Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Sun Valley?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Sun Valley, 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).
Sun Valley is a beautiful resort city in the Wood River Valley area of Idaho, most famous for becoming a snowy wonderland every winter. The area was actually named the 2nd best ski resort by Ski Magazine and was a favorite place of escape for Ernest Hemingway. Whether you visit in winter or summer, you're always met with beautiful scenery that's perfect for exploring. The best time of year for winter activities is December-March, while June-August is best for hiking and exploring the area.
Which city is cheaper, Sun Valley 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 Sun Valley is $147. 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 Sun Valley in more detail.
A hotel room in South Lake Tahoe is about $86 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $152 for a double occupancy room in Sun Valley.
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.
Food in Sun Valley costs travelers about $38 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.
Meals for one day
South Lake Tahoe $30
Sun Valley $38
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.
The cost of a taxi ride in Sun Valley is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $49 per person, per day, on local transportation in Sun Valley.
Is it cheaper to fly into South Lake Tahoe or Sun Valley?
Prices for flights to both Sun Valley 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.
Entertainment and activities in Sun Valley typically cost an average of $33 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.
Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:
Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley: Full-Day Narrated Bus Tour:
Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley:
Virginia City Day Tour From Lake Tahoe:
Wine and Harvest Tour to Gold country from Lake Tahoe:
Happy Hour Cruise:
Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay:
Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe:
2 Hour Small Group Sailing Cruise Lake Tahoe:
Lake Tahoe: Half-Day Photographic Scenic Tour:
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group:
Zephyr Cove Helicopter Tour:
Yosemite National Park: Full-Day Tour from Lake Tahoe:
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.
While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Sun Valley may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $39 per day on alcoholic beverages.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between South Lake Tahoe and Sun Valley, we can see that Sun Valley 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 Sun Valley would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sun Valley than you might in South Lake Tahoe.
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