A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Phoenix vs. Columbia River Gorge for Food, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge 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.

Phoenix

Phoenix is a sprawling, desert, and laid back city. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and food.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful, scenic, and natural region. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • 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 Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Columbia River Gorge than Phoenix, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Columbia River Gorge is better known for its food, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Phoenix is more popular for its museums. Columbia River Gorge is more touristy than Phoenix and is popular for its hiking, biking, and high number of waterfalls. Also, Columbia River Gorge is famous for Vista House at Crown Point. Phoenix is well known for its desert landscapes, high number of golf courses, and year round warm weather.

How is Phoenix different from Columbia River Gorge?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Phoenix is a nice place to visit for its sights and museums. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for its museums and history.

Phoenix is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. You'll find art, science, and cultural museums around town. Favorites include the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, S'edav Va'aki Museum, and the Arizona Science Museum.

While most people don't head to Columbia River Gorge specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There are a couple of local museums in the area, but most visitors spend their time exploring the region's natural beauty.


Is the Food Better in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a great region for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Columbia River Gorge has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. You'll find many great restaurants in the area that serve local dishes that make use of the region's agricultural scene.

Phoenix offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. There are many mom-and-pop shops around town that serve everything from casual meals to quality steaks. There's also a huge selection of Mexican restaurants, as well as other international options such as sushi, dim sum, and Italian.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Nightlife?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find notable options in both Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge.

If you're looking for night time activities Phoenix has a few options to choose from. The best nightlife scene is found in downtown and central Phoenix. There are bars, restaurants, and venues where you can catch a show. North Phoenix also has grown into a popular evening spot with cocktail bars and pubs.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Columbia River Gorge. Local breweries, wineries, and bars offer a relaxing setting with a local vibe.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Hiking?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a great region for hiking. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for the nearby hiking options.

Many visitors go to Columbia River Gorge for the hiking trails. There are world-class hikes that take you to iconic waterfalls, breathtaking viewpoints, and along scenic waterways.

Phoenix offers some nice hiking trails. You don't have to head far out of town for impressive hiking opportunities. You'll find trails that range from easy to challenging, and many pass through other-worldly landscapes. You'll find popular trails in Usery Mountain Regional Park, Papago Park, White Tank Mountain Regional Park, South Mountain Park and many others.


Is the Shopping Better in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

If you're looking to go shopping, Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge both offer plenty of notable spots.

Phoenix has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are plenty of shopping centers, outlets, and malls where you'll find the standard chain stores. You'll also find farmer's markets around town.

Columbia River Gorge is a great destination for shopping. Art galleries feature local artwork and artisan crafts. There are photography shops and other venues that sell items highlighting the region's beauty.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Families?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a great region for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its family-friendly activities.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Columbia River Gorge. Kids will love exploring the waterfalls and mountains as much as the adults do. There are kid-friendly hikes as well as bakeries and restaurants with many kid options.

Phoenix is a family-friendly place to visit. Kids will love the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona Science Center, the SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, and the Bearizona Wildlife Park. There's also a number of parks and gardens as well as a children's museum and several other interactive museums for kids.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Couples?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a great region for couples. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for romance.

Columbia River Gorge is a great region if you're traveling as a couple. Couples will love the romantic hikes and waterfalls. There are also beautiful scenic viewpoints and wonderful restaurants.

Phoenix is a nice destination for couples. There are many parks and gardens in town as well as beautiful hikes and outdoor activities that couples will enjoy. In the evening, there's theater, shows, and many romantic restaurants.


Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a great region for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Phoenix is not known for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Columbia River Gorge. You'll find hostels and campgrounds in the area that are perfect for backpackers and budget travelers.

Phoenix is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There is a hostel or two around town for budget travelers.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge both offer respectable public transit to get you around.

Public transit is mostly limited in Phoenix. There's a bus and light rail system, but you really need your own vehicle to get around.

Public transit is generally limited in Columbia River Gorge. There are some buses, but don't rely on them to efficiently explore.

Is Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge a more walkable city?

Phoenix
Columbia River Gorge

Phoenix is a moderate city for its walkability. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for its high level of walkability.

Phoenix is generally not very walkable. It's a sprawling city and the only real area that's walkable is the downtown.

Columbia River Gorge is not a very walkable city. You really need a car to explore the area, but some visitors rely on a bike.


For even more information, also check out Is Phoenix Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia River Gorge Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia River Gorge or Phoenix?

How long in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge. In our opinion, Columbia River Gorge has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Columbia River Gorge than Phoenix. In general, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Phoenix, and 2-3 days is enough time in Columbia River Gorge.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Columbia River Gorge than Phoenix 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 Columbia River Gorge.


  • How many days in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge? Ideal Length of Stay
    Phoenix 1-3 
    Columbia River Gorge 2-3

One day in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Phoenix. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Phoenix has to offer.

In Columbia River Gorge, you'll find shopping and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This region offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Phoenix is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

In Columbia River Gorge, you'll find nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Columbia River Gorge has to offer.

Five days in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Many people visit Phoenix for five days. You'll find museums and nightlife around the city of Phoenix. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Columbia River Gorge is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

The desert destination of Phoenix offers nightlife and food. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Columbia River Gorge. Many people enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting Columbia River Gorge. 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Anchorage, The Best 2-Week Tours from San Francisco, The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia River Gorge or Phoenix?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Phoenix is $238, while the average daily cost in Columbia River Gorge is $179. 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 Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Phoenix $144
    Columbia River Gorge $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Phoenix $288
    Columbia River Gorge $178
Compare Hotels in Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge

Looking for a hotel in Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge? 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 Phoenix


Hotels in Columbia River Gorge


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: Phoenix Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Phoenix $39
    Columbia River Gorge $78

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Phoenix

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

  • Private Transfer From Hotels To Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport PHX : $41
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Business Car: $96
  • Private Transfer from Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Business Car: $96
  • Departure Private Transfer: Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Business Car: $96
  • One-Way Transfer Sky Harbor Airport to Phoenix: $104
  • Departure Private Transfer Phoenix City to Phoenix Airport PHX : $109
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Luxury SUV: $110
  • Private Transfer from Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Luxury SUV: $110
  • Private Transfer from Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Luxury SUV: $110
  • Departure Private Transfer: Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Luxury SUV: $110
  • Arrival Private Transfer Phoenix Airport PHX to Phoenix City : $116
  • Phoenix Airport (PHX) to Phoenix - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $117

Is it cheaper to fly into Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Prices for flights to both Columbia River Gorge and Phoenix 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
    Phoenix $52
    Columbia River Gorge $46
Typical Food Prices in Phoenix

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Phoenix:


  • Nice Lunch (for 2)
    $36
  • Indian Food Dinner (for 2)
    $32

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Phoenix

For Phoenix, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Old Town Scottsdale Food Tour: $92
  • Scottsdale Waterfront Food Tour: $95
  • Quiche Lorraine French Cooking Class in Scottsdale: $129

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Phoenix $40
    Columbia River Gorge $20

Tours and Activities in Phoenix

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Surprise by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting Entry Ticket: $17
  • SEA LIFE Aquarium Arizona Admission Ticket: $19
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Mesa by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Phoenix Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Asylum Escape Room Experience in Avondale: $24
  • Phoenix Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • The Scottsdale Selfie Experience: $25
  • Ghosts & Poltergeists Guided Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • Drunk Shakespeare Ticket: Phoenix, AZ: $29
  • Arizona Cardinals Football Game Ticket at State Farm Stadium: $33
  • Scottsdale Puzzling Adventure: $35

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Phoenix $17
    Columbia River Gorge $12

Sample the Local Flavors in Phoenix

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

  • Scottsdale Bar Hunt: Scorching Scottsdale Bar Crawl: $12
  • Pedal Bar Crawl of Old Town Scottsdale: $55
  • Stretch Limo Party Cart - Custom Bar Crawls, Wine Tastings, Night Clubs & More: $155
  • Custom Arizona Brewery / Vineyard Tour: $245


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge, we can see that Phoenix is more expensive. And not only is Columbia River Gorge much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Columbia River Gorge would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Columbia River Gorge 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 Phoenix would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Phoenix than you might in Columbia River Gorge.

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


Which is Bigger, Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

Phoenix has a larger population, and is about 110 times larger than the population of Columbia River Gorge. When comparing the sizes of Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge, 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 Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge?

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 Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge in the Summer?

Both Columbia River Gorge and Phoenix during the summer are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Phoenix for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Columbia River Gorge because of the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

The heat can be very extreme in Phoenix. In the summer, Phoenix is much warmer than Columbia River Gorge. Typically, the summer temperatures in Phoenix in July average around 98°F (36°C), and Columbia River Gorge averages at about 68°F (20°C).

In Columbia River Gorge, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Phoenix. In the summer, Phoenix often gets more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 380 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia River Gorge receives 338 hours of full sun.

Phoenix usually gets more rain in July than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 0.8 inches (21 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Phoenix 98°F (36°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Phoenix and Columbia River Gorge. The autumn months attract visitors to Phoenix because of the hiking trails and the shopping scene. Also, the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Columbia River Gorge this time of year.

In October, Phoenix is generally much warmer than Columbia River Gorge. Daily temperatures in Phoenix average around 79°F (26°C), and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 55°F (13°C).

In Phoenix, it's very sunny this time of the year. Phoenix usually receives more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge during autumn. Phoenix gets 305 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 155 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Phoenix usually receives less rain than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.6 inches (67 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Phoenix 79°F (26°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 55°F (13°C)

Should I visit Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Phoenix as well as Columbia River Gorge. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Phoenix this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Columbia River Gorge for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix is much warmer than Columbia River Gorge in the winter. The daily temperature in Phoenix averages around 58°F (14°C) in January, and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 40°F (4°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Phoenix this time of the year. In the winter, Phoenix often gets more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 254 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia River Gorge receives 86 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix usually gets less rain in January than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Phoenix 58°F (14°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 40°F (4°C)

Should I visit Phoenix or Columbia River Gorge in the Spring?

Both Columbia River Gorge and Phoenix are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Also, many visitors come to Columbia River Gorge in the spring for the natural beauty.

In the spring, Phoenix is much warmer than Columbia River Gorge. Typically, the spring temperatures in Phoenix in April average around 74°F (23°C), and Columbia River Gorge averages at about 51°F (11°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia River Gorge. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Phoenix. Phoenix usually receives more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge during spring. Phoenix gets 355 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 231 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Phoenix usually receives less rain than Columbia River Gorge. Phoenix gets 0.2 inches (6 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.4 inches (61 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Phoenix 74°F (23°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 51°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia River Gorge and Phoenix

Phoenix Columbia River Gorge
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 58°F (14°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm) 40°F (4°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm)
Feb 62°F (17°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Mar 66°F (19°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 74°F (23°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
May 83°F (28°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Jun 92°F (34°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 64°F (18°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Jul 98°F (36°C) 0.8 inches (21 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Aug 96°F (35°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1 inches (25 mm)
Sep 90°F (32°C) 0.9 inches (22 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Oct 79°F (26°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Nov 66°F (19°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm) 46°F (8°C) 5.4 inches (136 mm)
Dec 58°F (15°C) 1 inches (25 mm) 40°F (5°C) 6.1 inches (156 mm)


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