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

Should you visit Monterey or Sonoma?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Monterey and Sonoma. 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. So, let's dig into it.

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.

Sonoma

When people say Sonoma, they are often referring to the region's wine country, but in fact, Sonoma is a county, a valley, and a town. The county covers 1,768 square miles and is more spread out than nearby Napa. There are more than 30 cities and towns in the county and 425 wineries with tasting rooms. The county also borders the Pacific Ocean, and the beautiful 55 mile stretch of coastline is rugged and dramatic.

Which city is cheaper, Sonoma 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 Sonoma is $176. 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. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Monterey and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation

For a normal double-occupancy room in Monterey, $144 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Monterey, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $72, such as in a hostel.

Travelers usually pay around $148 for a double occupancy room in Sonoma If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Monterey $72
    Sonoma $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Monterey $144
    Sonoma $148

Local Transportation

Monterey's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $26 per person, per day on transportation in Monterey.

Sonoma's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $107 per person, per day on transportation in Sonoma.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Monterey $26
    Sonoma $107

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 Sonoma

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

  • Private transfer from Sonoma to SFO: $215
  • Private transfer from SFO to Sonoma: $215
  • From San Francisco: Transfer to Lake Tahoe & Palisades Tahoe: $1,699

Is it cheaper to fly into Monterey or Sonoma?

Prices for flights to both Sonoma 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

On average, meal and food prices in Monterey cost around $45 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $18.

Food in Sonoma costs travelers about $45 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Monterey $45
    Sonoma $45

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sonoma

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

  • Wine Country Food Tours. Sightseeing to various local artisanal food producers: $462

Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Monterey can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $22 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Sonoma can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $13 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Monterey $22
    Sonoma $13

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

Tours and Activities in Sonoma

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

  • #1 Private Walking Food, Wine & History Tour: $139
  • 6 Hour Private Wine Sonoma Tours Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passengers Van: $499
  • All-Inclusive Sonoma Wine and Picnic Tour: $198
  • Behind-the-Scenes Food and Wine E-Bike or Regular Bike Tour: $151
  • Point Reyes Station: Food and Farm Tour with Lunch: $225
  • Rides by me, Sonoma Sidecar Wine-Tasting tours: $220
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley: $130
  • Sonoma County Wine Segway Tour: $151
  • Sonoma Food and Wine Private Group Tour: $138
  • Sonoma Valley Full-Day Pedal Assist Bike Tour with Lunch - (Reg. Bike Optional): $151
  • Sonoma Valley Half-Day Wine Country Tour: $100
  • Sonoma Valley Wine Buyer's Picnic Tour: $125

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Monterey spend on average $17 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Sonoma, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $33.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Monterey $17
    Sonoma $33

Sample the Local Flavors in Sonoma

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

  • 2-Hour Private Guided E-Trike Wine Tour at Sonoma: $80
  • Sonoma County Wine Tasting Tour: $103
  • #1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour: $105
  • Napa Valley: Guided Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch: $119
  • Sonoma County: Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour: $130
  • From San Francisco: Redwoods and Wine Tasting: $179
  • Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge: $225
  • Wine Tours: $513
  • 6 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $675
  • 8-Hour Private Wine Tour Experience for up to 6 Guests - San Francisco to Sonoma: $680
  • Guided Private Wine Tour to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country: $800
  • 8 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $875


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

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Monterey vs. Sonoma Travel Comparison

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