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

Should you visit San Francisco or Reno?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Reno, 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 outdoorsy, quirky, and eccentric coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the shopping, museums, and theater.

Reno

Reno is a energetic, growing, and vibrant city. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

San Francisco and Reno: 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 for students
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • 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 Reno?

Tourists will generally find more to do in San Francisco than Reno. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, music, beaches, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Reno attracts visitors for its nightlife. San Francisco is more touristy than Reno and is known 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. Reno is famous for its casinos and nightlife scene.

How is San Francisco different from Reno?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for its museums and history. Also, Reno is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, San Francisco has many famous sights for visitors. 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.

Reno is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Museums in town range from art and history to local or quirky. The National Automobile Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, Fleischmann Planetarium, and the Anthropology Museum are some of the favorites.


Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is a popular place for its shows and theatre. However, Reno is not a theatre destination.

You'll find a nice selection of shows in San Francisco. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Reno is not a theatre destination.

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

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for its restaurants. Also, Reno is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

For foodies, San Francisco is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. 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.

Reno offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. The food scene has been growing in recent years and you'll find plenty of casual restaurants that serve hearty and filling comfort foods.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Reno

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

The nightlife in Reno has something for everybody. There's a big nightlife scene with a huge number of bars and entertainment options. There are also a growing number of breweries in town.

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 Reno Better for Music?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is a popular place for its music scene. However, Reno is not a live music destination.

The music scene in San Francisco is active and vibrant. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Reno is not a live music destination.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Reno is not a beach destination.

San Francisco is considered a top beach destination. 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.

Reno is not a beach destination.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for its hiking trails. However, Reno is not a hiking destination.

People visit San Francisco specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. 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.

Reno is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Reno?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for its shopping areas. Also, Reno is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many people travel to San Francisco specifically to go shopping. 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.

Reno is a great destination for shopping. In addition to your standard suburban shopping malls and strip malls, there's the Midtown District, which has local retail shops and an eclectic and alternative vibe. The area has thrift shops, music vendors, and more.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Families?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Reno is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

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

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Reno. You'll find some arcades and entertainment options for kids in some of the casinos. There's also the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, which has kid-friendly, hands-on exhibits, and the largest zoo in Nevado, the Sierra Nevada Zoological Park.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for couples. Also, Reno is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

San Francisco makes for a fun place to visit for 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.

Reno is a nice destination for couples. There are outdoor parks and scenic walks like the Truckee River Walk or the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. There's also several great museums and some interesting restaurants.


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

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Reno is lacking in options for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit San Francisco. 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.

Reno is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. It's not really on the backpacker circuit so you won't find any real hostels in town.

Is San Francisco or Reno Better for Students?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Reno is not popular with students.

San Francisco is a very popular coastal city for students and younger travelers. 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.

Reno is not popular with students.

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

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is renowned for times when you don't have a car. However, Reno is lacking in options for its public transit.

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

Public transit is generally limited in Reno. There's a public bus system with routes around town.


Is San Francisco or Reno a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Reno

San Francisco is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Reno is lacking in options for its 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.

Reno is generally not very walkable. While there are some reasonably walkable neighborhoods, you really need a car to get around town.

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

Should I spend more time in Reno or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Reno?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both San Francisco and Reno. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in San Francisco than in Reno. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for San Francisco, and 1-3 days is enough time in Reno.

Families should spend more time in San Francisco than Reno. 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 Reno. 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 Reno 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 Reno? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Reno 1-3

One day in San Francisco or Reno?

San Francisco is a big city destination where you can fill many days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the vibrant destination of Reno. Your budget might influence how long you stay. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then one day is just the right amount of time to spend here.

A weekend in San Francisco or Reno?

San Francisco is a fun place to experience. It's also a great beach destination, too. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Reno. 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 Reno?

San Francisco is a outdoorsy big city where you can fill many days. This coastal city offers something for everyone. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the growing destination of Reno. 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 Reno?

San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind coastal city where you can fill many days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Many people spend one week here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Because of this, one week is usually enough time for a trip here.

You'll find food and shopping around the city of Reno. 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 Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, and The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Reno 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 Reno is $144. 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 Reno in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Reno $55
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Reno $110
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Reno

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco or Reno? 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 Reno


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 Reno Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Reno $23
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
  • Transfer in private Minivan from San Francisco Downtown to Airport (SFO): $183
  • Transfer in private Minivan from San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Downtown city: $183
  • Sedan Airport Transfer from Vallejo to SFO (one way): $259
  • Sedan Airport Transfer from SFO to East Bay (one way): $262
  • San Francisco to/from Yosemite National Park: 1-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to Yosemite One-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to Oakland Airport (OAK) Private Departure Transfer: $64
  • San Francisco Airport to San Francisco Round Trip Transfer: $160
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $224
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco - Arrival Private Transfer: $112
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Cruise Terminal - Arrival Private Transfer: $185

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Reno

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


  • Car Wash
    $5.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Reno

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

  • Reno Tahoe Airport to Heavenly Mountain - Round-Trip Transfer: $222
  • Reno Tahoe Airport (RNO) to Mammoth Mountain: Arrival Transfer: $188
  • Reno Tahoe Airport to Northstar/Squaw Valley - Arrival Transfer: $166
  • Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to Reno – Round-Trip Private Transfer: $135
  • Reno Tahoe Airport (RNO) to Heavenly Mountain - Arrival Transfer: $111
  • Reno to Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) - Departure Private Transfer: $68
  • Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to Reno – Private Arrival Transfer : $68

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Reno?

Prices for flights to both Reno 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
    Reno $54

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 North Beach and Chinatown - Secret Food Tours: $89
  • San Francisco Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $89
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $90
  • Chinatown: Tea & Dim Sum Food Tour in San Francisco: $99
  • Mission District Food Tour: Appetizers, Entrée and Dessert: $115
  • San Francisco Premier Dinner Dance Cruise: $132
  • San Francisco Combo: Ferry Building Food Tour and Alcatraz: $174
  • Paella and Tapas Cooking Class in San Francisco: $193
  • San Francisco Christmas Eve Buffet Dinner Cruise: $207
  • San Francisco Christmas Day Buffet Dinner Cruise: $207
  • Private Food Tour of the Mission District - San Francisco: $240

Typical Food Prices in Reno

For Reno, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dennys for Breakfast
    $22
  • Sushi DInner (for 2)
    $40
  • In-n-Out Burger (for 3)
    $19

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $46
    Reno $88

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • "Summer of Love" tour in Haight-Ashbury in French: $63
  • 1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $73
  • 2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $85
  • 2-Day San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour Pass (Essential): $73
  • 2-Hour Double Decker City Tour of San Francisco: $73
  • 2-Hour Interactive Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $134
  • 2-Hour Sunset Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2-Hour Sunset or Evening Private Jeep Tour of San Francisco: $169
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Loop GoCar Tour: $172
  • 3-Hour Private Muir Giant Redwoods Trees and Sausalito Tour: $203
  • 30-40 Minute Airplane San Francisco Bay Flight Tour: $279
  • 3HR Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park GoCar Tour: $172

Tours and Activities in Reno

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

  • ATV - Tours & Trap Shooting Combo Packages from Reno: $129
  • 45 Minutes Twinkle Tours in Reno: $130
  • Biking Adventure Tour from Reno: $102
  • Burning Man Art and Downtown Mural Private Tour: $65
  • Carson City Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Downtown Reno Tour: $55
  • Experience Raptors and Falconry in Reno: $125
  • From Reno Arch to Truckee River: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Historic Donner Party, Immigrant Trail and Lake Tahoe Photo Tour from Reno: $206
  • Horseback Riding Adventure from Reno: $279
  • Midtown Mural Pedicab Tour: $55
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Carson City, NV: $15

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
    Reno $13

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl : $30
  • 2 to 3 Hour Bar Crawl in Castro San Francisco: $49
  • Private Wine Tour Napa or Sonoma from $99 per person up to 7 & Concierge Service: $99
  • Small Group: Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour from San Francisco: $109
  • Big Bus Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $125
  • Alcatraz and Sausalito California Wine Tasting Experience: $150
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience: $165
  • Napa Valley Wine Tour and Muir Woods Guided Tour: $189
  • Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $189
  • Full-Day Private Napa Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $222
  • Full-Day Private Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $224
  • Sausalito Food and Wine Tour: $235

Sample the Local Flavors in Reno

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

  • 1 Hour Distillery Tour and Tasting Flight: $25


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

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 Reno Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, San Francisco or Reno?

San Francisco has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Reno. When comparing the sizes of San Francisco and Reno, 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.