I spent the first week of November in the city that never sleeps – New York City. It was my first visit to NYC, and it was a place that I’d been dreaming about seeing since I was a kid. The packed city streets and never-ending blocks of museums, restaurants and shops have always held a certain fascination for me, so I was thrilled to finally explore this city.
Being an NYC newbie, there were a number of traditional tourist spots on my must-see list. After researching prices and reviews, I decided to try out the New York Pass in the hope of saving some cash.
The New York Pass is a plastic card that grants you access to 80+ tourist attractions, museums and tour experiences in NYC. You pay one flat fee (which varies depending on the length of time you’d like your pass to be valid for), and you can get into as many of the listed attractions as you can fit into your schedule. You can also add a “Hop-On-Hop-Off” bus tour package for a discounted rate, which is good for three days of unlimited use toward their five designated tour routes. A full list of New York Pass prices can be found here and a list of participating attractions can be found here.
I paid $269 for a 5-day pass + 3-day “Hop-On-Hop-Off” bus package.
Below is a list of all of the attractions I made it to in my five days with the pass, plus their listed entry prices. These are the prices I would have paid had I walked up to the ticket counter at each individual attraction and purchased tickets myself.
American Museum of Natural History – $22
Empire State Building – $32
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – $24
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – $25
NY SKYRIDE – $42
Radio City Music Hall Tour – $26.95
The Ride – $79
Rockefeller Center Tour – $20
Saturday Night Live: The Exhibition – $29
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island – $18
Top of the Rock – $32
9/11 Memorial/Museum – $24
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour Pass – $89
Total Potential Cost: $462.95
Total Paid with New York Pass: $269
Before I leave you with these numbers, I’ll add a few caveats:
- Regarding the listed price of each attraction, you can get discounted rates if you purchase some of these as a bundle. For example, you can buy a bundle for the Empire State Building + NY SKYRIDE for $64. You can also buy a bundle for Top of the Rock + Rockefeller Center Tour for $44. Had I bundled these, my total cost without the New York Pass would have been $444.95.
- For the museums (The Met & the Museum of Natural History), the entry prices above are recommended prices listed online. Entry is essentially a “pay what you can” system. I saw people pay with only a $5 bill, while others were paying the recommended amount in full. So while the New York Pass does provide you entry into these museums, the listed value may be seen by some as slightly confusing.
Based on the numbers above, and taking the caveats into consideration, at a bare minimum, the New York Pass paid for itself, plus over $175 more.
Considering the New York Pass for an upcoming trip? Here are my general pros & cons:
New York Pass Pros & Cons
- I loved how easy it was to get my attraction tickets. When I visited (the first week of November), none of the lines were particularly long. In most instances, I walked right up to the counter, handed them my New York Pass, and received my ticket. Easy!
- For those visiting during busier seasons, fast track lines are available at some attractions for New York Pass holders.
- Having the New York Pass inspired me to branch out and try activities that I probably would not have if I had been without the pass (for example, The Ride).
- I loved that the NYP provided discounts on other activities/restaurants/shopping too, outside of the items included in the pass. I didn’t really take advantage of these because I was on a strict budget in NYC, but I could see plenty of people getting great value out of these extras. Discounts were available at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, M&M’s World, Manhattan Helicopter Tours, various walking tours, Central Park carriage rides, plus plenty of restaurants.
- The biggest Pro of all: The money I saved is very apparent! While I paid only $269 for the NYP, I received (at a minimum) $444.95 value for it. Winning!
- I felt a bit of pressure to run from attraction to attraction. The pass is pricey, so I wanted to get the most value possible out of it. I did, but there were times I wished I had more time to spend at a given attraction. There were also times when new friends invited me to go out or explore with them, and I had to turn them down because I wanted to get the value out of my pass. This is something to consider if you prefer to travel in a more fluid manner, which I typically do.
- Some attractions offer upgrades that you can purchase when you arrive. For example, the NYP gets you into the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which includes access to the USS Intrepid + the Submarine Growler, however you have to pay an extra $8 to view the Enterprise Space Shuttle (note that it never actually went to space, if that matters to you). Most of these upgrades really aren’t necessary (I’m afraid of heights so, no, I don’t need to pay $20 extra to get to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building instead of just the 86th floor, thank you very much). All of these little upgrades give the impression of devaluing the pass, even though the pass is really a great value.
Overall, I was very pleased with my purchase of the New York Pass. There were no hiccups with the purchase or pick-up process. My pass was accepted easily at all of the attractions, and I didn’t have to deal with the burden of having to constantly pull out my cash / credit card for another charge.
Despite feeling like I was constantly on-the-go, I got to see SO MUCH while I was in New York City. I’m not sure that I would have pushed myself to see so much if I didn’t have the pass.
If you’re traveling to New York and considering the New York Pass, I recommend making a list of the attractions you’d like to see, and pricing them out to see if the pass would be a great value for you. I personally feel that it would be a wise investment for those visiting New York for the first time, as many of the attractions you’ll likely want to see will be included. It’s a great way to save money, go from attraction to attraction with ease, and push yourself to see more of this amazing city!
See more from my adventures in New York City:
Would you use the New York Pass for a trip to NYC? Let me know in the comments below!
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