  • Big Sur: Sightseeing Tour with 4 to 5 Stops: $125
  • California: Self-Guided Driving 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: $120
  • Monterey Fisherman's Wharf & Presidio Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $49
  • Monterey Peninsula Drive: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $8.99
  • Monterey Peninsula Sightseeing Tour along the 17 Mile Drive: $115
  • 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour: $79

Tours and Activities in Napa Valley

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Napa Valley.

  • #1 Sonoma Walking Food, Wine & History Tour (Public Tours): $179
  • 3-Hour Guided Wine Country Tour in Sonoma on Electric Trike: $175
  • 5-Hour Guided Wine Country Tour in Sonoma on an Electric Trike: $225
  • Behind-the-Scenes Food and Wine E-Bike Tour: $179
  • Full-Day Napa Valley E-Bike Tour: $225
  • Half Day Tour: $139
  • Half-Day Napa Valley E-Bike Tour: $184
  • Napa Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Napa Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Napa Valley River History Kayak Tour: Single Kayaks: $79
  • Napa Valley Wineries Tour Including Picnic Lunch: $125
  • Napa and Sonoma Wine and Food Experience (Napa pickup): $119

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Monterey $21
    Napa Valley $66

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: $150

Sample the Local Flavors in Napa Valley

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

  • Napa Cable Car Wine Tasting Tour: $129
  • Intro to Wine Tasting with Napa Sommelière : $195
  • Healdsburg Cycling Wine Tour : $199
  • Yountville Food and Wine Tour in Napa: $275
  • Napa's Downtown Food & Wine Tour : $275
  • Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge: $282
  • Private, Customized Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $300


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

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


Which is Bigger, Monterey or Napa Valley?

Napa Valley has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Monterey. When comparing the sizes of Monterey and Napa Valley, 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 Monterey or Napa Valley?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Monterey or Napa Valley in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Monterey and Napa Valley. Most visitors come to Monterey for the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Furthermore, the summer months attract visitors to Napa Valley because of the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

Monterey is cooler than Napa Valley in the summer. The daily temperature in Monterey averages around 63°F (17°C) in July, and Napa Valley fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

In July, Monterey usually receives less rain than Napa Valley. Monterey gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Napa Valley receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Monterey 63°F (17°C) 
    Napa Valley 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Napa Valley in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Monterey as well as Napa Valley. The autumn months attract visitors to Monterey because of the shopping scene. Additionally, the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Napa Valley this time of year.

In the autumn, Monterey is around the same temperature as Napa Valley. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Monterey in October average around 62°F (17°C), and Napa Valley averages at about 62°F (17°C).

Monterey usually gets less rain in October than Napa Valley. Monterey gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while Napa Valley receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Monterey 62°F (17°C) 
    Napa Valley 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Napa Valley in the Winter?

Both Napa Valley and Monterey are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Monterey this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Napa Valley for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In January, Monterey is generally a little warmer than Napa Valley. Daily temperatures in Monterey average around 51°F (11°C), and Napa Valley fluctuates around 46°F (8°C).

In January, Monterey usually receives less rain than Napa Valley. Monterey gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Napa Valley receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Monterey 51°F (11°C) 
    Napa Valley 46°F (8°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Napa Valley in the Spring?

Both Napa Valley and Monterey during the spring are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Monterey for the beaches. Also, many visitors come to Napa Valley in the spring for the natural beauty.

Monterey is around the same temperature as Napa Valley in the spring. The daily temperature in Monterey averages around 56°F (13°C) in April, and Napa Valley fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

Monterey usually gets less rain in April than Napa Valley. Monterey gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while Napa Valley receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Monterey 56°F (13°C) 
    Napa Valley 56°F (13°C)

Typical Weather for Napa Valley and Monterey

Monterey Napa Valley
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)