A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Washington vs. San Francisco for Attractions, Food, Hiking, and Nightlife

Should you visit Washington or San Francisco?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Washington and San Francisco can help you decide which place is right for you.

Washington

Washington is a monument-filled, international, and diverse city. As it's a big city, visitors will find plenty to do, too. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the theater, nightlife, and live music.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a scenic, beautiful, and outdoorsy coastal city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. Many visitors also come here because of it's amazing beauty. Other reasons to visit include beaches, hiking, and shopping.

How is Washington different from San Francisco?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Spend time exploring the signts and museum in either Washington or San Francisco.

Travelers visit Washington from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The city has world class museums that are often free. The Smithsonian Museums are arguably some of the most impressive museums in the United States. The city also has a large collection of monuments that are dedicated to past presidents or historical events.

With plenty of landmarks, attractions, and museums, San Francisco has many famous sights for visitors. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.


Is Washington or San Francisco better for Theater?

There are theater venues available in both Washington and San Francisco.

Washington has a number of performance venues where you can see a variety of shows. Theater is popular in the city. From major theaters like the Kennedy Center and Ford's Theater, to lesser known smaller venues, there are options for everyone.

If you have some extra time in San Francisco, take in a show. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Food?

Foodies will find both Washington and San Francisco both to be unique destinations.

Washington has long been recognized as a culinary destination. You can find restaurants from almost any cuisine here, so it's worth exploring and stepping out of your comfort zone.

Known for it's food scene, San Francisco is always at the top of any foodie's travel list. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness Crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Nightlife?

The vibe at night is comparable in Washington and San Francisco.

Many people head to Washington for the nightlife scene. Head into Dupont Circle, U Street, and even Arlington to enjoy some of the area's best nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities San Francisco has a few options to choose from. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Music?

Washington and San Francisco are both destinations where visitors can find live music.

Music lovers will find a few good venues in Washington. Notable live music venues include the 9:30 Club, the Anthem, and Union Stage.

The music scene helps keep San Francisco active and fun. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.


Is Washington or San Francisco better for Hiking?

Most people pick San Francisco for the hiking over Washington.

Many people visit San Francisco specifically for its hiking. The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.

Hiking is a fun activity while in Washington. Just outside of Washington DC you'll find plenty of places to go hiking. There's also an elaborate bike and walking trail system in the city. To enjoy a bit of nature, head to Teddy Roosevelt Island.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Shopping?

If you're looking to go shopping, Washington and San Francisco both offer plenty of spots.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Washington. Head to Georgetown and Dupont Circle for some of the city's best local shopping.

Many people travel to San Francisco specifically to go shopping. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Families?

You'll find kid-friendly activities in either Washington or San Francisco.

Washington is a very family-friendly destination. It is a fun and educational destination where kids can explore world class museums and try unique foods from all around the world.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in San Francisco. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Couples?

Both Washington and San Francisco are good destinations to visit as a couple.

Washington is a nice destination for couples. The city lights up at night, so couples will enjoy wandering by the monuments in the evening or taking in a dinner and show.

San Francisco is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway.


Is Washington or San Francisco better for Students?

For students, both Washington and San Francisco are fairly comparable places to visit.

Students come from all over the world to visit Washington. International students come from around the world to study, learn, intern, and work in the capital of the United States.

San Francisco is a great city to visit as a student. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.

Is Washington or San Francisco better for Public Transit?

Washington and San Francisco both offer public transit to get you around.

With a huge network, the transit system in Washington can get you around easily. The metro system and the bus system are reliable and efficient ways to explore the city.

Public transit in San Francisco is top-notch. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.

Is Washington or San Francisco a more walkable city?

Washington and San Francisco are similar when it comes to walkability.

Washington is a very easy city to get around on foot. Many neighborhoods around the city are easy to explore on foot. Most tourists spend a lot of time in the Mall area, which is very pedestrian friendly.

San Francisco is a very walkable destination. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.

Washington and San Francisco: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
Cons
  • Less hiking options
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty


Should I spend more time in San Francisco or Washington?

How long in Washington or San Francisco?

Both Washington and San Francisco have a number of activities to choose from. You can spend a similar amount of time exploring either.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Washington is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to San Francisco is 3-7 days.


  • How many days in Washington or San Francisco? Ideal Length of Stay
    Washington 3-7 
    San Francisco 3-7

One day in Washington or San Francisco?

Washington is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

With theater and nightlife around the one-of-a-kind coastal city of San Francisco, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.


A weekend in Washington or San Francisco?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Washington. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

With nightlife and live music around the big city destination of San Francisco, there's plenty to do. It's also a great beach destination, too. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Five days in Washington or San Francisco?

Washington is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time for a trip here.

San Francisco, a popular coastal city, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this coastal city. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Washington or San Francisco?

Washington is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend one week here when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

San Francisco is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this coastal city makes for a great vacation. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this coastal city has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Which city is cheaper, San Francisco or Washington?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Washington is $155, while the average daily cost in San Francisco is $175. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Washington and San Francisco in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Washington $91
    San Francisco $106
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Washington $182
    San Francisco $212

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Washington $37
    San Francisco $13
Typical Local Transportation prices in Washington

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Washington are as follows:


  • Metro Day Pass
    $9.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Washington

Also for Washington, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Washington to New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) - Departure Private Transfer: $535
  • Washington to New York J.F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) - Departure Private Transfer: $535
  • Washington City to New York City - Private Car Transfer: $516
  • Washington to Newark International Airport (EWR) - Departure Private Transfer: $491
  • Washington City to Philadelphia City - Private Car Transfer: $392
  • Washington, DC: Potomac Mills Outlet Private Transfer: $357
  • Private transfer from or to IAD , DCA , PHL , MDT airports , VA and Philadelphia: $320
  • Washington Airport Transfers: Washington to Dulles Airport IAD in Luxury Car: $218
  • BWI Airport: Transfer to Baltimore or Washington DC: $200
  • Washington, DC: Private Airport Transfer(SUV): To or From: (DCA) Reagan National: $180
  • Washington City to Baltimore City - Private Car Transfer: $168
  • Airport Transfer to and from Dulles International IAD Airport: $160

Typical Local Transportation prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from San Fransisco City To Carmel-by-the-Sea.: $450
  • Private transfer from SFO to or from Sacramento (SUV): $400
  • Private Airport Transfer From SFO to San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf: $395
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO To Carmel-by-the-Sea.: $370
  • Napa Valley 1-Way Transfer to/from the San Francisco Airport: $310
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to Yountville, Napa Valley: $300
  • Private Airport Transfer From SFO to Napa Valley: $270
  • SFO Roundtrip Airport Hotel Transfer: $267
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to Sonoma Valley: $255
  • Private Transfer from SFO to Napa: $235
  • Oakland to San Francisco Downtown Round Trip Chauffeur Driven Airport Transfer: $200
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO To Walnut Creek.: $200

Is it cheaper to fly into Washington or San Francisco?

Prices for flights to both San Francisco and Washington 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
    Washington $30
    San Francisco $32
Typical Food prices in Washington

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Washington:


  • Water
    $2.00
  • Snacks on Monuments Tour
    $6.15

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Washington

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

  • Seattle: Pike Place Market Plant-Based Food Tour: $64
  • Washington D.C.: 3.5-Hour Georgetown Food Tour: $65
  • Washington DC: 3-Hour Italian Food Tour: $65
  • Washington DC Food Tour: Italian Cuisine in Dupont Circle: $65
  • Washington, DC: The Original Brew Tour with Tasting & Dinner: $70
  • Adams Morgan Food Tour: $76
  • Washington DC: Private Food Tour Experience: $79
  • Capitol Hill Walking Food Tour: $79
  • U Street Neighborhood Food Tour: $99
  • Washington DC Odyssey Dinner Cruise: $100
  • Private French Cooking Class with an Expert in the Heart of Washington DC: $108
  • Washington, DC 3-Hour Dinner Buffet Cruise: $122

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $15
  • Traveling Spoon Pad Thai and Papaya Salad Private Online Cooking Class: $25
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $75
  • Cooking with Ale: let's make Tiramisu - private groups: $80
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $80
  • American Cooking Class in San Francisco with a Local near Golden Gate Park: $82
  • San Francisco Chinatown Food Tour: $89
  • Russian Hill Gourmet Food Tour: $97
  • I Can't Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown - Food Tour: $98
  • Mamaz Social Food Arepa Class and Dinner: $100
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $103
  • Hayes Valley Gourmet Food Tour: $108

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Washington $19
    San Francisco $37

Tours and Activities in Washington

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Washington.

  • "HEROES OF FREEDOM" PRIVATE TOUR (4 Hour Military Tribute): $658
  • "SHINING CITY" PRIVATE TOUR (3 Hour Evening Tour): $658
  • 2 Day Grand Tour with George Washington's Mount Vernon: $95
  • 2-Day Colonial Williamsburg Guided Tour from Washington DC: $330
  • 24/48-Hour Washington, D.C. Hop-on Hop-off Tour: $49
  • 3-Hour "DC After Dark" Night-Time Guided Bus Tour with Stops at Top Attractions: $35
  • 3-Hour Private Jeep Tour of Washington D.C.: $495
  • 3-Hour Washington DC "Monuments By Night" Guided Night-Time Sightseeing Bus Tour: $49
  • 3-Hour Washington DC "Morning Monuments" Guided Sightseeing Walking & Bus Tour: $64
  • 3-Hour Washington, D.C Urban Adventure Scavenger Hunt: $44
  • 30-Minutes Supercar Driving Pilot Experience in Washington DC: $275
  • Advance Tickets to Washington, D.C.'s Newseum: $24

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Francisco.

  • 1 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $55
  • 1-Hour Golden Gate and Lombard GoRide Scooter Tour: $54
  • 1HR San Francisco Chinatown and Downtown GoCar Tour: $71
  • 2 Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour: $79
  • 2-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour & Alcatraz: $150
  • 2-Day Muir Woods and Wine Country Tour from San Francisco: $569
  • 2-Day San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour + Night Tour: $79
  • 2-Day Yosemite National Park Tour from San Francisco: $499
  • 2-Day Yosemite National Park Winter Tour from San Francisco: $589
  • 2-day Monterey & Yosemite Small Group Tour from San Francisco: $495
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Loop GoCar Tour: $131
  • 2HR Golden Gate Bridge and Presidio GoRide Scooter Tour: $82

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Washington $15
    San Francisco $15

Sample the Local Flavors in Washington

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Washington:

  • Epic Washington DC Bar Crawl: By Let’s Roam: $12
  • Haunted Washington D.C. Ghost and Pub Walking Tour: $27
  • Washington DC: Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $34
  • DC: 'New York Times Journeys' Walking Tour with Beer, Cheese and Wine Tasting: $120
  • Seattle All-Inclusive: Hike Mt. Rainier and Wine Tasting: $278
  • NOVA Private Custom Wine Tours & Tasting from DMV: $645
  • 6 Hours Northern VA Wine Tour: $920

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:

  • San Francisco Bar Hunt: Soul of San Francisco Bar Crawl: $12
  • San Francisco North Beach Pub Crawl: $60
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $70
  • Half-Day Sonoma Wine Tour: $100
  • Shore Excursion: Napa and Sonoma Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience Full-Day Tour: $135
  • San Francisco City & Wine tour: $140
  • Chariot wine tour: $145
  • From Full-Day Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $149
  • Viticulture with Charm: Sonoma Valley Wine Tour from San Francisco: $149
  • Small Group Redwoods and Wine Country Trip Including Wine Tasting and Cave Tour: $152
  • Small Group Muir Woods with Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $169
  • The Perfect Blend: Napa and Sonoma Combo Wine Tour from San Francisco: $169


When comparing the travel costs between Washington and San Francisco, we can see that San Francisco 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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Washington vs. San Francisco Travel Comparison

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