Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Reno?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Reno, 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).
In the northwest area of Nevada, Reno sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. After Las Vegas, it's the second most popular tourist destination in the state of Nevada. You'll find some nice resorts, elaborate casinos, nice restaurants and unique opportunities for entertainment throughout the city.
The city, referred to as "The Biggest Little City in the World", has a population of about 235,000. It's part of the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area, which has a population of about 440,000.
Reno is located in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The city has a steppe climate with light to moderate snowfall in the winter months. Precipitation is most common during the winter and spring, but the city averages about 300 days of sunshine a year. Average temperatures are 35 degrees Fahrenheit in December and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in July.
Which city is cheaper, Reno 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 Reno is $113. 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 Reno in more detail.
A hotel room in South Lake Tahoe is about $86 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $86 in Reno For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities 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.
The price of a meal in Reno can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $42 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $17 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.
Meals for one day
South Lake Tahoe $30
Typical Food prices in Reno
For Reno, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
Dennys for Breakfast
Sushi DInner (for 2)
In-n-Out Burger (for 3)
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.
Reno's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $18 per person, per day on transportation in Reno.
Typical Local Transportation prices in Reno
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Reno:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Reno
Also for Reno, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Reno/Tahoe International Airport One Way Transfer:
Reno to Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) - Departure Private Transfer:
Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to Reno – Private Arrival Transfer:
Reno/Tahoe International Airport (RNO) to Reno – Round-Trip Private Transfer:
Is it cheaper to fly into South Lake Tahoe or Reno?
Prices for flights to both Reno 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, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Reno can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $70 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
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 Reno
For Reno, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Reno Scavenger Hunt: Reno Adventure:
Culinary & Cultural Reno Tour:
Biking Adventure Tour from Reno:
Truckee River Rafting Tour from Reno:
Winter Horseback Riding Adventure from Reno:
ATV & Snow Mobile Winter Adventures from Reno:
ATV - Tours & Trap Shooting Combo Packages from Reno:
Hot Air Balloon & Snowmobile Adventure:
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 Reno spend on average $10 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between South Lake Tahoe and Reno, we can see that Reno is more expensive. And not only is South Lake Tahoe much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to South Lake Tahoe would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in South Lake Tahoe 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 Reno would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Reno than you might in South Lake Tahoe.
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