New York is a very expensive city to visit. The cost of Hotels, Food, Flights, and attractions are always on the rise. Many people visit the City as a once in a lifetime trip and want to pack the most into their one and only opportunity to visit the city. This can make the expenses pile up. Attraction Passes are one way to reduce the cost and increase the number of things you see and do in the City. While in some quarters of the internet these passes get a bit of criticism, we, on the whole, think they are a great idea.
New York has many passes available and it can be hard to know which is best and which would suit you the BEST. Here we take a look at “THE NEW YORK PASS”. This is an all-inclusive Pass that offers great value for those looking to visit a lot of attractions. In our THE NEW YORK PASS Review we take an in-depth look at what the pass offers, its pros and con’s and answers the question, is THE NEW YORK PASS worth it? If you are still unsure which type of pass might suit you best head over to our New York Pass Comparison Page where we compare the competition.
In our review, we take a look at which attractions are best, how to get the best out of the pass and take a look at the pros and cons of using a pass in general. This way you can decide if a Pass is the best way for you to see the City, or of you should wing it and see how things go. We tested the pass on the street of NYC pass in hand to see how the pass REALLY works when visiting the City.
A lot has changed since the arrival of Covid-19 ad the tourism industry has had to make a lot of changes to help protect travelers. New York is far from back to normal but attractions are opening back up a visitors are starting to return to this incredible city. We take a look at how the new measures will affect the use of the Pass as well as which attractions have opened back up. To see if the NEW YORK PASS is still worth it in 2021.
THE NEW YORK PASS REVIEW
- Product: THE NEW YORK PASS
- Price: $134-$339 (13+)*
- Price Child: $99-$224 (3-12yrs)*
- Where to Buy: www.newyorkpass.com
- Number of Attractions: 100+ Unlimited use
- Time Limit: 1-10 Days
- Expiry: 2 Years From Purchase – 90 Day Cancellation
- Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4.5/5 Stars
- Empire State Building Experience
- The Edge
- One World Observatory
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- Madame Tussauds New York
- Museum Modern Art (Moma)
- + Many more, Click here for all activities
This All-inclusive City Pass Has just about every imaginable Attraction included and with the new Mobile app could not be easier to use. If you are planning to see and do as much as possible on your New York trip then this is the pass for you. The price is pretty steep, so you need to pack a lot in to get value, but if that is the plan then THE NEW YORK PASS is perfect
What is THE NEW YORK PASS:
THE NEW YORK PASS is a Digital Pass that allows access to 100+ of New York’s Best Attractions, Including all the Top-rated Attractions in New York. When Purchasing a pass you pick the number of days you want to use the pass for and then you can see as many of the 100+ attractions that you would like within that period. It’s a pretty good deal and if you can cram in lots of attractions it’s astonishing value.
How Much does THE NEW YORK PASS Cost:
Below is a table explaining the different costs of THE NEW YORK PASS. Children under 4 will typically be allowed free entry to most attractions so will not need a Pass. The longer you have the pass the less it will cost “per day”. The online price typically makes buying a 3-day cheaper than buying a 2-day. These online prices vary quite a bit during the year
Adult Prices (13+):
- 1-Day – $134.00 – $134 per day
- 2-Day –
$200.00 – $100 per day– Online offer: $180 – $90 per day
- 3-Day –
$276.00 – $92 per day– Online offer: $204 – $68 per day
- 4-Day –
$304.00 – $76 per day– Online offer: $233 – $58 per day
- 5-Day –
$344.00 – $68 per day– Online offer: $257 – $51 per day
- 7-Day –
$384.00 – $54 per day– Online offer: $296 – $42 per day
- 10-Day –
$490.00 – $49 per day– Online offer: $339 – $34 per day
Child Prices (3-12):
- 1-Day – $99.00 – $99 per day
- 2-Day –
$160.00 – $80 per day– Online offer: $149 – $75 per day
- 3-Day –
$201.00 – $67 per day– Online offer: $159 – $53 per day
- 4-Day –
$227.00 – $56 per day– Online offer: $169 – $42 per day
- 5-Day –
$247.00 – $49 per day– Online offer: $179 – $35 per day
- 7-Day –
$262.00 – $37 per day– Online offer: $199 – $28 per day
- 10-Day –
$299.00 – $29 per day– Online offer: $224 – $22 per day
*Note – Online Prices vary wildly for 2,3,4,5,7 and 10-day passes and there are often promotions online of varying degree’s Never pay the Full price we list here. If there is no offer currently running, hold off on purchasing until there is. Typically you can expect to save up to $50 on a 3-Day pass, up to $70-80 on a 10 Day Pass.
As you can see it a serious outlay. But there is no doubt that by seeing a good number of the attractions on the Card you can save a serious sum of cash. But the reality is unless you are in New York for a number of days It can be hard to cram in enough attractions to make it worthwhile. The best attractions can take a fair amount of time to visit and you will inevitably spend some time queuing.
These Cards also receive some pretty bad press on some Travel forums. People arguing the cards actually cause more queuing than they save and the actual experience is deteriorated by using a card. So We headed to New York to investigate these claims.
The New York Pass in Practice
The NEW YORK PASS has changed quite a bit since the Pandemic. The City now requires Visitors to most attractions to have a reserved Time-Slot. This has meant attractions have been forced to adopt a motod to aloow pass-holders to book their slot with their Pass.
We have wanted this for a while, As some attractions forced you to turn up and queue only to buy the ticket to join the queue. This was a little annoying as people booking online could book their time-slot first and just turn up and get straight in.
So this forced change means going forward the Pass will perform even better. You will be able to book cruises and tours ahead of time and simply walk straight in. For now, it is simply a requirement to space out visitors so the attractions are not too busy and social distancing can be observed.
This has removed a little of the spontaneity of the app, you do need to plan your days a little before-hand but this is the price we pay for traveling in a pandemic world. Hopefully, as vaccine rollouts start to gather pace these restrictions will become optional.
Booking your Attraction does not count as an activation. You still have to scan the Pass when visiting the Attraction, this counts as the activation. It is worth remembering the Pass run from Consecutive Callender Days.
This means if you visit your first attraction on a Monday you get all day Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to visit attractions. This our least favorite way Passes can work as it gives the least flexibility. But as most trips to New York are fairly short and hectic it does still work.
Remember we highly recommend only activating the pass on the morning of the first day, as early as possible. That way you have the FULL day to visit attractions. If you activate late in the afternoon you have lost almost a full day. It is Calander days, not 24hr Periods.
The Pass is an all Digital Pass. The Pass is delivered instantly after purchase either through the Smartphone App or via a Print at home E-Delivery. There is no longer an option for a Physical Pass. Essentially your Pass is a QR Code that is scanned at the Destinations.
With 100+ Attractions, it can be tricky to find them all on a conventional map. So the New York Pass offers a free companion app! Available on Android and AppStore. It’s a very nice App. It’s pretty useful even if you DON’T want to purchase a Pass. And for Visitors from outside the USA, It is mainly Offline. So it doesn’t require data. The odd feature does, but it has a Wifi-only Mode so no nasty charges (But you have data roaming disabled anyway right?).
Just search your App Store or Google Play for THE NEW YORK PASS
Whether you use the app or the printed QR code the pass works seamlessly, Simply book your allocated time-slot via the attraction’s website, arrive at the allotted time, and scan the pass and you are in. Most time slots can still be altered should you miss your time or wish to book on a different (maybe weather reasons or you are just burnt out with Museums?).
You may be allowed to book a timeslot if you arrive at an attraction without one. This will be subject to availability and will probably mean you have to come back at a different time. This is exactly the same if you didn’t have a pass. All attractions now require all visitors to have a booked timeslot before visiting.
Budgeting: The Card allows you to see a lot of high-quality attractions at a fixed price point. This price is a lot lower than seeing the attractions individually, assuming you make good use of the card. It’s also a Fixed price so you know well in advance how much this part of your trip will cost. No Nasty Surprises on your credit card when you get home and no Missing out on things you really want to do because you have run out of money.
The single fixed payment really is a big incentive for us when visiting a city.
Flexibility: Flexibility is important when visiting a city such as New York. You are never sure until a couple of days before what the weather will hold. Some of New York’s attractions are very weather dependent and having the ability to chop and change your plans can be the difference between an ok trip and a GREAT trip.
Huge Choice: There are an awful lot of attractions included with the pass so surely something for all tastes and budgets
Cost: While the Pass is expensive, So are New York attractions. While there is heaps of cool free stuff to do in New York, the Big attractions are not free. And being one of the most visited city’s in the world the owners of these attractions know people will pay big. So despite its expense, it still represents a big cost saving. Costs that can be spent on something else.
Simplicity: The Alternative to a pass recommended by most Forum Experts is to book ahead using the attractions websites and buy everything individually that way you know exactly when and where to be for what. This is all very regimented but also means lots and lots of organizing and printing and carrying tickets etc… With THE NEW YORK PASS Its just the one pass to cover everything you want to do. Or even better with the new Mobile App just your phone!
Overall: the Pass really allows travelers to See and Do more, while actually paying less. This is a big of a holy grail for travel. We all want more experiences and to pay less while doing so. The Pass genuinely offers this, but like ALL good things, there are some drawbacks.
Chasing the Pass: With so many options available it’s possible you inadvertently start seeing attractions that you are not all that interested in simply as it is “on the Pass”. While so can lead you to enjoy your trip even more by trying things you wouldn’t usually and actually loving them there is the risk you will pass up things not on the pass just to squeeze more perceived value out of the pass.
You should only consider a pass if it offers all the things you wanted to do anyway. Unless of course something on the pass really catches your eye. This is often the case and Passes open up doors to things you didn’t even know were available.
Poor Value Options: With THE NEW YORK PASS in a bid to get everything included and bump up the number of attractions it seems some of the attractions are a little poor value. Some of the tours and such can be done for free and In our opinion are poor offerings. That said the Pass does include almost all the Marquee attractions so there is no need to actually do the less enticing offerings. And some people really like walking tours and being shown everything, so for them, these may be good options.
Exhausting: Trying to cram in enough attractions to justify the cost can lead you to tear around the city like crazy. This is genuinely tiring. We were covering over 10 miles a day on our last trip! getting back to the hotel In the evening was a relief. Our legs were battered and Achy. I have, in my time, ran a few marathons. The feeling was very similar. New York, in general, can be an exhausting city. The added pressure of trying to cram too much into a day really can leave you beat up!
One Visit: Each pass only allows you to visit each attraction once. This is usually fine but some we would like to visit twice, maybe the empire state building in the day and the night, or maybe head back to the Met for something you missed? This means on very long passes you might begin to run out of things to do, especially with the limited attractions post-Covid.
No Timed Entry: This has been one of the biggest criticisms of the pass. Essentially for some attraction, you need to Queue to buy the ticket for the queue! For most attractions, this was no issue, and for others, you actually skip the queue. In the past, it pretty much evened itself out.
However, Covid has changed all this. Due to strict Social Distancing requirements, almost all the big attractions now require pre-booking. You simply book online with the attractions using your Pass.
Best Attractions on the New York Pass
We mentioned previously that we feel some of the offerings are not so fantastic. We don’t want to slate these individually as if they appeal to you we wouldn’t want to put you off. It would, however, be fair for us to point out which Attractions we DO think are fantastic and should be TOP of your Must do list.
Manhattan has one of the most incredible Skylines in the world. And viewing it from up high is an absolute must. There really are very few more breathtaking sights in the world. Seeing one of the world’s most densely and vertically constructed cities is truly mindblowing. Nothing says welcome to New York more than setting foot on one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.
There are 4 main observation decks in New York, all with their own unique selling points. With the NEW YORK PASS you can choose from all of them:
Empire State Building – $46
You may hear experts saying the Empire State Building Deck is not the best and you should avoid it. Mainly as you can’t actually see the Building when you are stood on it. We just can’t disagree more. There is something so utterly wonderful about standing on top of one of the most iconic buildings in the world. It’s the Empire State, and you are on top of it. It’s really magical.
The view is completely mind-blowing as well. The Building is right in the heart of the city and the views extend out over the whole Island and beyond. The looming heights of midtown, the East River Bridges crossing over to Brooklyn. The Hudson and New Jersey, and up over the growing heights of midtown and the park beyond.
Top of the Rock – $41
The Experts would send you here instead assuring you the view is better from the Rock. And tbh they are right. It is a really amazing view. The unobstructed view of the Empire State is jaw-dropping, and the view of central park is far better than the glimpse from the Empire State. Although it seems to get worse by the day as upper midtown construction gears up.
The Open panoramic Viewing deck is also pretty awesome. We do really love this deck, there is just that little x-factor missing.
Edge New York – $41
The Edge is the New Kid on the Block. A tp the Ne Hudson Yards Development the Edge is pretty much how you would design an observation deck if you had a blank canvas…which they did.
This Deck actually sticks out from the side of the building with thin air between you and the ground, and yes they added a glass floor to prove it! The triangular shape also allows for a Bow end to the deck where you can recreate that titanic moment, with the New York Skyline as the backdrop!
It’s a really glamorous spectacle and one we highly recommend. There is even a Bar so you can toast your visit to the roof of New York. The Hudson Yards is e brand new part of New York and a Must See. Any visit would not be complete without heading up to the edge!
One World Observatory – $45
We have always been disappointed with the One World Observatory. Yes, it’s the highest in New York and one of the highest in the world but the fact it is indoors just robs it of a lot of Pizzaz. The views are stunning but just ruined a little by all that glass.
Which one to choose? With the New York Pass, there is no need to choose, they are all available on the Pass. They are all also very quick attractions. 1-2 Hours is all it takes to visit the rooftops of America’s tallest buildings.
We suggest doing all 4 if possible but alter your timings so you get nighttime views, Daytime views, and if possible a Sunset too!
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – $20
The Statue of Liberty is probably the most iconic landmark in the world. It is on top of just about everyone’s must visit’s when visiting New York. There are loads of ways to see the Statue but only one way to actually land and set foot on the Island The Statue of Liberty Ferry.
Sailing from Battery Park (where you can see the statue, small and in the distance) the ferry sails out over Hudson Bay out to the Island, The ferry ride offers stunning views back over Manhattan before landing on the Island. Here you can explore the grounds and museum.
However with the ticket the pass provides you does not grant access to the Pedestal or crown, you will need to upgrade these separately and availability is scarce. (This is not an issue at the minute as both are closed)
In addition to Liberty Island, the ferry also Calls at Ellis Island. The Island was once home to the immigration facility where 12 million early immigrants to the united states passed through. The Museum here is really eye-opening and many Americans can use the record to trace back their ancestry to the island. The Museum is included in the ticket.
For $20 this is great value whether you buy it on a pass or not and highly recommended. In fact, it is such great value it pulls down the value of other Passes. But due to the day-pass nature of the NEW YORK PASS, this is not an issue.
Hop On Hop Off Bus – $59
The Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off bus is a big-ticket item. This is often included in the example itinerary to inflate the value of the Pass. The list price of $59 is pretty steep, to be honest, and you can easily get it for less by shopping around. However, being included on the pass makes it feel free and it is a great way to see the city and get to a few of the more distant sights and attractions.
It’s certainly a Fairweather experience, when the rain is coming down the top deck is not much fun, but as long as it’s dry, even in the winter it’s great fun. You need to visit the Big Bus Ticket centers to get your tickets. This is a bit of a pain but once redeemed you are good for the day.
The Bus is good fun and a great intro to the city. Just don’t rely on it as transport. Just use it to link a few distant attractions together and enjoy the relaxed pace trip around the City. If you need to be somewhere by a certain time, use an alternate transport method. Stops have been severely restricted due to Covid but you can still travel between midtown and downtown and hop on or off at either end. It is DEFINITELY a tourist trap but a fun one, and really you are a tourist…
The NEW YORK PASS offers the Hop on Hop Off Bus for just one day for the duration of your pass. This may seem a bit rubbish but really the bus isn’t that great as a means of transportation. It is much better to use it early in your trip and treat it more like a sightseeing tour. For transport, we much prefer the subway.
New York is home to some of the best Museums in the world. Some of the leading institutions have sprawling labyrinths of exhibitions dedicated to art, history, and the natural world. There are some truly stunning displays and some of the finest artworks in the world on display. Fortunately, almost all of the top museums in the city are included on the NEW YORK PASS, along with a few less renowned and more lighthearted options.
American Museum of Natural History – $ 23.00
One of the two large central Park facilities the American Museum of Natural History is a gigantic display of everything mother nature has gifted the world. Both Past and Present. Most well known for its giant displays of Animal Dioramas, there is so much more to the museum than just those, As impressive as they are. We love the ocean display, along with some of the geology exhibits and the amazing meteorite collections. The human ancestry exhibit is a stark reminder of our recent past but the star for us and one of the best ways to get kids to a museum is the Fossil Halls.
We are not talking about the odd ammonite or trilobite, or a few dinosaur teeth (although they are all there). On display are full intact dinosaur skeletons of the most impressive type. T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and even a gigantic titanosaur.
The Museum is a must see in our opinion. Perfect for a rainy day, or even a summer scorcher to get out if the heat. You need a minimum of half a day here and expect it to be quite tiring.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $25.00
Just across the Park is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or affectionately the MET. This is another sprawling giant of a museum and another easy half day. Most people think of the MET as an art Gallery but it is anything but. It is quite unlike any art museum you can imagine.
Yes, there are some galleries, host to some of the finest works of art in the world. But there is so much more as well. The MET is a display of the entirety of human culture. Cave Painting, Ancient Egyptian Tombs, Ming Dynasty Art, Medieval Art, armor and weapons, European masterpieces, and some of the best modern artists. It is an incredible collection of all things of human creation. This is anything but a few old paintings! But yeah, they have those too, Rembrandt, El Greco, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir, Monet, to name a few.
There is also an amazing roof terrace with stunning views over the Park and Manhattan Skyline.
MOMA – $25.00
While the Met and Natural History Museum are sprawling labrynths of discovery the MOMA is far more compact and accesable. It is none the less as powerful though and houses some really fabulous works. The Term Modern Art is often miscontrued, most peple think it means contempory, as is what we make today, which is often rubbish
Modern Art is actully quite old, but not acinet, the period of around 1860-1970. This period actually covers some of the most well known and revered artists of all time and they all have works, some of the best, at the MOMA
Van Goghs, Starry night is a particular highlight, as is Monets Lilly pond. There are works from Cezzane, Picasso, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, Matiz, and many more.
The MOMA is actually one of our favorite museums, even though the MET gets all the prestige. You can get a good grasp of the museum in a couple of hours and not come away exhausted, and it’s right in the heart of midtown.
9/11 Memorial & Museum – $28
While Technically a Museum the 9/11 Memorial and museum Deserves its own mention. The Memorial is a free attraction to pay respects to the victims. The Museum is built around the remaining foundations of the actual buildings and is a huge space with some incredibly moving displays. We were completely blown away by the Museum and recommend everyone visit this. the events of that day are now entwined into the City and the Museum, along with the memorial is a fitting tribute to the lives lost that day.
The Museum is a very somber experience and may not be suitable for some kids. And you can expect some tough questions if you do take them there, as most kids are now too young to remember the events.
Actually, we are not Madame Tussauds biggest fans however, we appreciate A LOT of people do enjoy the experience though. We thought it was worthy of a mention if you are one of the many who enjoys Madame Tussauds. It certainly represents good value. While the attraction is extremely touristy, you are in times square so roll with it! The entry fee of $37 really stings for what is a 1hr attraction, but being n the pass really soothes that sting, and you can pop into Ripleys believe it or not right next door too for a further $33 saving
Is THE NEW YORK PASS WORTH It?
To answer this question we first take a simple look at the Maths. Based on the above Attractions we pulled together a quick realistic itinerary that also includes a number of free attractions to fully see the best of the City in just 3 days, using the Hop On Hop Off Bus to link some attractions
Day one explores the amazing Midtown District and gets you the two best views in Manhattan. Make sure to drop into the Rock early to bag a sunset slot for the Top. Then just explore Times Square and Midtown New York. We are keeping this conservative, you could easily nip into Ripleys believe it or not, and a few other attractions in the area, nothing on this day should take more than an hour.
- Empire State Building – $46
- Times Square – Free
- Madame Tussauds – $37
- Moma – $25
- Top Of The Rock @ Sunset – $42
Total – $150
Day2: Museum Day
Just two attractions today, but trust us the museums are really taxing you will not want to do more after visiting these.
- Museum of Natural History – $23
- Central Park
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – $25
Total – $48
The Final day takes you on a whirlwind tour of New York City. We suggest using the Hop On Hop Off bus but make sure you plan plenty of time as these are not the most efficient transport.
- Hop On Hop Off Bus – $59
- Statue of Liberty and Elis Island – $20
- 911 Museum and Memorial – $28
- Downtown / Wall Street – Free
- Hudson Yards – Free
- The Edge – $41
Total – $148
- TOTAL COST OF THE ABOVE 9 ATTRACTIONS: $346
- 3 DAY PASS PRICE: $204
- SAVING: $142
This is an easily achievable itinerary and easily achievable on a 3-day pass if you are in the city for a bit longer you can just explore the free attractions on the days you do not have the pass such as Central Park, China Town, or Broylun Bridge.
This is also a fairly conservative Itinerary you could fit more in to get better value and with longer passes, you will be able to do a lot more activities and save even more as the cost per day drops significantly the more days you purchase. We were in New York very Recently with a 3-
So it is clear from a simple mathematical point of view that yes the pass is great value. But life isn’t as simple as that. You need to make sure that it is covering attractions you want to do and not ones you do just because they are on the pass. If so then Financially it makes perfect sense.
We also found none of the issues that are highlighted on Message boards. The pass normally cut queueing times and even in the worst case was no worse than a walk-up. The added flexibility of being able to switch days around and do things on different days based on mood and weather really helps and beats booking everything rigidly in advance using timed tickets (all though Covid has had a big impact on this now). We found on our last trip switching days up due to an impending rainstorm saved the trip. Otherwise, we would have been inside museums on a beautiful sunny day and drenched as we took our open-top bus ride around the City!
A quick flip of the days and we were sheltered from the storm in the Museums and enjoying New York’s November Sunshine on the open-top bus. This sort of thing happens almost every trip, so the flexibility is really great!
Having a Pass really helps to plan and execute your trip to New York. We have lost count of the number of times we have heard people find an attraction they didn’t know existed because of a pass! Often these turn out to be their favorite. We would never have considered “the Ride” but it was an absolute blast!
Overall we really see very few reasons not to recommend a pass. Assuming you are wanting to visit the attractions included.
Not every trip to New York needs to take in so many Paid attractions but if you are going to visit them anyway the Pass Makes a lot of sense.