A Travel Price Comparison for California Napa Valley vs. South Lake Tahoe for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Napa Valley or South Lake Tahoe?

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 South Lake Tahoe 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.

Where Should I go: Napa Valley or South Lake Tahoe?

Napa Valley

Napa Valley, in the Bay Area of California, is a popular destination for its wineries and beautiful scenery. The area, referred to as Wine Country, is just north of San Francisco and makes for a great day or weekend trip. Many honeymooners visit the area for its romantic setting and popular bed and breakfasts. The best time to visit is during the months of September and October when the grapes are wipe. This time is referred to as the harvest "crush." The summer months are also a popular time but the crowds are often overwhelming.

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is the largest town on the famous Lake Tahoe that straddles the California-Nevada border in the Sierra Mountain Range. Located just south of Reno, Nevada and about 2 hours east of Sacramento, the Lake Tahoe area is easily accessible to many visitors.

Lake Tahoe is known for skiing and other winter sports, as well as plenty of warm weather activities such as hiking, swimming, boating, mountain biking, and more.

South Lake Tahoe has plenty of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shopping. This is a good town to base yourself if you're looking to explore the area, as it has a large number of amenities.

Located on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe is the town of Stateline. Here you can find some casinos, as gambling is legal in Nevada.

If you're looking to go skiing or snowboarding, the Heavenly Ski Resort can be found on the southern edge of the town of South Lake Tahoe. Naturally, more ski resorts are located around the lake as well.

As swimming is also popular, several beach areas are on the southern section of the lake including the Regan Memorial City Beach, Lakeside Beach, Pope Beach, Emerald Bay State Park, and the Edgewood Resort area (on the Nevada side).

Which place is cheaper, South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe is $118. 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 South Lake Tahoe in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Napa Valley $126
    South Lake Tahoe $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Napa Valley $252
    South Lake Tahoe $108
Compare Hotels in Napa Valley and South Lake Tahoe

Looking for a hotel in Napa Valley or South Lake Tahoe? 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 South Lake Tahoe

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 South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Napa Valley $183
    South Lake Tahoe $24

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Napa Valley

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

  • Napa, CA to Sacramento Airport (SMF) - Departure Private Transfer : $111

Hired Cars and Shuttles in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific examples of transportation prices in South Lake Tahoe:

  • Northstar/Squaw Valley to Sacramento Airport - Departure Transfer: $221
  • Heavenly Mountain to Sacramento Airport SMF, Departure Transfer: $221
  • Departure Transfer Northstar/Squaw Valley to Reno Tahoe Airport: $165
  • Heavenly Mountain to Reno Tahoe Airport RNO - Departure Transfer: $110

Is it cheaper to fly into Napa Valley or South Lake Tahoe?

Prices for flights to both South Lake Tahoe 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 Meals for one day
    Napa Valley $62
    South Lake Tahoe $38

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Napa Valley $28
    South Lake Tahoe $56

Tours and Activities in Napa Valley

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

  • Napa Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Sonoma Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour & Game: $25
  • Napa Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • 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: $122
  • Napa Valley Wineries Tour Including Picnic Lunch: $125
  • Sonoma Valley Open Air Wine Trolley Tour: $125
  • The Original Napa Valley Wine Trolley Classic Tour: $125
  • The Original Napa Valley Wine Trolley "Up Valley" Castle Tour : $125
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley: $130
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Napa Valley: $130

Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:

  • 2 Hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe: $140
  • Clear Kayak Paddle Tour at Sand Harbor: $150
  • Clear Kayak Tour of Lake Tahoe: $165
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Audio Tour From Tahoe City to Incline Village: $9.99
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour From Incline Village to South Lake Tahoe: $12
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City: $12
  • Electric Dirtbike Adventure in Lake Tahoe: $200
  • Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe: $110
  • Emerald Bay Private Luxury Boat Tours: $695
  • Evening LED Glow Clear Kayak Tour in Lake Tahoe: $153
  • Full Day Self-Guided Bike Tour of Lake Tahoe: $69
  • Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley: $80

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Napa Valley $66
    South Lake Tahoe $34

Sample the Local Flavors in Napa Valley

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

  • Private Self-Guided Wine Tasting Tour in Sonoma: $50
  • 6 Hour Wine Tour in Napa & Sonoma with Pick-Up from Napa: $109
  • Napa Cable Car Wine Tasting Tour: $129
  • Sonoma Valley Bike and Wine Tour (E-bike or Regular): $159
  • Intro to Wine Tasting with Napa Sommelière : $195
  • Healdsburg Cycling Wine Tour : $199
  • Affordable Wine Tour in Napa and Sonoma: $200
  • 8-Hour Custom Private Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $250
  • Yountville Food and Wine Tour in Napa: $275
  • Napa's Downtown Food & Wine Tour : $275
  • Private, Customized Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $300

Sample the Local Flavors in South Lake Tahoe

Also in South Lake Tahoe, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay Sunset Wine Tasting Yacht Cruise: $150

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

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 South Lake Tahoe Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Napa Valley or South Lake Tahoe?

Napa Valley has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of South Lake Tahoe. When comparing the sizes of Napa Valley and South Lake Tahoe, 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.