The highlight of our city pass day was a Circle Line Tour around lower Manhattan.
On a breezy day in September, we drove into Manhattan from our home in Westchester County. After a wonderful brunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Robert, at the Museum of Arts and Design, we were tourists in our own hometown.
With throngs of others who were visitors from all over the world, we went to see the James Turrell exhibit at the Guggenheim and then took a Circle Line boat tour around lower Manhattan.
We were tempted to keep on going and see more for our money but decided to call it quits at the end of a longish day.
If you live in a large city, you may want to purchase a city pass to explore your own backyard. It’s also something to keep in mind when your traveling to other cities or have tourists coming to see you. It could potentially ease the stiff entry prices at some of the nation’s most iconic tourist sites and make for an exciting adventure.
City passes in New York City
I found out about two types of passes, both sold by private companies rather than municipal government, that are available in New York City:
The New York Pass™ provides a “smart card” that allows you to visit more than 80 tourist attractions across the five boroughs, including walking tours, museums, parks, gardens, boat rides, bike rentals and more.
The card offers free entry to many of them, including the Empire State Building Observatory, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Madame Tussaud’s, and Top of the Rock, and discounts to scores of others. The pass comes with a free 200-page guidebook to help you plan your itinerary and get there.
A one-day pass (for one calendar day rather than 24 hours) costs $85 per adult and $60 for children. The per-day rate is reduced for multi-day passes.
The New York CityPASS includes prepaid admission to the Empire State Building Observatory, the American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim, and The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise.
The pass is $106 for adults and $79 for youth ages 6-17, and is valid for 9 days from its first use.
Some tips if you are thinking of purchasing either pass:
- Read the fine print on the websites before you buy to find out what’s covered and what’s not.
- Figure out how much time you’ll have for sightseeing, which free entries and discounts you want to use, and whether or not the pass will actually save you money.
- Although many passes allow you to move to the front of the line, through a VIP line, try to choose days when lines are shorter (e.g. not during heavy vacation periods). There iconic attractions attract many visitors.
- Passes often come with complimentary smartphone apps or booklets that offer practical tips and itineraries for your visit. Take advantage of them.
- Get a good night’s rest the night before your outing, and wear comfortable walking shoes and layered clothing.
It’s a great way to take advantage of the sights in your own backyard or when touring another city—without having to reach into your pocket each time you arrive at an admission booth.
*CityPASS is also available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Southern California theme parks.
After publication of this article, I learned of two more NYC passes that should be added to this list.
The Explorer Pass allows visitors to choose 3, 5, 7 or 10 attractions from 50 sites and tours, and visit them any time within 30 days—including the Hop-on/Hop-off double-decker bus. Prices start from $79.99 for adults and $57.99 for children ages 3-12
The Downtown Culture Pass offers three days of unlimited admissions to eight downtown museums in lower Manhattan (all within walking distance), gift shop discounts, plus a walking tour. Priced at $30 ($15 for children ages 13–17; $5 for children ages 6–12; free for children 6 and under)
For additional information on these and other discount opportunities to see New York City, visit NYCGo.com, the official guide to NYC.
This post is part of a blog carnival on the subject of “Fall” sponsored by One Road at a Time.
OUR SLIDE GALLERY – Here are views of some of the wonderful architectural gems of Manhattan as seen on the Circle Line.
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