A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America San Diego vs. Santa Fe for Families, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit San Diego or Santa Fe?

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 Santa Fe. 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 energetic, outdoorsy, and idyllic 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 museums, nightlife, and live music.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a charming, artsy, and cultural historic town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. Visitors also love the live music, food, and shopping.

How is San Diego different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Visiting museums and landmarks is a fun activity in both San Diego and Santa Fe.

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.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Santa Fe. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.


Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Food?

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine in both San Diego and Santa Fe.

San Diego has a delicious food scene that relies on local flavors. The city has great seafood and a diversity of cuisines. Popular local dishes include fish tacos and California burritos.

Santa Fe has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chile peppers.

Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Nightlife?

For nightlife, head to San Diego instead of Santa Fe.

Many people head to San Diego for the nightlife scene. The heart of the city's nightlife scene is in the Gaslamp District, which is filled with bars, clubs, and music venues.

Santa Fe doesn't have the most active nightlife scene. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night.

Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Music?

San Diego and Santa Fe are both destinations where visitors can find live music.

The music scene in San Diego draws a good crowd. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in Santa Fe. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Shopping?

If you're looking to go shopping, San Diego and Santa Fe both offer plenty of spots.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting San Diego. Head to Fashion Valley or Westfield UTC for some fun shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Santa Fe. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.


Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Families?

Families may find more to do in San Diego than Santa Fe.

With a huge array of activities for kids, San Diego is very family-friendly. It has a number of kid-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. There's the world class zoo, several amusement parks, the beaches, aquariums, and more.

Santa Fe offers lots of family activities. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.

Is San Diego or Santa Fe better for Couples?

San Diego and Santa Fe both fun destinations for a couple.

San Diego makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. For adventurous couples, there are many outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. There are also restaurants and a great nightlife in San Diego.

Santa Fe is a good coastal city for couples to visit. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.

Is San Diego or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

San Diego and Santa Fe are similar when it comes to walkability.

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

Santa Fe is a very walkable destination. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

San Diego and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Good for couples and romance
Cons
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less family-friendly


Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or San Diego?

How long in San Diego or Santa Fe?

In either San Diego or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. You can fill a similar amount of time in either place.

The ideal length of time for a trip to San Diego is 3-5 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Santa Fe is 2-5 days.


  • How many days in San Diego or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Diego 3-5 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in San Diego or Santa Fe?

The coastal city of San Diego offers scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

You'll find skiing and live music around the historic town of Santa Fe. Visiting the old town is also a must. 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 Santa Fe?

San Diego is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered around the area.

You'll find live music and food around the cultural destination of Santa Fe. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this historic town has to offer. This historic town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in San Diego or Santa Fe?

San Diego is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. While some people choose to spend more or less time in San Diego, five days is sufficent for most. The entire area has lots to do.

You'll find food and shopping around the cultural historic town of Santa Fe. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this historic town makes for a great vacation. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this historic town has to offer.

A week in San Diego or Santa Fe?

San Diego is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that beaches is why people visit. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This coastal city offers something for everyone.

Santa Fe is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. 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.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Fe or San Diego?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Diego is $161, while the average daily cost in Santa Fe is $127. 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 city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for San Diego and Santa Fe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Diego $91
    Santa Fe $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Diego $182
    Santa Fe $128

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Diego $19
    Santa Fe $49

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • Private transfer: San Diego to San Diego Airport (SAN): $622
  • Private transfer: San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego: $622
  • San Diego Private Transfer To N. Hollywood/Burbank area.: $398
  • Tijuana Border Crossing Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $398
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Palm Springs.: $398
  • Private Transfer from San Diego to Hollywood Burbank: $397
  • San Diego Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $389
  • San Diego to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Departure Private Transfer: $357
  • San Diego to Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) - Departure Private Transfer: $342
  • Private Transfer From San Diego To Orange County.: $298
  • Private San Diego Transfer: Cruise Port to Airport or Hotel: $192
  • Private San Diego Transfer: Airport to Hotel or Cruise Port: $128

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

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

  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62

Is it cheaper to fly into San Diego or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe 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 $36
    Santa Fe $35
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:

  • San Diego North Park Food Tour: $49
  • Liberty Station Food Tour: $49
  • Market and Guacamole Cooking Class in Tijuana Mexico: $89
  • Private Cooking Demonstration of Indian Fusion Cuisine in San Diego: $96
  • Farmers Market Tour & Social Cooking With A Chef: $100
  • San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise: $111
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Diego: $129
  • Secret Food Tours San Diego w/ Private Tour Option: $277

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Fe

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

  • Dinner at the Coffee Farm: $55
  • Santa Fe Railyard Arts District Food Tour: $102
  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $138

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Diego $38
    Santa Fe $13
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.

  • 1-Hour Voodoo Escape Room Experience in San Diego: $35
  • 1Hr GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Harbor/Gaslamp Quarter: $63
  • 2 Hour Whale Watching Kayak Tour for Two: $77
  • 4 Hour Whale Watching/Eco Adventure: $163
  • Affordable, Luxury Sailing Tour of San Diego's Bay and Coastal Waterways: $112
  • All Day San Diego City and Shopping Tour: $95
  • All Inclusive Beer Tour-Party bus: $169
  • Behind-the-Scenes at Petco Park Tour: $23
  • Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past: $69
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 12 Guests: $1,200
  • Catamaran Sailing Cruise on San Diego Bay for up to 6 Guests: $600
  • Coastal Beauty - Private Sunset & Night Photography Tour: $455

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

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

  • Bantayan Island Day Tour From Cebu: $173
  • Beer and Art Tour: $40
  • Guided Tour: 'Love Stories of Santa Fe": $498
  • Land Tour | Bantayan Island - Sightseeing - Guided Tour: $46
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: Private Walking Tour of Santa Fe: $170
  • Santa Fe Architectural Walking Tour: $115
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Canyon Road Curated Art Walking Tour: $52
  • Search for The Story-Documentary Film School Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $52
  • Small-Group Canyon Road Art Tour: $37
  • Small-Group E-Bike Adventure Tour through Hidden Santa Fe: $155
  • The Best of Santa Fe Walking Tour: $498

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Diego $17
    Santa Fe $7.74

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: $12
  • Wine Tasting Or Beer Tasting: $15
  • San Diego Brewery Tour: $85
  • San Diego Micro Brewery Tour: $91
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $95
  • The San Diego Downtown Craft Brewery Tour: $101
  • Private San Diego Brewery Tour: $107
  • All inclusive brewery tour-Fire Truck: $189
  • Luxury Private Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley from San Diego.: $249
  • Private Wine Tour of Temecula from San Diego: $475

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Fe

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

  • Join-In Wine Tours: $152
  • White Water Rafting and Wine Tour: $217


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

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San Diego vs. Santa Fe Travel Comparison

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