new-york-city-water

Is the New York CityPASS Really Worth It?

I’m all about finding great travel deals which is why I want to share about New York CityPASS. So many fantastic readers have emailed me and left comments telling how helpful the NYC info on the blog has been and how it has helped them plan a successful trip. Yay!

An NYC question that keeps coming up, though, is about the New York CityPASS.

Is the New York CityPASS really worth it?

In an effort to share all the best NYC tips (and because I know no one likes doing the math!), I’ve put together this New York CityPASS guide to help you make the best decision for you and your family. After all, who wants to spend more money than necessary?!

Is the New York CityPass Really Worth it-
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First, let me say, New York CityPASS is one of the first things I recommend to family and friends when they’re planning an NYC visit. As a local NYer, I can vouch firsthand for how pricey a destination NYC is. New York City also has an endless amount of things to see and do so whenever you can save time by skipping the line, there’s incredible value in doing so. (Double that if you also happen to have a husband like mine who just can’t stand waiting in line! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

What is New York CityPASS?

New York CityPASS lets you save money by bundling sightseeing costs from NYC’s most popular spots into a fantastic discounted price. It also comes with added perks and benefits, most notably the ability to (in many cases) skip the line.

It’ll save you money and time, both of which you never have enough of in New York City.

The classic New York CityPASS includes entry to 6 of NYC’s top sights. Your ticket booklet contains admission tickets for 3 preset sights and 3 you can choose from a variety of options. The tickets are valid for a period of 9 days, which is such a terrific feature instead of having to jam a lot of attractions into just 1-2 days.

In the end, the $132 (adult price) New York CityPASS will save you up to 43% when compared to paying for each entry ticket individually.

New York City Skyline

Here’s how New York CityPASS breaks down. You get:

  • 2 Empire State Building admission tickets so you can see the NYC skyline during the day and again that same night looking pretty all lit up.
  • 1 American Museum of Natural History admission ticket and
  • 1 Metropolitan Museum of Art admission ticket.

Then, you get 1 admission ticket for 1 attraction in each of the following 3 sets. It’s your choice!

  • First, choose either the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or the Guggenheim Museum.
  • Then, decide whether to visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or take 1 Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise.
  • Last, pick between the 9/11 Museum & Memorial or the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum.
Freedom Tower & North Reflecting Pool
There is a lot of construction happening around the World Trade Center, but the Freedom Tower, the reflecting pools, and the museum are complete.

Please don’t just take my word for it!

The real truth is in the numbers. Take a look at this comparison chart.

New Yok CityPASS Is it worth it?
A=Adult C=Child

So, let’s say during your trip to New York City you visited the Empire State Building in the morning and again in the evening. You also went on to visit the Natural History Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Top of the Rock, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and the 9/11 Museum.

If you bought an adult ticket for each one of these individually, you’d spend $184.50. Remember, that total accounts for 2 separate Empire State Building tickets to see the skyline during the day and at night and no ability to skip any of the lines.

New York CityPASS costs just $132 for the exact same sights plus lets you skip many of the lines!

How does all that sound? Are you wondering what the catch is?

Here’s what the doubters say.

  • Why do I need to visit the Empire State Building twice?

New York City Empire State Building

Now, I can’t decide whether or not you should visit the Empire State Building twice or what time of day is best. That’s all about personal preference. You could even plan to see the skyline from the Empire State Building in the morning and from the Top of the Rock in the evening.

Personally, I never get tired of looking at the NYC skyline. I’ve seen it from different perspectives, in all 4 seasons, morning, noon, and night and I always seem to notice something I hadn’t noticed before. I also enjoy taking photos of the city views at different hours of the day.

new-york-city-skyline

  • New York CityPASS Youth ticket booklet is not worth it for kids.

It’s not exactly as simple as that. Many of the New York CityPASS sights do offer reduced price individual tickets for children. Keep in mind for most places, your child must be 12 and under to qualify for that price.

If your child is older than 12, you’ll likely pay a higher adult/student price for an individual ticket whereas the New York CityPASS Youth ticket booklet costs just $108 and works for children ages 6-17.

It’ll also make a difference depending on which 3 optional sights you choose. For example, the Guggenheim is free for children under 12, but the Top of the Rock costs $30.

The youth pass is also worth considering if everyone else in the family has one. You want to be sure everyone in the group can skip the line and not have to buy a ticket on site.

  • The admission prices for the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are just suggested. I can actually pay whatever I want.

metropolitan-museum-of-art-

As for the suggested admission prices at the American Museum of Natural History Museum, it’s 100% true. You can pay whatever you want for a ticket. As a result, there are all kinds of debates about whether you should pay what you want or not or how the museum cashier may or may not look at you if you do, but let’s keep this polite.

However, the Metropolitan Museum of Art no longer has a pay-whatever-you-want-price for everyone. New York State residents and students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut can pay what they wish and children under 12 are still free. But, everyone else must pay the fixed admission fee of $25.

The bottom line is you want the best deal.

So, let’s just go back to the math. (It’s the teacher in me..can’t help it! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Let’s plan to visit the:

  • Empire State Building 1x (Don’t need/want that 2nd nighttime ticket.)-$37
  • American Museum of Natural History- Suggested price $28- You pay $1.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art- General admission $25
  • Top of the Rock- $36
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island- $18.50
  • 9/11 Museum & Memorial- $24

All of these paid for individually would cost $141.50 with no ability to skip the lines. That’s more than the New York CityPASS.

But remember, in reality, most people pay more than $1 to enter the American Museum of Natural History. You’d also get 1 less ticket to the Empire State Building and no skip-the-line privileges. If it’s value you’re after, in terms of money and time, you won’t find a better deal in NYC. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, keep in mind, my 3 example choices don’t include all the highest priced admission tickets either. Choosing a Circle Line Cruise and the Intrepid Museum instead would raise the total individual ticket cost even more.

New York CityPASS costs $132 no matter which choices you make.

new-york-city-water

A few more things to smile about…

  • Only CityPASS lets you choose from 4 different Circle Line Cruise/Boat experiences!
  • You can buy your New York CityPASS before your trip. Customers can choose to have a physical ticket booklet shipped to them or receive it via email. Customers who choose to receive it through email can either print the tickets or just show the tickets on their mobile device when they visit each attraction.
  • Your New York CityPass includes entry to the Space Show or a giant screen film in 3D and 2D at the Museum of Natural History.
  • Your ticket for the Metropolitan Museum of Art also comes with a same-day ticket for the Cloisters in upper Manhattan. This museum is a medieval gem perched on a hill with sweeping views of the Hudson River.
  • Your Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket includes an audio guide.

Statue of Liberty Stock

So, is the New York CityPASS really worth it?

Yes! New York CityPASS lets you bundle the cost of admission to 6 different sights to save money plus comes with skipping-the-line privileges and exclusive benefits. As a result, there’s no cheaper way to see all of these top NYC attractions.

What will you do with the extra money and time you save on your visit to NYC? Once you’ve purchased your New York CityPASS, use these helpful NYC guides with itinerary ideas and my best local tips to plan your successful NYC visit!

Everything You Need to Know for Your First Visit to New York City

100 Things You Need to See and Do in New York City

How to Explore Lower Manhattan like a Local

Which NYC attraction do you want to visit most with your New York CityPASS? 

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Is the New York CityPASS Worth It

36 thoughts on “Is the New York CityPASS Really Worth It?”

  1. Anything to save money while traveling is always good! Those attractions in NY are quite expensive, too, so it seems like this could really help if you’re planning on going to them. Thanks for all the helpful info you shared!

  2. The timing of this CityPass review post could not be more perfect! We’re heading to NYC in March and getting a CityPass for our family’s visit was already on our To Do list. You’ve just confirmed the math behind why we should do so, thanks!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Awesome, Claudia! Glad the info was helpful in your decision to get the New York CityPass. Enjoy your trip!

  3. Great post that details the pros and cons very well. Will probably be heading to New York this Summer and will absolutely keep this in mind. Very helpful. Thank you.

  4. This is such an interesting post. I’ve been to New York three times now but don’t think I’ve ever purchased the New York CityPASS despite being to most of the attractions. I’ll definitely have to think about getting it next time ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for showing why it’s worthwhile. Polly

  5. The New York City Pass looks like a great deal for families and anyone to save some $$. This would leave extra dollars for food or whatever else you wanted to do. Thanks for the great break down of how it works and can be used. Great tips for any traveler heading to New York City.

  6. I wouldn’t personally buy it only because I am a New Yorker, but for anyone coming to visit this is great for them. They can see some of the top things for a lower cost with all the admission fees as opposed to separately .

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Holly. It’s always great to have another NYer chime in and confirm the value in the savings of the New York CityPASS. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Being from Toronto, I’m a short hour a twenty minute flight away. I love visiting new York and the pass was great when I visited for the first time. Now when I visit I try to focus on a few different things. See my family and my friend and just soak up that wonderful city

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      So glad to hear you got great value from the New York CityPASS, Christopher! Isn’t that great when you make a return visit and can focus on just absorbing a place! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Great info on the CityPass,
    I’m currently debating whether to get one for a girls trip I’m planning in September, the only thing that is stopping me that I can’t find any info on is:
    Does the CityPass guarantee entry to your chosen sites?

    When I read up on sites such as Statue of Liberty & Empire State, everywhere seems to suggest booking in advance? I want to know that I will be able to turn up and get in? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks x

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Jenny. You can just turn up at the Empire State Building. CityPASS holders can’t reserve in advance at the ESB. For the Statue of Liberty, it isn’t necessary to make reservations at New York CityPASS attractions. CityPASS also says, “At Statue Cruises, you have up to three days to board a cruise after securing your boarding pass in person. Once you have your boarding pass, you can proceed directly to security upon your return at your desired cruise time, but please allow at least 45 minutes for security and boarding.” You can reserve in advance if you’d like for Lady Liberty but it’s not necessary. Hope that helps!

  9. Thank you for your tips, I just have one more question. For Top of the Rock we want to do be there during sun set however on the official page it says it’s worth 50 USD, does the CityPass include any time we want to do the Top of the Rock experience?

    Thanks

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Paula. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, it’s good for day or night. Top of the of the Rock is open from 8am-midnight, with the last elevator up at 11pm. You show your CityPass at e-kiosk/box office on the Concierge level to redeem for the next available timed ticket. According to the CityPASS website, you can redeem early in your trip to reserve your preferred time, in your case sunset. Hope that helps and you have a great NYC trip!

  10. Hi. I REALLY appreciate finding your blog today! I’m visiting NY for the first time ever from England for my 40th in April and was going round in circles debating which Statue of Liberty Cruise to book… then saw the NY City Pass and started comparing prices… and fortunately found your excellent blog! Problem solved – I will purchase a City Pass!
    Before I do though, I do wonder if you (or any fellow readers) could advise me: if I do buy the City pass, can I still book the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island Cruise in advance (at a set time) and include the crown visit? How would I then collect tickets? (I’d like to know these are organised before I leave the UK).
    Thank you so much for your inspiring blog xx

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Laura. So exciting to be coming to NYC for the first time for such a milestone birthday! For the Statue Cruises included with CityPASS, you have to secure your boarding pass in person and have up to 3 days to board a cruise after doing this. Once you have your boarding pass, you can proceed directly to security upon your return at your desired cruise time, but please allow at least 45 minutes for security and boarding. As you already know, the New York CityPASS doesn’t include a crown visit, only the Statue grounds. It isn’t possible to combine a CityPASS Statue of Liberty boat ride and a crown visit. To get the best value, book your crown visit directly with statuecruises.com and use the CityPASS to do a Circleline Sightseeing cruise instead. Yes, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty from the boat but there’s absolutely nothing like seeing the Brooklyn Bridge and other NYC sights from the water which isn’t part of a Statue of Liberty crown visit. I hope that helps and you have a great time in NYC! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Enrique Valdez

    Hi Jackie:

    I’m planning a trip to NYC next October and while doing this I got an invite to buy a different
    pass to NYC called the ‘NY Sightseeing Pass’.

    How do you rate this pass against the NY CityPass? (which is already very convenient).

    I’d appreciate your insight.

    Regards
    Enrique

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Enrique. The NY Sightseeing Pass has a pass similar to New York CityPASS, but also a flex pass which lets you choose from a wider variety of NYC attractions. Depending on what you want to see while you’re visiting, you’ll want to see which pass includes those places. With that being said, they both include the most popular sights. NY Sightseeing Pass comes with the option of the One World Observation Tower and a hop on hop off bus. The New York CityPASS gives you more bang for your buck with 6 attractions included in a set price where the Flex pass with NY Sightseeing will increase in price depending how many attractions you want to include in your price. NO matter what though, NYC is pricey so you definitely want to make use of a bundled sightseeing card that suits your NYC goals. Hope that helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Hi, we are due to visit NY for the first time 29/6 for a week. Can you suggest anyth8ng special for 4/7? Also, is the NY city pass good for this busy time of year? Just wondering about how many skip the line options there are for the weekly pass or would it save us time if we bought tickets individually with skip theline options? Thanks

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Julie. New York CityPASS offers VIP/expedited entry into many attractions included. This doesn’t include security checkpoints which would be the same for individual skip the line tickets, as well. (I’ve linked the CityPASS page with the details for each attraction.) The week of your visit is sure to be busy so saving time by not waiting in lines will be very helpful. If you plan on seeing all the sights included with the New York CityPASS, it’s the best way to save some money too, as compared to buying tickets individually. If you want to see just a couple of things, skip the line tickets for these couple of things might be a better value for you. July 4th in NYC is so much fun. The FDR highway on the east side of Manhattan closes to traffic so people can watch the fireworks from there. (It can be busy though, but fun!) There are also cruises ($$$$) that let you watch the fireworks from the river. if you’d like to see the fireworks away from the crowds, many rooftop bars or restaurants will have great views. During the day, Coney Island is a classic spot. You can also head to a local market like Fairway and buy prepared foods to have your own picnic in Central Park. If the Yankees or Mets are playing, a baseball game is a pretty American thing for July 4th. Lastly, if you’re a history buff, there are walking tours that offer historical Revolutionary War walks through lower Manhattan so you can see where and how the Revolution began. Hope that helps and you have a great trip to NYC!

  13. HEY….this was super helpful!
    Quick questions –
    we are planning trip during Christmas…
    Will it entail us having to block timings etc at Top of the Rock / Empire State / Ellis Island?
    Also does this only cover 1 day or we can spread this over a few days?
    thank you so much

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Pallavi. Some attractions like the Top of the Rock, Statue Cruises, and Circle Line cruises allow you to make a reservation. If you’re visiting on a weekend during the Christmas holiday season, I recommend taking advantage. The New York CityPASS is good for 9 consecutive days including the day you first use your pass. Enjoy NYC! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Thank you for all the helpful information here. I’m so glad that I found this site! You have already answered some of my questions that I have been looking to find out like the airport shuttle. We’re heading to NYC 03/24 for 6 days, We’re flying into LGA and I’m still trying to figure out where and which hotel (there are so many) to stay at.

    I came across a few passes available for New York – the New York Pass by # of days but I believe unlimited, Explorer Pass, Sightseeing pass, build-your-own, all-inclusive, and now the New York City Pass. Reading each one on what’s included and how it work is enough to make your head spin! I will be travelling with a 17 year old, which pass would you recommend and the best value?

    The other thing is, I think I read it somewhere on your site about Broadway shows, but now I can’ find where it is. Is there a site where I can check all the shows available, and where and how to get tickets?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sharon. I’m so glad you found the site, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s no doubt a sightseeing pass can save you money compared to buying tickets individually. The key to getting the best deal is to not spend on things you have no plans to see or do. I like New York CityPASS because it includes top NYC sights and gives you the flexibility to visit them over the course of 9 days. This is great because you don’t have to cram everything in just a few days. But if the pass has sights you don’t plan to see, then it’s worth it to look at another pass that offers the activities right for your trip.
      As for Broadway shows, check out this website, you can also check out Broadway Box, or even pickup discount tickets at TKTS the day of the performance. ๐Ÿ™‚

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