Is the New York CityPASS Worth It? – 2020 Hands-On New York CityPASS Review

If you are planning on visiting a number of attractions while you are visiting New York an Attraction Pass can be a very good way to save a good amount of money and sometimes skip lines and save time spent in queues. One of the passes on offer is the New York CityPASS. We hear quite a bit of negative chatter about attraction passes in New York so we decided to spend some time in New York armed with a New York CityPASS to see what the score really is. Here is our New York CityPASS Review, Hands-On so you can decide if the New York CityPASS is the right Pass for you. So, is the New York CityPASS Worth it?

Is the New York CityPASS Worth It

There are a number of different passes available in New York we have reviewed many of them. If you want to see what other passes are available and if one of the other passes suits you BETTER, see our comparison review here

  • Product: New York CityPASS
  • Price: $126 (18+)
  • Price Child: $104 (6-17)
  • Where to Buy: http://www.citypass.com/new-york
  • Number of Attractions: choose 6 of 9
  • Time Limit: 9 consecutive days
  • Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Attractions Included:

  • Empire State Building Experience
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck   or   Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island   or   Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum   or   Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
IN A NUTSHELL
  • Price
  • Ease of Use
  • Attractions
4.5

Summary

The New York CityPASS Is a really good Pass for New York. It offers all the Marquee attractions and at one of the lowest price points. While the number of attractions are limited, It skips the overpriced fluff and just provides the very best New York attractions at a very attractive price. It is simple to use and gets you quicker entry to almost all the attractions on offer. The pass is best suited to first-time visitors and it adds great structure to get out and see most of the City. Probably our most recommended Pass and we love the same day return to the Empire State Building Experience at Night.

What is the New York CityPASS:

New York CityPASS Review

The New York CityPASS is Basically a Booklet with a number of vouchers allowing you to visit set attractions once per pass for a fixed price. $122 for adults and $98 for Children. As you can see that’s quite an outlay. So does the CityPASS represent good value?

The Current Price is the lowest it has been for quite a while and appears to be in response to Smart Destinations Adding to their roster of attractions. So right now the Value is greater than ever.

On the face of it, it’s a very good saving, up to 42% compared to full price tickets. But it’s not as simple as that. You have to really want to see the attractions available for it to make sense. Visiting only 4 of the attractions means the pass doesn’t really add value so you need to be planning on seeing at least 5 of the attractions.

Of course, the Attractions on offer are all top-shelf Marquee attractions that most people do want to see so that’s good news. However, City Pass’s, in general, get some pretty rough reviews from people on certain Trip planning sites. Saying they add queuing time and generally detract from the experience. This goes against the Idea of a Pass and we decided to check it out. So armed with a CityPASS Each Kate and I got off our plane at Newark ready to see how the CityPASS played out in Anger.

*NOTE – We purchased our CityPASS’s personally and were not provided free of charge in exchange for a review. For impartiality, we always purchase products to test ourselves. 

How Does the Pass Work?

The New York CityPASS is a small booklet containing actual tickets to the various attractions that are manually removed from the booklet as and when you visit the attractions. This works really well as the tickets allow entry directly to most attractions without having to queue separately in the ticket line.

After Purchasing a Pass you have two options, Either you receive a Booklet in the post or have a confirmation voucher Emailed to you. With the Email version, you simply present the Voucher at the first attraction you wish to visit and they will provide you with a Booklet that you can then present at the remaining attractions.

UPDATE – The New York CityPASS now offers a Smartphone QR Code that can be used instead if the Email Voucher so you can quickly and easily scan the code at the first attraction to redeem your booklet. We haven’t actually used this system yet as it is still very new. Having used the E-mail voucher system which worked flawlessly We see no issue and think it’s very useful to have the code there on your phone rather than printing out vouchers.

It’s not as advanced as the SmartDestinations system when the Mobile QR code IS your pass and you simply scan the code at each attraction. But maybe CityPASS will move to that system soon. And some people do still prefer actually having something they can hold in their hands!

We have also reviewed the Cutdown version of the CityPASS, the New York C3 Pass. With the C3 you only have the choice of any 3 attractions from a list of 10. Perfect for those planning short trips or who only want to visit a few attractions.

<<< read our New York City C3 Pass >>> 

When is not the Best time to go?

empire christmas tree

To be fair to our readers we needed to go at a very busy time to fully test the pass. No point seeing how bad queues were the end of February when the town’s deserted (apart from residents who don’t tend to frequent the Statue Cruises and Empire State Building). Apart from maybe New Year’s Eve, New York is at its manic busiest the weekend after Thanksgiving Weekend. It is obviously, After Thanksgiving where things shut down for family time, but Christmas is in full swing. But not TOO close to Christmas that a trip to New York interferes with Christmas plans. A quick check of hotel prices ($250+ for budget accommodation) confirmed things were going to be HECTIC! So we booked our flights for a New York Christmas Fairytale

THE PLAN

One of the best things about having a pass is Flexibility. Pre Booking everything means know in advance exactly what each day will be like weather-wise. Or how you are feeling on any given day. This is obviously not practical and may mean you booking for the top of the rock in low cloud, or spending a day on a Statue Cruise in pouring rain with low Visibility. Having a pass in your Back Pocket means you can just look out the window and do what you want to that day.

Still, some attractions are located near each other and are better done the same day to avoid traveling too much. So we planned to do Empire State building one day while we spent the rest of the day shopping and exploring midtown and Times Square. Another Day would be Downton with a Statue Cruise and a visit to the 911 Museum and the Memorial. And another day would be our Museum Day with time to explore Central Park in between. This left the top of the rock Open to be fitted in whenever best suited, according to weather and mood. We were determined to hit the top at Sunset though as this was both the Best time for photos and also the busiest time so it would give the pass a good test.

Day One – Arrival
rockefella pana

We landed around 12:00 and began the trek through US Customs. After we breezed through Customs (Yeah Breezed isn’t the right term lol) we got the NJ Transit into Penn Station. Then Walked the few blocks to our hotel. After checking in and having a brief refresh we realized it was only 3:00 pm (Not too bad) the skies were clear and bright and we still had time to get the Top of the Rock in before sunset, due at approx. 4:30.

Buying a pass has two delivery options should you buy a pass beforehand. Voucher or booklet delivery. As the Voucher was free (download and print) and the booklet would cost we went for the voucher so this needed to be changed at one of the attractions for the booklet. In the end, it was a good choice.

Arriving at the Top of the Rock entrance things were looking hectic. The queue heading all the way down the street and we were all ready to run. We had already fought through insane crowds down Fifth and the chances of getting anywhere near the top before sunset (Not a mistake) looking pretty unlikely. I was beginning to think the “Nay Sayers” were right. Only we decided to head to the front of the queue to speak the attendant.

We were instantly ushered inside and toward the ticket desk. Wahoo. We later found out the Queue was for groups so even if we had a regular timed ticket or buying on the day we would not need to queue. At the ticket desk, we were placed in the VIP queue because of the pass. This queue had 1 couple waiting in line so hardly a queue at all. The Ticket line wasn’t horrendous and a pre-paid ticket would have skipped this part altogether. So having a pass cost us 3-5 mins on one of the busiest weekends of the year at the busiest time! and remember the CityPASS was saving us a significant amount of $

Unfortunately, by this time, time was getting away from us. The earliest ticket time would have only just got us up for sunset. And we wanted to get to see Central Park in daylight. A bit of a disappointment but we just booked tickets for another time. You see once you have got your ticket you don’t need to use it. If you miss your time slot, the ticket remains unused and you can just reschedule. Which was pretty cool.  They had also exchanged our Voucher for a Booklet at the same time so that was sorted also. So we had our tickets and our booklets.

At this point, we were unsure about how good the pass was. If we had bought at the attraction we would have taken more time and missed the sunset. A pre-bought timed ticket would have also seen us miss the sunset as we just got there too late (thanks to US Customs) but it would have saved us the time in a queue (5mins max) So all things considered it’s about even. Only remember the 41% $ value we have saved.

So we headed off and enjoyed the rest of our day doing free activities and having some food and drinks. Before heading to bed early…It had been a long day. The forecast was looking great for tomorrow so we decided that tomorrow would be our Downtown day including a Statue Cruise and The 911 Museum.

Day 2 – Downtown
statue-of-liberty

we were up early and had breakfast in a diner and then headed off to Downtown to get our cruise booked. This would be an acid test for the pass as its the one it gets pretty slammed for. Here is how it went.

As we approached Battery Park things were busy. But when we entered the Ticket area the queues were pleasingly nonexistent. We got to the booth almost immediately and exchanged our booklet page for the next available cruise. Scheduled to leave at 9:45 am it was 9:15 am. I suggested spending this time shooting some photos whereas Kate suggested maybe we should actually just head for the boat as there may be long queues for the ferry. She was right the queueing now started and it took nearly 25 minutes to pass through security and so we had a whole 5 minutes left until the boat left. Just time to get some great photos from the boat deck.

Clearly, the CityPASS worked very well at this destination. It equaled a walk up a ticket but IMO actually worked better than a booked ticket. As I wanted to get there at 9:00 am so that’s when I would have booked the ticket and we would have been late! It also gives you the complete flexibility to go on the day that suits. If we had woken to rain or poor vis we could have done a museum day and leave the cruise for another day… A booked ticket would not offer that flexibility!

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island: Draw (But beats pre-booked, based on flexibility)

Note: is that with this pass (and any other) You can’t book and Pedestal or Crown Ticket. If that’s what you want to do then DON’T use the pass for this! Book directly here and do so well in advance. You can still get a pass and do the Circle Cruise which is a great sightseeing cruise and use your pre-booked ticket to access the pedestal or crown. We were not too fussed about the pedestal and crown so were happy to just access the island and park, plus Ellis Island. The CityPASS website and other guides say you can book Crown and Pedestal tickets on the day. But they were sold out by the time we got there and had only just opened. So we really wouldn’t pin your hopes on that.

On to the 9/11 Museum

911 museum

As we arrived at the 911 Museum there seemed to be a sprawling mass of multiple different queues. We spoke to an attendant who directed us to the last queue. This was the actual queue for direct access. all the other queues were to purchase tickets and had we not had our CityPASS we would have had to queue once for the ticket and then again for entry.

It was exceptionally busy at the Museum and the line up just for entry took nearly 20 minutes. At that time people who had begun queueing for the tickets were still stuck in the ticket line and would then have to begin queuing for entry. Of course, a pre-purchased timed ticket would have got us in AS quick as the CityPASS but we would have lost any flexibility and it would have cost more!

A clear win for the CityPASS!

Note: we would have is if this was our first attraction and we needed to exchange our voucher for a booklet or wanted to purchase a booklet this would not be the place to do it. We would have needed to use the ticket queue for that. That would have significantly added to our queueing time! so Make sure your first stop is somewhere quieter or where you need to use the ticket booths anyway. Top of the Rock or the statue cruise are perfect choices for this.

DAY 3 – The HIGH LIFE!
top of the empire state

As the day broke it was clear it was going to be another beautiful day! So what could be better than spending the day atop iconic skyscrapers viewing one of the most dramatic cityscapes in the world!

So after breakfast, we headed for the Empire state building. We entered via the iconic lobby and were ushered up the elevators to the ticket queues. They were looking quite long. But mentioning CityPASS got us ushered left to a lane that simply bypassed all the queues. Straight to Security. Then off on the long meandering journey to the top.

Another Clear CityPASS Win

The day before while in the area we had popped back to the Top of the Rock while doing other things in the area, to Book Timed Tickets for the top in time for Sunset. If you are not sure exactly what time to book to be at the top for sunset? well simply ask! The Staff get this all the time and they know the Rock better than anyone and will get you up there, on time, no problem.

Central Park from the Top Of The Rock just before Sunset 

Getting the timed ticket was a very quick process again using the city pass VIP line to get it changed. Then after spending the day enjoying Chelsea district, we returned to the Top of the Rock at our allotted time and got to the top for an incredible sunset view of the city. It’s such a great time to view. We found the pass to be neither a great hindrance nor a massive benefit. The VIP queue was very fast so getting access to that was a bonus. But the main queueing for the Top of the Rock was done while getting up there and there was no way to skip this with any ticket.

So It’s a narrow CityPASS win …only…

After dinner and drinks, it was time to utilize another big CityPASS perk! the Same day return to the Empire State Building experience. Use your CityPASS to go to the top and then you can return after 8 pm the same day for a FREE nighttime trip to the top. This is an incredible perk and seeing the city at night was amazing if a bit chilly in December!

<<< Read more about the different observation decks in New York Here >>>

DAY 4 – Museums
tyrannosaurus rex

Day 4 dawned with low cloud and poor visibility and drizzle. Had we pre-booked some of the attractions like the Top of the Rock or Statue Cruise like we had been advised to by “travel forum experts” We would be stuck doing them in poor weather while we had wandered round indoor museums in beautiful clear crisp bright weather. The Flexibility of the pass really showed here as we were able to avoid the unpleasant weather inside the museums.

Having a pass for the museums (American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) was a bit of a letdown. It basically made no difference at all. everyone queued up the same to get tickets to get in. We did get free entry to one of the paid extra exhibits at the AMONH which was a nice touch.

It’s a shame there was no queue skipping here but having the CityPASS certainly didn’t hurt in any way.

American Museum of Natural History – Draw (although we did get the free exhibit)

the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Draw

Summing Up

So let’s look at the scores based solely on the speed of entry and ease of use.

  • Empire State Building Experience: Pass Wins
  • American Museum of Natural History: Draw
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Draw
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck: Pass Wins
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island: Draw
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum: Pass Wins

So as you can see the pass was a clear winner. If the pass cost the same as buying on the day or pre-booking I would still have been happier with the pass. The flexibility it offers makes it a clear winner over pre-booking as you really don’t know beforehand what the days will offer. The pass was a lot faster at half of the attractions we visited. Of the ones it wasn’t, we were no worse off.

The pass, however, IS NOT THE SAME PRICE

So is the New York CityPASS worth it?

time square from a far

Incredible View of Time Square from the Roof of Manhatten

By purchasing the New York CityPASS you can save up 41% depending on what attractions you visit. That’s $71+ ($75+for children) It’s a sizeable saving. And that doesn’t factor the same day evening return for the empire state building which is a top perk.

So by Purchasing a CityPASS you are saving a whole heap of money and improving your trip by reducing queuing times and getting more for your money. Not to mention the more subtle benefits of Ease of budgeting and cost spreading.

I really struggled to criticize the experience. Apart from not being able to book Pedestal and Crown tickets for the Statue. But we were not too bothered about this. The crown is not a Great experience more of a thing to say you have done and then from the pedestal, you lose the view of the one thing you have come to see…the statue of liberty!

Overall we completely feel the pass was worth it. It is one of the cheapest passes available and covers all the best attractions. We never felt rushed to get to all the attractions on our short trip and really loved the flexibility it offered. We would not hesitate to use this pass again. Only maybe on our next trip, we might try another pass as they offer attractions the CityPASS Doesn’t and we like trying new things.

This, of course, all assumes the attractions that are on offer are what you want to see, you should never see an attraction because it’s on the Pass. You should only Buy a Pass because it covers the attractions YOU want to see. To read more about other New York Passes, Our New York Passes Comparison Guide Covers all the big New York Passes.

New York CityPASS very rarely has deals or offers so it best to buy directly from their website. I have provided a link below. We recommend getting an Email Voucher to Print at home but they are happy to send out the booklets for a small fee, which may save you queueing to get it changed depending on which attraction you visit first.

<<< Buy your New York CityPASS directly here >>>

Have Your Say

We hope you found this review informative. We really tried our best to give the Pass a thorough going over as we read a lot of negativity surrounding them. We honestly found none of this to be founded. Please comment below if you have had a different experience? Also, let me know if you have any questions. Or even if you have just made it to the end of the post!

78 thoughts on “Is the New York CityPASS Worth It? – 2020 Hands-On New York CityPASS Review”

  1. Your information is timely! We’re planning on a New Years trip to NYC and I never heard of a CityPASS. Your strategy gave me some good tips on when I should explore certain parts of the city as well. This was a well thought out and helpful post. I will check out the CityPASS!

    • Hi Thanks for the reply and kind words.

      Hope you enjoy your Trip. NYC is such a fabulous City I’m sure you will. We did find the cityPASS Very useful and it saved us quite an bit of money. have a look at my Comparison Review to see if this is the BEST pass for you!

      Thanks

  2. It’s been quite a few years since I have been to NYC and took the whole tour. When I went quite a few years ago I had a friend as a guide so it was a great experience. We didn’t go to any of the museums but we did everything else. Sounds like the pass would be an excellent idea without a guide. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yeah its always great if you know someone who knows the city. First hand knowledge always helps. Its worth saying, Even with a guide the Pass can Still save you up to 41% on entry to attractions so still an option even with a guide?

      Thanks for the comment

  3. After reading your review I cannot stop mysleft to get there. I have started planning and saving money to take this adventurous journey. Thanks for your review

  4. This is a really good article! I actually only read to the start of day 4 because visiting New York is something I’ve always wanted to do and I went off and started searching flights! Your post sold it to me. Sounds like a fascinating city andthe cityPASS also seems to be worth it. My mum was there a few yrs ago and said it was amazing! I’m there! Thanks for the great article.

    • That’s great Dan. There is still loads more info for you after day 4 once you have found your flights! It is a really great city visit. Always something to see and do. Hope you enjoy your trip. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Really helpful thanks. I visited New York around 5 years ago and I planning to do that again soon. It’s simply a great city. I must that while the prices you mentioned have increased in comparison to the past, they haven’t increased as much as I was expecting, which is definitely good! I didn’t visit the Air and Space Museum. I didn’t even know there was one, so thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Thanks for the Comment.

      Glad I have alerted you to something new. That’s one of the great things about New York there is always something new to discover. Sorry Yes like anywhere the march of inflation carries on and prices rise. Glad they are not too steep for you though.

      The Intrepid Museum is quite a special one. Its based on a decommissioned Air Craft Carrier (the USS Intrepid) With the Planes lined up on the Deck. Featuring a Concorde, a Blackbird and the Space Shuttle Enterprise! amongst many others, Its quite a line up.

      Hope you enjoy your return trip!

  6. I had never heard about citypass but now I do and seems to our a very good option. If I plan for NY visit for sight seeing I will be back on your site. BTW, I loved reading your post. Thank you for letting me know about citypass and your experience.

    • Hi Jed Thanks for the Comment. Glad you enjoyed reading. Please do check back If you are heading into the City. The CityPASS is a great way to see more for less.

  7. A very thorough review, thank you. I have plans to go to New York, not this year but certainly next. I am impressed of the way you really dived into this mission, thanks for doing it it seriously. I guess I will purchase a CityPass when I go there thanks to this review, probably wouldn’t have done that without.

    • Thanks, We really do try and do the best for our readers…but it really wasn’t that much of a chore, tearing around New York having a ball isn’t really work!

      Glad to see you have chosen a pass we were really happy with the way the pas worked. And it saved us quite a lump of cash!

  8. I have been looking for real useful information for New York because I am going there for the first time this summer.

    I am really exited and kind of nervous. It is a huge city. I have never been to a city like it before. So it will be a great experience.

    Your website is awesome. I found so much useful information that could help me while I am there .

    So Thank you for making this site.

    Keep up the good work

    • Hi Albert, Thanks for reading. NYC Is a big place but it handles an incredible amount of tourists each year so you will not be alone and will be fine. We can assure you will be such awe at this incredible city there will be no time for nerves when you are there. But being a little nervous before hand only adds to the excitement.

      We are really glad you found the site useful and we are sure you will have an amazing trip.

  9. I have lived in NY my whole life and never heard of this New York City PASS…! Wow this seems great and I will definitely give it a try. You really helped sort out all the good and bad points and saved me a ton of research! Thank you. Can’t wait to be a tourist in my own city!

    • Hi Amy, It’s a very common theme that people whole live in major tourist destinations never really visit the tourist attractions themselves. But we are sure you will love seeing your own city from this different perspective. Hope you enjoy the Pass.

  10. Very insightful information and very detailed. I have never been to New York City but I would love to go. There seems to be a lot of tourist destinations there and many things you can do. I would also love to see the 9/11 Museum. Again, thank you for providing me with this info. It makes planning a trip there a lot easier.

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for reading, Glad you found the article helpful and useful. Hopefully our review will help you save money and enjoy your trip even more. Hope you have a great time.

  11. Hi Steve, great article! Very detailed. I just finished high school (in Germany) this year so I am thinking about making a trip to the US and NYC might be one of my destinations. Are there any discounts on the New York CityPass for high school or college students?
    Best Regards,
    Markus

    • Hi Markus, Glad you enjoyed the Article, We so Highly recommend a trip to the USA and we do feel seeing a lot of places in the US is the way to go. USA Road trips are probably our favourite thing in the whole world! NYC Is definitely one of the places you should consider.

      the New York CityPASS does not unfortunately offer further discounts for Students. The official line is they are already heavily discounted so can’t offer any further discounts. But that’s their words not ours.

      Hope you have a fantastic trip, check out the rest of our site for loads more info on other USA destinations!

  12. This is a really helpful article for first time visitors to the city. I’ve been to New York many times but never used the pass since I have friends who know the city and showed us around. But for people who are visiting for the first time and want to go to all the main attractions, this seems to be a great option. I really like how you went through each day and described your activities and the best times to do everything. Love that the pass allows you to go up the Empire State Building twice in one day – very cool! You definitely need to see the night view when in NYC. Very thorough and well written review!

    • Hi, Mrangi, Thanks for the comment, Glad you enjoyed our article.

      Agree about the empire state, It’s incredible during the day, but at night it just becomes something else. Its so hard to choose between the two so getting the option of both is a BIG incentive!

  13. Loving the review!

    I couldn’t agree more in that the Pass is definitely a good buy. It can save you a lot of money especially if spending a few days in NY. It’s the exact same in London and in a lot of the world’s biggest cities. It’s also amazing how much money people lose by not taking advantage of deals like this!

    Keep the good city reviews coming! Are you going to add any more?

    • thanks Stephen, the whole concept behind this site was based on a trip to new York. All the TripAdvisor experts told us how a pass was such a bad idea. When we went and used one anyway we couldn’t believe how much we saved and how it improved the trip. So we made it our mission to advise as many people as we could how they can save money and do more on their trips. We are absolutely going to do more city reviews and passes, in fact we just posted our GO Los Angeles Card review today. Feel free to have a look around the site. 

      Glad you enjoyed the review 

  14. I grew up in New York so I know how busy some of these city attraction can be…

    I am surprise that you bypassed the line and the city pass was legit… There are plenty of people on the street selling tickets that claim to do the same and cause you to wait longer then the normal line!

    I have never seen the 911 museum… I had just moved to PA at the beginning of 2001 so I wasn’t in new york and my parents were on vacation but I would love to see what’s on display at the Museum.

    Now it has been a long time since I have been to some of these museum but aren’t some of them free? Don’t they just encourage you to make a donation?

    Sounds like it was well worth it…

    • Hi Salvatore,

      CityPASS is a major multinational company and is certainly legit, its not a man on the street operation! Really that was another advantage of the pass, we could confidently say “no thanks, we are sorted” to the Army of ticket sellers that surround most attractions.

      The 9/11 Museum was an very moving experience. We had know idea just what a great job they had done preserving the legacy of that fateful day. Next time you are in town be sure to check it out. It’s a very emotional place.

      Some of the Museums do offer “free” entry or “pay what you like” entry. However it’s not as simple as they just encourage a donation, you have to make a very specific request to not pay the “suggested donation” and go to a different queue to acquire your “free” entry. This sort of thing is in our opinion not for tourists, which is primarily what this article is aimed at. The “suggested donation” is excellent value considering what’s on offer. We find most tourists will happily pay the “suggested donation” and really it is pretty much expected.

      The “free” or “pay what you like” option is far more aimed at locals or people who really can’t afford the entry (I don’t think that applies to many NYC Tourists! if you can afford the hotel prices…), you have to understand visiting a city and living there is a very different experience. The museums are there for everyone to enjoy and it makes sense for locals and under-privileged to have a way to enjoy the museums. Of course it’s an option for any tourist as well if they want to seek this “reduced fee” out but we don’t think it’s what most tourists would be looking to do.

      Thanks for reading

  15. Hello Steve,

    I have never heard of CityPass and I’m so happy to read your review. I’m planning to go to Visit New York soon and would love to visit those beautiful attractions for the experience. With that said, I will definitely consider purchasing CityPass.

    Also, I’m visiting California in November, do you have any CityPass for that state?

    Thanks for the knowledge. Hope hear from you soon.

    • Hi, Kacie

      We are glad you like the look of the New York CityPASS. We a re sure it will help make your trip to New York Even better. You may like to take a look at what other Passes are available in New York also ?

      Unfortunately there are no Passes for California as a State it’s just too big a place. That said many of the Cities have their own pass. We have reviews for passes in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. And san Diego will be coming shortly.

      Thanks for reading Hope your trip in November is amazing, But as you are visiting California …we know it Will be!

  16. Thanks for the review.
    I am headed to New York soon and I think, based on your review, that it’s not a bad idea.
    I think the only thing that gives me a little pause is that I’m not sure I want to do 5 or 6 tours…..and you said, it’s not worth it unless you do at least 5 That’s the only decision I have to make,
    Your review was very helpful and gave me some insights into the venues, even if I don’t use the City Pass.
    thanks

    • hi, yeah if you are not going to make full use of the pass then I doesn’t work out great value. Maybe look at one of the other passes available ? See if any of those suit you better ? 

      Glad are review was of help we are sure you will have a great trip it is such an awesome city 

  17. Wow. So many options in the Big Apple. I went there about 5 years ago and did the Empire State, Central Park and spent the rest of the day walking around. I’m going to be back for one day only on 19th of November. Do you have any recommendations for just one day?

    • Hi Dave, A CityPASS is probably not a great idea for a one day visit. However you could always try a CityPASS c3 which gives you the option of just 3 attractions? However that still might be too much for a one day trip.

      As you have already done the Empire State and Central Park, Which are both probably the number one must sees, maybe it would be good to try downtown? The 9/11 Museum is a truly incredible experience (although very sombre and reflective) and that’s set in the shadow of the incredible Freedom Tower. You can also check out battery park with views of the Statue of liberty. Wall Street and Brooklyn bridge also in the area. 

      Read out New York Sights and attractions guide for more info.

      Shame you are just a week early for New York’s Christmas Switch on as Christmas in New York is really magical.

  18. I’ve always wondered about these kinds of things – it sounds pretty cool!
    My wife and I live close to NYC, so for us it’s more practical and affordable to just park in Hoboken (less than $20 for the day) and take the metro into the city (it’s about $5 round trip). If you live close it can be easier to see the attractions at your own pace, throughout the spring. You can just walk around, and you start to discover a lot of the cool, more under-the-radar type stuff.
    For someone living farther away, especially those flying in, this CityPASS seems perfect.
    P.S. if you’re in the mood for some good Korean food, there are these really cool, speak-easy style places called Turntable Chicken Jazz on 32nd and 33rd. Usually a nice break from the crowds.

    • Hi Jordan,

      Thanks for the input. Our site is mainly targeted to people who are not local to the city as it’s often far more convenient to drive nearby on the weekend as you say, and there is no need to cram stuff in as you can always come back. For people farther afield it’s a bit more essential to pack quite a bit into your trip, it could be a once in a life time thing! The CityPASS is more geared to those people. You may find it worth while should you have any out of town guests though eager to see all the big sights the city has?

      Thanks for the recommendation on food. We are always keen to try out new, cool food. We will be sure to hunt those down next trip.

      Thanks for reading

  19. Great post with lots of brilliant tips about the CityPASS. Sounds like you had a great time researching the pass.

    I did have one question though – I have previously been to cities where the CityPASS is offered (or a similar scheme) but it hasn’t been value for money. This is because some of the attractions that are down as you having to pay for them are actually on a voluntary donation basis if you were to attend the attraction itself. Is this the case for the CityPASS in New York?

    • Hi Alex,

      Thanks for the question, We are interested to know which cities you have found this problem in?

      In New York there are two locations on the pass that are technically “voluntary donations” The New York Met and the Natural History Museum.

      However to all intents and purposes these operate as a priced attraction. The option for Free or reduced entry is really not in place to allow tourists to visit these for free. You will see no mention of it anywhere, and you really have to ask to be able to adjust your “donation” at a separate ticket desk.

      The Museum include this option as the public collections are very valuable culturally and should be open to everyone even those unable to afford the entry. It’s not there so tourists can save a few bucks. So yes if you really wanted you can save on your trip this way. But as visitors it would have made us feel very uncomfortable Hunting out the donations desk and demanding FREE entry. Like refusing to tip, You could save a lot of money not tipping…it’s not very nice though.

      As we say over here it’s just not Cricket 

  20. This CityPass seems like a great deal. I love the way you gave us your day to day actions in NYC using the CityPass and then scored it. I have a quick question though…what if you don’t use all of the vouchers? Do they expire? Could I use them later? and Are they transferable? What if I wanted to use some but pass the rest on to someone else?

    • Hi, Shannon. Unfortunately the Vouchers expire 9 days after first use (not purchase). So really if you are not planning on using enough of them to make the pass good value then it’s not a great idea to buy the pass. The vouchers are not transferable, but really there is nothing stopping someone else using the voucher assuming you are withing the 9 day validity period. They are not named and no one checks ID or anything.

      But really we only advise buying the pass if you are confident you are going to get use of it. 

      Thanks for reading

  21. I have yet to visit NYC, but we are planning a family trip there next summer. The CityPASS seems like a no-brainer to me. What a great way to see the city. Not only is it a good value, but as someone who has never been, it’s a great way to know which attractions to visit. So for me, it serves a dual purpose. The CityPASS basically tells me what the main attractions are, and gives me a great deal on actually visiting them. I appreciate you sharing this review, it’s very timely for me.

    • Hi Steve & Kris,

      Yes the pass does have a good dual purpose beyond the obvious advantage pf just saving money. The structure and purpose the Pass provides to your visit is very helpful along with the impressive money savings. We really do think the CityPASS is a really good pass for visiting New York City.

      Thanks for reading

  22. Yes! I had a comparative to this when I was studying abroad in Britain, and it was definitely worth the money. I went to a lot of places over a period of a couple of weeks, so it’s good for someone that doesn’t just want to ride a tour bus and see everything, but also have time to stop and take in the sites. Then climb on the next bus and continue on from there.

    • Hi Jenn,

      We have used the Go London Cards when we visit London as well as when we visit US City’s. We always find they help save money and provide good structure to our trips. We are glad you feel the same.

      Thanks for reading.

  23. Thank you for your very thorough review of the NYC city pass. I also appreciated you took the time to update some information as well. I am happy you did the research on the value. For example if I were oh to do three or four of the attractions, it is not worth it. That helps with the planning process.

    I have been to NYC, but mostly to see broadway shows. I was in Barcelona and I did thee city bus tour, but this was more for transportation and info while on the bus.

    With the NYC city Passs, are you on your own for transportation to get to the areas of interest?

    • Hi Lnovy,

      Glad you found the article useful. Yes unfortunately the transportation between the attractions is down to you. But New York is very easy and cheap to get round and we have a full guide here.

      Thanks for reading.

  24. Great guide to New York City! I lived there for most of my life and have done some of these things despite not having a City Pass. Now, that I’ve read your article I will use CityPASS next time I’ll visit New York City. I never realized it offered such great value for a visit to the city and be able to get a complete experience of NYC.

    • Hi,

      We love hearing from locals who appreciate our articles and agree the Pass is worthwhile. Shows we are on the right track. We really do like the CityPASS as the advantages of if really do help with your trip. And saving money is always nice. Hope it helps with your next trip back the City.

      Thanks for reading.

  25. Very interesting article!

    I have several questions…

    1. I understand that you pre-purchase the pass. But… do you have to go to the particular viewing on certain days? When you purchase the pass do you have to plan an itinerary with dates, times, etc.?

    2. When you purchase the pass, does it notify you if an exhibit may be closed on a certain day? If you get to your destination and it is closed for some odd reason, are you offered a refund?

    The pass definitely appears to be the way to go from a money aspect and is definitely something that I will look into on our next visit. I was just curious about the above questions! ((:

    • Hi Misty,

      No their are no pre set days/times that you need to use the pass. Simply arrive at the first attraction when ever you please, from then on you have 9 days to use all the attraction tickets. But the order and timing is completely up to you. You can use all the tickets in one day or spread them out however you see fit, we always mix the itinerary up with other things we want to see and do in the City. For example on our Museum day we spent a few hours in-between exploring central park and have a Deli Lunch picnic (in December!).

      We find most of the attractions are open almost every day of the year with only a few exceptions (Christmas day..etc…) You are very unlikely to find the attraction closed. Should it be closed for weather reasons then you can always try another day within the 9 day period.

      Unfortunately the only refund option is if the Pass is completely unused. Such as if you trip is cancelled or there is a severe weather event such as the current Snow and very cold temps! If the pass is unused then you can claim a full refund within a year of purchase. However once you have used the first ticket you can’t claim a refund, but in that case your trip is probably going ahead as planned.

      Hope that helps it’s not a perfect returns policy but pretty fair on most counts.

      Thanks for reading 

  26. I visited New York a few years ago and i’m planning to go again because we didn’t get around to seeing everything.
    If we had a pass to help us skip the queues we might have got around to everything haha. This pass is so useful! I’m glad there is a smartphone version as well, it saves having to rummage in my bag for the booklet. Thanks for your review!

    • Hi Thea,

      Such a shame you have to go back again! that must be such a chore for you 😉 lol While we haven’t tried the smartphone version yet we have used similar systems on rival Pass’s and they work really well and are very convenient so it’s good to see CityPASS updating their offering. Hope your next trip to New York is everything you hope it to be and the pass helps you to see everything you missed last time!

      Thanks for reading

  27. I’ve always regarded CityPasses as a good buy! We bought it for London and as you mentioned, it was worth it, the money saved along with time queued being lesser. Thanks for the extensive review…should I find myself going to New york, I will definitely get a City pass. Was there also a restaurant list included in the pass (probably discounts on food, too? Sorry, I love food but I love it more when they offer great deals! haha)

    • Hi Marie,

      Yes we have yet to be really disappointed with a City pass. We find the advantages outweigh the negatives even before you factor in the cost saving, which is not to be ignored. There are no restaurants included on the pass but there were many money saving vouchers included in the back of the booklet. These are seasonal and ever changing so didn’t feel it relevant to report but you can save quite a bit. But to be honest we didn’t use any as we chose our food based on what we fancied not based on vouchers, we had many vouchers from different sources but none seemed to match our dining habits. There are plenty of ways to eat cheap in New York though. Look out for happy hours and other deals. New York is a thriving City and competition for restaurants is rife so there is always some deal or other to be found!

      You may like our New York Food Guide?

      Thanks for reading

  28. Hi, 

    Travelling is one of our biggest passions as a family. As such we usually spend months preparing out trips in advance. It’s great to read how your trip actually went and how to get about the city and how to organise the itinerary. Great to read you actually have tried the pass. Most of these reviews sound as if they have never even been to the city let alone tried a pass!

    Next trip we will definitely look at getting a citypass as the savings sound great. 

    All the Best!!!

    • Hi,

      Yeah we seem to be perpetually planning our next trip. Sometimes we are planning the one after before we have even taken taken out next trip lol The CityPASS is great at helping you plan and organise a trip, and yeah the cost savings are pretty good too. 

      Thanks for reading, hope your next trip to NYC is amazing.

  29. Hi

    Great Information on the New York City Pass.

    New York has so many great attractions and knowing that you can see most of them with a simple pass is appealing to all budding tourists.

    Did you have a specific favourite spot in New York? I have always wanted to go there.

    I look forward to some of your future posts.

    Cheers

    • Hi Chris,

      Hope you get to go to new York soon it is an incredible place. We do feel the Pass is very appealing for first time visitors especially but most people can make use of a pass. We still do and will be using a pass for our upcoming November trip.

      No, we don’t have a single favourite spot in New York. There are just so many incredible experiences we really would struggle to pick out a favourite. The View from the observation decks are astounding. Central Park is such an iconic location it takes you breath away. And the roof top bars are just outrageous. The whole city is just so famous even little things are special there like eating Pizza Slices, or just crossing a road dodging the yellow cabs.

      Kate would be very upset if I didn’t mention the Rockefeller tree at Christmas time as that was probably her favourite Travel experience to date!

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  30. I’ve been planning on going to New York for a while now. But so many things have gotten in the way that I had almost forgotten about it.
    But now, after I read your review I realize I need to go back to planning this trip with my husband.
    The New York City Pass seems to be a perfect option for us since the attractions are pretty much what we wanted to explore there besides doing some shopping and watching a couple of Broadway shows.
    Thank you so much for such a detailed review. I’m bookmarking it.

    • Hi Eliane,

      So glad our article has rekindled your desire to take a trip to New York. We are sure you will not regret it. It is such a fantastic City and really one that live up to all its considerable Hype. Hope you find the New York CityPASS Useful and it help make your trip even better. Please feel free to report back after your trip to let us know how it went.

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  31. Was interesting reading your review of the citypass as we used one of these in November 2015. We were only in town over 3 short days but found the pass a great way to see everything.

    From your review, it seems that you did pretty much the same as us by localising the days in Downtown, Midtown and Upper. We found this an ideal way to avoid spending precious time travelling everywhere.

    Great review and definitely worth investing in if you haven’t been to New York before or simply want to do it all again.

    • Hi, Adam,

      Sounds like a similar experience to our in using the CityPASS. It is definitely sensible using the grouping method so see attractions in similar locations. other wise you are travelling to and fro from places. Glad you agree it is well worth the money as we do too.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      Steve

  32. Hi Steve,

    I went to London a few years ago and bought their London Pass which appears to be very similar to city pass for New York. The London Pass included a few attractions in the price but it also includes some excellent coupons to restaurants and an extensive guidebook. Does the city pass include any extras besides the attractions?

    Thanks,

    Tony

    • Hi Tony,

      Yes the pass is very similar and some London Passes are actually provided by the same companies as the USA City Passes. Yes there are several vouches included in the back of the pass booklet. These change regularly so best left as a little surprise for you when you purchase the pass.

      To be honest we didn’t really use them as they were not places we wanted to eat and that’s key for us no point eating somewhere just because you have a voucher if you would prefer to eat elsewhere

      Thanks for reading.

  33. Until I read this, I never knew city passes were even a thing. It seems like if the attractions included are the ones you want to see, it’s a great way of saving money. I appreciate how thoroughly you researched this, and that you went during a busy time. This really was beautifully detailed.

    • Hi Avareth,

      Thanks for the kind words. we hear quite a lot from people that they are not aware that City passes are available for the cities they want to visit or even at all.

      Thanks for reading

  34. This is just the kind of information we needed when visiting Los Angeles a while ago. We ended up getting on a bus to the ‘bad lands’ and had to find our way home after disembarking in a very grim area.
    I only wish we had a similar knowledge for an LA city pass. I presume all major cities in the US have this system.
    Anyway, as we’re thinking of a visit to NY we will definitely be looking at this city pass you’ve reviewed. The attractions included are exactly what we would wish to see. I particularly like the fact that having a ticket will likely put you in the shortest queue! Thanks for your efforts.

    • Hi Ches,

      Yes it is quite possible to get into the wrong part of L.A and feel pretty intimidated. Only a few weeks ago our SatNav through a fit and took us through the mean streets of Compton. Glad we were in our car and not on a bus though! 

      Yes there is indeed a Go Card for Los Angles you can read all about it here – LA Go Card Review

      Hope you get to NY soon. If you like L.A you will love New York, such an incredible city with so much to see and do. The pass really helps add structure to a trip and should stop you wandering off into “badlands” although New York is a very safe city nowadays.

      Thanks for reading 

      Steve

  35. I love this website! Thank you so much for taking the time to actually experience the City Pass before writing about it! Reading the sales pitch on the NYC website is one thing, hearing about it from people that have actually used it is another! I only wish I would have known about this before I went last year. The value looks like it definitely would have been worth it. Now if only they will come out with a pass to see the shows on Broadway…

    • Ahhhh, yes a pass to see Broadway shows would be excellent. We tend to gamble on the Half price Ticket Booths but they are a little hit or miss!

      Glad you like the sound of the Pass but sorry you didn’t hear about it in time. We really do hear about that often!

      Thanks for the kind words, Glad you like what we are doing. Too many people write reviews for these passes without trying them out and they miss the real pros and cons that you only work out when you have them in hand! It’s a tough Job, having to visit amazing place and see amazing things, But I guess someone has to do it!

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  36. Your review of the CityPass comes at a great time as we are considering a trip to NYC next summer. Our family has never been and am happy to hear that the CityPass includes several of New York’s most popular tourist attractions as well as a few museums.

    At $126 per pass, this will be an affordable option for us. I also appreciate that you don’t have to go on a specific date allowing you to be a bit more flexible with plans.

    I’m curious, you mentioned you went in December, were you able to visit Rockefeller Center? It is supposed to be amazing in December.

    • Hi Gina,

      Glad you like the sound of the Pass, we do think it’s perfect for a first time trip. We are sure you and your family will have a fantastic time on your first trip. The pass does give a really good well rounded experience. It is also one of the best priced pass’s too.

      Yes, we absolutely went to the Rockefeller and it was utterly amazing. Actually I think we went about 5 times at least! We loved the whole area the tree the Ice the Light shows on Saks. It’s just fantastic. The only down side was the 100,000’s of other people who were also enjoying it. It was unbelievably busy. 

      We have this Photo printed out on a 3 foot canvas on our wall!

      Thanks for reading and hope you have a great trip

      Steve

  37. I’ve been to NYC a few times, and I didn’t even realize they had a 911 museum. I think I’ve been avoiding that part of town, but now I really want to check it out. It seems like between that and the MET, this City Pass could be a really good deal. Thanks so much for sharing your trip details.

    • Hi Jamie,

      The World trade center area is definitely worth checking out it’s a very interesting part of the City. Lots to see and do down that way. Glad you feel the Pass is good value! Hope you get back to New York Soon and try our the Pass.

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

  38. I used to live in NYC and currently live in Westchester about a half hour to the north. From your comprehensive and thorough review it sounds like the citypass is quite a bargain. I know what these places normally charge from when out-of-town friends have come to visit and it kills them (and me) how expensive things are here. New York has always been one of the most expensive cities in the country and I’m glad you’re spreading the word on how to visit the popular sites as quickly as possible. Another way to experience NY on the cheap is by check events listed on Time Out New York. Are you familiar with the site?

    • Hi Lynn,

      Great to hear from a Local. We often recommend passes to locals. As you say they come in handy when you have out of town guests. We know locals rarely visit the tourist attractions but if you want to show friends and family around they normally want to see the sights. The pass is a great way to help ease the financial burden of this!

      There are many ways to get cut price tickets to things, we find if you are planning on quite a few getting the pass helps cut down the leg work trying to track down offers on everything. One Pass Job done. Of course if your itinerary is more sparse then it’s great to look for discounts on websites such as Time Out. 

      Thanks

      Steve

  39. Steve,

    That was a very interesting and adventurous read. I am glad that you tried out the pass when New York is busiest. To be honest, I have always wanted to visit New York around the winter so that I could see all of the shop window displays.

    The pass seems like a great option, especially if you are traveling with family. Even if it didn’t really help with the museums, it did seem to have some clear benefits.

    Thanks for the great information.

    • Hi,

      New York is utterly magical at Christmas time. We heartily recommend it to everyone. We are going back again this year and just can’t wait!

      While the pass didn’t really help with the museums it didn’t hinder and it DID save us a considerable sum of money overall so it still had great benefits. Glad you like the pass.

      Thanks for reading

      Steve

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