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

Should you visit San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Salt Lake City, 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 live music, food, and beaches.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a notable, religious, and architectural city. It's also popular because of the museums, food, and scuba diving and snorkeling.

San Francisco and Salt Lake City: 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
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Home to Temple Square
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • 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 Salt Lake City?

Tourists will generally find more to do in San Francisco than Salt Lake City. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, nightlife, music, beaches, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Salt Lake City attracts visitors for its scuba diving & snorkeling. San Francisco is more touristy than Salt Lake City 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. Salt Lake City is famous for its religious landmarks and its large Mormon population.

How is San Francisco different from Salt Lake City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Salt Lake City 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 Salt Lake City?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its museums and history. Also, Salt Lake City 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.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Salt Lake City can be an interesting and educational experience. Many of the fascinating sights around town are influenced by the city's Mormon culture. Temple Square is a highlight for most visitors. It spans 35 acres and is beautifully landscaped with several fountains. There are also four main churches - The Temple, the Tabernacle, the Temple Annex, and Assembly Hall. The city also has several museums such as the Natural History Museum and the historic Liberty Park.


Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is very good for its shows and theatre. However, Salt Lake City 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.

Salt Lake City is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in San Francisco or Salt Lake City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its restaurants. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

San Francisco has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. 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.

Salt Lake City offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. In recent years the food scene has really improved and you'll find a variety of restaurants that serve everything from upscale dishes to more casual fare.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is very good for its evening party scene. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good options for nightlife.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe 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.

Salt Lake City is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. Known for its large Mormon population, nightlife isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Salt Lake City. While it will likely never be a party city, there are a growing number of entertainment options around town.


Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Music?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is very good for its music scene. However, Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in San Francisco. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Salt Lake City is not a live music destination.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a nice place to visit for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, San Francisco is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Salt Lake City has a few areas where visitors often go scuba diving or snorkeling. There are a number of good ski resorts nearby, making this a good base or starting point for a ski vacation.

San Francisco is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a very popular place for the beach. However, Salt Lake City is not a beach destination.

San Francisco is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. 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.

Salt Lake City is not a beach destination.


Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its hiking trails. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many people visit San Francisco specifically for its hiking. 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.

Salt Lake City has hiking trails worth exploring. The city offers easy access to many diverse trails, so if you're a nature enthusiasts, you'll appreciate this destination.

Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its shopping areas. Also, Salt Lake City 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.

Salt Lake City is a great destination for shopping. The city has sprawling outlet malls as well as local stores and craft shops. City Creek Center is a favorite shopping destination, but there are also several large shopping malls that are worth visiting.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Families?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

San Francisco is one of the most popular family destinations. 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 Salt Lake City. There are museums that kids will enjoy like the Natural History Museum of Utah and the Leonardo Museum. There are also fun-filled activities like a visit to Lagoon Amusement Park. You can learn about history at This Is the Place Heritage Park or learn about the undersea world at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.


Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a very popular place for couples. Also, Salt Lake City 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.

Salt Lake City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with beautiful gardens like Red Butte Garden. There are also nice restaurants and romantic hotels that will make this a nice place for a couple's getaway.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a very popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good 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.

Salt Lake City is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are a couple of hostels in town, but most backpackers overlook this destination or breeze through town quickly.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City Better for Students?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a very popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Salt Lake City is not popular with students.

San Francisco is very popular with students. 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.

Salt Lake City is not popular with students.


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

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a world-class destination for times when you don't have a car. Also, Salt Lake City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its public transit.

With a huge network, the transit system in San Francisco can get you around easily. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.

You'll find some public transit in Salt Lake City, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a surprisingly good public transit system that includes light rail, buses, and commuter trains, but if you want to get out of town you'll need to have a car.

Is San Francisco or Salt Lake City a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Salt Lake City

San Francisco is a very popular place for its ease of walking around. However, Salt Lake City is lacking in good 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.

Salt Lake City is generally not very walkable. While some neighborhoods are walkable, like Temple Square, most visitors prefer to have a car.

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

Should I spend more time in Salt Lake City or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

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

Families should spend more time in San Francisco than Salt Lake City. 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 Salt Lake City. 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 Salt Lake City 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 Salt Lake City? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Salt Lake City 2-3

One day in San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

Because San Francisco is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the religious destination of Salt Lake City. 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 Salt Lake City?

San Francisco is a great place to explore. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Salt Lake City. 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 Salt Lake City?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. It offers something for everyone. Because of this, five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

Travelers enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the religious destination of Salt Lake City. 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 Salt Lake City?

Because San Francisco is a large city, there are a variety of ways to spend your time. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Your budget might influence how long you stay. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. One week is usually enough time to experience most activities.

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the city of Salt Lake City. 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, Salt Lake City 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 Salt Lake City is $246. 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 Salt Lake City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Salt Lake City $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Salt Lake City $238
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Salt Lake City

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco or Salt Lake City? 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 Salt Lake City


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 Salt Lake City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Salt Lake City $45
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:

  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in San Francisco HTL-APT (SFO): $104
  • 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
  • Transfer from San Francisco to San Francisco Cruise Port by Sedan: $127
  • Sedan Airport Transfer from SFO to East Bay (one way): $262
  • SFO Airport Private Transfer to Downtown: $120
  • Private Transfer from SFO Airport to downtown: $73
  • San Francisco to/from Yosemite National Park: 1-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to Yosemite One-Way Transfer: $169
  • San Francisco to San Francisco Airport Private Departure Transfer: $79
  • San Francisco to Oakland Airport (OAK) Private Departure Transfer: $64
  • San Francisco Airport 1-Way Transfer to/from the City: $150

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Salt Lake City

Also for Salt Lake City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from SLC to Park City UT : $263
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City hotel or address: $263
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Round-Trip Transfer: $232
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC): Transfer to Salt Lake City: $204
  • Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Park City UT - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $183
  • Private Transfer from Salt Lake City Airport (SLC) to Salt Lake City : $121
  • Private Transfer from SLC to Salt Lake City : $121
  • Salt Lake Airport (SLC) to Canyons Village - Arrival Transfer: $116
  • Private Transfer: Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) : $108
  • Private Departure Transfer to Salt Lake City Airport SLC: $36

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

Prices for flights to both Salt Lake City 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
    Salt Lake City $50

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
  • Mission District Food Tour with Tastings: $85
  • Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $85
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $87
  • 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
  • Secret Food Tour of North Beach and Chinatown: $98
  • Mission: Street Art & Food Tour in San Francisco: $99

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $46
    Salt Lake City $28

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • Private Walking Tour in Muir Woods and Tickets : $20
  • 2 or 3 Hour Private Group San Francisco City Tour Open-air Jeep: $169
  • 2-Hour Double Decker City Tour of San Francisco: $73
  • 2-Hour Sunset Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2-Hour Sunset or Evening Private Jeep Tour of San Francisco: $169
  • 2hr - INTERACTIVE Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2hr - SUNSET Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay: $149
  • 2hr PRIVATE Sailing Experience on San Francisco Bay 6 Guests: $695
  • 3 Hour Sightseeing Small Group Guided Tour in San Francisco: $89
  • 3-Hour Private Group San Francisco Open Top Jeep Tour: $249
  • 3-Hour Private Muir Giant Redwoods Trees and Sausalito Tour: $203
  • 3HR Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park GoCar Tour: $172

Tours and Activities in Salt Lake City

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

  • 2 Hour Salt Lake Boat Tour with Swimming on the Lake: $79
  • 4-Day Winter Yellowstone Tour: $2,499
  • 45 Minute Great Salt Lake Boat Tour: $37
  • 5-day Tour Yellowstone Park Los Angeles-Salt Lake City: $1,558
  • From 3-Day Yellowstone Wildlife Adventure: $999
  • From Private Bryce Canyon National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Canyonlands National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Capitol Reef National Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Goblin Valley State Park Tour: $1,475
  • From Private Tour of Arches National Park: $1,475
  • Great Salt Lake Flying Tour: $249
  • Great Salt Lake Guided Bus Tour from Salt Lake City: $70

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
    Salt Lake City $17

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
  • SF Pub Crawl and Clubbing Experience: $27
  • Ghosts, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Sunset Distillery with Local Whiskey or Cocktail Tasting: $40
  • Walk with Spirits: A Haunted Pub Crawl in San Francisco: $45
  • 2 to 3 Hour Bar Crawl in Castro San Francisco: $49
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $85
  • Small Group: Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour from San Francisco: $109
  • Half-Day Wine Country Tour with Wine Tastings: $126
  • From The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Private Wine Tour Napa or Sonoma from $149 per person up to 6: $149


When comparing the travel costs between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, we can see that Salt Lake City 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 Salt Lake City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, San Francisco or Salt Lake City?

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