A Travel Price Comparison for California Napa Valley vs. Santa Monica for Food, Families, Couples, and Nightlife

Should you visit Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Napa Valley and Santa Monica can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is a picturesque, idyllic, and scenic area. You'll find world class beauty here as well. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a energetic, active, and lively town. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and beaches.

Napa Valley and Santa Monica: Pros and Cons

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
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Home to the Santa Monica Pier


Is there more to do in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Santa Monica. Although Napa Valley and Santa Monica are roughly the same size, Santa Monica has more sights and attractions for tourists. Santa Monica is more popular for its museums and beaches, while Napa Valley is known for its food, hiking, and impressive beauty. Santa Monica is more touristy than Napa Valley and is popular for its active lifestyle and fun-filled activities. It is also home to the Santa Monica Pier. Napa Valley is popular for its world class wineries and beautiful countryside.

How is Napa Valley different from Santa Monica?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a town with good options for its historical sights. However, Napa Valley is not known for its sights and museums.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Santa Monica. There's a thriving arts scene and a number of museums around town. Check out the Museum of Flying, the California Heritage Museum, or the Santa Monica History Museum.

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 Napa Valley or Santa Monica? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Napa Valley is an amazing area to visit for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Santa Monica is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

For foodies, Napa Valley is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. 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.

Santa Monica has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. You'll find a diversity of restaurants in the area, many of which make use of the town's many farmer's markets. The restaurant scene has a beachy vibe with a lot of outdoor dining opportunities. There are also a range of cuisines to choose from such as Mexican, Italian, casual, and upscale.

Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Nightlife?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find excellent options in both Napa Valley and Santa Monica.

The nightlife in Napa Valley has something for everybody. 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.

Santa Monica offers plenty to do in the evening. There's a relaxed and laid back vibe to the nightlife scene. Many venues offer outdoor seating and live music in a casual setting. You can hang out on a patio and enjoy the California climate while you sip cold drinks and the beach town atmosphere.

Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Beaches?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is terrific for the beach. However, Napa Valley is not a beach destination.

Santa Monica is considered to be a world-class beach destination. Santa Monica Beach is large and lined with bike trails. It's also filled with activity and you'll find many water sports, beach volleyball, and surfing in the area. There's also the famous Santa Monica Pier, which has an amusement park aquarium, Ferris wheal, dining, and shopping.

Napa Valley is not a beach destination.


Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Hiking?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Napa Valley is notable for the nearby hiking options. However, Santa Monica is not a hiking destination.

Napa Valley is a popular spot for hiking. 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.

Santa Monica is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

If you're looking to go shopping, Napa Valley and Santa Monica both offer plenty of excellent spots.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Napa Valley. 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.

Santa Monica is an extremely popular place for shoppers. It's easy to pass the time shopping in Santa Monica. There are independent vendors, fashion boutiques, and art galleries. Head to Montana Avenue or Main Street for some of the best shopping.

Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Families?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica 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.

Santa Monica is an extremely popular town to visit for families. Many families spend their days hanging out on the beaches, soaking up the sun, and even trying to surf. There's a boardwalk as well as bike paths that are perfect for people watching. You should also check out the Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier, which is a thrilling amusement park.

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 Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Couples?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Napa Valley is an amazing area to visit for its romantic activities. Also, Santa Monica is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for couples.

Napa Valley makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

Santa Monica makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Fun days on the beach, peaceful walks at sunset, and a wild nightlife scene make this the perfect couples destination for couples who enjoy activity and excitement.

Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a town with good options for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Napa Valley is not known for backpackers.

Santa Monica is a good town to visit for backpackers. There's no shortage of activities in the area, whether you're into surfing, partying, or sunbathing. There's also at least one hostel that's great for budget travelers and 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 Napa Valley or Santa Monica Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Napa Valley is not a good place to visit for its public transit. However, Santa Monica does not have public transit.

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.

Santa Monica does not have public transit. The Metro E Line connects the city to downtown Los Angeles. There's also the Big Blue Bus as well the Santa Monica Circuit, which are small electric carts that offer free rides between Wilshire Boulevard and Marine Street, and from the ocean to Fifth Street.


Is Napa Valley or Santa Monica a more walkable city?

Napa Valley
Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a great town for its ease of walking around. However, Napa Valley is not known for its walkability.

Santa Monica is a very walkable destination. The city is very walkable, particularly in the more touristy areas.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Santa Monica or Napa Valley?

How long in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Napa Valley and Santa Monica. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Napa Valley than in Santa Monica. Usually, 1-4 days is a good amount of time for Napa Valley, and 1-3 days is enough time in Santa Monica.

Families should spend more time in Santa Monica than Napa Valley. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Santa Monica, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Santa Monica 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 Santa Monica.


  • How many days in Napa Valley or Santa Monica? Ideal Length of Stay
    Napa Valley 1-4 
    Santa Monica 1-3

One day in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

In Napa Valley, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this picturesque area offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this area.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the active town of Santa Monica. It's also a great beach destination, too. Most people visit for the beaches. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this town has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Napa Valley is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Lots of people come for the food. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the lively destination of Santa Monica. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This town 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.


Five days in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

You'll find nightlife and food around the idyllic destination of Napa Valley. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the food. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

The lively town of Santa Monica offers shopping and museums. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. 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.

A week in Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Napa Valley is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. 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.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Santa Monica. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people visit for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


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, Santa Monica or Napa Valley?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Napa Valley is $288, while the average daily cost in Santa Monica is $210. 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 Napa Valley and Santa Monica in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Napa Valley $126
    Santa Monica $123
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Napa Valley $252
    Santa Monica $246
Compare Hotels in Napa Valley and Santa Monica

Looking for a hotel in Napa Valley 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 Napa Valley


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: Napa Valley Hotel Prices and Santa Monica Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Napa Valley $183
    Santa Monica $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Monica

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Monica:

  • Santa Monica to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Deparure Private Transfer: $81
  • Santa Monica to Los Angeles Airport Departure Private Transfer: $75

Is it cheaper to fly into Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Prices for flights to both Santa Monica and Napa Valley 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
    Napa Valley $62
    Santa Monica $52

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Monica

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

  • Los Angeles Premier Dinner Cruise from Marina del Rey: $124
  • Marina del Rey Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner Cruise: $175
  • Marina del Rey Christmas Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $175
  • Marina del Rey Father's Day Plated Dinner Cruise: $222

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Napa Valley $28
    Santa Monica $38

Tours and Activities in Napa Valley

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

  • Sonoma Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour & Game: $25
  • Napa Valley River History Kayak Tour: Single Kayaks: $79
  • Napa and Sonoma Wine and Food Experience (Napa pickup): $109
  • Private Sailing Tour of Bodega Bay: $123
  • Napa Valley Wineries Tour Including Picnic Lunch: $125
  • The Original Napa Valley Wine Trolley "Up Valley" Castle Tour : $125
  • The Original Napa Valley Wine Trolley Classic Tour: $125
  • Sonoma Valley Open Air Wine Trolley Tour: $125
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Napa Valley: $130
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley: $130
  • Half Day Bike Tour: $139
  • Half Day Tour: $139

Tours and Activities in Santa Monica

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

  • 15 Passengers Open Ocean/Harbor Cruise Party Boat Marina Del Rey: $129
  • 2 Hour Sailing Adventure From Marina Del Rey: $160
  • 3-Hour Santa Monica and Venice Beach Bike Guided Tour : $72
  • 4.5 Hour Venice Beach Open Air Van Tour: $65
  • 5.5-Hour Exclusive Malibu Stars Homes & Beautiful Beach Tour: $89
  • All Day Tour 6.5 Hour : $111
  • Bring-Your-Own-Food and Drinks Marina del Rey Boat Tour: $80
  • City Tour of Los Angeles from Torrance and El Segundo: $122
  • Dolphin Sighting Sunset Tour: $90
  • Exotic Tijuana Massage Tour in LA: $250
  • Explore Malibu's Coast: PCH & Beyond - Self Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Half-Day Private Guided Los Angeles Coastal Tour: $299

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Napa Valley $66
    Santa Monica $21

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
  • Affordable Wine Tour in Napa and Sonoma: $200
  • Yountville Food and Wine Tour in Napa: $275
  • Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge: $282
  • Private, Customized Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $300

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:

  • Private Vintage VW Hippie Tour to Malibu with wine tasting: $195


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Napa Valley and Santa Monica, we can see that Napa Valley is more expensive. And not only is Santa Monica much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Monica would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Monica 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 Santa Monica.

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


Which is Bigger, Napa Valley or Santa Monica?

Santa Monica has a larger population, and is about 15% larger than the population of Napa Valley. When comparing the sizes of Napa Valley and Santa Monica, 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 Napa Valley 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 Napa Valley or Santa Monica in the Summer?

Both Santa Monica and Napa Valley during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Napa Valley for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, many visitors come to Santa Monica in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Napa Valley is generally around the same temperature as Santa Monica. Daily temperatures in Napa Valley average around 73°F (23°C), and Santa Monica fluctuates around 70°F (21°C).

Napa Valley usually gets more rain in July than Santa Monica. Napa Valley gets 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0 inches (0 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Napa Valley 73°F (23°C) 
    Santa Monica 70°F (21°C)

Should I visit Napa Valley or Santa Monica in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Napa Valley and Santa Monica. Many visitors come to Napa Valley in the autumn for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, most visitors come to Santa Monica for the shopping scene during these months.

Napa Valley is cooler than Santa Monica in the autumn. The daily temperature in Napa Valley averages around 62°F (17°C) in October, and Santa Monica fluctuates around 67°F (20°C).

In October, Napa Valley usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Napa Valley gets 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (6 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


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

Should I visit Napa Valley or Santa Monica in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Napa Valley as well as Santa Monica. Most visitors come to Napa Valley for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Additionally, the winter months attract visitors to Santa Monica because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Napa Valley is much colder than Santa Monica. Typically, the winter temperatures in Napa Valley in January average around 46°F (8°C), and Santa Monica averages at about 57°F (14°C).

Napa Valley usually gets more rain in January than Santa Monica. Napa Valley gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Napa Valley 46°F (8°C) 
    Santa Monica 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit Napa Valley or Santa Monica in the Spring?

Both Santa Monica and Napa Valley are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The spring months attract visitors to Napa Valley because of the natural beauty. Also, the beaches are the main draw to Santa Monica this time of year.

In April, Napa Valley is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Daily temperatures in Napa Valley average around 56°F (13°C), and Santa Monica fluctuates around 61°F (16°C).

In April, Napa Valley usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. Napa Valley gets 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


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

Typical Weather for Santa Monica and Napa Valley

Napa Valley Santa Monica
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 57°F (14°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm)
Feb 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
Mar 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.4 inches (10 mm)
Apr 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm) 61°F (16°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
May 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jun 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Jul 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Aug 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Sep 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm) 67°F (20°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Nov 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Dec 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 58°F (14°C) 0.6 inches (15 mm)