A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Washington vs. Santa Fe for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Washington or Santa Fe?

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 Santa Fe can help you decide which place is right for you.


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.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a charming, artsy, and cultural historic town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. Other reasons to visit include shopping, museums, and skiing.

Washington and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife

How is Washington different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Santa Fe and Washington. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Museums and Historical Sights?

Santa Fe

People who enjoy wandering through museums and other attractions will appreciate a visit to Washington a bit more than Santa Fe.

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.

Santa Fe offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Food?

Santa Fe

Foodies will find both Washington and Santa Fe both to be unique destinations.

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

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Santa Fe. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chile peppers.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Santa Fe

The nightlife vibe is much better in Washington than Santa Fe.

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.

Most people don't head to Santa Fe specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Santa Fe

Washington and Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe active and fun. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Shopping?

Santa Fe

If you're looking to go shopping, Washington and Santa Fe 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.

Santa Fe is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Santa Fe

You'll find kid-friendly activities in either Washington or Santa Fe.

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.

Santa Fe is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.

Is Washington or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Santa Fe

Both Washington and Santa Fe 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.

Santa Fe makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.

Is Washington or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Santa Fe

Washington and Santa Fe 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.

Santa Fe is a very walkable city. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Washington?

How long in Washington or Santa Fe?

In either Washington or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Washington than Santa Fe because of the overall number of sights and activities.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Washington is 3-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Santa Fe is 2-5 days.

  • How many days in Washington or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Washington 3-7 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in Washington or Santa Fe?

Washington is a big city with plenty to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

With live music and food around the historic historic town of Santa Fe, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Washington or Santa Fe?

Washington is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

With food and shopping around the destination of Santa Fe, there's plenty to do. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this historic town.

Five days in Washington or Santa Fe?

Washington is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Washington, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Santa Fe, a popular historic town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Visiting the old town is also a must. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this historic town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

A week in Washington or Santa Fe?

Washington is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Washington has to offer. This city offers something for everyone.

Santa Fe is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Fe 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 Santa Fe is $127. 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 Santa Fe in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Washington $91
    Santa Fe $64
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Washington $182
    Santa Fe $128
Compare Hotels in Washington and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Washington or Santa Fe? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Washington

Hotels in Santa Fe

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Washington Hotel Prices and Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Washington $37
    Santa Fe $49
Typical Local Transportation prices in Washington

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

  • Metro Day Pass

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

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

  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62

Is it cheaper to fly into Washington or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe 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 Meals for one day
    Washington $30
    Santa Fe $35
Typical Food prices in Washington

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

  • Water
  • Snacks on Monuments Tour

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 Santa Fe

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

  • Dinner at the Coffee Farm: $55
  • Santa Fe Railyard Arts District Food Tour: $102
  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $138

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Washington $19
    Santa Fe $13

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 Santa Fe

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

  • Bantayan Island Day Tour From Cebu: $173
  • Beer and Art Tour: $40
  • Guided Tour: 'Love Stories of Santa Fe": $498
  • Land Tour | Bantayan Island - Sightseeing - Guided Tour: $46
  • Lonely Planet Experiences: Private Walking Tour of Santa Fe: $170
  • Santa Fe Architectural Walking Tour: $115
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Canyon Road Curated Art Walking Tour: $52
  • Search for The Story-Documentary Film School Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $52
  • Small-Group Canyon Road Art Tour: $37
  • Small-Group E-Bike Adventure Tour through Hidden Santa Fe: $155
  • The Best of Santa Fe Walking Tour: $498

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Washington $15
    Santa Fe $7.74

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 Santa Fe

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Santa Fe:

  • Join-In Wine Tours: $152
  • White Water Rafting and Wine Tour: $217

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Washington and Santa Fe, we can see that Washington is more expensive. And not only is Santa Fe much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Fe would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Fe 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 Washington would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Washington than you might in Santa Fe.

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Washington vs. Santa Fe Travel Comparison

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