Last updated: 04:26 PM ET, Wed July 08 2015

Is CityPASS Worth It?

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | July 06, 2015

Is CityPASS Worth It?

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CityPASS  started in 1997 as a bundled ticket package that provides the consumer with discount admission to various attractions throughout the city. Originally started in the markets of Seattle and San Francisco, CityPASS  has grown to 12 cities nationwide. 

But is the promise of the city’s top attractions, with up to half off separately paid admissions, and ample time to use them too good to be true? Let’s crunch the numbers:


New York will serve as the examples for this demonstration.  New York gives you access to the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock Observation deck or the Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. 

As you can see from the chart on the left, there is a savings of $55.  If you think that you are going to see all of the sights that they offer, go ahead and get it. There are also upgrades available if you would like to enhance your experience. 

Just an FYI, the Metropolitan and the Museum of Natural History are both recommended ticket prices.  You can technically pay less if you need to do this trip really cheap.


This is probably the first question that comes to mind when considering a CityPASS : “Am I going to have enough time to get to all those places?” With CityPASS  you get nine consecutive days to use the pass from the time of your first use. There are other multi-site passes on the market as well that are time-driven which, if you are one of those people that wants to cram as much into the day as you possibly can, you should consider. 

They normally give you more places to choose from but you have a limited amount of time to see the sights.


Speaking of sights, are you really getting the best sights in the city that you choose?  CityPASS  claims to base their choices on attractions on annual attendance. They may not however, be the places that you want to see.  There are also some stipulations with each ticket that you get with CityPASS . 

For instance, if you are interested in entering the Statue of Liberty Monument or going to the higher observatory on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, you are going to have to pay extra or make special arrangements in advance. On the other hand, by purchasing a CityPASS  you get the bonus of a same-day-after-10 p.m. second admission to the 86th floor observation deck which you don’t get with a normal ticket. 

The CityPASS  folks also claim that you get to bypass ticket lines with a CityPASS  purchase. This is very true however, you still have to wait in security lines, etc . like everyone else. So although you will definitely alleviate some wait, there will still be some regardless.

In Conclusion

If price alone is your sole criterion, than the CityPASS  is your jam. If you are looking to have more of a choice in where you go, are trying to visit as much as possible in the short time that you have in a city, or money is less of a concern, you may want to consider other pass options or just piecemeal-ing it attraction by attraction. 

The best advice here is to just do your research, make a to-do list of where you want to go, and give yourself enough time to do it.  And remember; it is ok to leave something for the next time.

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