Boston CityPASS – Is the Boston CityPASS worth buying for families when visiting Boston?

When we got back from Boston we had lots of questions from friends and readers of the website asking if it’s worth getting one of the Boston CityPASS attraction passes when you visit the city.

With trips to the USA becoming more expensive for families each year the cost of visiting Boston’s must do attractions can quickly add up, so this is where a pre-paid pass like the Citypass  can come in very handy.

So if you want to save money and time for your upcoming visit to Boston then I’m going to share with you why you should look at getting a CityPass (especially if you are a first time visitor) and how much money we were able to save by using it.

What is the Boston CityPass?

The Boston CityPASS is a pre-paid sightseeing pass into some of Boston’s most popular attractions including the  New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and the recently opened View Boston at a discounted price – potentially saving you 45% – so in theory it should help you make some significant savings using the pass compared to paying for each attraction individually.

What we liked about the CityPASS was that it provided us with ideas of places to visit when planning our Boston itinerary that we might have typically overlooked. One prime example of this was the 60 minute harbour cruise, providing really unique views of the city and fascinating information from our tour guide on the history of Boston.

How much does a CityPASS cost?

The current price of one adult Boston CityPASS ticket is £65.84 and for children (3-11) its £55.84

It’s worth adding up the cost of the attractions that you plan to visit to see if getting a Boston CityPASS is beneficial to you, but we found that the pass paid for itself after visiting just three of the attractions, as we visited all four attractions our savings were 45% of what we would have paid at the attraction.

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 Musuem of Science and Industry, which was one of the best Science museums that we have ever visited.

What is included?

The Boston CityPASS includes entry into four of Boston’s most popular visitor attractions.

Two 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 13 and 15) next to each attraction.

New England Aquarium

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children 12+ is $136.00 approx £109.00

This was one of the attractions that we had heard so many good things about before our visit to Boston and it didn’t disappoint.  Located on the historic waterfront of Boston, it was only a 5 minute walk from the Dagny, the hotel we stayed at in Boston.

Home to lots of different species of marine life from all over the world, the New England aquarium offers many interactive activities including a stingray touch pools (the largest on the East coast of America), but our highlight was meeting the penguins.

As soon as you enter the aquarium you see the African Penguin and Rockhopper colonies which were so much fun to watch as were the Atlantic Harbor Seals. The main attraction here though is the  Giant Ocean Tank, a 760,000-litre water tank that simulates a Caribbean coral reef and home to over 1000 marine animals including sharks, turtles, rays, eels and more.

What was great about this exhibit was the ability to view the reef from multiple levels and angles from the cylindrical walkway that surrounds the tank .  There are lots of exhibits to explore here from the Gulf of Maine to the Amazon along with a huge IMAX theatre showing 3d films.

Museum of Science

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children 12+ is $116.00 approx £93.00

We have been fortunate enough to have been able to visit some of the world’s best museums, and the Museum of Science in Boston was just as impressive, with so much here to see and do for all the family.

Located right on the Charles River, this is a huge museum with so many interactive exhibits across its multiple floors and wings – you could spend most of your day here and still not see everything.  Whilst the idea of visiting a museum might sound boring to many kids this hands-on science museum will change that perception.

There are three coloured wings to the museum, one covering the planetarium and IMAX theatre, the green wing covers animal and biology exhibits and our favourite, the blue wing.  This is the largest part of the museum and contains some of the best known interactive exhibits that the museum is best known for.

The exploring AI exhibit is fascinating and scary at the same time – there is a robot dog here and another exhibit not to miss here is the Theatre of Electricity – home to the largest air insulated Van de Graaff generator.

You also have the choice of a further two attractions from below

Boston Harbor City Cruises

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children 12+ is $160.00 approx £128.00

This was highly recommended before our trip and it was a great way to see the city from a different perspective.  I would add this one hour cruise onto your must-do itinerary in Boston, we have done similar cruises through CityPass in Chicago and I find it’s a great way to learn about the city.

The cruises leave from Boston harbour several times a day and the ships that you sail on are large and comfortable with an on-board café and multiple viewing decks – my pick would be the open air top deck if the weather permits.

The live commentary was really informative, we learnt so much about Boston past and present and we sailed past historic islands, key historic landmarks and incredible lighthouses during our cruise which was a fun way to learn more about the history of the city.

View Boston Observation Deck

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children 12+ is $120.00 approx £96.00

The prudential centre is one of the most famous landmarks of the skyline of Boston and from 750ft above the ground you’ll find the best aerial views of the city.  Four years in the making and with a price tag of  $182 million, this redesigned space is Boston’s newest observation deck opening in June 2023 and this was one of our favourite things we did when in Boston.

Set over 3 levels on the 50th, 51st, and 52nd floors your journey starts on the highest floor.  From the large floor to ceiling glass windows we could see for miles, spotting landmarks such as MIT, Harvard, Fenway Park and more.  The rotating viewing guides are really helpful as these offer descriptions on landmarks across the city.

My favourite was one floor down, the cloud terrace. This is the open-air viewing platform offering 360 degree breathtaking views of the skyline of Boston, the coastline and its neighbourhoods.  We warmed up from the cold winds down on the 50th floor, called the “city”, where there is a huge 3d model of Boston and more views of Boston from a different vantage point.

Franklin Park Zoo

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children 12+ is $107.00 approx £86.00

With over 72 acres of wildlife habitat to explore in Boston’s historic Franklin Park we would have loved to have had more time in the city to visit this world class zoo.  At the Serengeti Crossing you get to see zebras and ostrich and a visit to the tropics will bring you up close to their ring-tailed lemur and gorillas.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Cost for 2 adults and 2 children up to 18yrs is $50.00 approx £40.00

Located within Harvard University you can marvel at over 16 galleries including the world-famous Blaschka Glass Flowers along with sparkling gemstones, dinosaurs, whales, and hundreds of wildlife specimens from around the world.

Best place to purchase a CityPASS ?

We found that the cheapest and most convenient place to purchase the Boston CityPASS was on their website.

Once purchased the mobile passes are ready to use for up to 12 months from the date of purchase.

Your CityPASS is activated once you have visited your first attraction and you have up to 9 days to use the pass.

Did we save money getting the pass?

For us the total cost of the attractions that we were able to visit was $532.00 (which is equivalent to £427.36 based on 1 United States Dollar equals 0.80 Pound sterling)
The total cost for four Boston CityPASS was £263.36 so you can see that we made a large  saving getting the pass.

However, to get the biggest savings you have to plan to visit all four of the attractions like we did.

Is a Boston CityPASS worth getting?

For first time visitors to Boston I would highly recommend looking into purchasing a CityPASS especially if you plan on visiting more than three of the above attractions. It allowed us to budget before we even got to Boston and more importantly help us save on entrance fees for attractions.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, we like using a CityPASS as it provides a ready made itinerary as many of the top attractions in Boston are included which we found really useful.

Comparing it to other passes, what we liked about the CityPASS was that you don’t have to rush to see the attractions within a limited time frame as you have 9 days to use a CityPASS, so it’s perfect if you are spending several days in Boston like we did.

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