A Travel Price Comparison for California Monterey vs. San Diego for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Monterey 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 Monterey 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.

Where Should I go: Monterey or San Diego?

Monterey

When it comes to California, Monterey may not be mentioned half as much as you hear about Los Angeles or San Francisco, but it is a beautiful city to visit, with a diverse expanse of exciting and relaxing things to do, whether you're looking for adventure, a quiet getaway, or romance.

Located on California's central coast, the city of Monterey was the first State Capital of California. It was also home to many artists, athletes, and musicians, such as John Steinbeck, Clint Eastwood, and Ron Johnson.

Monterey has mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry summers. Cold season runs from December to April and warm season, from July until October. The peak travel seasons are during summer, from July to September. If you want to avoid crowds, the months of April and October are ideal times to visit for fewer crowds and comfortable weather.

San Diego

For many visitors and locals alike, San Diego is a paradise. Located in southern California, not far from Los Angeles, it has the perfect climate, wonderful beaches, and a culturally rich environment. It's surrounded by beautiful landscape and has a strong focus on wildlife conservation and eco-friendly living. Home to about 1.3 million residents, it is California's second largest city. It also has many universities, a large tech industry, and a thriving economy. Despite its size, many people perceive San Diego as a slower, more relaxed city with a pleasant vibe away from the chaos of a large city.

Which city is cheaper, San Diego or Monterey?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Monterey is $136, 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 Monterey and San Diego in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Monterey $72
    San Diego $91
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Monterey $144
    San Diego $182
Compare Hotels in Monterey and San Diego

Looking for a hotel in Monterey or San Diego? 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 San Diego


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 San Diego Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Monterey $26
    San Diego $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Monterey

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

  • Private transfer from Monterey to SFO: $370
  • Monterey Peninsula Airport One Way Transfer: $43

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 Monterey or San Diego?

Prices for flights to both San Diego 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 $45
    San Diego $36

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.
    Monterey $22
    San Diego $38

Tours and Activities in Monterey

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

  • 1-Hour Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour: $75
  • 2-Hour Monterey and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour: $130
  • 3-Hour Monterey Bay Winter Whale-Watching Tour in California: $65
  • 3-Hour Monterey, Cannery Row and Pacific Grove Sea Car Tour: $178
  • Big Sur Self-Driving Audio Tour in California (Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway): $7.60
  • Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey: $75
  • Historic Cannery Row: Explore John Steinbeck's Monterey on an audio walking tour: $5.00
  • Monterey Bay: Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise: $95
  • Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour: $65
  • Monterey State Historic Park and Fisherman’s Wharf: A seaside audio walking tour: $5.20
  • 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour: $79
  • San Fran: Carmel, Monterey & Big Sur Full-Day Private Tour: $875

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
    Monterey $17
    San Diego $17

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 Monterey and San Diego, we can see that San Diego 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 San Diego would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Diego than you might in Monterey.


When is the best time to visit Monterey or San Diego?

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 San Diego in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Monterey and San Diego. Also, the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to San Diego this time of year.

In July, Monterey is generally cooler than San Diego. Temperatures in Monterey average around 63°F (17°C), and San Diego stays around 71°F (22°C).

In July, Monterey usually receives more rain than San Diego. Monterey gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Monterey 63°F (17°C) 
    San Diego 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Monterey or San Diego in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Monterey as well as San Diego. Also, many travelers come to San Diego for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Monterey is cooler than San Diego in the autumn. The temperature in Monterey is usually 62°F (17°C) in October, and San Diego stays around 68°F (20°C).

Monterey usually gets more rain in October than San Diego. Monterey gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Monterey 62°F (17°C) 
    San Diego 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Monterey or San Diego in the Winter?

Both San Diego and Monterey are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Also, many visitors come to San Diego in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Monterey is cooler than San Diego. Typically, the winter temperatures in Monterey in January are around 51°F (11°C), and San Diego is about 57°F (14°C).

In January, Monterey usually receives more rain than San Diego. Monterey gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 1.8 inches (46 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Monterey 51°F (11°C) 
    San Diego 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Monterey or San Diego in the Spring?

Both San Diego and Monterey during the spring are popular places to visit. Furthermore, most visitors come to San Diego for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months.

In April, Monterey is generally cooler than San Diego. Temperatures in Monterey average around 56°F (13°C), and San Diego stays around 62°F (17°C).

Monterey usually gets more rain in April than San Diego. Monterey gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while San Diego receives 0.8 inches (20 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Monterey 56°F (13°C) 
    San Diego 62°F (17°C)

Typical Weather for San Diego and Monterey

Monterey San Diego
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.8 inches (46 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 59°F (15°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.8 inches (20 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) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (37 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm)


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
Monterey 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.