A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Phoenix vs. South Lake Tahoe for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Phoenix 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 Phoenix 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: Phoenix or South Lake Tahoe?


The most populous city in the American Southwest, Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona and busiest hub of activity in the general area. Geographically it is located in the Sonoran Desert, making for long hot summers and mild winters. This climate has ensured a thriving tourism industry with plenty of attractions both in and around Phoenix.

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 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 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 Phoenix and South Lake Tahoe in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Phoenix $144
    South Lake Tahoe $54
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Phoenix $288
    South Lake Tahoe $108
Compare Hotels in Phoenix and South Lake Tahoe

Looking for a hotel in Phoenix 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 Phoenix

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: Phoenix Hotel Prices and South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Phoenix $39
    South Lake Tahoe $24

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
  • Private Tesla Transfer from Phoenix Airport to all Hotels : $42
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Phoenix Airport (PHX): $48
  • Private Departure Transfer to Phoenix Airport (PHX): $48
  • Phoenix to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) - Departure Private Transfer: $58
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) to Phoenix - Arrival Private Transfer: $58
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) Private Transfer: $80
  • Private Roundtrip Transfer From Phoenix Harbor Airport to Phoenix: $95
  • Private Transfer from Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Business Car: $95
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Business Car: $95
  • Private Transfer from Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Business Car: $95
  • Departure Private Transfer: Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Business Car: $95

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: $219
  • Heavenly Mountain to Sacramento Airport SMF, Departure Transfer: $219
  • Departure Transfer Northstar/Squaw Valley to Reno Tahoe Airport: $164
  • Heavenly Mountain to Reno Tahoe Airport RNO - Departure Transfer: $110

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

Prices for flights to both South Lake Tahoe 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 Meals for one day
    Phoenix $52
    South Lake Tahoe $38
Typical Food Prices in Phoenix

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

  • Nice Lunch (for 2)
  • Indian Food Dinner (for 2)

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Phoenix

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

  • Awesome French Crêpes Cooking Class: $75
  • Old Town Scottsdale Food Tour: $92
  • Downtown Phoenix Food Tour: $92
  • Scottsdale Waterfront Food Tour: $95
  • Downtown Gilbert Food Tour: $95
  • Quiche Lorraine French Cooking Class in Scottsdale: $155

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Phoenix $40
    South Lake Tahoe $56

Tours and Activities in Phoenix

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

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Gilbert by Crazy Dash: $10
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Surprise by Operation City Quest: $10
  • SEA LIFE Aquarium Arizona Admission Ticket: $18
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Mesa by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • Phoenix Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Private Treasure Island Escape Room Experience in Avondale : $24
  • Phoenix Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Game Ticket: $25
  • The Scottsdale Selfie Experience: $25
  • Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Game Ticket at Chase Field: $25
  • Ghosts & Poltergeists Guided Haunted Walking Tour: $26
  • RoRo Street Art Tour in Phoenix: $27

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
    Phoenix $17
    South Lake Tahoe $34

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
  • Pedal Bar Crawl Tour of Downtown Phoenix: $70
  • Stretch Limo Party Cart - Custom Bar Crawls, Wine Tastings, Night Clubs & More: $156
  • Verde Valley Wine Tasting From Scottsdale/Phoenix/Tempe: $189
  • Haunted Jerome Wine & Brewery tasting from Scottsdale: $225
  • Custom Arizona Brewery / Vineyard Tour: $245

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 Phoenix and South Lake Tahoe, we can see that Phoenix 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 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 South Lake Tahoe.

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

Which is Bigger, Phoenix or South Lake Tahoe?

Phoenix has a larger population, and is about 60 times larger than the population of South Lake Tahoe. When comparing the sizes of Phoenix 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.