A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Phoenix vs. Vail for Families, Couples, Nightlife, and Hiking

Should you visit Phoenix or Vail?

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 Vail 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 desert, laid back, and sprawling city. Visitors also love the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Vail

Vail is a resort-filled, charming, and picturesque ski town. With amazing attractions and sights, it's also a fun small town not to be missed. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As it offers a special and quaint atmosphere, visitors come from all over to experience this destination. It's also popular because of the shopping, skiing, and nightlife.

Phoenix and Vail: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
  • Home to the Vail Ski Resort


Is there more to do in Phoenix or Vail?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Vail. Although Phoenix and Vail are both popular with visitors, Vail has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Vail is more popular for its skiing, nightlife, music, resorts, hiking, shopping, christmas markets, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Phoenix is known for its museums. Vail is more touristy than Phoenix and is known for its world-class skiing, charming mountain town atmosphere, and adventurous outdoor activities. It is also home to The Vail Ski Resort. Phoenix is popular for its desert landscapes, high number of golf courses, and year round warm weather.

How is Phoenix different from Vail?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Skiing?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is an unbeatable place for skiing. However, Phoenix is not a skiing destination.

Visitors will find world class skiing in Vail. This ski town has produced its share of Olympians. Vail is the third largest ski resort in the US and it has 31 lifts and 195 runs. There are five different bowls that offer beautiful views.

Phoenix is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Phoenix or Vail?

Phoenix
Vail

Phoenix is a popular place for its historical sights. However, Vail does not have museums and landmarks.

Phoenix offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

Vail does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Phoenix or Vail? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Phoenix
Vail

Dining out at restaurants in both Phoenix and Vail can be an enjoyable experience.

Phoenix is becoming an appealing option for foodies. 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.

Vail offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. The town has a diverse sampling of restaurants that include different ethnic options as well as taverns with comfort food. It's easy to find mountain-friendly restaurants where you can refuel during your ski vacation.

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Nightlife?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a great ski town for its evening party scene. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for nightlife.

The nightlife in Vail has something for everybody. Happy Hours start early, and then the partying can go late into the night. There are bars, lounges, breweries and live music that keep the atmosphere light and offer entertainment after your long day on the slopes. Do keep in mind that many places close or dramatically reduce their hours during the off-peak fall and spring months.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Phoenix. 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.


Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Music?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a ski town with good options for its music scene. However, Phoenix is not a live music destination.

You'll find some good live music in Vail. You can often find live music at Shakedown Bar, Bridge Street Bar, and the Red Lion.

Phoenix is not a live music destination.

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Resorts?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a great ski town for its luxury resorts. However, Phoenix is not a resort destination.

In Vail, you'll find some of the region's top resorts. Designed as a resort town, Vail offers great accommodation. Nice resorts include Four Seasons Resort and Residences, the Ritz Carlton Club, and the Grand Hyatt.

Phoenix is not a resort destination.

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Hiking?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a great ski town for hiking. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for the nearby hiking options.

Many visitors go to Vail for the hiking trails. During the warmer months, this resort town is surrounded by world-class hiking trails. You can enjoy the wildflowers, search for wildlife, or take in the sweeping mountain views. Popular hikes near Vail include Booth Falls, Davos Trail, and Shrine Ridge.

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 Vail?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a great ski town for its shopping areas. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Vail. The cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques and ski shops that sell everything from evening dresses to outdoor gear. It's easy to pop into the many shops around downtown Vail and find anything you might need.

Phoenix is a great destination for shopping. 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.

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Christmas?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is an unbeatable place for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Phoenix does not offer Christmas activities.

People travel from all around to experience the Christmas season in Vail. The town is a winter wonderland during the holidays. Check out the iconic Christmas tree lighting and wander through the fairytale streets.

Phoenix does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Christmas Markets?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a great ski town for visiting Christmas markets. However, Phoenix does not offer Christmas markets.

Vail has a large number of Christmas markets. The town's Christmas Market is picturesque, and the perfect place to pick up some unique gifts.

Phoenix does not offer Christmas markets.


Is Phoenix or Vail Better for Families?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is an unbeatable place for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its family-friendly activities.

Vail is an extremely popular ski town to visit for families. With its world class skiing, rock climbing, ice skating, and ice cream, kids love this ski resort. The resort town has two terrain parks - Golden Peak and Avanti. Avanti is perfect for kids. It has small jumps, wide rails, and kid-friendly amenities. Golden Peak is designed for more advanced athletes. Vail also has nice beginner slopes that are great for kids.

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 Vail Better for Couples?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Phoenix is not as popular, but is still a nice city for romance.

Vail is a great ski town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. Couples who enjoy skiing and outdoor adventure will appreciate everything that this ski town has to offer. There are nice restaurants, beautiful gardens, and plenty of romantic activities to choose from.

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 Vail Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a ski town with good options for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Phoenix is not known for backpackers.

Vail is a good ski town to visit for backpackers. This ski town isn't completely closed off to budget travelers as there are a couple of hostels around town.

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 Vail Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is a ski town with good options for times when you don't have a car. However, Phoenix is not known for its public transit.

While Vail offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There is a free bus service through the area.

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

Is Phoenix or Vail a more walkable city?

Phoenix
Vail

Vail is an unbeatable place for its ease of walking around. However, Phoenix is not known for its walkability.

Vail is a very easy ski town to get around on foot. The main downtown is pedestrian-only and perfect for popping in shops and restaurants.

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

For even more information, also check out Is Phoenix Worth Visiting? and Is Vail Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Vail or Phoenix?

How long in Phoenix or Vail?

Both Phoenix and Vail have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Vail than in Phoenix. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Phoenix, and 3-7 days is enough time in Vail.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Vail 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 Vail.


  • How many days in Phoenix or Vail? Ideal Length of Stay
    Phoenix 1-3 
    Vail 3-7

One day in Phoenix or Vail?

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Phoenix. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually enough time to experience most activities.

Vail is a small town with plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. This ski town 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 Vail?

Phoenix is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Vail might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Phoenix or Vail?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the desert destination of Phoenix. This city offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Vail is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Vail has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

A week in Phoenix or Vail?

The sprawling city of Phoenix offers nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Vail. Vail is a small town where visitors enjoy the nightlife and live music. One reason most visitors come is for the skiing. It's also a relaxing resort destination. With all of its activities, you can easily fill one week here.


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, Vail 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 Vail is $291. 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 Vail in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Phoenix $144
    Vail $174
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Phoenix $288
    Vail $348
Compare Hotels in Phoenix and Vail

Looking for a hotel in Phoenix or Vail? 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 Vail


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 Vail Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Phoenix $39
    Vail $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Phoenix

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

  • Departure Private Transfer: Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Luxury Van: $140
  • Phoenix International Airport (PHX) - Private transfer From/to Hotels: $118
  • Arrival Private Transfer Phoenix Airport PHX to Phoenix City : $117
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) to Phoenix - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $115
  • Departure Private Transfer Phoenix City to Phoenix Airport PHX : $110
  • One-Way Transfer Sky Harbor Airport to Phoenix: $104
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Luxury SUV: $103
  • Private Transfer from Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Luxury SUV: $103
  • Private Transfer from Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Luxury SUV: $103
  • Departure Private Transfer: Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport PHX in Luxury SUV: $103
  • Private Transfer from Sky Harbor Airport PHX to Phoenix in Business Car: $90
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) to Phoenix - Arrival Private Transfer: $58

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Vail

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

  • Private Eagle County / Vail Airport Transfer to Vail: $299
  • Private Eagle County Regional / Vail Airport Transfer to Beaver Creek: $299
  • Avon/Vail Valley to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer : $237
  • EGE Airport Roundtrip Transfer to Vail, Beaver Creek, and Avon: $228
  • Vail/Beaver Creek/Avon to Denver Airport DEN - Departure Transfer: $217
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Vail Airport EGE: $156
  • Eagle County Airport to Steamboat - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $152
  • Eagle Airport (EGE) to Glenwood Resorts Round-Trip Transfer: $152
  • Private Departure Transfer to Vail Airport EGE: $128
  • Eagle County Airport to Steamboat Springs-Round-Trip Transfer: $119
  • Eagle County Regional (EGE) to Steamboat Springs-Arrival Transfer: $119
  • Vail/Beaver Creek/Avon to Eagle County Airport-Departure Transfer: $114

Is it cheaper to fly into Phoenix or Vail?

Prices for flights to both Vail 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
    Vail $74
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:

  • Awesome French Crêpes Cooking Class: $75
  • Old Town Scottsdale Food Tour: $92
  • Downtown Phoenix Food Tour: $92
  • Scottsdale Waterfront Food Tour: $95
  • Quiche Lorraine French Cooking Class in Scottsdale: $129

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Phoenix $40
    Vail $133

Tours and Activities in Phoenix

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

  • 1.5 Hour Stretch Limo Golf Cart Tour, Ultimate Old Town Exploration: $79
  • 1/2 DAY SONORAN DESERT HIKE. Tour, Workout or Challenge Pace.: $115
  • 2 Hour Scottsdale Segway Tours - Ultimate Old Town Exploration: $90
  • 2 Hour Segway Tour - Sunsets, Segways & City Lights: $89
  • 2 Hour Sonoran Desert Private Guided Mountain Bike Tour: $115
  • 2-Hour Arizona Desert Guided E-Bike Tour: $135
  • 2.5 Hour FAT Tire E-Bike Tour – Scottsdale Greenbelt Adventure: $119
  • 3 Cities & Nature Tour. Shop, Art, History, Food. Scottsdale, Phoenix, & Tempe.: $168
  • 3 Hour Guided TomCar ATV Tour in Sonoran Desert: $219
  • Adventure Yoga Experience on Camelback Mountain: $75
  • Apache Trail and Dolly Steamboat Van Tour: $160
  • Boat Cruise in Lake Pleasant Arizona: $89

Tours and Activities in Vail

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

  • Bike Tour or Mountain Bike down Vail Mountain: $120
  • Dillon Marina & Shopping Tour: $267
  • Save the Mountain Escape Room Adventure: $45
  • Smartphone Driving Tour between Denver & Vail / Breckenridge: $7.99
  • Vail Segway Tour from Vail Village: $89

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Phoenix $17
    Vail $9.79

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: $156
  • Ghost town of Jerome, Brew and Wine Tour: $215


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

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


Which is Bigger, Phoenix or Vail?

Phoenix has a larger population, and is about 290 times larger than the population of Vail. When comparing the sizes of Phoenix and Vail, 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.