A Travel Price Comparison for California Palm Springs vs. Sonoma for Food, Nightlife, Resorts, and Couples

Should you visit Palm Springs or Sonoma?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Palm Springs and Sonoma can help you decide which place is right for you.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a chic, outdoorsy, and ritzy city. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Sonoma

Sonoma is a serene, relaxing, and scenic county. You'll find world class beauty here as well. It's also known for hiking, shopping, and nightlife.

Palm Springs and Sonoma: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Sonoma than Palm Springs, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Sonoma is better known for its food, beaches, and impressive beauty, while Palm Springs is more popular for its museums, nightlife, and resorts. Palm Springs is well known for its golfing, shopping, and mid-century modern architecture. Sonoma is well known for its world-class winemaking and sustainable agriculture. Also, Sonoma is famous for Buena Vista Winery.

How is Palm Springs different from Sonoma?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sonoma and Palm Springs. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is a city with good options for its historical sights. However, Sonoma 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 Palm Springs. The Palm Springs Air Museum has an impressive collection of military planes. It's also worth visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum, which has a mix of fine art, natural history, and performing arts. You'll also find botanical gardens and even a zoo around town.

Sonoma offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While most people don't think of museums when they think of Sonoma, there are actually some interesting local options. The California Indian Museum, the Cotati Museum, and the Depot Park Museum are also local are fascinating.


Is the Food Better in Palm Springs or Sonoma? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Sonoma is an amazing county to visit for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its restaurants.

Sonoma has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. Although wine may be the first thing you think about, the region is also filled with farm-to-table restaurants and award-winning dining options. The food is almost always fresh and local. You can sample many local ingredients such as vegetables, cheeses, olive oils, and fish.

Palm Springs has a huge number of terrific restaurants. Fresh ingredients and typical California cuisine is common around town. Brunch is a popular option for visitors and you'll find countless brunch cafes in the area. You'll also find Mexican food, pizza, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Nightlife?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is terrific for its evening party scene. Also, Sonoma is not as popular, but is still a nice county for nightlife.

Palm Springs is a must-see party destination. The area is filled with nightlife options that range from cocktail bars to nightclubs or breweries. You can party into the early morning at the dance clubs or enjoy a bottle of wine with friends at one of the lounges.

Sonoma offers plenty to do in the evening. Lounges, wine bars, and live music venues offer a variety of activities for visitors during the evening hours.

Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Resorts?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is terrific for its luxury resorts. Also, Sonoma is not as popular, but is still a nice county for its resorts.

Palm Springs is a world class resort vacation destination. Resorts range from luxurious to more laid back. Most have impressive pools and many have their own spas, restaurants, and entertainment options.

There are plenty of resorts in Sonoma to choose from. Spa hotels, charming inns, and beautiful resorts all offer a variety of options for visitors.


Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Beaches?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Sonoma is notable for its beaches. However, Palm Springs is not a beach destination.

Sonoma is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. The county has a coastline that includes several great beaches as well as rocky shoreline. The beaches include secluded coves and picturesque cliffs as well as sand dunes and sandy beaches.

Palm Springs is not a beach destination.

Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Hiking?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

You'll find superb hiking in both Palm Springs and Sonoma.

Palm Springs is a popular spot for hiking. There are more than 100 trails in the Greater Palm Springs area that take you through scenic desert landscapes and unique ecosystems. Some of the most popular trails include Andreas Canyon Trail and Araby Trail.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Sonoma. In between wine tastings you can explore the area's stunning natural beauty. There are hikes through the vineyards, along the coast, or through forested parks. Some of the best hikes are found in Jack London State Historic Park, Sugarloaf State Park, and Armstrong Woods State Park.

Is the Shopping Better in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Both Palm Springs and Sonoma are superb shopping destinations.

Palm Springs is an extremely popular place for shoppers. Shopping ranges from outlets to boutique vendors. For the most local options head to Palm Canyon Drive and for an upscale shopping experience, visit the El Paseo shopping district.

Sonoma is well-known for its shopping. You'll find a range of local vendors in the area, selling everything from jewelry to art, home decor, and olive oil.


Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Families?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is a great city for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Sonoma is not as popular, but is still a nice county for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Palm Springs. The year round sunny weather and diversity of outdoor activities make this a great family-friendly destination. There are desert hikes, zoos, and even a dinosaur museum. Kids can also pass their time playing at the pool or enjoying the waterslides.

Sonoma is a family-friendly place to visit. While most people think immediately of wine tours, there's actually a lot more to Sonoma County. Kids will enjoy the many outdoor activities in the area, which include beaches, parks, wildlife viewing, and more. There's also horseback riding and even ziplining opportunities.

Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Couples?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Sonoma is an amazing county to visit for romance. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

For those traveling as a couple, Sonoma has plenty to offer. It has long been a favorite honeymoon destination for couples who come for the vineyards and wine tours. There are also charming hotels, award winning restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

Palm Springs makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Whether you're on a honeymoon or simply looking to escape the city, there are many romantic options in the area. From cozy inns to resort spa hotels, there are a range of accommodation options. Outdoor dining, hiking, and shopping are also popular.

Is Palm Springs or Sonoma Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Sonoma is not known for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Palm Springs. There are nine bus routes operated by SunLine Transit Agency, but most visitors prefer to have a car to get around.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Sonoma. While there are buses, they are almost never used by tourists. There is the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley which you should purchase tickets for in advance.


Is Palm Springs or Sonoma a more walkable city?

Palm Springs
Sonoma

Palm Springs is a city with good options for its ease of walking around. However, Sonoma is not known for its walkability.

Palm Springs is a somewhat walkable city. Parts of the city are very walkable, particularly the touristy areas along Palm Canyon Drive.

Sonoma is not a walkable city. You really must have a car to get around the area and explore it efficiently.

For even more information, also check out Is Palm Springs Worth Visiting? and Is Sonoma Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sonoma or Palm Springs?

How long in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

It's fun to spend time in either Palm Springs or Sonoma. In our opinion, Palm Springs has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Palm Springs than Sonoma. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

Couples should spend more time in Sonoma than Palm Springs. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Sonoma that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Palm Springs than Sonoma 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 Palm Springs.


  • How many days in Palm Springs or Sonoma? Ideal Length of Stay
    Palm Springs 2-4 
    Sonoma 2-4

One day in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Palm Springs. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Sonoma, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this serene county offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Palm Springs is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Sonoma is a fun place to experience. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. 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.


Five days in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Palm Springs. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

You'll find nightlife and food around the scenic destination of Sonoma. 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.

A week in Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the ritzy destination of Palm Springs. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Sonoma 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America, The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, and The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Sonoma or Palm Springs?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Palm Springs is $206, while the average daily cost in Sonoma is $219. 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 Palm Springs and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Palm Springs $120
    Sonoma $93
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Palm Springs $240
    Sonoma $186
Compare Hotels in Palm Springs and Sonoma

Looking for a hotel in Palm Springs or Sonoma? 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 Palm Springs


Hotels in Sonoma


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: Palm Springs Hotel Prices and Sonoma Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Palm Springs $52
    Sonoma $134

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Palm Springs

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Palm Springs:

  • Palm Springs Airport to Snow Summit - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $265
  • Desert Hot Springs to Los Angeles Airport Departure Transfer: $255
  • Private Airport Transfer in Palm Springs: $199
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LOS ANGELES - Arrival Private Transfer: $174
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to INDIAN WELLS - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $164
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Vía La Quinta, Indio, CA : $161
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Palm Desert / Indian Wells: $138
  • Palm Springs Airport PSP to Snow Summit-Arrival Private Transfer: $133
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LA QUINTA/INDIO - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $131
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to SANTA ANA - Arrival Private Transfer: $130
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to ONTARIO - Arrival Private Transfer: $107
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to Desert Hot Springs Private Transfer: $89

Is it cheaper to fly into Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Prices for flights to both Sonoma and Palm Springs 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
    Palm Springs $53
    Sonoma $56

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Palm Springs $29
    Sonoma $16

Tours and Activities in Palm Springs

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Palm Springs are as follows:

  • 10+ Self-Guided Driving Tours from Las Vegas: $50
  • 100+ Self Guided Driving & Walking Tours by Action: $100
  • Covered Wagon Adventure & BBQ: $129
  • Death Valley National Park Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $17
  • Desert Healing Experience: $175
  • Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bicycle Adventure: $139
  • Food Adventure Game: $99
  • Joshua Tree National Park Air-Conditioned Tour: $149
  • Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour : $235
  • Joshua Tree National Park Offroad Tour: $235
  • Joshua Tree National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Joshua Tree National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour: $12

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Palm Springs $13
    Sonoma $41


When comparing the travel costs between Palm Springs and Sonoma, we can see that Sonoma is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Palm Springs Expensive? and Is Sonoma Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Palm Springs or Sonoma?

Palm Springs has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Sonoma. When comparing the sizes of Palm Springs and Sonoma, 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 Palm Springs or Sonoma?

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 Palm Springs or Sonoma in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Palm Springs as well as Sonoma. Many travelers come to Palm Springs for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Sonoma in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, Palm Springs is generally around the same temperature as Sonoma. Daily temperatures in Palm Springs average around 73°F (23°C), and Sonoma fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

Palm Springs usually gets less rain in July than Sonoma. Palm Springs gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Palm Springs 73°F (23°C) 
    Sonoma 73°F (23°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Sonoma in the Autumn?

Both Sonoma and Palm Springs are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Palm Springs in the autumn for the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Sonoma for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

Palm Springs is a little warmer than Sonoma in the autumn. The daily temperature in Palm Springs averages around 69°F (20°C) in October, and Sonoma fluctuates around 62°F (17°C).

In October, Palm Springs usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Palm Springs gets 0.3 inches (7 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Palm Springs 69°F (20°C) 
    Sonoma 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Sonoma in the Winter?

Both Sonoma and Palm Springs during the winter are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Palm Springs for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Furthermore, the winter months attract visitors to Sonoma because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In the winter, Palm Springs is much warmer than Sonoma. Typically, the winter temperatures in Palm Springs in January average around 57°F (14°C), and Sonoma averages at about 46°F (8°C).

Palm Springs usually gets less rain in January than Sonoma. Palm Springs gets 2 inches (52 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Palm Springs 57°F (14°C) 
    Sonoma 46°F (8°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Sonoma in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Palm Springs and Sonoma. Furthermore, the beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Sonoma this time of year.

In April, Palm Springs is generally a little warmer than Sonoma. Daily temperatures in Palm Springs average around 62°F (17°C), and Sonoma fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

In April, Palm Springs usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Palm Springs gets 0.9 inches (24 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Palm Springs 62°F (17°C) 
    Sonoma 56°F (13°C)

Typical Weather for Sonoma and Palm Springs

Palm Springs Sonoma
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (52 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 58°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 59°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 65°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 69°F (20°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 73°F (23°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 74°F (24°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 69°F (20°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 57°F (14°C) 1.7 inches (42 mm) 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)