UPDATED MAY 2015
CityPASS is a discount program available in 12 major North American cities and it is a great way to save money at New York City’s top attractions. You can bundle and save on admissions by purchasing a New York CityPASS ticket book.
Purchase the New York CityPASS online or at any of the included attractions. Many popular attractions offer skip-the-line benefits for CityPASS holders. You don’t need to buy a ticket, because you already have one. Finally, CityPASS is good for nine days after first use, giving you the time and flexibility you need to do it all.
Here is what you need to know to decide if a New York CityPASS is right for your family:
Every attraction on the New York CityPASS was on our to-do list, so it was a no-brainer for my family. We received two CityPASSes from sponsors, but if we hadn’t, we would have purchased them anyway.
Here are the attractions that are included in the New York CityPASS, with tips and links to my full reviews:
- Empire State Building Observatory – This is the most expensive and popular attraction on CityPASS. Your ticket includes two same-day visits (morning and night).
- American Museum of Natural History – This famous science museum is a fun place for families to see and learn about dinosaurs, ancient cultures, sea life, space and much more. Includes General Admission and one IMAX or planetarium show.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art – The treasures of the world are housed here. You could spend a whole day and still not see it all.
- Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum – We chose Top of the Rock, which offers great views of the Empire State Building and Central Park.
- 9/11 Memorial Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum – We chose the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which is moving and powerful. However, it might not be the best choice for families with young children.
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Cruises – CityPASS does not include access to the Statue of Liberty’s crown, which costs extra and requires advance reservations. A limited number of free CityPASS pedestal tickets are available, so arrive early. If crown access is a priority, purchase your Statue of Liberty tickets separately and take the Circle Line Cruise option.
Even if you don’t visit all six attractions, we found that the New York CityPASS may still be worth the money. Here are the details.
An Adult CityPASS is $114 for ages 18+ and a Youth CityPASS is $89 for ages 6-17. We didn’t make it to the Empire State Building ($46 per adult), and CityPASS still cost less than paying the adult price for the other five attractions ($114 vs $149). If you visit all 6 attractions, you’ll save 42%. The Youth CityPASS is an especially good deal for teens, who will be counted as adults at many attractions.
We did not purchase CityPASS for our two children (ages 7 and 10) because we were not planning to visit the Empire State Building, and the Museum of Modern Art – which was on the CityPASS instead of the 9/11 Memorial Museum at that time – is always free for kids, so we didn’t save money with the pass. The cost was about the same. However, if we were making the decision today, we would definitely purchase the Youth CityPASS because we would have saved money at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
The bottom line: Look at your itinerary and do the math to decide if the New York CityPASS is right for your family.
You’ll probably need at least three days to do everything in the New York CityPASS. Here is the CityPASS itinerary I suggest:
Day 1: Empire State Building. Go early to beat the crowds. Plan to see some of your other top NYC attractions during the day and then return after dark for a second trip to the observatory deck.
Day 3: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Arrive in time for the first ferry from Battery Park and beat the crowds. Plan a visit to the new 9/11 Memorial Museum in the afternoon. You can walk there, or it’s one subway stop away.
Day 4: Top of the Rock. Located in Midtown Manhattan, Top of the Rock is within walking distance many other popular destinations like Rockefeller Center, Times Square and the Museum of Modern Art, which is always free for children under age 17.
CityPASS is easy to use and a good value. We would consider it on a return trip to New York or in one of the other cities where CityPASS is sold. You can also find CityPASS in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Toronto.
Disclosure: We only promote products and destinations we have personally experienced and genuinely recommend. We received complimentary adult CityPASSes from NYC & Company and CityPASS. This post contains affiliate links. Using these links does not increase the price you pay, but does help us provide free content. Thank you for your support!
Planning a trip to New York City?
You may also enjoy
- The ULTIMATE Guide to the New York City subway for families
- Tips for visiting Top of the Rock
- Statue of Liberty with Kids
- American Museum of Natural History
- Museum of the Moving Image
- 9/11 Memorial Museum
- Our New York destination page
- Our New York City for Families Pinterest board