How to Take a Cheap Trip to NYC

how to take a cheap trip to NYC

New York, New York. The Big Apple. The city in which dreams are cast upon by those all around the globe.

But, of course, there’s got to be a catch. What could possibly be the downside of the place of buildings stretching for the clouds, painted with iconic America yet embracing the cultures of the world?

The price tag.

We have all heard that New York City is an investment, a trip of a lifetime, but one that quickly burns a hole in your wallet. And if you’re wanting to travel with your spouse or significant other, doubling every meal, every drink, every subway ticket can add up fast.
I thought that it was going to be a crazy idea for Luke to come join me on my work trip to New York City a couple weeks back, and that we’d be going in way over our heads. But with the proper research and planning, we were able to have an incredible weekend in the city for under $400 for the two of us!

how to take a cheap trip to NYC and see the empire state building

I couldn’t believe we pulled this off, but we did. We stayed at an off the beaten path location, found ourselves in local, chic cafes every morning, and saw Jersey Boys on Broadway.

see Jersey Boys on your cheap trip to NYC

If New York City has been on your and your significant other’s bucket list, don’t let the expenses get in your way any longer. Check out my tips on how to take a cheap trip to NYC for two!

1. Stay in an Airbnb in Brooklyn.

Just a subway ride away from Manhattan, Brooklyn is a superb option to lodge comfortably. It is a blooming area for  lovers of art, food, drink, and live music. You may not even make it to Manhattan if you venture out enough because there is so much to explore- not to mention that you can gaze over the entire New York City skyline while toasting on a rooftop bar.

An alternate accommodation option to pricey, city hotels is finding an apartment, or even a room in an apartment like we did, on You can set your price point per night of stay, check out the area, and read reviews on the host of the rental. Learn more about how to choose the best Airbnb for your trip from my other post here.

Luke and I have stayed in Airbnb’s all over the world – Barcelona, Beijing, San Francisco – and have had the most comfortable stays and amazing experiences because of it.

As odd as it sounds, we prefer to stay in a room of an apartment versus renting out an entire place because  if your host is around, they can provide awesome pointers and tell you about cool local dive bars or restaurants to check out. Travelling as a couple may help you to feel safer during your Airbnb stay, even though there’s a rating system for both travelers and hosts and I have never personally felt unsafe. Brooklyn’s rates can be as low as $60-70 a night!

2. Scoop up breakfast at a cafe instead of a restaurant.

delicious cafe in BedSty 

In New York City, people brunch like it’s nobody’s business. Bottomless mimosas and premium sourdough french toast with eggs benedict can be fabulous for one day of your trip if you have the means set aside, but is probably more expensive than a romantic, upscale dinner.

On our trip, we would take a walk in the morning and see where lines were forming inside- and even out the door – of coffee shops and cafes. You can grab delicious java, a signature New York bagel, or a breakfast sandwich all for under $20 for both of you.

Brooklyn Kolache Co.
La Colombe Coffee in Soho had people waiting in line out the door, and was well worth the wait. Brooklyn Kolache Co. had incredibly kolaches, breakfast bread rolls filled with things like eggs or bacon for the savory choices or pumpkin or apple if you have a sweet tooth, like me. Tisserie’s quiches were glorious, which is located right outside of the south side of Central Park in the midtown area of Manhattan.

3. Buy your Broadway show tickets at TKTS in Times Square.

take a cheap trip to NYC and see Broadway by buying tickets at TKTS 

Whoever thought up TKTS, I need to find them and hug them and bake them cookies. Walking around to all of the theaters on and around Broadway Street during the daytime, tickets will still start around $70-80 for a matinee showing. Imagine trying to afford 2 tickets for a prime time showing over the weekend! TKTS can solve this problem.

A big booth in the middle of Times Square, TKTS sells tickets for both Broadway shows and off-Broadway, dance performances, plays, and theater for affordable prices. The ticket inventory and availability changes throughout the day, so this is only good for those who do not have a preference of what they see, but simply yearn to experience the fine arts scene of New York City.

And, as if this couldn’t be a better deal, buying tickets from TKTS means you are supporting a non-profit organization dedicating to sustaining and sharing the arts!

4. Do lunch at a food festival or at a local, popular food truck.

food festival in Brooklyn, NYC 

If you’re a foodie, you know this, and if you aren’t necessarily, you need to know this – food trucks are THE bomb. The most delectable creations we have ever eaten have come from street food and food trucks, and New York City reigns when it comes to hidden gems for food. And as a bonus, buying your lunch from one of these guys, or from a tent at a food festival if there’s one going on while you’re visiting, is easily under $20.

Hit up Halal Guys in Manhattan, found off of 53rd & 6th streets. What a gyro!

5. Walk the High Line and meander through Chelsea Market.

free things to do in NYC like the High Line and walk through Chelsea Market 

The High Line is one of New York City’s more recent additions, and it’s free! It’s a retired, raised railroad line that has been repurposed into a lovely art and garden walk. You can walk the whole thing and cover a good portion of walking along the Hudson in the south of the City, or can dip out once you get to Chelsea and have a blast at the Chelsea Market.

The shops in this area are awesome, and they rival the trendiness of Soho. The market provides plentiful people watching, bakeries, and interesting restaurants. This time, we got Japanese-inspired Mexican – tuna and ginger tacos with leechee sweet tea, flavors we used to live by in Asia! For dinner, we recommend Artichoke Pizza in Chelsea. It was under $30 for 2 drinks and a medium pizza, and look how huge it was! Plus, what could be better than artichoke dip and yummy crust?!

artichoke pizza in Chelsea, NYC
6. Do Happy Hour in Soho.

happy hour in SoHo for a cheap trip to NYC 

Eat, DRINK, and be merry! Soho is exactly the place to do this. It’s also a bit of a breather from busy city life. Upon exiting the subway, I felt like I was in a completely different location than NYC. The buildings aren’t as tall, the streets aren’t as busy, but the drinks are completely on par.

happy hour in SoHo

We found this small spot that served $4 beers for Happy Hour called The Botanica Bar. That’s better than we find in Florida!

Enjoy your time in the bustling, beautiful city of New York. We hope these suggestions help you to see that you CAN do this trip for two in an affordable way and still have an absolute blast!

beautiful Central Park in the fall