New York Pass Review – Is It Worth the Time and Money?

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Whether you are visiting New York City for the first time or you are a frequent visitor, there are just some attractions that you will want to return to time and time again. At least, that’s the way we feel every time we visit ‘The Big Apple’. But how do you explore all of these attractions affordably? The New York Pass may be an option worth considering! Is this yet another way to sucker-punch you into spending time and money on glorified tourist attractions? Let’s take a look at our New York Pass review based on our recent experiences using the 2-day version of this pass and hopefully by the end of this post you will understand the pros and cons of this.

new york pass review

New York City – The Tourist Traps

What are you interested in visiting? How much time do you intend to spend in New York City? What is your budget? All of these are questions you will likely be asking yourselves each time you visit ‘The City That Never Sleeps’. From the Empire State Building to the Statue of Liberty, New York City is a city of global iconic landmarks…but wait for it…some may also rephrase this to say:

New York city is a city of tourist traps

It’s TRUE! Honestly, you can’t blame all of these attractions in New York City from raising their prices because the reality is, this is one of the most frequently visited cities in the world.

statue of liberty new york

Tourists from all corners of the globe visit all year round and with that brings a desire to experience everything New York City has to offer.

What Is the New York Pass?

The New York Pass will quickly become your friend as it prevents you from running up a large credit card bill pretty quickly (New York is an expensive city!) The New York Pass is a tourist card providing visitors with free access to over 80 attractions in and around the city (in addition to some other discounts and benefits).

new york pass card

Let’s take a look at some of the key incentives for purchasing a New York Pass before looking at some of the awesome attractions you can experience with this.

Financial Incentive

It goes without saying that the KEY benefit of purchasing a New York Pass is financial savings. It’s a pretty simple philosophy to follow but, the more attractions/landmarks you visit during the duration of your pass, the more money you will save!

With NY Pass you can save up to 70% on gate prices when seeing just 3 attractions a day

We will later see that this huge positive is also a potential drawback, but in essence, this is the same with every tourist city card.

new york pass review

Speed Incentive

Fast Track entry! If you have been to New York City before, you will know that one of the toughest aspects of visiting any notable landmark is the long queues that you can expect to experience. Even if you plan on rising early in the morning and heading to the Statue of Liberty on the first Ellis Island cruise…you better be prepared that there will be others thinking the exact same thing!

top of the rock

The New York Pass offers fast track entry to over 15 attractions meaning that you wait time is dramatically reduced. Plus these are some of New York’s top attractions!!

Flexibility Incentive

There is nothing worse than heading to a city like New York and having no idea what you want to do. Planning an itinerary is usually key here but the beauty of the New York Pass is that you can be as flexible as you want.

new york pass app

Whether you have the handy guidebook or download the New York Pass app on your iPhone as we did, you can always have up-to-date information available on attraction opening times making it easy to create an ‘on the fly’ itinerary as you make your way around the city.

new york pass app

The iPhone app is particularly impressive and we certainly found this to be beneficial as we explored New York City. An easily accessible attraction list, customizable itineraries and integrated maps functionality to provide immediate access to your closest attractions are all great features of this app.

new york pass review

Don’t worry, we will be sharing a ’48-hour itinerary to New York City’ with you based on our experiences, so if you are a little more methodical and want everything planned out, perhaps our suggested itinerary will be just for you.

Which Pass Is Right for Me?

Depending on your budget, your desire to see a number of attractions and most importantly, how much time in New York City will determine which New York Pass is right for you. Here is a quick breakdown of the currently available passes along with their prices, if purchased online:

Pass Duration Adults Children (Age 4-12)
1 Day $109 $89
2 Days $169 $149
3 Days $209 $159
5 Days $259 $169
7 Days $289 $169
10 Days $339 $179

**Prices updated as of February 22, 2016 (subject to change)

Our 48 Hour NYC Itinerary

Ok, so you decide to take the plunge and purchase one of the above passes. Next up is figuring out what to see and where to go. There is a lot to see and far more than you will be able to experience in one trip, regardless of the length of time you spend here. We recommend planning a rough itinerary with a little flexibility thrown in there to ensure you maximize your time, your energy levels and of course, your New York Pass.

During our recent visit, we followed an itinerary that we want to share with you because we feel it covers a nice blend of popular tourist attractions, hidden gems and iconic landmarks. It’s all about personal preference and what type of attractions interest you. We both love sports, architecture and history so you will see a little bit of all this thrown into our itinerary.

Please note also, this was NOT our first trip to New York City and also NOT our first time at some of these attractions. However, we feel this itinerary would be suitable for all types of visitors.

Day 1

  • Yankee Stadium Tour – Regular Admission $25
  • Inside Broadway Tour – Regular Admission $35
  • Saturday Night Live – The Exhibition – Regular Admission $29
  • Empire State Building Observation Deck – Regular Admission $32

The total price of the attractions visited during our first day had we purchased them individually without the New York Pass was $121 per person.

Day 2

  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum – Regular Admission $24
  • Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown Walking Tour – Regular Admission $35
  • Madison Square Garden, All Access Tour – Regular Admission $26.95
  • Top of the Rock – Regular Admission $32

The total price of the attractions visited during our second day had we purchased them individually without the New York Pass was $117.95 per person.

Total Cost of 48-hour itinerary – $238.95
Total Cost of 2 Day New York Pass – $169
Total Savings – $69.95 (Per Person)         

Possible Drawbacks

A fair review of the New York Pass wouldn’t be the same without sharing a few potential drawbacks of purchasing this pass. Here are a couple that we believe to be true, though we attest that these would not sway our opinion in whether we should purchase the New York Pass:

  • Time Constraints – Realistically if you are visiting any of New York’s main attractions, you will want to spend some time there. For example, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island cruise is going to take several hours especially if you are visiting for the first time. What does this mean? You are going to be limited to how many attractions you can visit!

lower manhattan

  • Opening Hours – Closely related to the first issue is the fact that the majority of attractions are not open at night. You can plan your schedule to allow for some night activities such as the Top of the Rock or Empire State Building but the majority of attractions are closed by 5:00PM (some even earlier).

new york pass review

  • Energy Levels – New York City, the ultimate 24-hour city of the world! With that being said, it’s also an incredibly tiring city to explore. Even if you travel by the awesome NYC Subway system, you will still have times where you need to walk around. Of course, New York is a beautiful city to explore, but if you plan on rising early to experience as much as possible with your New York Pass, be prepared to grab some coffee along the way!

Summary

Our New York Pass review will hopefully convince you that this is a great, viable option if you are interesting in experiencing more than just the tourist attractions. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of our adventures experiencing some of the attractions listed in the itinerary above, but an overall review of this pass suggests that this is definitely a no-brainer when you head to NYC.

new york pass review

You have to be prepared to spend money when you head to New York City! But with the New York Pass you can save money and the more you see, the more you save! It’s a simple philosophy and one that we strongly encourage you to follow.

Our 48-hour guide to New York City was done at a comfortable pace and I am convinced you could probably add a couple more attractions in there. One final tip, check out the geography of the attractions and plan accordingly. But more importantly – ENJOY NEW YORK CITY!

Disclaimer – We were provided with two complimentary 2-day New York Passes for our recent trip to New York City. These are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post. 

15 COMMENTS

  1. I will vouch for the New York Pass. A definite must get. Have been to New York twice and each time it proved worthwhile. The only thing we did different the second time around is we did not get the Hop On Hop Off portion. Our first visit we found the traffic in New York is such that it takes you twice as long to get anywhere by bus. Best thing to do is learn the subway system and your are laughing.

  2. After one day we recouped the cost of a 3 day pass easily. I initially thought the pass was too good to be true but it was true!! Amazing value and very helpful staff and informative staff in the Times Square Office. If there isn’t an attraction that is included it probably isn’t worth seeing. I recommend the 3 hour boat cruise around Manhattan.

  3. We went to NYC last year and for me the New York Pass was definitely worth it. We were able to skip the ticket-buying queue for many of the top attractions, so it saved us time and money as well. We also enjoyed the free attractions that the pass do not cover. New York City may be known as the most expensive city in USA, but there’s also no shortage of free things to do. We visited some museums, Time Square and Statue of Liberty. We also went to a lot of diners and clubs and I watched free concerts at Central Park after checking out the NYC Parks website. By the way, I found a website listing free events in New York which is great because I didn’t have much of a budget. I think FreeEventFinder might be useful to people also visiting New York who are looking for free things to do.

  4. I have not ever been to NYC….can you believe it?!

    I tend to stay west coast {traveling from Vancouver, Canada to CA is my most traveled to destination} but it’s on my must see places this year! Bookmarked and shared your wonderful post. Alice

    • I’m sure you are not the only one that has never been to NYC, in fact Heather can probably relate to that because until we went there for the first time about 6 years ago, she had never been there either 🙂 But it’s so awesome that once you have been once, you will want to keep going back (in our opinion anyway!).

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, we are glad you enjoyed this post.

  5. We went into the hole on the New York Pass deal. We bought 4 – 3 day passes. The fast pass – sent you to a special ticket line and then we still had to stand in the long lines to get into the attraction. In New York – the lines are sooo long to get into attractions that you cannot see more than 3-4 attractions per day. I compared what we would have spent to what the passes cost – we would have saved app. $300 had we not purchased the New York Pass. We did not save any time with the pass either – we had to wait in the same long lines just like others.

  6. Have a look at Traveloris, basically they have carefully selected their attractions so you don’t have to scroll through thousands and spend hours researching (neat), and you can quickly build an itinerary using their interactive scheduler. The cool thing is, it tells you the combined cost of your trip based on the number of people going and the attractions in your scheduler. Compare this cost to the price of the New York Pass and you’ll pretty quickly know if it is worth it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they integrate the New York pass so it instantly tells you if you can save money with it… Good post.

  7. I’m looking for guidance we are off to ny on 2 Dec for 5 days -as it is such a busy time with the Christmas tree being lite – does anyone know if with the large queues we will be able to fit in 3 attractions per day ?

  8. We were disappointed with this pass. Perhaps Christmas time is just too busy to try to fit more than 5 or so attractions in. We should have opted for the CityPass! We primarily chose the New York Pass because of the access to the Big Bus Tour (hop on, hop off bus) to help get us around town. That was a mistake. Bus lines took forever. Tour guide was difficult to understand. Speakers/headphones were broken (very loud beeping noise instead of voice). Not a good reason to pay more for the pass. We were there four days and still only had time for about 5 attractions. A lot of time was taken up walking places or waiting in line. So if you are headed up at a crowded time (which could be all the time, I guess), the CityPass is the better deal.

    • Aimee, we are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with the New York Pass! It’s always a problem when you are visiting a city like NYC especially during the holiday season because there are just SO MANY tourists out and about. It’s really frustrating as well when you pay top $$ for passes like this and then you simply cannot enjoy them because you don’t have enough time. I would definitely recommend this pass based on our experiences but of course, we used the New York Pass during a non holiday season time.

  9. We’re going in February, considering the 3 day pass for 4 of us. Does anyone know how busy NYC is at this time? It seems that the pass is better during quiet times of the year. I’ve read a lot of negativity about its use in December.

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