A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America San Diego vs. Salt Lake City for Families, Couples, Attractions, and Nightlife

Should you visit San Diego or Salt Lake City?

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 Salt Lake City. 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.

San Diego

San Diego is a idyllic, fun-filled, and hip coastal city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the live music, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a architectural, notable, and religious city. Visitors also love the scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, and shopping.

San Diego and Salt Lake City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Good for hiking
  • Home to Temple Square
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Diego than Salt Lake City, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. San Diego is more touristy than Salt Lake City and is known for its relaxed coastal atmosphere, its many kid-friendly sights, and its beautiful beaches with critter-filled tidal pools. It is also home to The San Diego Zoo. Salt Lake City is popular for its religious landmarks and its large Mormon population.

How is San Diego different from Salt Lake City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

Visiting museums and landmarks is a fun activity in both San Diego and Salt Lake City.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around San Diego. While the city is famous for it's beaches, zoos, and aquariums, don't overlook the museums and other landmarks. Popular options include the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, the Old Town State Historic Park, and Point Loma and Cabrillo Monument.

Salt Lake City offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. Many of the fascinating sights around town are influenced by the city's Mormon culture. Temple Square is a highlight for most visitors. It spans 35 acres and is beautifully landscaped with several fountains. There are also four main churches - The Temple, the Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and Assembly Hall. The city also has several museums such as the Natural History Museum and the historic Liberty Park.


Is the Food Better in San Diego or Salt Lake City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at good restaurants in both San Diego and Salt Lake City.

San Diego has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. The city has great seafood and a diversity of cuisines. There are many casual dining options that serve informal foods like burgers or salads, but there are also award-winning fine dining restaurants with elegant atmospheres. Popular local dishes include fish tacos and California burritos.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Salt Lake City area. In recent years the food scene has really improved and you'll find a variety of restaurants that serve everything from upscale dishes to more casual fare.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Nightlife?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a very popular place for its evening party scene. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for nightlife.

San Diego has a large number of nightlife venues. The heart of the city's nightlife scene is in the Gaslamp District, which is filled with bars, clubs, and music venues. There's a young student population that keeps the nightlife scene casual and fun.

Salt Lake City is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. Known for its large Mormon population, nightlife isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Salt Lake City. While it will likely never be a party city, there are a growing number of entertainment options around town.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Music?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a very popular place for its music scene. However, Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.

It's worth checking out the music scene in San Diego while you're in town. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.


Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Resorts?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is very good for its luxury resorts. However, Salt Lake City is not a resort destination.

San Diego has a few great resort options. Most people prefer to stay in hotels or VRBOs, but several popular resorts include Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Paradise Point, and the famous Hotel del Coronado.

Salt Lake City is not a resort destination.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

You'll find good places where you can go scuba diving or snorkeling in San Diego and Salt Lake City.

Grab a mask and fins and explore the underwater scenery in San Diego. Popular snorkeling and diving spots include La Jolla Cove, Mission Bay, and Turtle Town. The water's a bit chili, but it's still worth going for a dive or popping on a mask and snorkeling around for a bit.

Salt Lake City has a few good snorkeling spots. There are a number of good ski resorts nearby, making this a good base or starting point for a ski vacation.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Beaches?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a world-class destination for the beach. However, Salt Lake City is not a beach destination.

With world-famous beaches, San Diego is a very popular vacation destination. The city has great beaches with tidal pools and interesting sea life at low tide. Adults and kids alike will enjoy hitting the beach when the tides are out and looking for local critters in the tidal pools. Popular beaches in the area include La Jolla Cove Beach, Coronado Beach, and Pacific Beach.

Salt Lake City is not a beach destination.


Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Hiking?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a very popular place for its hiking trails. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting San Diego. The city is filled with parks and has tons of natural beauty. There is plenty of urban hiking in town, or you can visit more natural areas just out of town. Head to Torrey Pines State Park or Los Penasquitos Canyon Trail for some nice hikes.

Salt Lake City has hiking trails worth exploring. The city offers easy access to many diverse trails, so if you're a nature enthusiasts, you'll appreciate this destination.

Is the Shopping Better in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

If you're looking to go shopping, San Diego and Salt Lake City both offer plenty of good spots.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting San Diego. Head to Fashion Valley or Westfield UTC for some fun shopping. There are suburban shopping malls in the area as well as souvenir shops in the more touristy areas.

Many visitors go to Salt Lake City to go shopping. The city has sprawling outlet malls as well as local stores and craft shops. City Creek Center is a favorite shopping destination, but there are also several large shopping malls that are worth visiting.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Families?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

San Diego is one of the most popular family destinations. The city is filled with kid-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. There's the world-class zoo, several amusement parks, the beaches, aquariums, and more. The year-round warm weather makes it easy to spend plenty of time outdoors in parks, playgrounds, and beaches where kids can stretch their legs and run around.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Salt Lake City. There are museums that kids will enjoy like the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Leonardo Museum. There are also fun-filled activities like a visit to Lagoon Amusement Park. You can learn about history at This Is the Place Heritage Park or learn about the undersea world at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.


Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Couples?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a world-class destination for couples. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

For those traveling as a couple, San Diego has plenty to offer. For adventurous couples, there are many outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. The beaches offer a great playground for adults who enjoy the water and warm weather. There are also restaurants and a great nightlife in San Diego.

Salt Lake City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with beautiful gardens like Red Butte Garden. There are also nice restaurants and romantic hotels that will make this a nice place for a couple's getaway.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is very good for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for backpackers.

San Diego is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. Backpackers will enjoy the young vibe of the city. There are a few great hostels near the beach or in town.

Salt Lake City is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are a couple of hostels in town, but most backpackers overlook this destination or breeze through town quickly.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Students?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is a world-class destination for its student-friendly activities. However, Salt Lake City is not popular with students.

Students come from all over the world to visit San Diego. With its young population and many universities, international students will feel right at home in San Diego. There are also many great outdoor activities for the adventurous.

Salt Lake City is not popular with students.


Is San Diego or Salt Lake City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, San Diego is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Salt Lake City offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There's a surprisingly good public transit system that includes light rail, buses, and commuter trains, but if you want to get out of town you'll need to have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in San Diego. The city has a trolley (light rail system) as well as a bus system. Most people depend on cars to get around, and you'll likely enjoy your trip a bit more if you have your own vehicle.

Is San Diego or Salt Lake City a more walkable city?

San Diego
Salt Lake City

San Diego is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for its walkability.

San Diego is a somewhat walkable coastal city. The downtown area is walkable, but if you want to travel further, you'll need to find a different form of transportation.

Salt Lake City is generally not very walkable. While some neighborhoods are walkable, like Temple Square, most visitors prefer to have a car.

For even more information, also check out Is San Diego Worth Visiting? and Is Salt Lake City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Salt Lake City or San Diego?

How long in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both San Diego and Salt Lake City. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in San Diego than in Salt Lake City. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for San Diego, and 2-3 days is enough time in Salt Lake City.

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

Couples should spend more time in San Diego than Salt Lake City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in San Diego that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Diego than Salt Lake City 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 San Diego.


  • How many days in San Diego or Salt Lake City? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Diego 3-5 
    Salt Lake City 2-3

One day in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

In San Diego, you'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Salt Lake City. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A weekend in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

San Diego is a great place to explore. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

You'll find museums and food around the religious destination of Salt Lake City. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.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.

Five days in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Diego. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. It offers something for everyone. One reason most visitors come is for the beaches. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

Travelers enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the religious city of Salt Lake City. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in San Diego or Salt Lake City?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the coastal city of San Diego. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Your budget might influence how long you stay. One reason most visitors come is for the beaches. 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.

Salt Lake City is a popular choice for travelers. 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 will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America, The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America, The Best G Adventures Tours to United States of America, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas.


Which place is cheaper, Salt Lake City 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 Salt Lake City is $246. 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 Salt Lake City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Diego $115
    Salt Lake City $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Diego $230
    Salt Lake City $238
Compare Hotels in San Diego and Salt Lake City

Looking for a hotel in San Diego or Salt Lake City? 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 Salt Lake City


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 and Salt Lake City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Diego $24
    Salt Lake City $45

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in San Diego HTL-APT(SAN): $47
  • Transfer in private minivan from San Diego Downtown to San Diego Airport (SAN): $68
  • Transfer in private minivan from San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego Downtown: $68
  • Tijuana to Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $108
  • Tijuana to Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) – Departure Private Transfer: $54
  • Tijuana Intl Airport (TIJ) to Playas de Rosarito -Round-Trip Private Transfer: $239
  • Tijuana Intl Airport (TIJ) to Playas de Rosarito - Arrival Private Transfer: $119
  • Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) to Tijuana hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $54
  • San Diego Private Transfer to Orange County, CA.: $223
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN) Private Arrival Transfer: $38
  • San Diego Airport: One-Way Private Transfer to San Diego: $70
  • San Diego Airport - Private Round Trip Transfer: $70

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Salt Lake City

Also for Salt Lake City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City hotel or address: $259
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Round-Trip Transfer: $228
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC): Transfer to Salt Lake City: $200
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City UT - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $180
  • Private Transfer from SLC to Salt Lake City : $119
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $119
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Arrival Transfer: $114
  • Private Transfer: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $106
  • Private Transfer: Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) : $106
  • Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) - Departure Private Transfer: $46
  • Private Departure Transfer to Salt Lake City Airport SLC: $36

Is it cheaper to fly into San Diego or Salt Lake City?

Prices for flights to both Salt Lake City 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
    Salt Lake City $50
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:

  • Old Town Tequila and Tacos Walking Food Tour: $81
  • Little Italy Food and Drink Walking Tour - Pizza, Pasta & Piazzas: $85
  • Gaslamp Quarter Downtown San Diego Food Tour: $89
  • Gaslamp Quarter Food Tour: $89
  • San Diego Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $95
  • San Diego, Seaport Village: Waterfront Walking Food Tour: $99
  • Guided Secret Food Tour: $101
  • Scenic Buffet Dinner Cruise: $108
  • San Diego Dinner Cruise: $116
  • Gourmet Dinner Cruise: $118
  • San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise: $118
  • Thanksgiving Day Buffet Brunch or Dinner Cruise: $121

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Diego $48
    Salt Lake City $28
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.

  • Maritime Museum of San Diego Admission Ticket: $24
  • 1 Hour GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Harbor/Gaslamp Quarter: $92
  • 1-Hour Private Scenic Tandem Sidecar Tour in San Diego: $99
  • 1-Hour Voodoo Escape Room Experience in San Diego: $35
  • 1.5 Hour Walking Tour from La Jolla in San Diego: $59
  • 1Hr GPS Self Guided Scooter Tour: Harbor/Gaslamp Quarter: $63
  • 2 Hour GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Downtown & Balboa Park: $82
  • 3 Hours Guided Whale and Dolphin Watching Experience in San Diego: $139
  • 4 Hour Self-Guided Electric Bike Tour or Rental: $87
  • A Seaside Stroll: La Jolla's Hidden Treasures Self-Guided Tour: $7.99
  • All Day San Diego Scenic Tour: $125
  • Apple Pies & Desert Skies: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $13

Tours and Activities in Salt Lake City

For Salt Lake City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 2 Hour Salt Lake Boat Tour with Swimming on the Lake: $79
  • 4-Day Winter Yellowstone Tour: $2,499
  • 45 Minute Great Salt Lake Boat Tour: $37
  • 5-day Tour Yellowstone Park Los Angeles-Salt Lake City: $1,558
  • From 3-Day Yellowstone Wildlife Adventure: $999
  • From Private Bryce Canyon National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Canyonlands National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Capitol Reef National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Goblin Valley State Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Tour of Arches National Park: $1,475
  • Great Salt Lake Flying Tour: $249
  • Great Salt Lake Guided Bus Tour from Salt Lake City: $70

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Diego $21
    Salt Lake City $17

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
  • Gaslamp Bar Crawls and Events: $20
  • History Tour Pub Crawl of Famous Gaslamp Quarter: $30
  • Brewery Tour with Tastings and Food Pairings: $85
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $119
  • Vino! Vino! Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Private Wine Tasting Tour in Valle de Guadalupe: $136
  • Cruise & Booze Brewery tours : $149
  • Baja Tour Guide wine tour: $169
  • Sidecar Wine Tasting Tour: $199
  • Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour: $199
  • California Sunset Brewery Tour: $199


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

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 Salt Lake City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, San Diego or Salt Lake City?

San Diego has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Salt Lake City. When comparing the sizes of San Diego and Salt Lake City, 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.