New York CityPASS – Is it worth buying when visiting New York?

New York is one of my favourite cities to visit in the USA especially with the children.  It’s such a magical location, with iconic buildings, fantastic architecture, amazing shopping, great restaurants  and lots of things to see and do especially for the kids.

However to get the most of your first visit to New York City takes a lot of research and planning.

During this planning phase you will no doubt come across numerous forums asking the same question – are passes like the New York CityPASS worthwhile?

In this article I will explain how we found using the New York CityPASS during our visit to the city and more importantly did it save us any money.

We first came across the New York CityPASS when we were planning our trip and we quickly realised just how expensive New York can be.  The cost of sightseeing, attractions, eating out and getting around the city can soon add up especially for a family of four.

If its your first time in New York and you plan on visiting some of the city’s most popular attractions and museums, it’s well worth looking at the CityPASS to see if it will save you money during your visit especially with the exchange rate (GBP TO USD) getting worse each week.

Here is our experience using the New York CityPASS .

What is the New York CityPASS

The New York CityPASS is a pre-paid entrance pass into some of New York’s most popular attractions including the Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock and the American Museum of Natural History at a discounted price – potentially saving you 42% – so in theory it should help you make some significant savings using the pass.

As well as potentially saving you money it also offers other benefits including skipping the line at some of the attractions like the Empire State Building which is really important especially during peak visitor periods such as Christmas – after all waiting for over an hour in a queue with kids is no fun!

How much does a CityPASS cost?

The current price of one adult New York CityPASS ticket is £105.32 and for children (6-17) its £86.93.

Its worth adding up the cost of the attractions that you plan to visit  to see if getting a New York CityPASS is beneficial to you, especially as some museums just require a donation.

What we liked about the CityPASS was that it provided us with ideas of places to visit that we would have typically have overlooked.  One prime example of this was the American Museum of Natural History, which is one of the best museums that we have ever visited.

What is included?

The New York CityPASS includes entry into six of New York’s most popular visitor attractions.

Three of the attractions are already chosen for you and I have included the cost of entry for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children ages 7 and 10) next to each attraction.

Empire State Building Experience – your pass includes access to the 86th floor observatory and a bonus same-day evening return visit.  We didn’t use the bonus visit but its great if you wanted to see the New York skyline at night which is spectacular from ground level so from 1,050 feet it must be breathtaking.

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $219.20

American Museum of Natural History (includes the entry for the IMAX film or a Hayden Planetarium Space Show and the Rose Center for Earth)

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $101.00 (however this is a suggested donation as entry to the museum is free but the cost of the IMAX giant-screen film or space show would be extra)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes same day admission to The Cloisters Museum & Gardens and The Met Breuer)

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $74.00

You also have the choice between the following attractions

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $156.80

OR 

The Guggenheim Museum

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $86.00

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island (includes admission to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island Immigration Museum)

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $74.00

OR

A Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $148.00

9/11 Memorial & Museum 

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $88.00

OR 

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (includes the Space Shuttle Pavilion)

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children is $132.00

Best place to purchase a CityPASS ?

We found that the cheapest and most convenient place to purchase the New York CityPASS was directly on their website. Once purchased mobile passes are ready to use for up to 12 months from the date of purchase.

It’s well worth checking their website and signing up for special offers as their prices tend to fluctuate, so look at purchasing during one of their sale events.

We had ours before our visit to New York and the tickets arrived via email which we could either print out or show on our mobile device.  Your CityPASS is activated once you have visited your first attraction and you have up to 9 days to use the pass.

Is a New York CityPASS worth getting?

For first time visitors to New York it’s well worth looking into purchasing a CityPASS especially if you plan on visiting more than three of the above attractions. It allows you to budget and more importantly save on entrance fees on attractions before you arrive in New York.

However, to get the biggest savings of 42% when using the CityPASS you have to plan to visit all six of the attractions.  We made a slight saving after visiting just three of the above attractions, so it’s worth doing the calculations to see if the pass will save you money based on where you plan to visit.

The CityPASS also allows you to skip the general admission lines at most of the attractions which at busy periods like Christmas when we visited can save you a lot of precious time.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, it also provides a ready made itinerary as many of the top attractions in New York are included which we found really useful.

Compared to other passes what we liked about the CityPASS was that you don’t have to rush to see the attractions within a limited timeframe (2-5 days which is typical with some of the other passes) – you have 9 days to use a CityPASS, so it’s perfect if you are spending several days in New York City.

 

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