A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America South Lake Tahoe vs. Rapid City for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Rapid 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.

Where Should I go: South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City?

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is the largest town on the famous Lake Tahoe that straddles the California-Nevada border in the Sierra Mountain Range. Located just south of Reno, Nevada and about 2 hours east of Sacramento, the Lake Tahoe area is easily accessible to many visitors.

Lake Tahoe is known for skiing and other winter sports, as well as plenty of warm weather activities such as hiking, swimming, boating, mountain biking, and more.

South Lake Tahoe has plenty of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shopping. This is a good town to base yourself if you're looking to explore the area, as it has a large number of amenities.

Located on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe is the town of Stateline. Here you can find some casinos, as gambling is legal in Nevada.

If you're looking to go skiing or snowboarding, the Heavenly Ski Resort can be found on the southern edge of the town of South Lake Tahoe. Naturally, more ski resorts are located around the lake as well.

As swimming is also popular, several beach areas are on the southern section of the lake including the Regan Memorial City Beach, Lakeside Beach, Pope Beach, Emerald Bay State Park, and the Edgewood Resort area (on the Nevada side).

Rapid City

Rapid City is a large city in western South Dakota that is considered the gateway to the Black Hills National Forest. Rapid City is often used as a base for all types of outdoor activities, including tours to the infamous Mount Rushmore and surrounding parks. The city has a budding art scene and offers the perfect combination of a metropolitan city surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Rapid City experiences the best weather from June-September with temperatures in the 70's and 80's Fahrenheit. Temperatures drop to the low 20's F in the winter and the area receives the most rain pour in April and May.

Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or South Lake Tahoe?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in South Lake Tahoe is $118, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $116. 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 South Lake Tahoe and Rapid City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    South Lake Tahoe $54
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    South Lake Tahoe $108
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in South Lake Tahoe and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in South Lake Tahoe or Rapid 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 South Lake Tahoe


Hotels in Rapid 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: South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    South Lake Tahoe $24
    Rapid City $53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific examples of transportation prices in South Lake Tahoe:

  • Reno Tahoe Airport to Northstar/Squaw Valley-Round-Trip Transfer: $70
  • Northstar/Squaw Valley to Sacramento Airport - Departure Transfer: $220
  • Heavenly Mountain to Sacramento Airport SMF, Departure Transfer: $220
  • Heavenly Mountain to Reno Tahoe Airport RNO - Departure Transfer: $33
  • Departure Transfer Northstar/Squaw Valley to Reno Tahoe Airport: $35

Is it cheaper to fly into South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and South Lake Tahoe 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
    South Lake Tahoe $38
    Rapid City $23

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Roller Coaster Tickets with Dinner and Show in Rapid City: $70

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    South Lake Tahoe $56
    Rapid City $26

Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:

  • 8-Hour Private Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe: $2,810
  • 2 Hour Private Boat Tour of Emerald Bay in The White Lightning: $550
  • 2 Hour Private Boat tour on Beautiful Lake Tahoe in the White Lightning: $550
  • 2 Hour Private Lake Tahoe Shoreline Cruise: $599
  • 2 Hour Private Party Pontoon Cruise Tour in Lake Tahoe: $646
  • 2 Hour Sailing Cruise on Lake Tahoe: $140
  • 2-Hour Private Sunset Tour in Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls: $795
  • 4 hour Private boat tour on Beautiful Lake Tahoe in the White Lightning: $1,150
  • 6 Hour Private Boat Tour on Lake Tahoe: $2,340
  • Clear Kayak Paddle Tour at Sand Harbor: $150
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Audio Tour From Tahoe City to Incline Village: $9.99
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour From Incline Village to South Lake Tahoe: $12

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

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

  • Mount Rushmore Self Guided Walking Audio Tour: $8.99
  • Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tours: $20
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Bus Tour with Live Commentary: $89
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • Badlands Winter Wonderland Adventure: $239
  • Badlands Sunset and Wildlife Adventure : $239
  • NEW! Half Day Tour of the Black Hills: $239
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • Badlands National Park Adventure, Wall Drug and Baja: $279
  • NEW! Sunrise Tour of the Badlands: $289
  • Badlands Sunset, Stars and Silhouettes Tour: $289

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    South Lake Tahoe $34
    Rapid City $6.93

Sample the Local Flavors in South Lake Tahoe

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

  • Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay Sunset Wine Tasting Yacht Cruise: $150


When comparing the travel costs between South Lake Tahoe and Rapid City, we can see that South Lake Tahoe 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.

Which is Bigger, South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City?

Rapid City is bigger, and its population is about 2.6 times larger than the population of South Lake Tahoe. When comparing the population of South Lake Tahoe vs. Rapid 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 and the activities that interest you.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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South Lake Tahoe vs. Rapid City Travel Comparison

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