Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Vail?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Vail, 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).
Vail is one of the premier ski resort areas in the United States. Located in central Colorado, Vail is not far from Denver and situated in the heart of the Rockies. Here you'll find a quaint mountain town designed around tourism, especially for the winter, although plenty of visitors come in the warmer months, too.
High-end hotels, condos, and other accommodation options are surrounded by shops and restaurants that are all somewhat expensive compared to other costs in the United States. Because of this, Vail is definitely not considered an "affordable" travel option for many. However, good deals can be found if you look around and do some research.
Which city is cheaper, Vail 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 Vail is $233. 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 Vail 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 $278 in Vail 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.
Vail food costs typically run travelers around $60 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
South Lake Tahoe $30
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 Vail than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $16 on transportation in Vail on average per day.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Vail
Also for Vail, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Shared Transfer from Vail or Beaver Creek to Denver Downtown:
Private Departure Transfer to Vail Airport EGE:
Private Eagle County Regional Airport Transfer to Beaver Creek:
Private Eagle County Airport Transfer to Vail:
Transfer in private minivan from Vail city to Denver International Airport (DEN):
Private Transfer: Vail to Denver International Airport (DEN):
Private Airport Transfer Service - Vail Hotels to Denver Int'l Airport:
Is it cheaper to fly into South Lake Tahoe or Vail?
Prices for flights to both Vail 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 Vail, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $106 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 Vail
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Vail.
Listen to a Tour Guide While you Drive between Vail & Denver:
2-Hour Small-Group Guided Segway Tour:
Vail Segway Tour from Vail Village:
Dillon Marina & Shopping Tour:
Glenwood Adventure Park Tour:
Fall Leaves Tour from Vail:
Glenwood Hot Springs Tour:
Blackhawk-Central City Casino Tour from Vail:
Aspen Independence Pass Day Tour:
Historic Mining Town 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.
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Vail, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $7.83.
Sample the Local Flavors in Vail
Also in Vail, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:
Vail Valley Brewery & Wine Tour:
Palisade Wine Tour from Vail:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between South Lake Tahoe and Vail, we can see that Vail 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 Vail would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Vail than you might in South Lake Tahoe.
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