A Travel Price Comparison for California Monterey vs. Santa Monica for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Monterey or Santa Monica?

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 Santa Monica. 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 Santa Monica?

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.

Santa Monica

When it comes to visiting Los Angeles, Santa Monica is high on the must-see-and-do list. Chances are you'll recognize the iconic ferris wheel from Pacific Park in films and TV shows, and nothing beats the relaxed yet bustling vibe of this laid-back city.

Santa Monica is a popular and diverse beach town, cultural hub, fitness venue, shopping district, and neighborhood full of unique and trendy restaurants, all rolled into one. Visited by more than 6 million people a year, it's no wonder you'll always find a crowd there.

So whether you're up for a high-end shopping spree, bicycling down the waterfront, an eclectic food crawl or simply a stroll down the promenade, Santa Monica is sure to have something in store for you.

The weather in Santa Monica is moderate, with average summer highs in the low to mid 70s and winter climate that rests comfortably around the low 50s. Though flip flops and sandals are considered year-round footwear in Los Angeles, bring comfortable walking shoes for browsing galleries, malls, and boutiques. Santa Monica is the perfect place to break out your California-casual wardrobe.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Monica 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 Santa Monica is $168. 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 Santa Monica in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Monterey $72
    Santa Monica $98
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Monterey $144
    Santa Monica $196
Compare Hotels in Monterey and Santa Monica

Looking for a hotel in Monterey or Santa Monica? 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 Santa Monica


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 Santa Monica Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Monterey $26
    Santa Monica $40

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Monterey

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

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Monica

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Monica:

  • Private Transfer to/from LAX Airport: $100
  • Santa Monica to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $61
  • Santa Monica to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Deparure Private Transfer: $113
  • Private Transfer From Santa Monica Area To Los Angeles Airport (LAX).: $79
  • Malibu or Pacific Palisades Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $115

Is it cheaper to fly into Monterey or Santa Monica?

Prices for flights to both Santa Monica 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
    Santa Monica $42

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Monica

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Santa Monica.

  • Taste of Santa Monica Walking Food Tour: $84

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Monterey $22
    Santa Monica $30

Tours and Activities in Monterey

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

  • Historic Cannery Row: Explore John Steinbeck's Monterey on an audio walking tour: $5.00
  • Monterey State Historic Park and Fisherman’s Wharf: A seaside audio walking tour: $5.20
  • Big Sur Self-Driving Audio Tour in California (Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway): $7.60
  • Scenic 17 Mile Drive Self-Driving Audio Tour: $8.00
  • The Original Monterey Walking Tours: Guided Tours of Historic Monterey 10 AM: $25
  • The Original Monterey Walking Tours : Guided Tours of Cannery Row 2 PM: $27
  • Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour: $65
  • 3-Hour Monterey Bay Winter Whale-Watching Tour in California: $65
  • Half-Day Whale Watching Tour From Monterey: $75
  • 1-Hour Monterey and Cannery Row Sea Car Tour: $75
  • 17-Mile Drive Guided E-Bike Tour: $79
  • Monterey Bay: Sunset Catamaran Sailing Cruise: $95

Tours and Activities in Santa Monica

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Santa Monica are as follows:

  • 5-Hour Limo Tour with Open Bar: $266
  • Bvc 02 -half Day Tour Santa Monica.: $45
  • California Coastline Helicopter Tour: $219
  • Deluxe 6-Hour Los Angeles Private Limo Tour: $773
  • Experience a beach sĂ©ance with a medium in Santa Monica: $48
  • From The O.J. Simpson Tour: $49
  • Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach: $53
  • Half-Day Private Gas-Powered Scooter Tour in Los Angeles: $70
  • Half-Day Private Gas-Powered Skateboard Tour in Los Angeles: $85
  • Half-Day Private Tour in California by Gas-Powered Bicycle: $90
  • Las Vegas 2 Day Tour from Los Angeles Santa Monica Venice and Marina Del Rey: $147
  • Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour: $55

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Monterey $17
    Santa Monica $17

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Monica

Also in Santa Monica, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Vintage VW Hippie Tour to Malibu with wine tasting: $148


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


When is the best time to visit Monterey or Santa Monica?

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 Santa Monica in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Monterey as well as Santa Monica.


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In July, Monterey is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Temperatures in Monterey average around 63°F (17°C), and Santa Monica stays around 70°F (21°C).

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


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Monterey 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 70°F (21°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Santa Monica in the Autumn?

Both Santa Monica and Monterey are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities.


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Monterey is cooler than Santa Monica in the autumn. The temperature in Monterey is usually 62°F (17°C) in October, and Santa Monica stays around 67°F (20°C).

In October, Monterey usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Monterey gets 0.6 inches (14 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (6 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Monterey 62°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 67°F (20°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Santa Monica in the Winter?

Both Santa Monica and Monterey during the winter are popular places to visit.


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

Monterey usually gets more rain in January than Santa Monica. Monterey gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Monterey 51°F (11°C) 
    Santa Monica 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Monterey or Santa Monica in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Monterey and Santa Monica.


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In April, Monterey is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Temperatures in Monterey average around 56°F (13°C), and Santa Monica stays around 61°F (16°C).

In April, Monterey usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Monterey gets 1.1 inches (29 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Monterey 56°F (13°C) 
    Santa Monica 61°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Monica and Monterey

Monterey Santa Monica
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 51°F (11°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 57°F (14°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm)
Feb 53°F (12°C) 1.8 inches (47 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.1 inches (55 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.4 inches (10 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 61°F (16°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jun 62°F (16°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Sep 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.6 inches (14 mm) 67°F (20°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Nov 56°F (13°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Dec 51°F (10°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 58°F (14°C) 0.6 inches (15 mm)


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Monterey vs. Santa Monica Travel Comparison

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