A Travel Price Comparison for California Monterey vs. Palm Springs for Nightlife, Families, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Monterey or Palm Springs?

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 Palm Springs. 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 laid back, relaxing, and nature-oriented city. It's also known for nightlife, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a chic, outdoorsy, and ritzy city. It's also popular because of the food, hiking, and shopping.

Monterey and Palm Springs: 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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Monterey or Palm Springs?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Monterey than Palm Springs, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Monterey is better known for its museums, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches, while Palm Springs is more popular for its nightlife, resorts, and hiking. Palm Springs is more touristy than Monterey and is popular for its golfing, shopping, and mid-century modern architecture. Monterey is well known for its rugged coastline, diverse marine life, and excellent seafood. Also, Monterey is famous for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

How is Monterey different from Palm Springs?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is notable for its sights and museums. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its museums and history.

Many visitors head to Monterey specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. 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.

Palm Springs offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. The Palm Springs Air Museum has an impressive collection of military planes. It's also worth visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum, which has a mix of fine art, natural history, and performing arts. You'll also find botanical gardens and even a zoo around town.


Is the Food Better in Monterey or Palm Springs? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Monterey and Palm Springs can be difficult as they are each high quality in their own way.

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.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Palm Springs makes for a great culinary experience. Fresh ingredients and typical California cuisine is common around town. Brunch is a popular option for visitors and you'll find countless brunch cafes in the area. You'll also find Mexican food, pizza, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Nightlife?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is an amazing city to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Monterey is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

Palm Springs has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. The area is filled with nightlife options that range from cocktail bars to nightclubs or breweries. You can party into the early morning at the dance clubs or enjoy a bottle of wine with friends at one of the lounges.

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

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Resorts?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is an amazing city to visit for its luxury resorts. However, Monterey is not a resort destination.

Vacationers flock to Palm Springs for its luxury resorts. Resorts range from luxurious to more laid back. Most have impressive pools and many have their own spas, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Monterey is not a resort destination.


Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is very good for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Palm Springs is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's worth going snorkeling or scuba diving 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.

Palm Springs is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Beaches?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is very good for its beaches. However, Palm Springs is not a beach destination.

Many people head to Monterey to enjoy the beach. 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.

Palm Springs is not a beach destination.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Hiking?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs. There are more than 100 trails in the Greater Palm Springs area that take you through scenic desert landscapes and unique ecosystems. Some of the most popular trails include Andreas Canyon Trail and Araby Trail.

Monterey is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Monterey or Palm Springs?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Shoppers can find a variety of high quality stores in both Monterey and Palm Springs.

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.

Palm Springs is an extremely popular place for shoppers. Shopping ranges from outlets to boutique vendors. For the most local options head to Palm Canyon Drive and for an upscale shopping experience, visit the El Paseo shopping district.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Families?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is an amazing city to visit for its family-friendly activities. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Monterey is one of the most popular family destinations. 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.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Palm Springs is very family-friendly. The year round sunny weather and diversity of outdoor activities make this a great family-friendly destination. There are desert hikes, zoos, and even a dinosaur museum. Kids can also pass their time playing at the pool or enjoying the waterslides.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Couples?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey and Palm Springs both high quality destinations for a couple.

Monterey makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. 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.

Couples visit Palm Springs frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Whether you're on a honeymoon or simply looking to escape the city, there are many romantic options in the area. From cozy inns to resort spa hotels, there are a range of accommodation options. Outdoor dining, hiking, and shopping are also popular.


Is Monterey or Palm Springs Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is very good for backpackers. However, Palm Springs is a mediocre city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Monterey is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There's a hostel in town as well as fun activities that will appeal to backpackers.

Palm Springs is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While the city is more famous for its upscale clientele, there's actually a hostel in town for backpackers.

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

Monterey
Palm Springs

Visitors will find respectable public transit in both Monterey and Palm Springs.

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

Public transit is generally limited in Palm Springs. There are nine bus routes operated by SunLine Transit Agency, but most visitors prefer to have a car to get around.

Is Monterey or Palm Springs a more walkable city?

Monterey
Palm Springs

Monterey is notable for its walkability. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its high level of walkability.

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

Palm Springs is a somewhat walkable place. Parts of the city are very walkable, particularly the touristy areas along Palm Canyon Drive.


For even more information, also check out Is Monterey Worth Visiting? and Is Palm Springs Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Palm Springs or Monterey?

How long in Monterey or Palm Springs?

It's fun to spend time in either Monterey or Palm Springs. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Palm Springs due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Monterey, and 2-4 days is enough time in Palm Springs.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Monterey than Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs? Ideal Length of Stay
    Monterey 1-3 
    Palm Springs 2-4

One day in Monterey or Palm Springs?

In Monterey, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this nature-oriented city offers. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this city.

The city of Palm Springs offers food and shopping. 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.

A weekend in Monterey or Palm Springs?

Monterey is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Palm Springs is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Palm Springs, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Monterey or Palm Springs?

You'll find nightlife and food around the laid back destination of Monterey. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Palm Springs is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that nightlife 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 Palm Springs?

Monterey is a popular place to visit. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Palm Springs is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that nightlife 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 city offers something for everyone.


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


Which place is cheaper, Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs is $206. 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 Palm Springs in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Monterey $90
    Palm Springs $120
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Monterey $180
    Palm Springs $240
Compare Hotels in Monterey and Palm Springs

Looking for a hotel in Monterey or Palm Springs? 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 Palm Springs


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 Palm Springs Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Monterey $32
    Palm Springs $52

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Palm Springs

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Palm Springs:

  • Private Transfer from Palm Springs Municipal Airport to Ontario: $265
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Vía La Quinta, Indio, CA : $160
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Palm Desert / Indian Wells: $137
  • Private Airport Transfer in Palm Springs: $198
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to SANTA ANA - Arrival Private Transfer: $129
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to ONTARIO - Arrival Private Transfer: $106
  • Palm Springs Airport to Snow Summit - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $265
  • Palm Springs Airport to Desert Hot Springs Round-Trip Transfer: $177
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LOS ANGELES - Arrival Private Transfer: $173
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LA QUINTA/INDIO - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $130
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to INDIAN WELLS - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $163
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to Desert Hot Springs Private Transfer: $88

Is it cheaper to fly into Monterey or Palm Springs?

Prices for flights to both Palm Springs 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
    Palm Springs $53

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
    Palm Springs $29

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: $4.34
  • Self-Guided John Steinbeck Walking Tour with Audio: $7.99
  • Monterey Peninsula Drive: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $8.99
  • San Fran Pacific Coast Self-Driving Tour App: $10
  • Uncover Monterey's Cannery Row: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • 17-Mile Drive Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Scenic 17-Mile Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $15
  • California: Self-Guided Driving Tours Bundle: $42
  • Monterey Fisherman's Wharf & Presidio Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $49
  • Monterey Cannery Row: Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt & Tour: $49
  • Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour: $60
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise: $65

Tours and Activities in Palm Springs

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Palm Springs are as follows:

  • 10+ Self-Guided Driving Tours from Las Vegas: $50
  • 100+ Self Guided Driving & Walking Tours by Action: $100
  • Best of Palm Springs Small Group Tour w/ Aerial Tram: $166
  • Covered Wagon Adventure & BBQ: $129
  • Death Valley National Park Audio Guided Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Death Valley National Park Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $17
  • Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bicycle Adventure: $139
  • Food Adventure Game: $99
  • Indian Canyons Walking Tour by Jeep from Palm Springs: $200
  • Joshua Tree National Park Air-Conditioned Tour: $149
  • Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour : $235
  • Joshua Tree National Park Offroad Tour: $235

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Monterey $21
    Palm Springs $13

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


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Monterey and Palm Springs, we can see that Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Monterey or Palm Springs?

Palm Springs has a larger population, and is about 41% larger than the population of Monterey. When comparing the sizes of Monterey and Palm Springs, 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 Palm Springs?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Monterey or Palm Springs in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Monterey as well as Palm Springs. Many travelers come to Monterey for the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Palm Springs in the summer for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Monterey is cooler than Palm Springs. Typically, the summer temperatures in Monterey in July average around 63°F (17°C), and Palm Springs averages at about 73°F (23°C).

Monterey usually gets more rain in July than Palm Springs. Monterey gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Palm Springs receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Monterey 63°F (17°C) 
    Palm Springs 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Palm Springs in the Autumn?

Both Palm Springs and Monterey are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Monterey in the autumn for the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Palm Springs for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months.

In October, Monterey is generally cooler than Palm Springs. Daily temperatures in Monterey average around 62°F (17°C), and Palm Springs fluctuates around 69°F (20°C).

In October, Monterey usually receives more rain than Palm Springs. Monterey gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while Palm Springs receives 0.3 inches (7 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Monterey 62°F (17°C) 
    Palm Springs 69°F (20°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Palm Springs in the Winter?

Both Palm Springs and Monterey during the winter are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Monterey for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Furthermore, the winter months attract visitors to Palm Springs because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Monterey is cooler than Palm Springs in the winter. The daily temperature in Monterey averages around 51°F (11°C) in January, and Palm Springs fluctuates around 57°F (14°C).

Monterey usually gets more rain in January than Palm Springs. Monterey gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Palm Springs receives 2 inches (52 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Monterey 51°F (11°C) 
    Palm Springs 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Palm Springs in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Monterey and Palm Springs. The spring months attract visitors to Monterey because of the beaches.

In the spring, Monterey is cooler than Palm Springs. Typically, the spring temperatures in Monterey in April average around 56°F (13°C), and Palm Springs averages at about 62°F (17°C).

In April, Monterey usually receives more rain than Palm Springs. Monterey gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while Palm Springs receives 0.9 inches (24 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Monterey 56°F (13°C) 
    Palm Springs 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for Palm Springs and Monterey

Monterey Palm Springs
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (52 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 58°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 59°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 65°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 69°F (20°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 74°F (24°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 69°F (20°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.7 inches (42 mm)