NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: 2 People. 4 days. $500 a Person!

My sister is one of my nearest and dearest friends. Last year she and I went on a trip to Milan… This year we decided to do a “frugal” trip and did 4 days in California! It was such much fun and it only cost around $500 per person ($518.93 to be exact) for the entire trip, that includes flights, rental car, hotels, food, and a food tour!


We flew round trip to San Jose. We flew in on a Saturday and took a red eye out on a Tuesday night.  Here’s how we managed to do 4 days in California and spent $1,037.86 for two people. I hope these tips are helpful to you as you plan your vacations!

2018-09-09 074323615843401580356..jpg2018-09-09 078204167155206372919..jpg2018-09-09 075538521670504299439..jpg2018-09-09 0756426871124427801..jpgDAY 1 – $394.13: Flight to San Jose. Drive to Sacramento, Dinner and 1 night hotel in Sacramento.

  • Round Trip Flight to San Jose – $22.00 (2 people). That’s right. $11.00 per person. My sister and I have racked up delta sky miles as a result of a delta credit card and loyalty travel. We used points for our flight and only have to pay $11.00 each per person.
  • 2018 Black Ford Mustang Convertible – $286.25. We brought pretty heavy snacks with us on the plane and ate that as a “lunch” while driving to Sacramento.
  • Residence Inn Sacramento Downtown at Capitol Park – $20.00. We paid for our hotel using Marriott points (we both use Marriott Chase visa as our main credit card and used points for all the hotels nights for this trip). The $20.00 was the daily parking fee.
  • Dinner at Cafeteria 15L – $65.88. Dinner was DELICIOUS and just across the street from our hotel.

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DAY 2 – $196.65: Coffee, breakfast and sight seeing in Sacramento. Drive to Sonoma. Lunch and Dinner in Sonoma.

  • Coffee at Temple Coffee Roasters $15.00 (I lost my receipt so this is a guesstimate).
  • Breakfast at Bacon and Butter – $49.15: Two entrees and more coffee. 30 minute wait, but worth the wait.
  • Sightseeing at the capital and around town FREE. This was a Sunday so all the metered/street parking was free.
  • The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa – $63.36. We paid for the hotel with points. Additional costs were parking, resort fee, and some olives I bought at the hotel bar.
  • Lunch at the Basque Boulangerie Café – $20.00. Sandwiches run about $7-9 each. I lost my receipt. We spent no more than $20.00 for the two of us.
  • Dinner at OSO – $49.14. Appetizer to share and two entrees.

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Day 3 – $307.34: Coffee. Visit the redwoods. lunch. Private winery tour. Drive to San Francisco. Light dinner at hotel. Food Tour.

  • Coffee on our way to the Red Woods $4.00. Cheapest coffee we could find. “keep the change”.
  • Sightseeing at the redwoods – FREE. National Park. Free Parking.
  • Lunch $20.00. Found a great little biscuit spot on our way out of the mountains. another “keep the change” type of deal.
  • Private tour and tasting at Cline Family Cellars – $63.25. It’s close to the Sonoma town center. Also, pay the extra $10 for the private tour. It won’t disappoint. Also this price includes our tip… because it’s important to tip.
  • Golden Gate Bridge toll – $7.75. 
  • San Francisco Marriott Union Square – $67.26. Paid for the hotel with points. Fee for parking.
  • Light dinner at the hotel – FREE. My sister is a Marriott Gold Member. When you are a Gold (or higher) member and stay at a Marriott, you get you go to the lounge for free where their are hor d’oeuvres Monday through Friday.
  • Food Tour – $145.08. Chinatown & North Beach Night Walking Tour. Two Adults plus tip.

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Day 4 – $139.74: Breakfast. Photography session at the golden gate bridge. Second breakfast. Dinner. Pacific Coastal Highway. Flight Home.

  • Hotel Breakfast – FREE. Same as our light dinner the day before. Gold members get free continental breakfast.
  • Photography session at the Golden Gate bridge – FREE: Free drive over the bridge. Free parking. Beautiful sights.
  • Breakfast at Lighthouse Cafe – $46.45 – Drive over to Sausalito. You wont believe you are only a few miles from San Francisco.
  • Golden Gate Bridge toll – $7.75.
  • Sightseeing – FREE. Be sure to check out Lombard Street and the Painted Ladies. All free sights. Available free parking nearby.
  • Dinner at N-in-Out Burger – $18.00. A must have while in California.
  • Drive down the pacific coastal highway – FREE. We were able to watch the sun set over the west coast. So beautiful. Make sure you time it right.
  • Gas for the rental car – $67.54
  • Red Eye Flight back to Atlanta.

2018-09-09 075796243923068067693..jpgThis was an amazing trip. While I’ll admit that we’ve had far more “frugal” trips and far more “splurge” trips BUT it’s rare that two people go to northern California and spend around $1000 on two people. But if you work your money and your points right… and are willing to pass on a few luxuries… its possible to have an AMAZING trip at a fraction of the cost.2018-09-09 074396766053557694194..jpg2018-09-09 071533829081655632926..jpg2018-09-09 104708078099608104165..jpg

15 responses to “NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: 2 People. 4 days. $500 a Person!”

  1. Love your itinerary! In-n-out is definitely a must when in California. I’ve lived in SoCal my entire life and I can’t go a month without In-n-out!

  2. Wow! So cool. Thank you for explaining everything. I’d love to explore that part of California. I’ve dine central/south.

  3. I went to San Fran this year too and it was our splurge trip but we used points too! I think the key to using your hotel points is how you two did it… on a shorter stay, where you can stay in an ideal location & use a bit more points. We stayed in South San Fran so it was a bit far and though public transport can be used it is less than ideal at times and it’s so much easier to just “get an Uber”… but it adds up. Love how you broke everything down! 🙂

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