I recently had an out-of-town family member staying with me and was eager to show him some of the key Manhattan sights, without spending a fortune on it or putting too much thought into an itinerary. I opted to test run a couple of New York CityPASSes for the occasion, discount attraction ticket booklets that are typically aimed at tourists, but which have their place for locals hosting visiting guests, or even New Yorkers looking to have a mini NYC "staycation" of their own.
What I found is that CityPASS, priced at $109 apiece ($82 for kids), packs in quite a bit of money-saving value (offering a savings of up about 40 percent off over booking each of the individual tickets in the bundle separately), along with a hearty dose of time-saving convenience. Here's the lowdown on what to expect:
How Does the New York CityPASS Work?
CityPASS is a discounted admission ticket booklet composed of individual entries to a selection of NYC tourist attractions, six of which can be redeemed, and visited in any order pass-holders so choose. The booklets come packed with one-time admission vouchers (note you cannot remove them from the booklet ahead of time, or they're deemed invalid!); attraction info (including opening times, locations, and directions); coupons for additional attractions and shops; and a map highlighting the location of featured attractions. The entirety of the CityPASS must be redeemed within nine days, beginning from the first day of use.
The passes also enable users to save time by skipping long lines to purchase tickets, affording them access to special lines designated for CityPASS holders. (The one exception was at the Statue of Liberty, where I strongly recommend foregoing the CityPASS redemption and booking an advance timed ticket from Statue Cruises directly.
Doing so will help ensure that you avoid lines that can easily last up to two hours, as was the case the day I was there, which was a frigid winter afternoon with thinner crowds than the norm.)
What Can I See with CityPASS?
CityPASS holders can enter six featured attractions, to be visited in any order they like, including the:
• Empire State Building Observatory
• American Museum of Natural History
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art
• The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
• Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum
• Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
Note that there are a couple of "option tickets" in the deal, which requires users to choose between one of two possibilities. CityPASS users can select the Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim Museum and may opt between the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise.
How Much Does CityPASS Cost?
A New York CityPASS costs $109 for adults and $82 for youth (ages 6 to 17), which represents a discount of about 40 percent off of the combined cost for full-price individual tickets—this works out to a savings of up to $74 per adult and $58 per child. Note that for kids under 6 years old, only a handful of attractions require ticketed admission, so you'll need to determine, based on their age, whether or not a CityPASS is right for them.
Attractions where admission is required for younger children include the American Museum of Natural History (free, ages 1 and under; $16, ages 2 to 12); Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (free, ages 3 and under; $9, ages 4 to 12); and Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise (free, ages 2 and under; $13, ages 3 to 12).
Where Can I Buy a CityPASS?
Booklets can be purchased in advance online and delivered by either postal mail or email voucher. Alternatively, CityPASS can be purchased at the ticket windows of any of its featured attractions, at the same rate.