How to Make the Most of Your New York City Pass

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If you are visiting “The Big Apple” for the first time, there are probably a million things you want to see and do while you are there. Even if you have visited a dozen times, there are so many things to do that you still probably have a full agenda planned. The only problem with a full agenda is an empty wallet. That is where a New York City Pass comes into play. For a flat fee, you can visit as many attractions as you can fit into your schedule. If you think smart and plan out your itinerary, you can make the most out of your New York City Pass and save a bunch of money.

What Exactly is a New York City Pass?

A New York City Pass lets you visit over 100 attractions with one convenient pass. You can pick from a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 consecutive-day New York City Pass. Once you choose the length of your pass, pay for it, and either download it to your smartphone or print out a paper pass, if that works better for you. The pass does not activate until you enter your first attraction, so you can purchase it ahead of time and start making plans without losing any of your days.

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Some of the most popular sights in the city can be accessed with the New York City Pass, including the Empire State Building Observatory, the Statue of Liberty, One World Observatory, Madame Tussauds, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Botanical Garden, and one of the city’s exciting new attractions, Edge. There are also dozens of tours to choose from with your New York City Pass that cover all sorts of different aspects of New York, from Central Park and Rockefeller Center to bike tours and cruises. Pretty much any major attraction you want to visit in New York can be done with a New York City Pass.

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Getting the Most Out of Your New York City Pass

A New York City Pass is not cheap. A two-day pass for one person typically runs around $175 (although there are occasionally discounts and specials, so keep an eye out if you are planning a trip). The reason it is worth buying is that it is often cheaper than paying for each of the attractions individually. Over the course of a trip, if you plan your itinerary right, you can visit multiple attractions each day and save anywhere from $25 to $200, depending on the length of your New York City Pass (2-day, 7-day, etc).

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Here are a few tips for maximizing your savings with your New York City pass.

Once you enter the first attraction with your New York City Pass, it becomes active and starts your first day so do not wait until late in the day to use your pass for the first time. If you do not visit your first attraction until 3:00 pm, that still counts as your first day. Instead, start using your pass that morning. Then you have the opportunity to visit two or three places using your New York City pass on the first day. 

The same thing applies for the rest of the days of your New York City Pass. Try to use it two to three times a day for maximum savings. That may seem hectic, but if you look at a map and visit places that are fairly nearby each other you can easily check off a few places in the same day.

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For instance, head down to the end of Manhattan on your first day and visit the Statue of Liberty. After you are done at the Statue of Liberty, consider visiting the One World Observatory and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on the same day. Then, on day two check out the view from Edge, visit Madame Tussaud’s and end the day with the sights from the Empire State Building Observatory. All of those activities add up to somewhere in the ballpark of $220 if you bought a ticket at each of those attractions individually. So with a 2-day New York City Pass, you would save yourself $45.

If you do not like all your days to be busy and would rather spend some time wandering around Central Park or just seeing where the day takes you, consider getting a pass for only part of your trip. That way you can save some money visiting all the tourist attractions you want to hit and then spend the other days enjoying a more relaxed itinerary. Maybe get a pass for two days when you are visiting the city for five days. That way you can spend the first day or two in New York wandering around and having a relaxed time. Then spend the middle two days running around visiting attractions with your New York City Pass.

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One important thing to keep in mind that will help make the most out of your pass is that some attractions need or even require reservations. While you can hit up the museums at any time without purchasing tickets ahead of time, other things like Edge and the Empire State Building Observatory really need advance reservations if you want to visit them at a particular time of day. With your New York City Pass, you can make those reservations ahead of time and it does not activate your pass.

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Once you buy your New York City Pass, you can get on the website or download the app and make reservations for any of the attractions you want to visit that need them. Some reservations require you to enter your New York City Pass number or an order reference number to secure the reservation, but entering that information does not activate your pass. It will not actually activate until you scan the barcode at an attraction the first time. So plan ahead, get some things set, and make a few reservations so that you can time things out the way that works the best for you and that will maximize what you can do every day.

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Another thing to know is that your New York City Pass stays active until midnight on the last day, regardless of when you activated it on the first day. So if you have a 2-day pass, it will work until midnight on the second day. Use that to your advantage! The Empire State Building, for example, has tickets available until 11:00 p.m. so consider doing something later in the evening that last day – if you visit the Empire State Building at night, you will not regret it because the view of the city all lit up at night is amazing. 

The same goes for every day of your pass, though. It does not turn off at any time of the day, so use it! New York is the city that never sleeps, so do not be afraid to head out at night and check out an attraction. The city is gorgeous at night.

Not Just in New York City

Everyone knows that when you travel to a major city and want to visit all the hot places there, it is going to end up costing big money. The good news is that this city pass is not unique to New York. The company behind New York City Pass, Go City, has similar passes in Chicago, Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. So if you visit New York City and love the convenience of using a pass or you are thinking of visiting one of these other cities instead of New York, you can get the same convenience and savings when you visit attractions in these other cities. Hello, Vegas!


If you know you are going to visit certain places while visiting New York, total up the cost to visit them all and consider how many days you need to fit it all in. Compare that to what it would cost with a New York City Pass. Chances are that if you are visiting enough spots, you will save money. Next time you are booking a trip to New York, think about what you want to do and where you want to go and consider buying a New York City Pass. Any amount of money you can save seeing the city can be used towards all the amazing food you are going to eat while you are there!

WANT TO READ MORE?

Before you activate that New York City Pass, check out 10 Of The Best Skyscraper Buildings Around The World.

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Michelle Frick
Michelle Frick
Michelle lives in North Carolina. Originally from New England, she's an East Coast girl through and through. Besides her love of writing, she enjoys running, practicing yoga, watching hockey, and cheering on the Boston Red Sox.

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