Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Rapid City, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
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 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 city 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 $94, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $93. 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. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for South Lake Tahoe and Rapid City in more detail.
A hotel room in South Lake Tahoe is about $86 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $96 in Rapid City For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
On average, meal and food prices in South Lake Tahoe cost around $30 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $12.
In Rapid City travelers spend around $19 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.
Meals for one day
South Lake Tahoe $30
Rapid City $19
The average price of local transportation around South Lake Tahoe is $20 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Rapid City than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $42 on transportation in Rapid City on average per day.
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.
South Lake Tahoe's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $45 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
Sightseeing expenses in Rapid City, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $21 per day, per person.
Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:
2 Hour Small Group Sailing Cruise Lake Tahoe:
Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe:
Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley:
Lake Tahoe Helicopter Tour: Circle the Lake:
Lake Tahoe Scenic Driving Tour:
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group:
Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley: Full-Day Narrated Bus Tour:
Lake Tahoe: Half-Day Photographic Scenic Tour:
Happy Hour Cruise:
Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay:
Tahoe Helicopter Tour: Lakes and Waterfalls:
Tahoe's Sand Harbor Helicopter Tour:
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 and Black Hills Full-Day Tour:
Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Bus Tour with Live Commentary:
Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills:
Bike Adventure on the Mickelson Trail - Private:
Southern Black Hills Bicycle Tour - Private:
Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour:
Black Hills: Private Tour of Mt. Rushmore & Flume Trail Hike:
Badlands National Park Private Tour:
Private Mickelson Trail Bicycling Tour/ Two Person Minimum:
Private Jeep Safari and Hiking Tour/ Two Person Minimum:
Private Badlands National Park Day Tour:
Private Mt Rushmore & Southern Black Hills Tour:
The average person spends about $28 on alcoholic beverages in South Lake Tahoe per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
Typically, people visiting Rapid City spend on average $5.54 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
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.
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