How To Use The New York CityPASS

If you are coming to New York, especially for the first time, there will be many sights you wish to see and many attractions you wish to visit. Of course, some are free but a number of attractions will ask you to pay for admission. One way to cut down on the cost of this is to buy a New York CityPASS.

A New York CityPASS is a ticket you can buy online and at participating attractions, which can save you money. It comes with a booklet that includes prepaid admission to a number of New York attractions. When you want to go to an attraction you use one of the tickets in the book, it's as simple as that. In this modern age, the booklet can be emailed to you too so you can have it on your mobile.

View from the top of the Rockefeller centre otherwise known as Top Of The Rock

With the New York CityPASS, you get admission to

1. The Empire State Building
2. The American Museum Of Natural History
3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

You also get admission to the following

4. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Museum
5. The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
6. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The cost of the ticket is £96 for adults and £77 for children aged 6 to 17 and they state on the website that you would save 42%, a saving of approximately £70 if all these tickets are bought separately. If your child is under 6 then most but not all attractions featured are free. So there are big savings to be had if you plan to go to a number of these attractions but how does it work in practice? 

Top Of The Rock

Our first stop was the 'Top Of The Rock' or the top of the Rockefeller centre, go there for some of the best views in New York. We were there on a weekday morning in October around 10am. With hindsight, this was a mistake as it was very very busy! Now they say on the website you can use the New York CityPASS to skip many of the queues but here this didn't work. We were told to queue up with everyone. After queuing for what seemed to have taken ages but in reality, was about 40 minutes, we got to the front, only to be told that there were no tickets available until 1pm. As we were going somewhere we decided to get a ticket for the next day instead. 

The next day we turned up and were shown where to go through security. You have to go through a security scanner similar to the security you go through at the airport although it isn't as strict. Then you are guided to have a photo taken with a fake background showing you on the top of the rock (you can pay for this later).

Next, you wait for the lift and watch a short film about the history of the Rockefeller centre.  About 30 minutes later we were going up in a lift to the top of the building. 

So as you can see there is a lot of waiting around, the view, however, was amazing as you can see from the above photos!

Pros/Cons: If you use a New York CityPASS you have to queue twice here (once to purchase your ticket using your voucher in your booklet) as opposed to booking your ticket online in advance.

American Museum Of Natural History

The next day we decided to visit the American Museum Of Natural History. If you haven't visited you may be aware of this museum as it was the museum featured in the film Night At The Museum with Robin Williams. 

As we entered the building, we came across a queue again. With no obvious way of bypassing this, we queued up with everyone who hadn't obtained a ticket in advance. If you buy a ticket online you scan your ticket with museum staff for admission when you enter the museum.  

We queued here for about 25 minutes and then handed over our vouchers for an admission ticket. Our CityPASS voucher included general admission plus one special exhibition, such as a space show or giant screen film. This would have cost 28$ if we had paid online. 

A point of note here, if you just turn up the admission price is just suggested, however as you need a ticket to get in and you have to go to the ticket desk, it would be very difficult in my opinion not to make a donation.

We really enjoyed the museum. It is different to similar museums in the UK. Scenes are set out in dioramas - three-dimensional full-sized models of the habitat with life-sized models and stuffed animals.  It's an interesting place for adults and it's a great family attraction in New York too. 

We did a self-guided Night At The Museum tour which I would highly recommend. We saw the capuchin monkey, the skeleton of Tyrannosaurus Rex and the towering figures from Rapa Nui all featured in the film.  If you download the official app for the museum it also helps orientate yourself to this large museum. We also saw one of the timed space shows (free with the New York CityPASS), which was fabulous if you have an interest in space. 

Pros/Cons: If you have a New York CityPASS, you have to queue to exchange your voucher for a ticket but you do get a special attraction for free such as a space show. 

9/11 Memorial and Museum

There is an option with the ticket to see either the 9/11 Memorial and Museum or the Intrepid Space and Air Museum, we decided to go to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. 

When we arrived we saw the queue outside and were worried about how long it would take to gain admission but here having the New York CityPASS was a godsend as it allowed us to skip the queues quickly! 

The museum, on the site of the World Trade Centre, documents the terrorist attacks of  September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, in New York. It examines the aftermath and also provides a memorial for nearly 3000 people killed in these attacks, and all those who risked their lives to save others. 

It is a very moving museum, made all the more relatable to us as the brother of a friend died in the World Trade Centre attack. Although we didn't know him, seeing his photo really hit home. Over 90 countries had people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 67 were British (the largest terror attack on the British) and over 6000 people were injured.  

If you are wondering if it is suitable for children then there is an area where children under 10 years old are not recommended. This area has personal stories related to the attacks and could cause upset to children who may not be able to grasp the enormity of the attacks. To hear actual audio of people reporting and being involved in the attacks and to see photos of the aftermath, personal items, like shoes that have been discarded makes it relatable and sobering.

Pros/Cons: You get to skip the long lines for general admission. 


If you are going to see at least four of these attractions it would probably be worth it, but do your sums, go to the individual websites and work out the difference in price. If you are going to see only a couple of attractions I would say instead buy your individual tickets online. 

As opposed to just turning up at the attraction and not buying your ticket in advance the New York CityPASS can save you queuing at some attractions.  An example of this is that when we went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum we bypassed the long ticket queue. This does not work in all locations though and ticket lines at the Top Of The Rock were especially long.

pin for later

You also get some extras with the New York CityPASS. At the Empire State Building, you get admission but also a return for the same day. This would be great to see the Empire State Building at sunset. At the Natural History Museum, you also have a ticket to a special timed attraction, such as a space show. 

For more information on New York, especially for a first-time traveller, check out this post of Highlights Of New York, For A First Time Visitor, from the travel blog I write with my husband Fly Drive Explore.

I think the New York CityPASS is a good option if you are seeing a number of attractions. It covers a number of attractions suitable for kids in New York too. Just be sure to do your calculations to be sure it's worth buying.

*We were gifted New York CityPASS tickets for an honest review


  1. We are planning a trip to NYC for mine and my husband's 40th birthdays in a few years. I will have to remember to look into the New York City Pass

    1. You can certainly save money of separate attractions.

  2. What a great pass! I so hope to visit New York one day, it looks so awesome. Kaz

  3. It sounds like a great ticket to get round NYC. If I ever manage to get over there, I will definitely check it out

  4. Oh what a great idea to get a ticket to all of those things! I love anything which saves you money, it sounds like a great deal!

  5. What a fantastic idea! And it seems like a good bargain too! I'd love to visit the Museum of Natural History!

  6. That seems like quite a big discount so well worth investing in if you're intending to visit all the best sites in New York!

  7. It sounds like there's no easy way to bypass queuing but this is definitely worth looking into if you're on a budget. I'd like to see the 9/11 museum particularly.

  8. Not sure why I didn’t hear about this pass when I visited last September. Would be on the look out when next I visit

  9. This is a wonderful piece of information. I will look into it when plan for a visit.