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

Should you visit San Francisco or Denver?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Denver, 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 beautiful, outdoorsy, and quirky coastal city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. You'll find world class beauty here as well. And you can't forget about the nightlife, live music, and food.

Denver

Denver is a accessible, sprawling, and park-filled city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It's also popular because of the shopping, skiing, and nightlife.

San Francisco and Denver: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less hiking options
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in San Francisco or Denver?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Francisco than Denver, as it is bigger with more sights, attractions, and activities for visitors. San Francisco is more popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, music, beaches, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Denver is known for its skiing. San Francisco is more touristy than Denver and is popular for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. It is also home to The Golden Gate Bridge. Denver is popular for serving as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains and the many national parks that are in the area.

How is San Francisco different from Denver?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Skiing?

San Francisco
Denver

Denver is a nice place to visit for skiing. However, San Francisco is not a skiing destination.

Head to Denver for some great skiing and other winter activities. Although there's no skiing in the immediate area, there is a huge list of world class ski resorts within an hour or two of town. Two of the closest are Echo Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area.

San Francisco is not a skiing destination.


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

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for its sights and museums. However, Denver is not a good city for its museums and history.

The museums, monuments, and landmarks in San Francisco are among the most recognizable in the world. 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.

While most people don't head to Denver specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Many people use Denver as a starting or ending point for their mountain and national park trip, but those who linger can visit some of the city's museums and sights. Popular museums include the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the History Colorado Center, and the Forney Museum of Transportation.

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a nice place to visit for its theatre productions. However, Denver is not a theatre destination.

San Francisco offers a number of shows and performances. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Denver is not a theatre destination.

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

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Denver is not a good city for its restaurants.

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.

Denver may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. It's a pretty large city, so you'll find some nice local restaurants, but the foodie scene is still emerging in many neighborhoods. A number of restaurants offer outdoor seating, which is nice. You'll also find a growing selection of international restaurants. For something uniquely local, you should try the Bison steak and fried pickles.


Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Denver

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find good options in both San Francisco and Denver.

If you're looking for night time activities San Francisco has a few options to choose from. 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.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Denver. The city has come a long way with its nightlife. There's a great craft beer scene and the downtown area has really come to life. Popular bars and clubs in town include the Grizzly Rose and 54Thirty Rooftop. Many places are concentrated in the Soco Nightlife District.

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Music?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a nice place to visit for its live music scene. However, Denver is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep San Francisco active and fun. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Denver is not a live music destination.

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a well-known place for the beache. However, Denver is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in San Francisco. 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.

Denver is not a beach destination.


Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for the nearby hiking options. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its hiking trails.

Known for its hiking, San Francisco draws a crowd to experience the nature and the 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.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Denver. The city is very close to many beautiful parks and hiking areas in the Rocky Mountains. It's not hard to make a day trip from town and enjoy some great hiking. Nice options include the Trading Post Trail in Red Rocks Mountain Park, Bergen Peak near Evergreen, and Chimney Gulch Trail near the town of Golden.

Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Denver?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for its shopping opportunities. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping areas.

The abundance of shops in San Francisco make it a world-class shopping destination. 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.

Denver has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The city has many outlet malls that budget shoppers appreciate. There are also weekend farmer's markets, boutique shopping areas, and all of the major chains that you'll find in most larger cities.

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Families?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

San Francisco is an amazing family-friendly coastal city to visit. 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.

Denver is a family-friendly coastal city. It is a family-friendly city with museums, playgrounds, and plenty of outdoor activities. There are also a few ropes courses near town that kids and adults alike will enjoy. Popular activities include the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.


Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a well-known place for its romantic activities. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for couples.

San Francisco is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.

Denver is a good coastal city for couples to visit. There are many beautiful and romantic outdoor activities in the area such as parks and botanical gardens. There are also spas, including the impressive Spa at the Brown Palace, as well as upscale restaurants and fun bars and clubs to explore.

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

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a well-known place for backpackers. However, Denver is not a good city for backpackers and budget travelers.

San Francisco is a great coastal city to visit for backpackers. 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.

Denver is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Some backpackers fly into Denver to begin their national park tour. There is a hostel or two around town, and if you leave town quickly you'll find campgrounds not far away.

Is San Francisco or Denver Better for Students?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a well-known place for students. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

San Francisco is a great coastal city to visit as a student. 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.

Plenty of students visit Denver. There are a few students in the city, but there isn't a college town vibe that you'd get at other nearby university areas.


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

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is renowned for its public transit. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit 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.

Denver has some public transit options. If you're not planning to leave town, the light rail and bus systems offer good access to much of Denver.

Is San Francisco or Denver a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Denver

San Francisco is a well-known place for its high level of walkability. However, Denver is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

San Francisco is a very walkable coastal city. 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.

Denver is not a very walkable coastal city. While the downtown area is generally walkable, this is still a sprawling city where you'll really want to have a car to access areas outside of town.

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

Should I spend more time in Denver or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Denver?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both San Francisco and Denver. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in San Francisco than in Denver. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for San Francisco, and 2-3 days is enough time in Denver.

Families should spend more time in San Francisco than Denver. 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.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in San Francisco than Denver 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 Denver? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Denver 2-3

One day in San Francisco or Denver?

San Francisco is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and skiing when visiting the suburban destination of Denver. 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 Denver?

San Francisco is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Denver. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.

Five days in San Francisco or Denver?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and shopping when visiting the sprawling destination of Denver. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Five days 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.

A week in San Francisco or Denver?

San Francisco is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.

You'll find shopping and skiing around the city of Denver. 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, Denver 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 Denver is $218. 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 Denver in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Denver $87
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Denver $174
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Denver

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco or Denver? 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 Denver


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 Denver Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Denver $101
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:

  • Transfer in private vehicle from San Francisco Airport to City: $35
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Oakland - Arrival Private Transfer: $44
  • San Francisco Airport to San Francisco Private Arrival Transfer: $79
  • Round trip transfer in private vehicle from-to Airport in San Francisco: $80
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) Private Round trip Transfer: $85
  • SFO Airport Private Transfer to/from Downtown San Francisco: $97
  • Private Airport Transfer: San Francisco to SF International Airport (SFO): $107
  • Private Transfer from Airport SFO to San Francisco in Business Car: $108
  • Private Transfer from San Francisco to Airport SFO in Business Car: $108
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to San Francisco (One-way): $110
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco - Arrival Private Transfer: $110
  • San Francisco to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - Departure Private Transfer: $110

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Denver

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Denver:

  • Denver Airport Transfer To/From Aspen for 6-14 Sprinter Van: $1,950
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Steamboat - Arrival Private Transfer: $282
  • Denver Airport (DEN): Private Transfer to Denver hotels: $256
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Vail/Beaver Creek/Avon - Arrival Transfer: $217
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Aspen hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer : $217
  • Private One Way Transfer From and To Denver Colorado: $200
  • Arrival Private Transfer Denver Airport DEN to Denver City by SUV: $177
  • Round trip transfer in private minivan from-to Denver Intl. Airport to Downtown: $173
  • Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Denver Int. Airport (DEN) to Downtown: $144
  • Departure Private Transfer: Denver to Denver Airport DEN in Luxury Van: $135
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Denver Airport DEN to Denver in Luxury Van: $135
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Winter Park - Arrival Private Transfer: $130

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Denver?

Prices for flights to both Denver 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
    Denver $42

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

Typical Food Prices in Denver

Some typical examples of dining costs in Denver are as follows:


  • Sushi Dinner (for 2)
    $61

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Denver

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Denver.

  • Denver : Paella Cooking Class With Local Chef: $60
  • Denver : Hands-on Cooking Classes With Chef Kevin: $60
  • RiNo Arts District Food Tour: $79
  • Downtown Denver Food Tour: $79
  • Arts District Walking Food Tour: $79
  • Mystery Puzzle Food Tour in Golden, CO: $80
  • The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Denver, CO: $86

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $46
    Denver $52

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 Denver

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Denver are as follows:

  • Shared Golden's History Wagon Ride Tour in Colorado: $65
  • Small-Group Cocktail Tour in Denver: $99
  • 2 Hour Guided Segway Tour: $69
  • 2 Hour LoDo Historic Walking Tour in Denver: $28
  • 3 Hour Whiskey and History Tour: $99
  • Archery Dodgeball - 75 Minute Indoor Experience: $31
  • Best of Denver Tour: $30
  • Best of Denver Tour: $64
  • Bicycle Tour of Downtown Denver.: $93
  • Bike and Brew Tour: $98
  • Breckenridge Ultimate Full Day Mountain Tour from Denver: $139
  • Cheesman Park Ghost Tour: $28

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
    Denver $5.31

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

Sample the Local Flavors in Denver

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

  • 4-Hour Downtown Denver Pub Crawl: $25
  • Terrors Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35


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

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


Which is Bigger, San Francisco or Denver?

San Francisco has a larger population, and is about 32% larger than the population of Denver. When comparing the sizes of San Francisco and Denver, 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.