Are you looking for information about the New York CityPASS? You've come to the right place 😁
New York is one of the cities with the most iconic sites and places of interest to discover in the world. So it's no surprise that the Big Apple is also one of the most popular tourist destinations for travellers. But once there, discovering all of these places can quickly become a costly affair 😅
To simplify your life (and relieve your wallet), there are several options to buy a single admission ticket giving access to multiple sites. Among these offers, the New York CityPASS is one of the most interesting – even more so for a first trip to New York. It is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some sightseeing!
I'll explain why in this article, as well as give you my thoughts on the New York CityPASS 😊
Also, if you're wondering what to do in New York City, my article on the subject is there to help you plan your stay!
Why choose the New York CityPASS?
As you may or may not know, there are several city passes to choose from when visiting New York City. These passes all offer different packages and prices. In this article, I will introduce the New York CityPASS in detail – but if you want to compare all the available sightseeing city passes, go to my New York Passes article! 😉
To sum up the New York CityPASS, it gives access to 5 must-see tourist sites in New York City, to take in the sights while enjoying a discount of nearly 40% on average on the total price of the different activities. This offer is particularly attractive for a first trip to New York City, and the pass costs £114 per adult.
The New York CityPASS comes in the form of a QR Code. It will allow you to visit at your own pace, without having to wait in long queues. After purchase, the card will be valid for 1 year. It will be activated at first use (for your first visit) and become valid for a period of 9 days from then on. Depending on the date, this period of validity can even be extended to 30 days (especially during the Covid-19 period).
With the New York CityPASS, you can of course visit two of New York's most famous landmarks: the Empire State Building and the American Museum of Natural History. Following that, you will have to choose three of the six activities offered, after which you will receive your pass directly in the form of a QR Code. All you will have to do is present this code during each of your visits.
But no worries, I explain it all in more detail just below ⬇️
The New York CityPASS' must-sees
Unlike other city passes that offer many more attractions, the New York CityPASS focuses only on the must-see activities that everyone wants to do on their first visit to New York City. With its low price, you're almost guaranteed to save money, even if you're only really interested in 4 or 5 of the 8 places offered in total.
The Empire State Building, star of the New York CityPASS
If you had to choose only one place to discover in New York City, it would probably be this one. Visiting the Empire State Building and accessing its panoramic observatory located on the 86th and 102nd floors will give you the opportunity to admire one of the most beautiful views of the city.
The New York CityPASS' bonus
The pass will even allow you to visit the Empire State Building twice in the same day! You can do your first visit during the day, then come back in the evening to enjoy a beautiful sunset over Manhattan 🤩
The pass will also serve as a no-queue ticket at the entrance of the Empire State Building (but not in the lift line), as there is a dedicated New York CityPASS window within the tower.
The American Museum of Natural History
Inside the world's most famous natural history museum, you will see an impressive collection of fossils, including the famous Tyrannosaurus 🦖 You can also discover the origins of mankind and civilisations, learn about the universe and experience many other things. A visit to the AMNH will be a memorable experience for adults and children alike 🙌
For those who don't know, this is also the museum that hosted the filming of the saga Night at the Museum, with famous actor Ben Stiller.
The 6 attractions to choose from
Now, you will not be able to go to all of the following places in New York, at least not with the CityPASS. As I explained above, you will only be able to choose 3 of the following 6 activities. You will have the choice between:
No worries if you have no idea what to pick! I will give you my advice and my recommendations to help you make the best choice between these activities 😉
The Statue of Liberty or the Circle Line Cruise?
- If you choose to visit the Statue of Liberty with your New York CityPASS, you will depart by ferry from lower Manhattan. The boarding bridge is located in Battery Park. During the crossing, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the famous New York City skyline. In addition to seeing Lady Liberty, you will also visit Ellis Island to see the Museum of American Immigration, which tells the story of the 12 million people who arrived in New York by boat in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- If you prefer to go sightseeing on a Circle Line cruise, you can choose between the Harbour Light, Landmarks or Liberty tours. On these 1-2 hour sea tours, you'll see many of the city's landmarks. From the New York Bay, you can enjoy the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline or see New York City’s lights on a night cruise. For more excitement, you can also choose a speedboat tour and enjoy a speedboat ride at over 70 km/h.
⚠️ Before you decide
Before you make your choice, know that tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty and access the inside of the crown are not included in the pass.
I help you make the best choice
For a first visit to New York City, I would recommend choosing the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, because even if the pass doesn't include the access to the interior of the Lady Liberty, you will still have the opportunity to admire the statue well by walking around the whole monument.
This is, in my opinion, the best choice to make, especially since the pass includes the visit of the Statue of Liberty Museum, the ferry ride and the visit of the American Immigration Museum.
9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum?
- The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is a building dedicated to the memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001 and that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It is also dedicated to the victims of the 1993 attack, which had already hit the WTC. The memorial is a place of remembrance, with two very large ponds (surrounded by 400 oak trees), located precisely where the twin towers once stood.
The memorial museum contains a large number of objects and personal belongings that were found as a result of excavations in the rubble of the towers. In the lobby of the museum, photos of the 2,983 victims of the attacks are displayed on a huge wall.
- The museum, which is dedicated to the history of the navy and civil and military aerospace, is located inside the Navy aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, as well as in other museum ships next door. In addition to the aircraft carrier, several other aircrafts can be visited in this museum, such as the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the civilian aircraft Concorde and the submarine USS Growler. The exhibits trace the history of the Navy, Air Force, and the American conquest of space.
Not sure which one to pick? Here's my tip
For a first visit to the Big Apple, I find it best to visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Why? Simply because it commemorates a significant event in contemporary history. Anyone in their twenties remembers more or less clearly that terrifying day in the United States – and the impact it had around the world.
Even better, the New York CityPASS offers a no-queue ticket for the monument. That’s why I think it’s the best choice you can make for a first trip to New York City – and there is nothing to stop you from choosing the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum during your next trip 😉
Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum?
- After the observation deck of the Empire State Building, it is at the Top of the Rock that you can discover the second most beautiful sightseeing spot in New York City. The double advantage of this observatory is that it not only allows you to contemplate the Empire State Building and Central Park, but it offers indoor and outdoor observation platforms, spread over the 3 upper floors of the skyscraper. On the top floor, you can even enjoy a completely unobstructed view of the city, as there are no glass windows or metal fencing.
- Located in a unique building designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim Museum houses one of the world's most impressive collections of modern and contemporary art. The building's distinctive spiral shape can also be seen from the inside, and you can explore the collection of 20th-century works as you move through a long, sloping corridor.
⚠️ Before you decide
As with the Empire State Building, the CityPass will serve as a no-queue ticket for the Top of the Rock entrance – though not for the lift! And same thing for the Guggenheim Museum 🙂
The hardest choice (in my opinion)
Things get more complicated for these last two options. If you are a fan of the most beautiful sceneries, I would recommend you opt for the Top of the Rock. Having climbed both the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock on my trip to New York, I much preferred the Top of the Rock, which allows you to see the impressive height of the ESB as well as Central Park in one go.
If visiting the Empire State Building gave you vertigo, then choose the Guggenheim Museum and its unique architecture. But I honestly believe that going to the top of the Rockefeller Center is the best choice – because if there is a museum not to be missed in New York City, it is actually the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), whose collection is much more complete than the Guggenheim’s.
Book your no-queue ticket for the MoMA 🎫
The MoMA or Museum of Modern Art is the largest modern art museum in New York City. If you are interested in modern art or if you don't want to miss one of the Big Apple’s must-sees, you’ve got to visit this museum – even if it is not included in your New York Pass.
With the admission ticket I suggest here, you will have access to the temporary exhibitions of the museum and will even get an audio guide to download on your smartphone. Don't wait any longer to book! Price of the visit: around £22 🙂
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Please note! The New York CityPASS was updated on March 1, 2022 and no longer includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in its activities.
The MET is in a way the New York equivalent of the British Museum. This Manhattan museum is one of the most visited museums in New York City, and its exhibitions will let you discover works of art from all over the world dating back almost 5,000 years. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collections include more than 2 million paintings, sculptures, and artefacts dating from antiquity to the present.
You can totally visit the MET Museum on top of the visits you do with your New York CityPASS. In fact, I even encourage you not to miss out on this must-see New York museum! 😄
New York CityPASS prices
Adults (from 18 years old)
Children (6 to 17 years old)
Under 6 years old
Free (depending on the activities)
The price of the pass does not vary according to the activities chosen. While you’re purchasing it, you will have to choose an initial date for your pass, and you can cancel your order up to 24 hours before this date.
If you are visiting New York City with children, I do not recommend buying a city pass for children under 6 years old as most New York attractions are free for them – with a few exceptions.
Here is a list of places where children have to pay admission ⬇️
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
$9 (children aged 4 and 5)
Circle Line Cruise
$31 (children aged 3 to 5)
American Museum of Natural History
$16 (children aged 2 to 5)
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
$17 (children aged 5 and 6)
Where to buy the pass?
The New York CityPASS is booked online. It is a 100% electronic ticket that you will receive by email. The email will contain a QR Code that you can scan directly at the different attractions, or you can print it if you prefer. This pass is available on different tourist platforms, but I recommend booking it on Ceetiz – it is a bit cheaper there 😉
How does the pass work?
Once you have done your purchase online and received the QR code, go to the official New York CityPASS website to book your tour slots.
Of course, you may not yet know which day you will be going to which activity! Fortunately, you don't have to decide right away – still, consider doing so 1-2 months before you leave for New York City, to ensure you have the widest choice of time slots. If you wait too long, some attractions may end up full for the day you wanted to go there.
On D-day, show up with your QR code at the time you have selected and save precious time by skipping the queues. Also remember to bring your identity papers with you – the passes are nominative.
Period of validity
The New York CityPASS is valid for 9 days from the time of activation – which is when you first use it for one of the activities. Before activation, the pass is valid for 1 year.
This is the end of this article! I hope it has helped you to choose your different activities in the New York CityPASS. Of course, if this pass doesn’t really interest you, the New York Explorer Pass might be more suitable for you. You can read more about this other pass in my dedicated article! 😁