There are certain places you just need to visit — even if it means spending upward of $200 a night for a closet-sized hotel room. The key to making a trip to one of these urban dollar magnets is being prepared for the sticker shock. Here's a closer look at America's most expensive cities, and what makes them so spectacular that they just might be worth it.
1. New York
Although the Big Apple also qualifies as one of the country's most affordable cities thanks to perks such as mass transit and cheap pizza, there's little that can shock a tourist as much as ordering a cup of coffee and hearing, "That'll be $7.50." Such is life is New York. And even with plenty of savvy ways to skirt excessive prices, a crosstown taxi stuck in traffic can still set you back more than dinner for two in Omaha, Neb. On the bright side, you'll find more culture and energy in Gotham than in most big U.S. cities — putting it at the top of the heap with more than 50 million tourists in 2011.
It has long been one of the most appealing tourist destinations in the Western Hemisphere, parked midocean in a picturesque landscape of floral delights. The downside is that virtually every commercial good must be imported — and this means everything, from accommodations to food to souvenirs, costs more, which places Honolulu high on the list of America's most expensive cities. Even no-view hotel rooms come at a premium in this state capital. But then, you might just be too distracted by the flowery leis and refreshing mai tais to care.