A city pass for sightseeing can save a lot of money, but it's not always a good deal. In fact, many of the passes listed here have risen in price significantly in the past few years.
So, make a list of attractions to visit. Add up the admission costs for each and then look at a pass option for your destination. You might find it costs less to just buy individual tickets. If the price is about the same, consider this fact: the pass eliminates the need to stand in long ticket lines. Sometimes, additional discounts are offered on transportation, too. Take a look at some city pass options and decide if it pays to buy a pass. If you decide it's a good buy, carefully read the fine print at the linked pages.
The New York Pass sometimes is available at discounted online rates. One-day adult passes are $109 USD (children $89) and two-day passes are $189 (children $169). Check the site for additional time options and frequent sales on the regular prices. The deal includes 60 top New York attractions and almost always pays for itself by the second or third admission. For example, if you want to go to the top of the Empire State Building, take a Circle Line River Cruise and go to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, admission for those three alone is likely to cost as much as the one-day pass. Each pass also comes with a guidebook, discounts for shopping and Broadway tickets.
The Philadelphia Pass sometimes is available at discounted online rates. One-day adult passes are $59 USD (children $49) and two-day passes are $89 (children $79). Check the site for additional time options and discounts. There are more than 36 participating attractions, and you'll see right away that some are better known than others. But there's enough here to plan several days of sightseeing and save in the process. The Web site says if you could take advantage of every eligible feature of the pass, it would be worth $350.
If you're a movie buff, the Hollywood All-Access Studio Pass will enable you to see three of Hollywood's top studio tours: Universal, Sony, and Warner. The cost is $159 USD per adult (you must be at least 13 years old to take the tours). The pass is good for 30 days, but be sure to take note of each studio's schedule.
The Go San Diego Card is sold in time increments. A card valid for one day is $84 USD, two days for $125, three days for $189, five days for $235 and seven days for $264. Once in San Diego, you take an e-ticket you have downloaded after purchase and a photo I.D. to one of two locations to receive the card. There are 43 valid attractions at which you will pay no entrance fee and bypass the ticket lines. Among them: The San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Birch Aquarium, Discovery Science Center, and whale watching excursions. You may visit any attraction once each day while the card is valid, and some of the tours require reservations.
These Go Card USA offers to cover a variety of locales, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, New York, Oahu, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto. If you choose to leave the city, there is even a card for the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The London Pass is available for one day at £59 ($84 USD); two days at £79 ($113 USD); three days at £95 ($136 USD) and six days at £129 ($184 USD). Rates for children are discounted. An enhanced pass is also sold for more money that adds underground, buses, trains and even some airport transportation for online buyers. There is fine print in all of this, so read the exceptions carefully. If you'll be in London for a week, the six-day pass averages £22/day. That's roughly the price you'll pay for one major London admission. Visit two a day and, in theory, you'll get double your money back on the initial cost. There are 60 participating tourist attractions. They also throw in a free 120-page guidebook and a free smart phone app. For more information, read a full review of the London Pass.
The Paris Pass is available for two days at €129 ($147 USD); four days at €189 ($216 USD); or six days at €229 ($261 USD). Discounts for teenagers and young children are significant. At first glance, these prices seem quite high. But in addition to gaining entry to more than 60 Paris attractions, free use of the Metro also is included -- something for which most visitors purchase separate passes anyway. The network is so extensive, it takes you nearly anywhere you'd want to visit. With the Paris Pass, you also gain entry to world-class museums such as Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre. River cruises, tours of Notre-Dame and other must-do experiences are covered. Check carefully to see your favorites are included.