A Travel Price Comparison for California San Francisco vs. Yosemite National Park for Food, Hiking, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

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

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

San Francisco

San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind, scenic, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include nightlife, live music, and food.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a stunning, breathtaking, and popular national park. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the hiking.

San Francisco and Yosemite National Park: 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
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to El Capitan
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

Travelers will usually find more to do in San Francisco. Although San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are popular destinations, San Francisco has more sights and attractions for tourists. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, nightlife, music, beaches, shopping, and big city activities, while Yosemite National Park attracts visitors for its resorts. San Francisco is famous 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. Yosemite National Park is famous for its stunning hikes, giant Sequoias, breathtaking vistas, and the granite cliffs of Half Dome.

How is San Francisco different from Yosemite National Park?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its sights and museums. However, Yosemite National Park does not have museums and landmarks.

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

Yosemite National Park does not have museums and landmarks.


Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a popular place for its shows and theatre. However, Yosemite National Park 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.

Yosemite National Park is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Yosemite National Park is not a good national park for its restaurants.

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.

Yosemite National Park offers some easy restaurants to choose from. There are a few varied restaurants in the park that offer casual food or packaged meals that you can take away. The food is generally expensive and not always the best, so you'll likely enjoy packing your own picnic food to enjoy within the park.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a popular place for its evening party scene. However, Yosemite National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.

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.

Yosemite National Park is not a destination with noteworthy nightlife.


Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Music?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a popular place for its music scene. However, Yosemite National Park 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.

Yosemite National Park is not a live music destination.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Resorts?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a great national park for its luxury resorts. However, San Francisco is not a resort destination.

Yosemite National Park is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. There are several grand hotels and lodges within the park. Reservations are a must, especially if you're traveling during peak seasons.

San Francisco is not a resort destination.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a well-known place for the beach. However, Yosemite National Park 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.

Yosemite National Park is not a beach destination.


Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are both places where visitors can find fantastic 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.

Around Yosemite National Park visitors will find world-class hiking trails. This park has many famous hikes that take you by Half Dome, near Yosemite Falls, and through breathtaking landscapes. Popular hikes in the area include Mist Trail to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall and Mirror Lake Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its shopping areas. However, Yosemite National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

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

Yosemite National Park is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Families?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Yosemite National Park is not as famous, but is still a good national park to visit for its kid-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.

Yosemite National Park is a very family-friendly destination. This park has many hikes, climbs, and activities that kids of all ages can enjoy. When the weather's warm the kids will enjoy getting wet in Merced River. They'll also be impressed by the giant sequoias and the beautiful waterfalls. In the evening the staff host ranger programs that are fun and educational for everyone. The park also has kid-friendly camping and lodges.


Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are both very good to visit as a couple.

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

Yosemite National Park is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples who enjoy nature, rock climbing, hiking, and being outside will enjoy a visit to this park. There is an endless supply of romantic views and fun-filled activities that are perfect for avid hikers or those looking for a more relaxing travel experience.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an amazing national park to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Yosemite National Park, as it is a very popular national park for budget travelers. Campgrounds and back country trails make this area a backpacker's paradise.

Backpackers come from all over to 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.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park Better for Students?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a well-known place for students. However, Yosemite National Park 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.

Yosemite National Park is not popular with students.


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

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a world-class destination for its public transit. Also, Yosemite National Park is not as famous, but is still a good national park to visit for times when you don't have a car.

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.

Yosemite National Park has some public transit options. There is a free bus service that travels around Yosemite Valley.

Is San Francisco or Yosemite National Park a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Yosemite National Park

San Francisco is a well-known place for its ease of walking around. However, Yosemite National Park is not a good national park 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.

Yosemite National Park is generally not a very walkable coastal city. The park is large and a car is necessary to reach many places within the park.

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

Should I spend more time in Yosemite National Park or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

Both San Francisco and Yosemite National Park have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, San Francisco has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in San Francisco than Yosemite National Park. However, 3-7 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in San Francisco than Yosemite National Park. 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 Yosemite National Park. 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 Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Yosemite National Park 3-7

One day in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco is a big city with plenty to do. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the breathtaking destination of Yosemite National Park. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. 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 Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco is a big city with plenty to do. This coastal city offers something for everyone. It's also a great beach destination, too. 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 Yosemite National Park. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Don't miss the hiking, as that's what most people do. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Five days in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Hikers are also drawn to this area. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the world-famous destination of Yosemite National Park. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This national park offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

A week in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

San Francisco is a fun place to experience. San Francisco is a big city with plenty to do. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this coastal city.

Many travelers enjoy the when visiting the beautiful national park of Yosemite National Park. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. 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, Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park is $129. 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 Yosemite National Park in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Yosemite National Park $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Yosemite National Park $128
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Yosemite National Park

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco or Yosemite National Park? 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 Yosemite National Park


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 Yosemite National Park Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Yosemite National Park $41
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 Departure Transfer to San Francisco Airport SFO: $44
  • San Francisco to Oakland Airport (OAK) Private Departure Transfer: $64
  • Private Transfer from SFO Airport to downtown: $73
  • Private One-way Transfer San Francisco Airport To San Francisco: $75
  • San Francisco to San Francisco Airport Private Departure 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
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in San Francisco HTL-APT (SFO): $104
  • Private Airport Transfer: San Francisco to SF International Airport (SFO): $108
  • Private Transfer from Airport SFO to San Francisco in Business Car: $109
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Airport SFO to San Francisco in Business Car: $109

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Yosemite National Park?

Prices for flights to both Yosemite National Park 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
    Yosemite National Park $40

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
    Yosemite National Park $19

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

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

  • Golden Gate Bridge: Self-guided Tour App - Audio + Written: $5.00
  • San Francisco’s Chinatown on foot: A Self Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Leave your heart at the Wharf: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Embarcadero Self-Guided Audio Smartphone Tour: $5.99
  • San Francisco self-guided tour App - multilingual AudioGuide: $6.51
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour of Japantown & Stories: $6.99
  • The Ghosts of San Francisco Haunted Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • Ghosts & Hauntings Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • San Francisco's Castro Neighborhood: Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Design in the Financial District Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Secrets of Golden Gate Park Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Downtown In App Audio Tour: $9.00

Tours and Activities in Yosemite National Park

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Yosemite National Park are as follows:

  • Big Trees Hike & Riverside Cookout Adventure: $180
  • Family Fun Private Half Day Fly Fishing Adventure: $215
  • Private Guided Hiking Tour in Yosemite: $293
  • Semi Private Yosemite Tour with Ahwahnee Lunch and Hotel Pickup: $250
  • Waterfalls of Yosemite: Customizable Private Tour: $446
  • Yosemite Family Explorers: Customizable Private Tour: $395
  • Yosemite Full Day Small Group High Country / Mariposa Tour: $299
  • Yosemite Highlights Small Group Tour: $200
  • Yosemite Panorama Trail Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Yosemite Self-Guided Audio Tour: $14
  • Yosemite Valley & Glacier Point Adaptive Tour: $180
  • Yosemite Valley Full Day Small Group Tour : $299

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
    Yosemite National Park $11

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
  • The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • From The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Private Wine Tour Napa or Sonoma from $149 per person up to 6: $149


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Francisco and Yosemite National Park, we can see that San Francisco is more expensive. And not only is Yosemite National Park much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Yosemite National Park would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Yosemite National Park 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 Yosemite National Park.

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 Yosemite National Park Expensive?.