My sister was heading to Brooklyn for work and invited me to bunk up in her fancy hotel. I looked it up on Instagram, and it was a done deal. I had been to Manhattan twice before, when I had no money – once with school, once with university – so was eager to see a different part of the city with some cold hard cash in my pocket.

Pre-trip costs

Flights: £297 (about $390)

Accommodation: Free (thanks, Hollie)

Total pre-trip spending: £297 / $390

On the ground


Total daily cost: $127.95

People walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is a clear, bright day.
The Brooklyn Bridge was one of the first stops © Hazel Lubbock/Lonely Planet

9am: The view over New York as I flew in left me awe-struck, and I just wanted to get out and explore. So, I jumped in a cab ($53.90) from La Guardia straight to Public, where I checked in, threw my bag in our room and went out to explore the neighborhood.

11am: I walked over Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo, where my sister Hollie was working for the week to meet her for a quick coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company ($4.50). She went back to the office and I had a wander around the area.

1pm: We met again for lunch at Sweetgreen because she was in a rush and it was quick and easy (it’s a chain). I had a peach and burrata salad ($14.10).

3pm: Two whoopie pies from ($5.50) One Girl Cookies gave me the energy to power on through tiredness. I went into dozens of interesting shops, including an hour in bookstore and exhibition space the POWERHOUSE ARENA, where I bought Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith ($24.95).

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge from underneath, with Manhattan skyscrapers in the background
The view from Dumbo © Hazel Lubbock/Lonely Planet

5pm: I went back to Public for a quick nap and then took advantage of the free wine (for hotel guests) and read my new book while I waited for Hollie to finish work. 

7pm: I walked back over the bridge as the sun set - it sounds romantic but in reality, it was rammed with tourists and frustrated commuters honking as they passed on their bikes. Hollie and I met for dinner at Tacombi, where we went overboard with tacos (al pastor, black bean, shrimp), corn, guac and two mushroom quesadillas ($25 for my share).


Total daily cost: $73.73

9am: Hollie was desperate to go to Coney Island, and as she was funding my accommodation, and the sun was out, off we went. The subway ($2.75) took almost an hour but felt like a whirlwind tour of Brooklyn because you pass through so many different neighborhoods on the way.

The red, white and blue swing ride of Coney Island
Coney Island was a must-stop © Hazel Lubbock/Lonely Planet

10am: A hot dog ($2.45) for breakfast usually indicates a hangover, but we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – the Coney Island hot dog just had to be done. 

12pm: It would have perhaps been wise to save the hot dog until AFTER riding the 90-year-old wooden roller coaster ($10 for one ride) at Luna Park. I didn’t throw up, but it was close.

4.30pm: The weather started to turn so we left for Industry City, a multi-use venue in Sunset Park. I made a beeline for Avocaderia and ordered a whopping salmon-and-avocado salad ($12 including tip) – because hot dog for breakfast. To satisfy my sweet tooth, a single chocolate truffle from Li-Lac ($1.58).

The writer balances on a yellow fire hydrant in front of a colourful wall mural.
Hazel at Industry City's Camille Walala mural © Hazel Lubbock/Lonely Planet

8pm: Queued for an hour for a couple of slices of Prince St Pizza ($2.95). Worth it.

9pm: I bought us a cocktail each at Public’s rooftop bar as a thank you for letting me crash ($42 including tip). 


Total daily cost: $109.75

10am: The Brooklyn Flea pops up under the Manhattan Bridge during summer, with stalls and stalls of vintage clothing, handmade jewellery, woven baskets and other crafts. I picked up a pair of retro sunglasses for ($20) and then made a sharp exit before I parted with more cash.

12pm: My sister had booked her flight for a sociable time so we parted ways and I opted for my go-to lunch-for-one situation: a street-food market. The Time Out Market in Dumbo has so many different options and an incredible view over Manhattan. I went for a bowl of spicy tonkotsu ramen ($22) and a beer from Mr. Taka.

Table and chairs on an outside terrace, filled with diners. In the background is the river and views of Manhattan.
Lunch at Time Out market came with great views on the side © Hazel Lubbock/Lonely Planet

2pm: I underestimated the portion size and took the metro ($2.75) to walk off my ramen in Prospect Park – because Central Park is not the city’s only green space.

5pm: Another great option for a solo diner: Public’s casual restaurant Louis has an amazing $5 pizza-and-beer deal from 5pm-7pm. 

8pm: I lazily took a taxi to JFK ($60), using the fact that I’d booked the red-eye back to London to justify the spend to myself.

The final tally

Overall spend: $701.43


As my sister had kindly let me stay in her hotel, I could afford to be less careful than I perhaps would have been otherwise. Having said that, I did find some easy ways to save money on food without sacrificing taste or comfort – if I lived in New York, I’d have kept the pizza and beer for $5 a secret. So while this certainly wasn’t a cheap weekend away, I only regret spending money on cabs when I could have used public transport. 

More travel spending diaries:

A weekend trip to Cologne
A long weekend in Paris
A three-day road trip to Baltimore

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