A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America San Diego vs. Yellowstone National Park for Hiking, Families, Couples, and Backpackers

Should you visit San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

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 Yellowstone National Park. 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 outdoorsy, idyllic, and fun-filled 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. Other popular activities here include food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a immense, unique, and stunning national park. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. Visitors also love the hiking.

San Diego and Yellowstone National Park: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Old Faithful
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

Tourists will generally find more to do in San Diego. Although San Diego and Yellowstone National Park are both popular with visitors, San Diego has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. San Diego is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, music, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, shopping, big city activities, and quaint atmosphere, while Yellowstone National Park is known for its resorts, hiking, and impressive beauty. San Diego is popular 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. Yellowstone National Park is popular for its iconic geysers, breathtaking waterfalls, world-class hikes, and diverse wildlife.

How is San Diego different from Yellowstone National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is well known for its museums and landmarks. However, Yellowstone National Park does not have museums and landmarks.

San Diego offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. 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.

Yellowstone National Park does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is a popular place for its restaurant scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for its local flavors and cuisine.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the San Diego area. 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.

Yellowstone National Park offers some easy restaurants to choose from. This is a large park and there are a number of dining options available both inside and just outside of the park. Many places are seasonal so your options will be highest during the summer months. Like most national park venues, prices can be high and the quality is variable. It's recommended that you pack your own food and plan to picnic.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Nightlife?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is well known for its evening party scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

San Diego is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Music?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is well known for its music scene. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.

Music is a popular form of entertainment in San Diego. Popular venues include the House of Blues, The Belly Up, and The Shout House.

Yellowstone National Park is not a live music destination.


Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Resorts?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is great for its luxury resorts. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its resorts.

There are plenty of resorts in Yellowstone National Park to choose from. It is a large national park, and there are several impressive lodges nearby. Reservations are recommended well in advance. Within the park, Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are all nice options.

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.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is a popular place for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

San Diego has a few good snorkeling spots. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Beaches?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is very popular for the beach. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a beach destination.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in San Diego. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a beach destination.


Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Hiking?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for hiking. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for the nearby hiking options.

Yellowstone National Park is well-known for its hiking and trekking. The park is huge, and there are countless hikes throughout. From short strolls to lengthy endeavors, there really is something for everyone. If you want to see the geysers, some of the best hikes are Grand Prismatic Overlook Trail, the Upper Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Observation Point Loop, and the Lone Star Geyser Trail. For waterfalls you can check out Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, the North Rim Trail, and Fairy Falls Trail.

San Diego is a popular spot for hiking. 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.

Is the Shopping Better in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Many visitors go to San Diego to go shopping. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Families?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Yellowstone National Park is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, San Diego is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is a very family-friendly destination. Kids who enjoy the outdoors and exploring new environments will appreciate a visit to this park. The geysers are fascinating for everyone and the waterfalls are breathtaking. There are ranger shows and other activities that are great for kids as well. Make sure you stop by the Visitor's Centers.


Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Couples?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is very popular for couples. Also, Yellowstone National Park is still popular, but not quite as popular for romance.

San Diego makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

Yellowstone National Park is a great coastal city if you're traveling as a couple. This park is a beautiful and romantic destination for couples who enjoy the outdoors. There are world-renowned hikes and breathtaking views. There are also lodges in the area that make for a romantic stay.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is renowned for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, San Diego is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Yellowstone National Park is extremely popular for backpackers. Backpackers will appreciate the campgrounds and affordable facilities that are found around the park. Reservations are recommended well in advance, particularly if you're hoping to stay inside the park.

Plenty of budget travelers visit San Diego. Backpackers will enjoy the young vibe of the city. There are a few great hostels near the beach or in town.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Students?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is very popular for students. However, Yellowstone National Park is not popular with students.

Many students frequent 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not popular with students.


Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is a coastal city with a few options for its public transit. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known for times when you don't 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.

Public transit is quite limited in Yellowstone National Park. There is no public transportation service available in the park. There are private tour options available.

Is San Diego or Yellowstone National Park a more walkable city?

San Diego
Yellowstone National Park

San Diego is a popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Yellowstone National Park is not particularly known 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.

Yellowstone National Park is not a very walkable coastal city. This is among the largest national parks and a car is an absolute must if you hope to experience the different landscapes.

For even more information, also check out Is San Diego Worth Visiting? and Is Yellowstone National Park Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Yellowstone National Park or San Diego?

How long in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

Both San Diego and Yellowstone National Park have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Yellowstone National Park than in San Diego. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for San Diego, and 5-7 days is enough time in Yellowstone National Park.

Families should spend more time in San Diego than Yellowstone National Park. 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 Yellowstone National Park. 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 Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Diego 3-5 
    Yellowstone National Park 5-7

One day in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the fun-filled coastal city of San Diego. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

You'll find around the national park of Yellowstone National Park. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. 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 Yellowstone National Park?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of San Diego. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people visit for the beaches. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

You'll find around the immense destination of Yellowstone National Park. Hikers are also drawn to this area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This national park offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

San Diego is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have five days, this coastal city makes for a great vacation. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here. It offers something for everyone.

You'll find around the world-famous national park of Yellowstone National Park. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this national park makes for a great vacation. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Most people head to the area for the hiking. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this national park has to offer.

A week in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

San Diego is a popular choice for travelers. Most people visit for the beaches. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Yellowstone National Park is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Yellowstone National Park, one week is sufficent for most. 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, Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park is $147. 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 Yellowstone National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Diego $115
    Yellowstone National Park $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Diego $230
    Yellowstone National Park $148
Compare Hotels in San Diego and Yellowstone National Park

Looking for a hotel in San Diego or Yellowstone National Park? 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 Yellowstone National Park


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 Yellowstone National Park Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Diego $24
    Yellowstone National Park $37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Diego

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

  • San Diego Airport (SAN) to Carlsbad, CA - Arrival Private Transfer: $75
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego City by Business Car: $111
  • Arrival Private Transfer San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego by Executive SUV: $134
  • Arrival Private Transfer: San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego in Business Car: $104
  • Arrival Private Transfer: San Diego Airport SAN to San Diego in Luxury SUV: $117
  • Departure Private Transfer San Diego to San Diego Airport SAN in Business Car: $92
  • Departure Private Transfer: San Diego to San Diego Airport SAN in Business Car: $104
  • Private Arrival Transfer - from San Diego Airport (SAN) by SUV: $82
  • Private Arrival Transfer from San Diego Airport SAN: $56
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Diego Airport SAN: $50
  • Private Transfer Airport Tijuana/Valle de Guadalupe (Ensenada) or back.: $180
  • Private Transfer from San Diego Airport (SAN) to San Diego Port : $75

Is it cheaper to fly into San Diego or Yellowstone National Park?

Prices for flights to both Yellowstone National Park 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
    Yellowstone National Park $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:

  • Pizza and Gelato Tour in San Diego: $80
  • 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, Seaport Village: Waterfront Walking Food Tour: $99
  • Seaport Village Food Tour in San Diego : $99
  • Guided Secret Food Tour: $104
  • Scenic Buffet Dinner Cruise: $108
  • San Diego Dinner Cruise: $116
  • Gourmet Dinner Cruise: $118
  • Thanksgiving Day Buffet Brunch or Dinner Cruise: $121

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Diego $48
    Yellowstone National Park $34
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.

  • Pies & Pickaxes: A Historic Walking Tour of Julian, CA: $4.49
  • Waterfront Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.34
  • A Seaside Stroll: La Jolla's Hidden Treasures Self-Guided Tour: $9.99
  • Historical Walking Tour of San Diego: $10
  • Discover In-App Audio Driving Tour: $11
  • Beaches & Bluffs San Diego's Ultimate Coastal Driving Tour: $12
  • San Diego Natural History Museum Ticket: $12
  • Haunted Historic Whaley House - Self-Guided Tour: $14
  • Apple Pies & Desert Skies: A Self-Guided Driving Tour: $15
  • San Diego's Historic Treasures and Old Town Tour: $20
  • Explore Balboa in a Private Tour of San Diego Hidden Gems: $20
  • Private Walking Tour and Gaslamp Adventure in San Diego: $20

Tours and Activities in Yellowstone National Park

Here are a few actual costs in Yellowstone National Park for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 5-Day Winter Yellowstone Wildlife Tour: $3,349
  • 6-Mile Geyser Hiking Tour in Yellowstone with Lunch: $182
  • DISCOUNTED*FAMILY FRIENDLY* Yellowstone”THE VOLCANO” Tour BY:CWA : $200
  • E-Bike Tours in Yellowstone National Park: $200
  • Early Morning Guided Kayak Tour: $125
  • Full-Day Guided Yellowstone Day Tour: $299
  • Lake Yellowstone Half Day Kayak Tours Past Geothermal Features : $135
  • Lamar Valley Safari Hiking Tour with Lunch: $182
  • Self-Guided Grand Teton National Park Driving Tour: $8.99
  • Small-Group Sunset Kayaking Tour on Lake Yellowstone : $150
  • Yellowstone 3-day Tour Round-trip From Salt Lake City: $1,088
  • Yellowstone 4-day Tour Salt Lake City with Airport Pickup: $1,168

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Diego $21
    Yellowstone National Park $19

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
  • Brewery Tour with Tastings and Food Pairings: $85
  • Vino! Vino! Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour: $125
  • Private Wine Tasting Tour in Valle de Guadalupe: $134
  • 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
  • Brewery and Beer Tasting Tour in San Diego: $215


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Diego and Yellowstone National Park, we can see that San Diego is more expensive. And not only is Yellowstone National Park much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Yellowstone National Park would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Yellowstone National Park 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 Yellowstone National Park.

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 Yellowstone National Park Expensive?.