A Travel Price Comparison for California Pasadena vs. Sonoma for Food, Couples, Attractions, and Nightlife

Should you visit Pasadena or Sonoma?

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 Pasadena 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, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Pasadena

Pasadena is a quaint, charming, and picturesque city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Sonoma

Sonoma is a scenic, serene, and relaxing county. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include food, beaches, and hiking.

Pasadena and Sonoma: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • 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
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Sonoma. Although Pasadena and Sonoma are popular destinations, Sonoma has more sights and attractions for tourists. Sonoma is very popular for its food, resorts, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Pasadena attracts visitors for its museums. Sonoma is more touristy than Pasadena and is popular for its world-class winemaking and sustainable agriculture. It is also well known for Buena Vista Winery. Pasadena is famous for being the home of the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl.

How is Pasadena different from Sonoma?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Pasadena is a great city for its historical sights. However, Sonoma is not known for its sights and museums.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Pasadena. There's a good number of museums around town that include kids' museums, art museums, and local museums. Popular museums include the USC Pacific Asia Museum, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Pasadena Museum of History. Many people also enjoy touring the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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 Pasadena or Sonoma? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Pasadena
Sonoma

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

Eat your way through Sonoma, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. 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.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Pasadena. Local restaurants feature southern California cuisine as well as international flavors. Dishes often use local ingredients that are fresh and seasonal. Restaurants range from casual to fine dining and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

Is Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Nightlife?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Evening events are very good in both Pasadena and Sonoma.

Pasadena has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Much of the nightlife scene is concentrated around Old Pasadena. You'll find clubs, bars, and lounges that begin the evening with Happy Hours and then become more party-focused as the evening progresses.

Sonoma has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. Lounges, wine bars, and live music venues offer a variety of activities for visitors during the evening hours.

Is Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Resorts?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Sonoma is notable for its resorts. However, Pasadena is not a resort destination.

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.

Pasadena is not a resort destination.


Is Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Beaches?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Sonoma is notable for the beach. However, Pasadena is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Sonoma for it's beautiful 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.

Pasadena is not a beach destination.

Is Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Hiking?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Sonoma is notable for the nearby hiking options. However, Pasadena is not a hiking destination.

Sonoma is a popular spot for hiking. 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.

Pasadena is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Both Pasadena and Sonoma are very good shopping destinations.

Browsing through shops is a popular activity in Pasadena. Old Pasadena is where you'll find some of the best shopping. It's filled with a charming atmosphere and interesting boutiques.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Sonoma. You'll find a range of local vendors in the area, selling everything from jewelry to art, home decor, and olive oil.


Is Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Families?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Both Pasadena and Sonoma are nice family-friendly destinations.

Pasadena is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a number of kid-friendly museums around town including Kidspace Children's Museum. There are also nature centers, playgrounds, and plenty of family-friendly restaurants.

Sonoma is a family-friendly city. 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 Pasadena or Sonoma Better for Couples?

Pasadena
Sonoma

Sonoma is an amazing county to visit for couples. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

Sonoma is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. 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.

Pasadena is a nice destination for couples. It's a charming town with a bit of a European vibe and plenty of outdoor activities. Fine dining and interesting shopping make this a nice weekend destination.

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

Pasadena
Sonoma

Pasadena is a city with good options for times when you don't have a car. However, Sonoma is not known for its public transit.

While Pasadena offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. Buses and light rail offer local transit and connect the city to nearby Los Angeles.

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 Pasadena or Sonoma a more walkable city?

Pasadena
Sonoma

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

Pasadena is a somewhat walkable city. Most people head to Old Pasadena, which is the most concentrated and walkable part of the city.

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 Pasadena Worth Visiting? and Is Sonoma Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sonoma or Pasadena?

How long in Pasadena or Sonoma?

It's fun to spend time in either Pasadena or Sonoma. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Sonoma due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Pasadena, and 2-4 days is enough time in Sonoma.

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

Couples should spend more time in Sonoma than Pasadena. 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.


  • How many days in Pasadena or Sonoma? Ideal Length of Stay
    Pasadena 1-3 
    Sonoma 2-4

One day in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Pasadena. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

The beautiful county of Sonoma offers nightlife and food. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Pasadena is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Sonoma is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this county makes for a great vacation. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Sonoma, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Pasadena or Sonoma?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Pasadena. 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.

Sonoma is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that food is why people visit. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Pasadena or Sonoma?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the picturesque destination of Pasadena. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Sonoma is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that food is why people visit. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This county offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America, The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America, and The Best Cultural Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Sonoma or Pasadena?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Pasadena is $62, 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 Pasadena and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Pasadena $25
    Sonoma $93
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Pasadena $50
    Sonoma $186
Compare Hotels in Pasadena and Sonoma

Looking for a hotel in Pasadena 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 Pasadena


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: Pasadena Hotel Prices and Sonoma Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pasadena $21
    Sonoma $134

Is it cheaper to fly into Pasadena or Sonoma?

Prices for flights to both Sonoma and Pasadena 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
    Pasadena $19
    Sonoma $56
Typical Food Prices in Pasadena

Some typical examples of dining costs in Pasadena are as follows:


  • Casual Dinner Out (family of 4)
    $58

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Pasadena -
    Sonoma $16

Tours and Activities in Pasadena

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

  • LA: East Side Guided Film Locations Tour: $350
  • Haunted Walking Tour: $30
  • Old Pasadena Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $49

Tours and Activities in Sonoma

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

  • Sonoma Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour & Game: $49
  • Sonoma Valley: Wine Trolley Tasting Tour with Lunch: $125
  • Sonoma Valley: Guided Winery Tour with Picnic Lunch: $126
  • Create your own wine blend experience: $140
  • From Napa Valley Classic Sidecar Tour to 3 Wineries: $300

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pasadena -
    Sonoma $41

Sample the Local Flavors in Sonoma

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

  • San Francisco: Half-Day Wine Tour with 2 Tastings Included: $189
  • Sonoma Food & Wine Tour: $235


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

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


Which is Bigger, Pasadena or Sonoma?

Pasadena has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Sonoma. When comparing the sizes of Pasadena 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 Pasadena 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 Pasadena or Sonoma in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Pasadena as well as Sonoma. Most visitors come to Pasadena for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Sonoma because of the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

Pasadena is around the same temperature as Sonoma in the summer. The daily temperature in Pasadena averages around 73°F (23°C) in July, and Sonoma fluctuates around 73°F (23°C).

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


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

Should I visit Pasadena or Sonoma in the Autumn?

Both Sonoma and Pasadena are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Pasadena because of the shopping scene. Also, the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Sonoma this time of year.

In the autumn, Pasadena is a little warmer than Sonoma. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Pasadena in October average around 68°F (20°C), and Sonoma averages at about 62°F (17°C).

In October, Pasadena usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Pasadena 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
    Pasadena 68°F (20°C) 
    Sonoma 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Pasadena or Sonoma in the Winter?

Both Sonoma and Pasadena during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Pasadena this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Sonoma for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In January, Pasadena is generally much warmer than Sonoma. Daily temperatures in Pasadena average around 56°F (13°C), and Sonoma fluctuates around 46°F (8°C).

Pasadena usually gets less rain in January than Sonoma. Pasadena gets 2.5 inches (63 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Pasadena 56°F (13°C) 
    Sonoma 46°F (8°C)

Should I visit Pasadena or Sonoma in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Pasadena and Sonoma. Furthermore, many visitors come to Sonoma in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty.

Pasadena is a little warmer than Sonoma in the spring. The daily temperature in Pasadena averages around 62°F (17°C) in April, and Sonoma fluctuates around 56°F (13°C).

In April, Pasadena usually receives less rain than Sonoma. Pasadena gets 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain, while Sonoma receives 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


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

Typical Weather for Sonoma and Pasadena

Pasadena Sonoma
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 56°F (13°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 58°F (14°C) 2.5 inches (63 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 59°F (15°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 65°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 69°F (20°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 73°F (23°C) 0 inches (0 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 74°F (24°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 68°F (20°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 62°F (16°C) 1.6 inches (42 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 56°F (13°C) 1.7 inches (43 mm) 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)