It is renowned as the City that Never Sleeps and after visiting New York City you will certainly understand why. I have been fortunate to visit the Big Apple on several occasions but each time you experience something very different and unique that makes you want to return time after time. Whether you are visiting New York City during the summer months or the heart of a frigid winter, this is well and truly a stereotypical 24-hour city of the world!
New York CityPASS Overview
A question we are always asked is, “What should we do when we visit New York City?” There is no simple answer because it depends on your interests, time you have in the city and when you are visiting. However, we think we have found something that is perfect for EVERYONE! The New York CityPASS is an awesome alternative that provides access to a variety of illustrious attractions around the city that are open all year round.
I love Myrna Loy’s quote below because ultimately if you are visiting New York City and find yourself bored, well that’s your own fault because it is a city that is anything but boring! The CityPASS is full of attractions for all the family, so boredom is no longer an excuse.
If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault – Myrna Loy
Let’s take a look at what the New York CityPASS has to offer…
- Empire State Building Experience (Two Visits)
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- ***NEW***9/11 Memorial and Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Of course, the New York CityPASS doesn’t just offer travelers access to each of the above attractions. Instead, there are a myriad of benefits that I am sure will convince you that this is the best way to see the city. The beauty of the CityPASS is that it is awesome even if you have visited New York City before. These types of attractions are landmark locations in the Big Apple that honestly I could never get bored of experiencing.
An encounter at the summit of the Empire State Building taking in the breathtaking scenery around the city…yes, I am sold on the fact that a return trip is always welcome!
Here are some of the key benefits of purchasing a New York CityPASS. A whopping 41% saving is up for grabs if you purchase a CityPASS for $114 ($89 for youths aged between 6-17) and then visit each of the six available alternatives. Skip the lines and get the treatment of a VIP guest as you bypass the long queues that frequently make the experience of visiting an attraction a painstakingly boring process!
Effective from March 1, 2015 you will notice that the CityPASS now includes a brand new set of attractions. You can now visit either the brand new 9/11 Memorial Museum or experience the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Even though our visit was just before these new tickets took place, I think these attractions just add a wealth of value to the pass and if you weren’t convinced before with the selection of attractions, you should be now!
Realistically I would suggest taking 3 or 4 days at least to explore New York City. Any more and your pockets may soon become empty because spending money there is one of the easier tasks you will have. Here is a recommended itinerary that we attempted to follow in order to take advantage of the CityPASS, but feel free to arrange your schedule as you see fit.
Morning – Empire State Building
Afternoon – American Museum of Natural History
Evening – Empire State Building Return Visit
Morning – Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Afternoon – The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (The Metropolitan Museum of Art is available on the new 2015 CityPASS)
All Day – Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise & Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Empire State Building
Two trips to the 86th floor observatory deck of the Empire State Building are available with the CityPASS. What better way to take in the stunning views both during the day and again with the city lights at night. I have taken the trip through the hallways at the Empire State on several occasions, learning the history behind the construction culminating in the two elevator rides to the 86th floor.
Is there any other more iconic landmark in New York City than the Empire State? Many will argue no and I can understand why! Take a trip to the top of a structure once the tallest building in the world, not once but twice and you too will reap the rewards of visiting this historic attraction.
The view of the newly constructed Freedom Tower along with the Statue of Liberty in the distance to the right and Brooklyn Bridge to the left is memorable especially if you visit on a day with clear skies.
The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art
Monet’s Water Lilies, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and even Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy are all world famous paintings that can all be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). With the weather turning against us on our recent trip to New York City, we opted against the outdoor activities and headed inside the warmth of MOMA and immediately fell in love with this place. To reiterate my comments about my apparent lack of fondness for museums, this was definitely NOT the case with this location.
I will say that six floors of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures may seem a little excessive but if you start at the bottom and work your way to the top, if you feel like we did the experience just gets better and better. In my opinion they left the best exhibits for the top floors.
Although MOMA is no longer an option on the New York CityPASS, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an awesome alternative so if art history sparks your interest New York City has a variety of museums worth exploring.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Competing with the Empire State Building is always going to be difficult, but fortunately New York City also boasts the Rockefeller Center and the amazing Top of the Rock Observation Deck. If you are looking for stunning views across Central Park and also quicker access to the summit, then the Top of the Rock is a better alternative than the Empire State.
If you read our recent comparison of the Empire State vs. Top of the Rock, you will know that both offer stunning views around the city but perhaps you will feel like we did and enjoy the fact CityPASS offers access to both of these illustrious buildings!
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
When you consider the options available, the toughest decision is inevitably between the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise and Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island tour. Having taken the State of Liberty tour previously, we opted for the Sightseeing Cruise and chose the Landmark Cruise leaving Pier 83 on W. 42nd Street at 12:00PM. A 1 1/2 hour cruise that encapsulates much of stereotypical New York as you pass by four of the five boroughs and visit many of the key attractions we all associate with the Big Apple.
Other options are available depending on your taste and length of time you want to be cruising up and down the Hudson River.
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour is an alternative you can pursue and I imagine many will opt for this particularly if you are visiting New York for the first time. I would recommend taking this tour early in the morning to avoid the crowds because this is one of the most popular attractions throughout New York City.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum was unfortunately not included in our CityPASS as we visited prior to the start of the new program, but this is definitely one attraction we are both eager to visit. Alternatively, the USS Intrepid museum is a great attraction that I have visited previously and includes a tour of a submarine, the aircraft carrier itself and a variety of US air force planes.
A British Airways Concorde is also present here so another piece of history is available if you choose to tour the Intrepid.
After spending the morning taking in the urban scenery that New York City has to offer, take a trip along Broadway and through Central Park until you reach 79th street and the amazing American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). I am not usually a huge museum visitor but I have to admit that AMNH really is pretty cool with a number of exhibits making this a perfect choice for all the family.
With five floors full of interactive and eye-dropping displays, the museum offers a plethora of interesting artifacts and specimens to really enhance your learning experience as you pass through the different domains. You could easily spend a full day inside AMNH but realistically you need at least 3-4 hours to get a really good feel of the full experience.
What a collection of attractions you have here! In my opinion, the New York CityPASS is a no brainer and you would be crazy to think that this is not a great deal. Of course visiting New York is much more than just experiencing these landmark attractions but let’s be honest, it’s a pretty good starting point.
Regardless of your interests or tastes, New York City is vibrant, historic and exhilarating so make sure you maximize your time there and pickup a CityPASS to enhance your overall experience.
For more pictures of our experience using the New York CityPASS, check out our gallery here: New York City
Disclaimer – We would like to thank CityPASS for providing us with 2 New York CityPASS booklets for our trip. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.