A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America San Diego vs. Columbia River Gorge for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Diego or Columbia River Gorge?

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 San Diego and Columbia River Gorge. 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.

Where Should I go: San Diego or Columbia River Gorge?

San Diego

For many visitors and locals alike, San Diego is a paradise. Located in southern California, not far from Los Angeles, it has the perfect climate, wonderful beaches, and a culturally rich environment. It's surrounded by beautiful landscape and has a strong focus on wildlife conservation and eco-friendly living. Home to about 1.3 million residents, it is California's second largest city. It also has many universities, a large tech industry, and a thriving economy. Despite its size, many people perceive San Diego as a slower, more relaxed city with a pleasant vibe away from the chaos of a large city.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a popular destination in the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. The region's close proximity to Portland, which is just 30 minutes away, makes it a popular weekend destination.

The gorge is formed by the Columbia River, with an 80 mile stretch designated as a National Scenic Area. The area has many beautiful cliffs with a number of tall waterfalls and its protected status means that most new development must occur within one of the already established towns.

Which place is cheaper, Columbia River Gorge or San Diego?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Diego is $202, 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 San Diego and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Diego $115
    Columbia River Gorge $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Diego $230
    Columbia River Gorge $178
Compare Hotels in San Diego and Columbia River Gorge

Looking for a hotel in San Diego 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 San Diego


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: San Diego Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Diego $24
    Columbia River Gorge $78

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • San Diego International Airport (SAN) Private Arrival Transfer: $38
  • Transfer in private vehicle from San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego Downtown: $47
  • Transfer in private vehicle from San Diego Downtown to San Diego Airport (SAN): $47
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in San Diego HTL-APT(SAN): $47
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in San Diego APT-HTL(SAN): $47
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Diego Airport SAN: $50
  • Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) to Tijuana hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $55
  • Tijuana to Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) – Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • Private Arrival Transfer from San Diego Airport SAN: $56
  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Marcos, CA - Arrival Private Transfer: $65
  • Transfer in private minivan from San Diego Downtown to San Diego Airport (SAN): $68
  • Private Tijuana International Airport Arrival or Departure Transfer: $68

Is it cheaper to fly into San Diego or Columbia River Gorge?

Prices for flights to both Columbia River Gorge and San Diego 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
    San Diego $45
    Columbia River Gorge $46
Typical Food Prices in San Diego

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


  • Mexican Lunch for Two
    $27
  • Breakfast at Starbucks
    $20

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Diego

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

  • Seaport Village Food Tour in San Diego : $79
  • Little Italy Food and Drink Walking Tour - Pizza, Pasta & Piazzas: $81
  • Old Town Tequila and Tacos Walking Food Tour: $81
  • San Diego Vegan Food Tour: $85
  • Gaslamp Quarter Downtown San Diego Food Tour: $89
  • Gaslamp Quarter Food Tour: $89
  • San Diego Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $92
  • San Diego, Seaport Village: Waterfront Walking Food Tour: $99
  • Guided Secret Food Tour: $103
  • Gourmet Dinner Cruise: $118
  • San Diego Dinner Cruise: $118
  • Scenic Buffet Dinner Cruise: $118

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Diego $48
    Columbia River Gorge $20
Typical Entertainment Prices in San Diego

For San Diego, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • San Diego Zoo
    $15
  • Sea World Parking
    $12

Tours and Activities in San Diego

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

  • Waterfront Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.41
  • Sights of San Diego Harbor: a Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.99
  • A Seaside Stroll: La Jolla's Hidden Treasures Self-Guided Tour: $9.99
  • Historical Walking Tour of San Diego: $10
  • Beaches & Bluffs San Diego's Ultimate Coastal Driving Tour: $12
  • Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour: $14
  • Apple Pies & Desert Skies: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $15
  • San Diego Gas Lamp: At your leisure & pace. An audio walking tour.: $15
  • Private Walking Tour and Gaslamp Adventure in San Diego: $16
  • San Diego's Historic Treasures and Old Town Tour: $16
  • La Jolla Self-Guided Driving Tour: $17
  • San Diego Embarcadero Waterfront Ghost Tour: $19

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Diego $21
    Columbia River Gorge $12

Sample the Local Flavors in San Diego

Also in San Diego, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • San Diego Bar Hunt: Slammin' San Diego Bar Crawl: $13
  • History Tour Pub Crawl of Famous Gaslamp Quarter: $30
  • San Diego Small-Group Gaslamp History Tour Pub Crawl: $30
  • Brewery Tour with Tastings and Food Pairings: $85
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour - Vino! Vino! : $119
  • Baja Tour Guide wine tour: $122
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Private Wine Tasting Tour in Valle de Guadalupe: $132
  • Cruise & Booze Brewery tours : $149
  • Wine Tasting Sidecar 2.5-Hour Private Tour in San Diego: $165
  • Sidecar Wine Tasting Tour: $199
  • Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour: $199


When comparing the travel costs between San Diego and Columbia River Gorge, we can see that San Diego is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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


Which is Bigger, San Diego or Columbia River Gorge?

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

Both Columbia River Gorge and San Diego during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to San Diego in the summer for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

In July, San Diego is generally around the same temperature as Columbia River Gorge. Daily temperatures in San Diego average around 71°F (22°C), and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 68°F (20°C).

In Columbia River Gorge, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in San Diego. In the summer, San Diego often gets less sunshine than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 306 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Columbia River Gorge receives 338 hours of full sun.

San Diego usually gets less rain in July than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 0.7 inches (18 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    San Diego 71°F (22°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 68°F (20°C)

Should I visit San Diego or Columbia River Gorge in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both San Diego and Columbia River Gorge. Most visitors come to San Diego for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

San Diego is much warmer than Columbia River Gorge in the autumn. The daily temperature in San Diego averages around 68°F (20°C) in October, and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 55°F (13°C).

In San Diego, it's very sunny this time of the year. San Diego usually receives more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge during autumn. San Diego gets 244 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 155 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, San Diego usually receives less rain than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 0.4 inches (9 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.6 inches (67 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    San Diego 68°F (20°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 55°F (13°C)

Should I visit San Diego or Columbia River Gorge in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to San Diego as well as Columbia River Gorge. The winter months attract visitors to San Diego because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

It's quite cold in Columbia River Gorge in the winter. In the winter, San Diego is much warmer than Columbia River Gorge. Typically, the winter temperatures in San Diego in January average around 57°F (14°C), and Columbia River Gorge averages at about 40°F (4°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in San Diego this time of the year. In the winter, San Diego often gets more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 239 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. San Diego usually gets less rain in January than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 1.8 inches (46 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 5.2 inches (132 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    San Diego 57°F (14°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 40°F (4°C)

Should I visit San Diego or Columbia River Gorge in the Spring?

Both Columbia River Gorge and San Diego are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty are the main draw to San Diego this time of year.

In April, San Diego is generally much warmer than Columbia River Gorge. Daily temperatures in San Diego average around 62°F (17°C), and Columbia River Gorge fluctuates around 51°F (11°C).

It's quite sunny in Columbia River Gorge. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in San Diego. San Diego usually receives more sunshine than Columbia River Gorge during spring. San Diego gets 277 hours of sunny skies, while Columbia River Gorge receives 231 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, San Diego usually receives less rain than Columbia River Gorge. San Diego gets 0.8 inches (20 mm) of rain, while Columbia River Gorge receives 2.4 inches (61 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    San Diego 62°F (17°C) 
    Columbia River Gorge 51°F (11°C)

Typical Weather for Columbia River Gorge and San Diego

San Diego Columbia River Gorge
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 57°F (14°C) 1.8 inches (46 mm) 40°F (4°C) 5.2 inches (132 mm)
Feb 59°F (15°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm) 44°F (7°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm)
Mar 59°F (15°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 47°F (9°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 0.8 inches (20 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
May 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Jun 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 64°F (18°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm)
Jul 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 68°F (20°C) 0.7 inches (18 mm)
Aug 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 69°F (20°C) 1 inches (25 mm)
Sep 71°F (22°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 63°F (17°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm)
Oct 68°F (20°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.6 inches (67 mm)
Nov 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (37 mm) 46°F (8°C) 5.4 inches (136 mm)
Dec 57°F (14°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm) 40°F (5°C) 6.1 inches (156 mm)