A Travel Price Comparison for California San Francisco vs. Santa Monica for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Francisco or Santa Monica?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Santa Monica, 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.

Where Should I go: San Francisco or Santa Monica?

San Francisco

San Francisco is a beautiful city that is famous for it's picturesque neighborhoods, liberal character, and stunning location on the bay. Some people describe San Francisco as the United State's most "European City." This title most likely comes from its compact development and its easy walkability. It also has no shortage of parks and public spaces where you can pass some time. The city sits on the end of a peninsula and offers stunning views of the blue bay, rolling green hills, and the striking Golden Gate Bridge.

Santa Monica

When it comes to visiting Los Angeles, Santa Monica is high on the must-see-and-do list. Chances are you'll recognize the iconic ferris wheel from Pacific Park in films and TV shows, and nothing beats the relaxed yet bustling vibe of this laid-back city.

Santa Monica is a popular and diverse beach town, cultural hub, fitness venue, shopping district, and neighborhood full of unique and trendy restaurants, all rolled into one. Visited by more than 6 million people a year, it's no wonder you'll always find a crowd there.

So whether you're up for a high-end shopping spree, bicycling down the waterfront, an eclectic food crawl or simply a stroll down the promenade, Santa Monica is sure to have something in store for you.

The weather in Santa Monica is moderate, with average summer highs in the low to mid 70s and winter climate that rests comfortably around the low 50s. Though flip flops and sandals are considered year-round footwear in Los Angeles, bring comfortable walking shoes for browsing galleries, malls, and boutiques. Santa Monica is the perfect place to break out your California-casual wardrobe.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Monica or San Francisco?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Francisco is $175, while the average daily cost in Santa Monica is $168. 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 city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for San Francisco and Santa Monica in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $106
    Santa Monica $98
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $212
    Santa Monica $196

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $13
    Santa Monica $40
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 Arrival Transfer from San Francisco Airport SFO: $40
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Francisco Airport SFO: $40
  • Private Airport Transfer: from San Francisco to San Francisco Int. Airport (SFO): $43
  • Private Departure Transfer from San Francisco to SFO San Francisco Airport: $57
  • Cruise Terminal to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - Departure Private Transfer: $60
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to Cruise Terminal - Arrival Private Transfer: $60
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $65
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive Sedan: $65
  • Private transfer from San Francisco to SFO Airport for up to 4 passengers: $73
  • Private SFO Departure Transfer from San Francisco: $74
  • San Francisco Departure Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer by Executive SUV: $75
  • Private transfer from San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco City for up to 4 passengers: $80

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Monica

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Monica:

  • Malibu or Pacific Palisades Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $115
  • Santa Monica to Long Beach Airport (LGB) - Deparure Private Transfer: $113
  • Private Transfer to/from LAX Airport: $100
  • Private Transfer From Santa Monica Area To Los Angeles Airport (LAX).: $79
  • Santa Monica to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $61

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Santa Monica?

Prices for flights to both Santa Monica 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 $32
    Santa Monica $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: $15
  • Traveling Spoon Pad Thai and Papaya Salad Private Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Cooking with Ale: let's make Tiramisu - private groups: $80
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $80
  • American Cooking Class in San Francisco with a Local near Golden Gate Park: $82
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • Russian Hill Gourmet Food Tour: $97
  • I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown - Food Tour: $98
  • Mamaz Social Food Arepa Class and Dinner: $100
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $103
  • Hayes Valley Gourmet Food Tour: $108

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Monica

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

  • Taste of Santa Monica Walking Food Tour: $84

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $37
    Santa Monica $30

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Private Tour: 19th Century Gold Rush Exploration Game: $4.96
  • Syn City SF: The Synesthesia Walking Audio Tour of Haight-Ashbury by VoiceMap: $5.34
  • San Francisco's Barbary Past Walking Audio Tour: $5.34
  • Food, History, and Resistance: A Self-Guided Audio Tour of San Francisco's Japantown: $5.34
  • Union Square to Lotta's Fountain Walking Tour by VoiceMap: $5.40
  • Walk the Haight Audio Tour: Tune into San Francisco’s Hippie Counterculture: $5.99
  • San Francisco Private Tour: 70s Hippie Culture Exploration Game: $6.21
  • The Remarkable History of San Francisco's Glen Park and Glen Canyon Audio Tour: $7.55
  • Ultimate San Francisco Self-Driving Audio Tour: $8.00
  • Bike Tour of Tucson: $10
  • The Flyer San Francisco Admission Ticket: $12
  • San Francisco Scavenger Hunt: SF Park Tour and Haight-Ashbury Experience: $12

Tours and Activities in Santa Monica

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

  • 5-Hour Limo Tour with Open Bar: $266
  • Bvc 02 -half Day Tour Santa Monica.: $45
  • California Coastline Helicopter Tour: $219
  • Deluxe 6-Hour Los Angeles Private Limo Tour: $773
  • Experience a beach séance with a medium in Santa Monica: $48
  • From The O.J. Simpson Tour: $49
  • Half Day Tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach: $53
  • Half-Day Private Gas-Powered Scooter Tour in Los Angeles: $70
  • Half-Day Private Gas-Powered Skateboard Tour in Los Angeles: $85
  • Half-Day Private Tour in California by Gas-Powered Bicycle: $90
  • Las Vegas 2 Day Tour from Los Angeles Santa Monica Venice and Marina Del Rey: $147
  • Malibu Celebrity Homes Tour: $55

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 $15
    Santa Monica $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:

  • San Francisco Bar Hunt: Soul of San Francisco Bar Crawl: $12
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $70
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $140
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • From Full-Day Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $149
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149
  • Small Group Redwoods and Wine Country Trip Including Wine Tasting and Cave Tour: $152
  • Small Group Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $169
  • The Perfect Blend: Napa and Sonoma Combo Wine Tour from San Francisco: $169

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Monica

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

  • Vintage VW Hippie Tour to Malibu with wine tasting: $148


When comparing the travel costs between San Francisco and Santa Monica, 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.


When is the best time to visit San Francisco or Santa Monica?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Monica in the Summer?

Both Santa Monica and San Francisco during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to San Francisco in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.


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In July, San Francisco is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Temperatures in San Francisco average around 63°F (17°C), and Santa Monica stays around 70°F (21°C).

San Francisco usually gets more rain in July than Santa Monica. San Francisco gets 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0 inches (0 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 70°F (21°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Monica in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both San Francisco and Santa Monica. Most visitors come to San Francisco for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.


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San Francisco is cooler than Santa Monica in the autumn. The temperature in San Francisco is usually 63°F (17°C) in October, and Santa Monica stays around 67°F (20°C).

In October, San Francisco usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. At this time of the year, San Francisco gets 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (6 mm) of rain.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Monica 67°F (20°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Monica in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to San Francisco as well as Santa Monica. The winter months attract visitors to San Francisco because of the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine.


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In the winter, San Francisco is cooler than Santa Monica. Typically, the winter temperatures in San Francisco in January are around 50°F (10°C), and Santa Monica is about 57°F (14°C).

San Francisco usually gets more rain in January than Santa Monica. San Francisco gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.7 inches (17 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    San Francisco 50°F (10°C) 
    Santa Monica 57°F (14°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Monica in the Spring?

Both Santa Monica and San Francisco are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty are the main draw to San Francisco this time of year.


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In April, San Francisco is generally cooler than Santa Monica. Temperatures in San Francisco average around 58°F (14°C), and Santa Monica stays around 61°F (16°C).

In April, San Francisco usually receives more rain than Santa Monica. At this time of the year, San Francisco gets 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain, while Santa Monica receives 0.2 inches (4 mm) of rain.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    San Francisco 58°F (14°C) 
    Santa Monica 61°F (16°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Monica and San Francisco

San Francisco Santa Monica
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 57°F (14°C) 0.7 inches (17 mm)
Feb 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 58°F (15°C) 0.4 inches (10 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm) 61°F (16°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
May 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 63°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm) 71°F (22°C) 0 inches (0 mm)
Sep 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm) 67°F (20°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm)
Nov 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Dec 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 58°F (14°C) 0.6 inches (15 mm)


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San Francisco vs. Santa Monica Travel Comparison

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