A Travel Price Comparison for California Pasadena vs. South Lake Tahoe for Nightlife, Families, Couples, and Attractions

Should you visit Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

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 South Lake Tahoe. 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 picturesque, quaint, and charming city. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a idyllic, scenic, and breathtaking town. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and hiking.

Pasadena and South Lake Tahoe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Tourists will generally find more to do in South Lake Tahoe. Although Pasadena and South Lake Tahoe are both popular with visitors, South Lake Tahoe has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. South Lake Tahoe is more popular for its skiing, nightlife, resorts, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Pasadena is known for its museums, food, and shopping. South Lake Tahoe is more touristy than Pasadena and is known for its casino resorts, ski resorts, and beautiful setting. It is also home to the Heavenly Gondola. Pasadena is popular for being the home of the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Bowl.

How is Pasadena different from South Lake Tahoe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Skiing?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is notable for snow skiing. However, Pasadena is not a skiing destination.

South Lake Tahoe is a well-known ski destination which attracts visitors from far and wide. There are three ski resorts in the area. Heavenly Mountain Resort is the largest, but if you're looking for something smaller, head to Kirkwood, which is tucked away and less well known. There's also Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, which is popular with groups and families because it caters to a range of skill levels.

Pasadena is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

Pasadena is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, South Lake Tahoe is not a good town for its museums and history.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Pasadena can be an interesting and educational experience. 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.

While most people don't head to South Lake Tahoe specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Most people spend their time exploring the area's nature, but you can also stop by Tallac Historic Site or the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum.

Is the Food Better in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

Pasadena is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, South Lake Tahoe is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit 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.

South Lake Tahoe is becoming an appealing option for foodies. While most resorts have their own restaurants, there are a number of options around town that specialize in "alpine comfort cuisine", which is worth sampling. You'll also find plenty of cafes that serve up a hearty breakfast - the perfect way to start an active day.

Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Nightlife?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is an amazing town to visit for its evening party scene. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for nightlife.

South Lake Tahoe has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. The resort town has plenty of nightclubs, bars, and music venues. There are outdoor options when the weather is warm as well as indoor settings for cooler weather. You'll also find casinos and live shows.

Pasadena has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.


Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Resorts?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is notable for its resorts. However, Pasadena is not a resort destination.

There are plenty of resorts in South Lake Tahoe to choose from. It's a resort town, so there are plenty of options to choose from, many with pools, spas, or casinos.

Pasadena is not a resort destination.

Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Hiking?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is an amazing town to visit for the nearby hiking options. However, Pasadena is not a hiking destination.

South Lake Tahoe is well-known for its hiking and trekking. There are miles of beautiful hikes in the area that follow the lake's shore or explore the diverse terrain. Skyline Trail Hike is a favorite. It is accessible by lift and offers spectacular views. For a relaxing stroll check out Fallen Leaf Lake Hike.

Pasadena is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

Pasadena is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, South Lake Tahoe is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its shopping areas.

Pasadena is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Old Pasadena is where you'll find some of the best shopping. It's filled with a charming atmosphere and interesting boutiques.

South Lake Tahoe has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. Most of the shopping involves retailers selling ski gear or outdoor equipment. There are also clothing shops, gift stores, and some art galleries.


Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Families?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is an amazing town to visit for its family-friendly activities. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, South Lake Tahoe is very family-friendly. Kids will love the outdoor adventures that the area is filled with. There are gondolas, lakefront beaches, adventure parks, and tubing. There are also miles of hiking trails and a beautiful setting that even the young ones will appreciate.

Pasadena is a family-friendly city. 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.

Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe Better for Couples?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is an amazing town to visit for couples. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for romance.

South Lake Tahoe is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. It's beautiful setting and wide variety of adventurous activities make this the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. The lake has hidden coves and nearby hiking trails. There are also hot springs, gondolas, and carriage rides. You can go hiking when the weather is warm or skiing when the weather is cold.

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 South Lake Tahoe Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a good destination for backpackers. However, Pasadena is a mediocre city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of backpackers visit South Lake Tahoe. There are a couple of hostels in the area and the skiing and hiking attracts the backpacker crowd.

Pasadena is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's not high on the list for most backpackers.


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

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

Pasadena is a nice place to visit for its public transit. However, South Lake Tahoe is not a good town for times when you don't have a car.

Pasadena has a few public transit options. Buses and light rail offer local transit and connect the city to nearby Los Angeles.

Public transit is mostly limited in South Lake Tahoe. While there are some shuttles and buses, if you really want to explore the area, you'll need your own car.

Is Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe a more walkable city?

Pasadena
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is notable for its ease of walking around. Also, Pasadena is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its walkability.

South Lake Tahoe is a very walkable destination. Once you get to town, the area is very walkable.

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

For even more information, also check out Is Pasadena Worth Visiting? and Is South Lake Tahoe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in South Lake Tahoe or Pasadena?

How long in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

In either Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in South Lake Tahoe than Pasadena because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Pasadena, and 3-5 days is enough time in South Lake Tahoe.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in South Lake Tahoe than Pasadena 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 South Lake Tahoe.


  • How many days in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Pasadena 1-3 
    South Lake Tahoe 3-5

One day in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

You'll find food and shopping around the picturesque destination of Pasadena. Because of this, one day is usually enough time for a trip here. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

The beautiful town of South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe?

You'll find shopping and museums around the charming city of Pasadena. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities.

South Lake Tahoe is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Pasadena is a popular choice for travelers. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

South Lake Tahoe is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in South Lake Tahoe, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Pasadena is a great place to explore. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

South Lake Tahoe is a great place to explore. 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 town offers something for everyone.


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


Which place is cheaper, South Lake Tahoe 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 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 Pasadena and South Lake Tahoe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Pasadena $25
    South Lake Tahoe $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Pasadena $50
    South Lake Tahoe $108
Compare Hotels in Pasadena and South Lake Tahoe

Looking for a hotel in Pasadena 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 Pasadena


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: Pasadena Hotel Prices and South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pasadena $21
    South Lake Tahoe $24

Is it cheaper to fly into Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Prices for flights to both South Lake Tahoe 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
    South Lake Tahoe $38
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 -
    South Lake Tahoe $56

Tours and Activities in Pasadena

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

  • Haunted Walking Tour: $33
  • Old Pasadena Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $49
  • LA: East Side Guided Film Locations Tour: $350

Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe

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

  • 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
  • Lake Tahoe: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $15
  • Tallac Historic Site Pope House Tour: $16
  • Ultimate Lake Tahoe Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Tallac Historic Site Grand Estates Tour: $20
  • Lake Tahoe: Self-Guided Driving Tour: $25
  • Full Day Self-Guided Bike Tour of Lake Tahoe: $69
  • Guided Tour of Historic Virginia City and Carson City from South Lake Tahoe: $70
  • Introductory Snowshoe Shared Experience: $75
  • Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley: $80

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pasadena -
    South Lake Tahoe $34

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 Pasadena and South Lake Tahoe, we can see that South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Pasadena or South Lake Tahoe?

Pasadena has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of South Lake Tahoe. When comparing the sizes of Pasadena 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.