Save Bucks & Skip Lines With New York CityPASS

Activities, Online Exclusives

If you’re looking for the best things to do in New York, you’ll love the simplicity and convenience of New York CityPASS tickets.

Along with the unlimited-ride subway pass that I bought from a machine my first night in New York City, I made sure I didn’t leave my hotel without another pass: New York CityPASS.

I was never sure if I liked CityPASS best for the savings it afforded or the way it let me breeze past the other tourists in line at the attractions that accept it for admission.

New York CityPASS is a booklet of five tickets sold for a set price ($138 for adults, $118 children). Using all your tickets saves you about 40 percent. In addition to tickets for the American Museum of Natural History and Empire State Building, the pass includes three option tickets. This gives visitors a choice of three among the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, the Intrepid Museum and the Guggenheim Museum.

New York CityPASS

Intrepid Museum

New York CityPASS has a validity period of nine days; I used mine in five. I just love exploring New York and can easily spend 16 hours out and about, making use of every minute. Happily, several CityPASS attractions in New York are open late.

On my first night in town—after arriving on Amtrak at 6:15, checking into Midtown’s Kimberly Hotel and having a quick dinner—I still had time to go up to the open-air terraces of the Top of the Rock, which was just a short walk from the hotel. Top of the Rock stays open until midnight, with the last ticket sold at 11 p.m. I visited on a clear fall night, perfect for views of the lit-up skyline (though a daytime visit would have afforded great panoramas of Central Park). Top of the Rock features unobstructed views from the 67th and 69th floors and an open-air observatory on the 70th floor of the Comcast Building (formerly GE Building) in Rockefeller Center.

To fill time another night, I visited the open-air observatory of the Empire State Building, which is open until 2 a.m. It was just a short walk from Madison Square Garden. The lines weren’t bad at 10 p.m. and the special line I entered (for CityPASS holders) let me get to the top even faster.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is another CityPASS attraction that keeps late hours, with the memorial portion open until 8 p.m. I visited the 9/11 Museum (the outdoor memorial is free-admission) around noon, and, even though I got in the quick CityPASS line, the galleries inside were jam-packed with middle-of-the-day visitors. Despite the jostling, the story told of that horrible September day in 2001 is fascinating, and I spent more than two hours reliving it through video, audio and artifacts from the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

New York CityPASS

9/11 Memorial & Museum

A good rule of thumb for avoiding the biggest crowds at any attraction: plan your visit just when the attraction opens or go later in the day.

The Statue of Liberty is a wildly popular attraction, and the lines at the Battery Park ferry terminal usually are long, but the New York CityPASS really moved us along and we were cruising New York Harbor in no time. (I had wanted to get to the ferry building for the first departure, but dawdled too much and ended up settling for a mid-morning trip.) After the ferry leaves passengers at Liberty Island, it continues to its next-door neighbor, Ellis Island. I spent more than two hours prowling exhibits and watching the moving film at the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, which chronicles the inspiring saga of hopeful newcomers arriving in a strange land in the late 1800s and early 20th century.

The New York CityPASS contains coupons for other deals and discounts as well. This can include savings at major department stores, discounts at the gift shops and souvenir stands at cooperating attractions and breaks on select guided tours.

CityPASS booklets also are available for Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

For more information, visit There are no group discounts, but tour organizers can go to for group information.

By Randy Mink


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