A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America San Francisco vs. Aspen for Food, Hiking, Families, and Nightlife

Should you visit San Francisco or Aspen?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Aspen, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind, scenic, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. The famous beauty of this place is one of the main draws. Other popular activities here include museums, theater, and nightlife.

Aspen

Aspen is a outdoorsy, authentic, and charming ski town. With plenty of activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the shopping, skiing, and nightlife.

San Francisco and Aspen: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in San Francisco or Aspen?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Francisco. Although San Francisco and Aspen are popular destinations, San Francisco has more sights and attractions for tourists. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, beaches, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Aspen attracts visitors for its skiing, nightlife, music, resorts, christmas markets, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere. San Francisco is more touristy than Aspen and is popular for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. It is also well known for The Golden Gate Bridge. Aspen is famous for its world-class skiing, many food, film, and music festivals, and its stunning mountain hikes.

How is San Francisco different from Aspen?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Skiing?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is an amazing ski town to visit for skiing. However, San Francisco is not a skiing destination.

The snow ski experience you'll have in Aspen is among the best in the world. Near the town, there are 4 separate ski resorts. In town you'll find Aspen Mountain, which is known for it's black-diamond runs. Aspen Highlands, a couple miles away, has a mix of slopes and is less crowded. Buttermilk attracts many freestyle skiers and Aspen Snowmass is considered one of the best family-friendly ski areas.

San Francisco is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in San Francisco or Aspen?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is renowned for its museums and landmarks. However, Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put San Francisco on the map. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.

Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is a coastal city with good options for its shows and theatre. However, Aspen is not a theatre destination.

With some theater and performance venues, you might want to see a show in San Francisco. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Aspen is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in San Francisco or Aspen? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

San Francisco
Aspen

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between San Francisco and Aspen can be difficult as they are each first-rate in their own way.

Known for it's food and restaurant scene, San Francisco is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown. Head away from the touristy neighborhoods if you want to sample some of the more local restaurants around town.

Many restaurants in Aspen have been singled out for their culinary prowess. The town hosts many food festivals and there is a growing selection of diverse restaurants. In town you'll find cafes and restaurants that cater to both the local crowd and the travelers who flock to the area during peak seasons.


Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is a great ski town for its evening party scene. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for nightlife.

The nightlife in Aspen has something for everybody. The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The nightlife scene includes craft beer, live music, and dancing. There's a local vibe, particularly during the off-season times when the tourist crowds are less.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in San Francisco. It has a great nightlife with many local bars and trendy clubs. For the best nightlife away from the tourists, head to Valencia Street or Polk Street. If you want to be in a more touristy area, check out Union Square. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Music?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is a great ski town for its music scene. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for live music.

Aspen has a thriving music scene. Popular music venues in town include Silver City Mountain Saloon and Belly Up Aspen.

You'll find some good live music in San Francisco. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Resorts?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is a great ski town for its luxury resorts. However, San Francisco is not a resort destination.

Aspen is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. Popular resorts in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and St. Regis Aspen.

San Francisco is not a resort destination.


Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is a great destination for the beach. However, Aspen is not a beach destination.

The beaches at San Francisco attract visitors from all over. Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away. Some of the best beaches include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and Muir Beach.

Aspen is not a beach destination.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is renowned for its hiking experiences. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for hiking.

Around San Francisco visitors will find world-class hiking trails. The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.

Many visitors go to Aspen for the hiking trails. During the summer and fall seasons, hiking is a great way to explore Aspen's nearby beauty. Popular trails include the Ute Trail, the Lost Man Trail, and the famous Maroon Bells Scenic Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Aspen?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is renowned for its shopping areas. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for shopping.

San Francisco is a world class destination for shoppers. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Aspen. There are many great local shops and art galleries where you can pick interesting items or fine art.


Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Christmas?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is an amazing ski town to visit for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, San Francisco does not offer Christmas activities.

People travel from all around to experience the Christmas season in Aspen. There are a number of beautiful activities that will bring the holiday season to life in the town.

San Francisco does not offer Christmas activities.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Christmas Markets?

San Francisco
Aspen

Aspen is a great ski town for visiting Christmas markets. However, San Francisco does not offer Christmas markets.

The Christmas markets in Aspen offer plenty to see during the holidays. The town has a charming Christmas market that is fun to explore and has around 40 vendors.

San Francisco does not offer Christmas markets.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Families?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

San Francisco is an extremely popular coastal city to visit for families. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination. There are also many amazing playgrounds with stunning views of the bay and city. Head to Chinatown for some unique and kid-friendly food, or down to Pier 39 for fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Aspen offers lots of family activities. Families that enjoy skiing together, hiking, rock climbing, and having adventures will enjoy a visit to this town. Aspen Mountain is not a great option for beginning skiers, but further away, Aspen Snowmass offers good beginner slopes.


Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco and Aspen are both high quality to visit as a couple.

San Francisco is a great coastal city if you're traveling as a couple. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway. There are also many scenic walks and breathtaking views that couples can appreciate.

Aspen is a very popular place to visit for couples. Aspen is both a popular ski destination as well as an established town. There are many great restaurants and activities that couples can enjoy and the setting is cute and very scenic, making it a beautiful and romantic destination.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is a great destination for backpackers. However, Aspen is a ski town with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

San Francisco is a very popular coastal city for backpackers and budget travelers. The city is one of the more backpacker friendly cities in the United States. There are a handful of hostels throughout, many concentrated in the popular Union Square and Downtown neighborhoods of the city.

Aspen is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Because it is both a town and a ski resort, there are a couple of more affordable accommodation options. Even so, this is an expensive destination that isn't always ideal for budget travelers.

Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Students?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is a great destination for students. However, Aspen is not popular with students.

Students come from all over to stay in San Francisco. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.

Aspen is not popular with students.


Is San Francisco or Aspen Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco is renowned for its public transit. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

San Francisco has a great public transit system. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.

While Aspen offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are several shuttle buses around the town.

Is San Francisco or Aspen a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Aspen

San Francisco and Aspen are high quality when it comes to walkability.

San Francisco is a very walkable destination. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.

Aspen is very walkable. The town is compact enough that it can be explored on foot. If you're planning to head into the mountains to hike, you'll likely need a car.

For even more information, also check out Is San Francisco Worth Visiting? and Is Aspen Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Aspen or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Aspen?

In either San Francisco or Aspen, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in San Francisco than Aspen because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for San Francisco, and 3-5 days is enough time in Aspen.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Francisco than Aspen 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 Francisco.


  • How many days in San Francisco or Aspen? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Aspen 3-5

One day in San Francisco or Aspen?

Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its own distinct appeal, so there are pleny of areas to explore. It's also a great beach destination, too. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

Even though Aspen is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.


A weekend in San Francisco or Aspen?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Aspen. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Five days in San Francisco or Aspen?

San Francisco is a fun place to experience. Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its own distinct appeal, so there are pleny of areas to explore. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Aspen is a small town with plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This ski town offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

A week in San Francisco or Aspen?

Each neighborhood in San Francisco has its own distinct appeal, so there are pleny of areas to explore. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. Most people come for the beaches. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is often enough time to do most activities.

Aspen is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


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


Which place is cheaper, Aspen or San Francisco?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Francisco is $222, while the average daily cost in Aspen is $293. 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 Francisco and Aspen in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Aspen $170
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Aspen $340
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Aspen

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco or Aspen? 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 Francisco


Hotels in Aspen


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 Francisco Hotel Prices and Aspen Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Aspen $56
Typical Local Transportation Prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

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

  • Private Transfer from SFO to San Francisco: $139
  • Arrival Private Transfer SFO Airport to San Francisco City by SUV: $245
  • Carmel 1-Way Transfer to/from San Francisco Airport: $535
  • Departure Private Transfer San Francisco to SFO Airport by Sedan: $152
  • Departure Private Transfer San Francisco to SFO Airport in a SUV: $203
  • Departure Private Transfer: San Francisco to Airport SFO in Luxury SUV: $141
  • Napa Valley 1-Way Transfer to/from the San Francisco Airport: $400
  • Private Airport SUV VIP Transfer from or to SFO to Marin County: $168
  • Private Airport Transfer From SFO to Sonoma (One-way): $280
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to San Francisco (One-way): $110
  • Private Airport Transfer: San Francisco to SF International Airport (SFO): $107
  • Private Transfer from Airport SFO to San Francisco in Business Car: $108

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aspen

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Aspen:

  • Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) - Private Transfer Arrival or Departure: $269
  • Aspen hotel or address to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer: $221

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Aspen?

Prices for flights to both Aspen and San Francisco 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 Francisco $46
    Aspen $85

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $19
  • North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour: $79
  • Buffet Lunch or Dinner Cruise on the Bay: $82
  • Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $84
  • Mission District Food Tour with Tastings: $85
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $87
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $89
  • Mission District Walking Food Tour: $89
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco North Beach Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $90

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $46
    Aspen $45

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco self-guided tour App - multilingual AudioGuide: $4.34
  • Golden Gate Bridge: Self-guided Tour App - Audio + Written: $5.00
  • Embarcadero Self-Guided Audio Smartphone Tour: $5.99
  • Leave your heart at the Wharf: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Self Guided Chinatown Tour: Food, History and Culture: $5.99
  • San Francisco’s Chinatown on foot: A Self Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • The Ghosts of San Francisco Haunted Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • Ghosts & Hauntings Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour of Japantown & Stories: $6.99
  • Design in the Financial District Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Secrets of Golden Gate Park Audio Tour: $7.99
  • San Francisco's Castro Neighborhood: Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99

Tours and Activities in Aspen

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

  • Aspen Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Aspen's DarkSide Ghost Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Scenic Walking Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Past to Present Historic Tour: $40
  • City Highlights Walking Tour: $40
  • Dark History Ghost-Themed Guided Walking Tour: $40
  • From Past to Present History Walking Tour: $40
  • Highlights of Aspen Tour: $40

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Francisco $22
    Aspen $20

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:

  • Chinatown San Francisco’s Bar Crawl: An Audio Tour: $4.99
  • Ghosts, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • 2 to 3 Hour Bar Crawl in Castro San Francisco: $49
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $85
  • Private Wine Tour Napa or Sonoma from $99 per person up to 7 & Concierge Service: $99
  • Half-Day Wine Country Tour with Wine Tastings: $126
  • The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Small Group: The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • From The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Alcatraz and Sausalito California Wine Tasting Experience: $150
  • Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $159


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

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


Which is Bigger, San Francisco or Aspen?

San Francisco has a larger population, and is about 130 times larger than the population of Aspen. When comparing the sizes of San Francisco and Aspen, 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.