Is the New York CityPASS Worth It?
The New York CityPASS is a ticket booklet that includes admission to six of the Big Apple's top attractions for one reduced price, saving you a lot of time and money if you do indeed plan to do them all (and if you're a first time visitor like I was, you most likely will, as these really are some of the most popular and quintessential city sites).
On my visit to New York, I only had a fleeting four days to pack in as much as possible, so I decided to give CityPASS a try. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on whether the New York CityPASS is truly worth it.
The New York CityPASS Includes the following classic attractions:
• The Empire State Building Experience (includes the 86th floor observatory and a
bonus same-day evening return visit)
• American Museum of Natural History (includes the Rose Center for Earth and
Space and either an IMAX film or a Hayden Planetarium Space Show)
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes same day admission to The
Cloisters Museum & Gardens and The Met Breuer)
And 3 option tickets:
• Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR the Guggenheim Museum
• Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island (includes admission to both Liberty Island and
Ellis Island Immigration Museum) OR a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
• 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (includes
the Space Shuttle Pavilion)
The cost Breakdown
New York is an expensive place to visit. From restaurants to accommodation to attractions, the prices are extraordinarily high, and even more so when your local currency has a terrible exchange rate with the US dollar (ahem, Canada).
If you're not careful, it can be quite a nasty shock when you get home and take a look at your credit card bill. That's why I think the New York CityPASS provides considerable value for the cost. Let me break it down for you here:
One adult New York CityPASS booklet costs $122 USD and is valid for 9 consecutive days once activated. If you add up all the individual admission costs for the three included attractions plus the three most expensive option tickets, you get a total savings of $82 USD. If you were to add up all the individual admission costs for the three included attractions plus the three cheaper option tickets you would still be saving $49.50 USD, which you could instead use for a Broadway show or countless delicious slices of New York-style pizza or really anything else your heart fancies.
Now, keep in mind that the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art operate on a suggested adult admission price of $28 USD and $25 USD, respectively. This means, you could actually pay as much or as little as you like for these two museums if you were to visit them independently.
So, let's say you only want to pay $5 USD to get into each of them. With the most expensive option tickets, your CityPASS would have a total value of $168 USD, saving you $46 USD. Even if you only paid a $1 USD admission fee for each museum, you would still save $38 USD. Of course, these numbers are based on if you're going with the most expensive three option tickets in the CityPASS booklet.
But if you would rather choose the three cheaper option tickets and factor in the hypothetical $1 USD museum admission, the cheapest cost you'll be paying for all six attractions independently would come to a total price of $120.50 USD, only $1.50 less than a CityPASS booklet. This means, if you only want to see, or have the time to see, 4 or 5 of the 6 attractions, you can get by with purchasing the tickets individually.
However, for a savings of only $1.50 USD you would miss out on some of the benefits that come with using the CityPASS.
The perks of using CityPASS
Speaking of benefits, I found the New York CityPASS to have several.
First of all, the admission to the Empire State Building observation deck includes a daytime and same-day nighttime visit to experience the view twice. This is really worthwhile because the city changes completely when it's lit up in the dark, and with the observation area being open daily until 2 am (the last elevator up is at 1:15 am) there's no reason why you have to miss out on the nighttime visit.
With my CityPASS booklet, I chose to go on the option ticket Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise and I'm so glad I did. I showed up at the pier at just the right time to catch a 2-hour guided cruise beginning on the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty, and into the East River with fabulous views of Brooklyn and the skyline of Manhattan. I didn't realize this before arriving at the pier, but with the CityPASS voucher you can actually select one cruise from about five different itineraries.
Finally, CityPASS booklets let you skip the general admission line-ups you'll find at most of these attractions saving you precious time in New York, where getting from point A to B can actually take hours. At the back of the booklet you'll also find some discounted vouchers to be used on other attractions, tours, and hop-on hop-off bus tours.
All in all, CityPASS is a pretty good deal if you want to do some major sightseeing and you plan on using up all of the vouchers within the 9-day period.
In Conclusion, The New York CityPASS is perfect for:
First time visitors.
Budget-minded travelers who still want to see as much as possible.
Seeing the top sites in the shortest amount of time.
Skipping the lines at major attractions.
I received two complimentary New York CityPASS ticket booklets to test and review.
However, all opinions (and mathematical errors) in this article are entirely my own.