New York on a Budget; More Than Just the City

City girls / country girls living it up in New York. 





Ah, New York in the fall, the best time to see change right in front of your eyes. My journey to New York was one of importance; to attend a friend’s wedding!

Kayla with Beth, the beautiful New York bride.

I had two months to plan my entire weekend on a budget of $400.  I can tell you it was doable because I brought my best friend Angie as my date so a good amount of the expenses were split. Here’s how I did it:


When I made the choice to attend my friend’s wedding, I immediately started checking flights to Newark.   I was nervous about traffic in the city, so according to Beth, my New York native friend and bride, Newark was the best option.   United’s flights from Milwaukee to Newark leave daily so you can plan ahead to get the best deal on tickets.

United had the best deal for $129 roundtrip. I booked the cheapest flight, with one stop in Chicago.   Nonstop would have been an extra $100. Other companies, such as Southwest, only leave and return on specific days of the week, and since I was only spending 2 ½ days in New York, the choice to fly United was the smartest option.

Airport layovers; no fun!

*Note: United flights, from my personal experience, are often delayed. It’s about a 50 percent chance you’ll be on time. For this trip, our one hour layover turned into a five hour layover because our plane had mechanical issues and for the first two hours they refused to bring in a new plane.  After two  hours they finally figured they needed to bring another plane in.  Our flight was supposed to arrive at 1 p.m. but we didn’t get into Newark till 6 p.m.

Where we stayed

Because the wedding was not in New York City (high five to the bride Beth) we got lucky enough to stay in a small town near Fishkill. Yes, there is more to NY then just the NYC part of it. The other areas are just as amazingly beautiful. Though we could have stayed in the city, my budget would have to go up in order to accommodate the lodging expenses. would have help cut that cost, but finding parking for a rental car would be expensive. So… off to the countryside for us. We found a great Airbnb spot in Beacon, NY.  We stayed in a private bedroom in the house, for $31 per person with our host Ben.  Ben was an amazingly kind and knowledgeable massage therapist.
Here are some highlights of the room and our stay at Ben’s home:

  • Great location (amazingly photogenic, we even did a mini photo shoot there)
  • Accommodated our extremely late arrival
  • Coffee and breakfast were unexpectedly offered to us daily though it was not expected because it was not on his Airbnb profile
  • Kind and flexible host.  Great conversationalist who pointed us in the right direction on where to shop, and explore.

Ben was a five star host.  We expected that based on his Airbnb rating and excellent reviews.  

Rental cars

So let’s chat about rental cars. Newark Liberty International Airport  (EWR) has the best prices on rental cars I’ve seen in a long time. For our 2 ½ days in New York our car cost around $68, which I split with Angie.  We went through to book the car.  Hotwire offers users discounted fees but does not disclose the rental company. . . meaning we took the “special rate” offered and found out the rental company  after booking.  We ended up with Budget Car Rental, which was easy in and out when we finally arrived at the airport.

So far our flight, car rental, and lodging in New York for 2 ½ days was around $225. Not too shabby right?

Here’s What We Did

Friday we landed and grabbed our rental car.  Off we drove to Fishkill to attend the rehearsal dinner, where we lucked out on an amazing free meal. We spent Saturday shopping in Beacon, NY. The town is extremely small but has a downtown shopping area about 6 – 8 blocks long filled with small businesses and shops. We lucked out by stopping in Nella Bella’s Boutique, where I ended up getting an amazing leather strapless dress for $30. That afternoon we stopped at a local eatery for lunch before we headed back to our host home to get ready for the wedding.

On Sunday our flight out of EWR left at 9 p.m. so we headed to the city — specifically Brooklyn. We spent the day in Brooklyn walking around.  Brooklyn, to our surprise, had a good amount of parking and enough shopping and sights to keep us occupied. If I would have known earlier I might have opted to extend our trip a day and stay in Brooklyn. Angie, took charge of what to see and do. My budget was still intact with about $100 of spending money left.  We spent the entire day bouncing around shopping and hunting down the best pizza and coffee we could find.

Kayla’s Top 3 Places to Check Out in Brooklyn:

Kayla enjoying a slice at Antonio’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn.

Gorilla Coffee (97 Fifth Avenue,  Brooklyn, NY 11217)  – Strong coffee, good prices and great treats to snack on.

Beacon’s Closet Park Slope (92 Fifth Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217) – This little hole-in-the-wall thift store has some amazing things and great treasures. We spent over an hour here.,It’s a must if you’re looking for a fabulous unique piece of clothing.

Antonio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant (318 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238) had the best by- the-slice pizza in town! Legit, great options, super affordable and very authentic. Even if you don’t want pizza they have other menu options like heros, salads, and philly cheese steaks. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Although we never actually made it into the central city or Time Square, we did well for our first weekend trip to New York on a tiny budget.  We gained a good  sense of the area so the next time we come back we can budget to stay in the city, sightsee and learn how to navigate the trains.  However, if the “big city” isn’t your thing, you do have amazing options outside of NYC. Although 2 ½ days wasn’t enough, I got a great mini vacation for under $400, so that’s a win for me!


Come back on Nov. 6th to see what fall in Italy has to offer!

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