How we squeezed San Francisco and Napa into an affordable weekend getaway

Caleb was approved for the Chase Hyatt card over a year ago and we originally planned to use the two free nights at an all-inclusive property in Cabo. We ended up booking and rebooking the nights several times before giving up. Caleb’s never been to San Francisco so we settled on a night there and a night in Napa and the trip was well worth the wait.

photo 1 (2)We spent three glorious days in Northern California wandering the city and wine tasting. Here’s the points/free nights we ended up using:

  • One night at the Hilton Union Square (free weekend night with the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card sign-up)
    • Parking was an outrageous $52 with tax. And that’s the self-park. Travel lesson learned: If you’ll only need a car for part of your trip, consider taking public transit from the airport and picking up your car when needed from a downtown/nearby rental location. We could have saved ourselves about $150 (parking and an extra rental day) if we had taken BART from the airport to downtown, and then picked up our car the next day, from the National office right across the street.
    • As a gold member we were upgraded to a room on one of the top floors in the most recently remodeled tower. Our favorite part of the room was the large balcony with great sweeping views of the city skyline.2015-05-16 12.16.35
    • We enjoyed the free breakfast downstairs at the restaurant, which included all “continental” aka non-hot buffet items. You could upgrade for an additional cost, but the large selection of fresh squeezed juices, yogurts, cereals, pastries and fruit was plenty for us.
    • The hotel was in a great location, about a two-minute walk away from Union Square. Note: Do not wander the opposite direction into The Tenderloin neighborhood, pretty sketch. Another note: There are at least six Kimptons within a few blocks walk. We “conveniently” popped in to check a few of them out between 5-6 2 (2)
  • One night at the Hyatt Andaz Napa (free night with the Chase Hyatt credit card sign-up)
    • Free overnight parking on upper levels in parking garage directly behind hotel , so no need to pay for valet parking
    • Served welcome glass of wine. There is apparently usually a wine tasting from 5-6 p.m. but unfortunately there was not one on our Saturday night stay.
    • The hotel offers free activities throughout the week such as yoga classes and live music.
    • My Diamond benefits were applied even though stay was booked under Caleb’s account (Platinum).
      • Chose an amenity over points and received a full bottle of wine (from the wine tasting room attached to the hotel) and a fairly large cheese plate
      • Full, fabulous, free breakfast at Farmer’s Table2015-05-17 09.22.20 HDR-2
    • Redeemed 17,582 Southwest points (+ free companion with the companion pass)
    • Two free rental days with National car rental credits. Travel lesson learned: if you switch rental cars, make sure you get all bags out of the first car to avoid a trip back to the airport.

Wine tastings:

  • We bought a few tastings at discounted rates on Groupon and Living Social (during the 16% back on Ebates)
    • Vintage Sweet Shoppe: Highly recommend! $14 for a chocolate and wine pairing for two. Served by the owner herself, included pretty big pours, four pieces of chocolate and an additional truffle and chocolate covered strawberry per person. A perfect dessert/night cap!
    • Napa Distillery: $20 for a tasting for two, which includes a $10 voucher off any bottle purchase. It was a nice break from wine and we were particularly impressed with their huge selection of bitters.
  • The Andaz had a good concierge, who helped us find a few affordable tastings nearby and gave us a plethora of coupons.
  • Visa Signature: In general we found Sonoma to be a little more laid-back and affordable than Napa. A great benefit for anyone who holds a Visa Signature card (you likely do!) is two free tastes at many Sonoma Valley wineries. Tip: Call ahead, as many of tasting rooms listed on the website were no longer participating. 2015-05-17 14.49.52-1

P.S. If you’d like to get the Chase Hyatt card, now is a GREAT time, considering they just recently increased the sign-up bonus to 2 free nights, a $50 statement credit, plus 5,000 points for adding an authorized user. I of course do not have a link for the card but you can read more about it and apply through any number of travel bloggers’ links, including Miles to Memories.

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