By far the most comprehensive of the three options, there are several factors to consider before deciding to purchase this card. For this option especially, understanding your goals and limitations during your New York trip will be key in assessing its value.
In a nutshell, the New York Pass is a pre-paid credit card of sorts that allows its users discounted cash-free access to over 55 different attractions in and around Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Purchasing the New York Pass is a great way to save money if you plan to visit New York for the purpose of sightseeing and want to cover a lot of ground in a short time.
With the New York Pass, you can visit as many sights as you want each day without paying any entrance fees. However, you can only go to each sight once per day. This does not stop you from visiting the same sight on different days on a multi-day pass though, which is a unique feature among the passes.
Depending on how long you plan to stay in the area, a New York Pass can be active for 1, 2, 3, or 7 days, with different daily costs associated with each plan. The pass is valid for one year following its purchase and is only activated once you use it at one of the attractions. This allows for flexibility in deciding when to do sightseeing on a longer trip.
There are a few fine print details to be aware of as well. First, the days that the pass may be used must be contiguous. Therefore, if you activate a 3-day pass on Friday, it will be valid for Friday, Saturday a3d Sunday only. Second, the pass is activated based on calendar days. This makes it prudent to activate your pass early on the first day you plan to use it in order to get the full benefit of its discount.
As mentioned in the introduction, this pass is extremely comprehensive and comes with a lot of great features. Besides the smart card that allows for cashless entry (and therefore eliminates the need to carry too much money on you in New York) the purchase price will also include a 176-page guidebook that will help you in planning out your sightseeing trip. This book is available in five languages—English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian—and in addition to detailed maps of the city it also includes hours of operations, contact phone numbers and detailed directions to each site.
In addition to the physical inclusions, people who purchase the New York Pass are also offered some additional benefits. The most popular benefit is the “fast track” option that allows pass holders to skip lines at many popular attractions including the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, the museum at Ellis Island, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Planet Hollywood and several others.
There are also retail and theatre discounts offered to New York Pass holders. This includes an 11% savings pass for Macy’s at Harold’s Square, a 10% discount and free gift at Bloomingdales, VIP seating at Planet Hollywood, a free bottle of champagne with World Yacht Dining cruises, and many more.
One of the absolute best perks of the NYP is connected to tours, which really add up to additional attractions. With the NYP, you can take one free Food on Foot Tour, get a free tour and tasting at the Brooklyn Brewery, receive a free round-trip bus ticket to Atlantic City, and receive discounts on many other tours available in and around New York.
Another great feature of the NYP is that it is digital. This means that each pass has a unique ID number and is catalogued in a computer system. Therefore, if you lose your NYP pass at any time, you can call the home office and get a new pass issued. However, in order to do this you must know the card’s ID number so that the old pass can be deactivated. In many ways this is just like a credit card.
Finally, NYP also offers its users an iPhone app that will provide information similar to that found in the guidebook as well as practical information for international travelers. The app will also outline certain privileges and savings exclusive to NYP holders.
There are two versions of the New York Pass, adult and child. Anyone over the age of 3 needs a pass, but those 12 and under can get one at reduced cost per day. For simplicity’s sake all prices will be presented as adult first, child second.
As mentioned before, the pricing of the NYP varies according to the number of days that you choose to buy and again it is important to emphasize that the days that you use the pass must be continuous.
The 1-day pass runs for $80/$55. The 2-day pass is $125/$105. The 3-day pass is $155/$135. And the 7-day pass is $200/$160. Though all of the passes can save you money if you visit the right attractions, the 3 and 7-day passes are by far the best deal in terms of cost-per-day breakdown as compared to time. With the 1 and 2-day passes, you need to be really aggressive in your sightseeing in order to reap a true financial benefit from this pass. In contrast, with the 7-day pass literally visiting one attraction per day can save you money if you choose attractions wisely.
The New York Pass is sold both online and in New York, but buying online is the clear choice since you will able to receive the guidebook and start planning your trip ahead of time. Also, if you look ahead enough, you will often find deals or promotional codes to go along with your pass purchase. Buying NYP also comes with a 100% Money-back Guarantee as well as an additional option for pass insurance should your plans change. Again, you have one full year from the time of purchase to activate the New York Pass, so it is really great for those who are planning ahead.
No Coupons are available right now. However purchasing this pass at Viator guarantees the lowest price, has no pick-up fee and if you spend over $200, you get airline miles from American, United or Delta.
The NYP also offers some additional options to its users that will make their experience in New York even better. The first is the hop-on, hop-off bus pass. This allows you to take advantage of the famous CitySights double-decker buses for your transportation around New York. Especially if you plan on travelling to several destinations that are far away, this is a great option as it eliminates the costly use of cabs or the confusing use of the subway system. The bus option is available for 2 or 3 days and can be added to 2, 3, and 7 day passes at a discounted rate.
The second add-on is the VIP Platinum Package that provides a 1-day, 6-hour private tour in a 15-passenger mini-coach. You can plan your own itinerary for this package and it could be an excellent choice for a large group.
All told, the attraction entrance fees covered by the New York pass exceed $700. So, if you are into heavy sightseeing, purchasing this pass can save you a lot of money. In addition, you have the option of returning to an attraction on different days, allowing you to visit the Empire State Building, for example, both day and night. This feature adds up to even more savings and is not available with other New York tourist passes.
The real value of the NYP, however, is really contingent on your travel plans and tourist personality. There are some people who will clearly benefit more from this pass than others. This can be assessed by determining the volume of sightseeing that you plan to do and measuring that against the length of your stay in New York. Remember, there are a lot of other attractions and experiences in the Big Apple not included with the NYP, such as Broadway, shopping, dining and sports teams (See the Alternatives section of this site for details). So it’s key to know what is most important to you and how long you have to dedicate to these attractions specifically.
As we mention in the cost breakdown, the value of the pass increases with the number of days you purchase, and that holds true especially if you plan to visit several sights on each of those days. Going to high-cost attractions, such as Food on Foot tours, The Empire State Building, Madame Tussaud’s, the Sky Ride, Top of the Rock and the Circle Line Cruise, is the key to making the most out of this pass. The flip side is that these attractions can also take up a lot of time (the Circle Line, for example, runs for about 3 hours).
One absolute necessity for travelers using the New York Pass is planning ahead. If you are a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of tourist who doesn’t have the time or desire to go through the guidebook and plan ahead, the value of the NYP will most likely be lost on you. It’s essential to purchase the NYP and have it at your home several weeks before leaving for your trip in order to really look through and plan what you will do and when. This way you can take advantage of the maps, which will show you what is where and make routes that will help you to reduce travel time.
There are also several other important tips to keep in mind when using the NYP if your goal is to get the most value for your purchase. This includes researching the best days and times to go to each attraction. The line for the Empire State Building, for example, is shortest in the morning. It is also generally better to do your “big name” sightseeing in the middle of the week when the tourist traffic will be reduced. You also want to be very careful about which museums you visit and when, since these trips can be time consuming—the Metropolitan Museum of Art has over 2 million pieces and hosts several varying exhibitions at varying times. A true “art-y” could spend an entire week in the Met alone!
That’s why it’s important to understand your priorities as a tourist and plan ahead as much as possible. If you plan on lingering in museums and stopping to eat and shop, a 1 or 2-day pass will not likely benefit you much and there are other options out there that may be a better bet.
Bottom line: if you are going to New York primarily as a sightseer and/or have at least 3 days to exclusively spend sightseeing in New York, the New York Pass can be a great value. It is by far the most comprehensive of all the New York City tourist passes and has several unique features, such as the ability to revisit attractions and a great replacement policy. However, this pass is really designed for those going to New York for the express purpose of sightseeing and wish to do so over a short period of time. Other tourist pass options are valid longer that the NYP, so with this option you need to be dedicated to your sightseeing goals in order to get your money’s worth.
Circle Line River Cruise
Empire State Building
Harry Potter™ Exhibit
Statue of Liberty
New York Skyride
Top of the Rock
Museum of Modern Art
Food on Foot Tours
World Trade Center Heros Tour
American Museum of Natural History
Atlantic City Excursion on Academy Bus
Bike and Roll NYC Bike Rental
Bronx Museum of the Arts
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Brooklyn Historical Society
Carnegie Hall Tours
Central Park Bicycle Rentals & Tours
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Clipper City Tall Ship Cruises
Manhattan By Sail
Dwyer Cultural Center
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
El Museo del Barrio
Empire State Building Observation Deck
FDNY Fire Zone
Food on Foot Tours
Harry Potter: Exhibit at Times Square
Historic Richmond Town
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Jewish Children's Museum
Madame Tussaud's New York
Madison Square Garden, All Access Tour
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Museum of the City of New York
NBC Studio Tour
New York Botanical Garden
New York Hall of Science
New York Skyride
New York Transit Museum
New York Water Taxi
New York: Harlem Scavenger Hunt Tour
Noble Maritime Collection
On Location Tours
Queens Museum of Art
Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour
Real Bronx Tour
Manhattan By Sail
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Staten Island Botanical Garden
Staten Island Children's Museum
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Immigration Ferry
The Broadway Theater District Walking Tour
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Cloisters Museum and Gardens
The Hispanic Society of America
The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Museum of Sex
The New York City Police Museum
The Paley Center for Media
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Top of the Rock
Tour at Lincoln Center
Tribute WTC Visitor Center
“Sails to Sales” South Street Seaport Tour
Edgar Allan Poe Greenwich Village Tour
Uncle Sam's Fifth Avenue Fashion Tour
Uncle Sam's Hamilton Financial Tour
Heroes of the World Trade Center Tour
Van Cortlandt House Museum
Weeksville Heritage Center
Whitney Museum of American Art