16 January 2017

Exploring New York with CityPASS

In November I headed over for my first ever trip to the wonderful city that is New York!  As we had just five precious days to see as much as the city as we could (and one of them was Thanksgiving, where the city shuts up shop!) we had to plan our time well.  With it being our first visit, hitting all the must see tourist stops was a priority, but typically these are busy and the costs can soon add up!  Luckily this is where CityPASS stepped in.


CityPASS is, as the name suggest, a passbook full of tickets to some of the city’s biggest attractions, at a much cheaper price then on the gate.  They have them at various US cities, but the New York version offers 6 tickets to top attractions that can save you $80.  Here is what's included in CityPASS:
The Empire State Building
The cool thing about this ticket is that it actually gets you in to this most famous of buildings twice, once in the day time, and again on the same day at night. So you get to see this fantastic view in two different lights, perfect for this changing city skyline!  Our time was limited and as we went here on Thanksgiving day (in fact, it was one of the only things open) so we only got to see it at night, and it was stunning!  With CityPASS you skip the ticket line here so no waiting around, just right into the elevator.  View aside the interior of The Empire State Building is stunning, It’s the most beautiful Art Deco style that looks like something straight out of a movie set.
The American Museum of Natural History
We had come to New York to celebrate my other half's 30th Birthday and I think this was on the top of his must visit list.  He’s really into space and included in this is a ticket to the planetarium, which is unlike anything I have ever seen. The whole museum is huge!  Our last day was spent here, and we focused on just two areas, the planetarium and the dinosaurs. With CityPASS you not only get faster with the dedicated CityPASS queue, but you get a ticket to either the Hayden Planetarium Space Show Dark Universe or a giant screen film in either 2 or 3D.  We went for DarkUniverse and I can’t recommend it enough.  I learnt so much and the narration and presentation are all amazing.  The dinosaurs also have a new edition, the aptly named 122 foot Titanosaur is one of the biggest things I’ve ever seen!  It barely fits into the room it’s housed in, literally owe inspiring.  


The Metropolitan Museum of Art
We were only in New York for five days, and with the museums and galleries closed on Thanksgiving we didn’t get around to visiting here unfortunately.  It’s the number one museum in the world according to TripAdvisor with over 5000 pieces of art so maybe we missed out.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum
For the rest of these you get the option of places to visit, so if one isn’t for you, fear not!  However if you want to do both, then usually CityPASS includes a discount for the other, so you get one included and a discount for the second, so you’ll never miss out!
The Guggenheim is one of the world’s finest collections of modern art in the world including those of Picasso on Van Gogh.  The building itself is a masterpiece of architecture, so if the The Empire State Building ticks the skyline view for you, this is one to look at.  However for me, I just had to check out Top of the Rock. I had heard differing views of people who preferred this vs The Empire State Building view and I’m glad I got to do both.  I went to Top of the Rock in the daytime, so I got to see the famous skyline in the day time.  Turning up with your CityPASS ticket you will enter a separate queue where you will receive a timed ticket to head on up in the elevator.  Unlike at the Empire State Building the view here is on multi-levels all included in your CityPASS ticket and through glass, so no trying to fit your camera in between mesh to get an Instagram worthy shit!  The view you get of central park here is second to none.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
With New York's Island structure a boat trip is a must for any visit.  With CityPASS you actually get a choice of five, the State of Liberty and Ellis Island Trip, or one of four boat trips with Circle Line; Landmark, Harbour Lights, Statue of Liberty or BEAST speedboat cruises.  After a lot of research I decided to go with the landmark tour, a 1.5 hour trip around lower Manhattan that takes in all the sights.  Because it was off peak season out daytime cruise ran just once a day, but the timing was perfect. We headed out with the perfect lighting for sightseeing, and headed back as the sun was setting.  It was a romantic (although rather chilly) way to end our last full day in the city.  Getting on board couldn’t be easier, we just turned up with our CityPASS and on we went.  I honestly can’t recommend this tour enough, there was indoor seating if you didn’t want to brave the chill like us, food and drink available, and our guide had such a natural pater you felt like you were listening to an old friend!  
9/11 Memorial & Museum or Intrepid Air & Space Museum
We headed to the 9/11 Memorial & museum with our passes which again had it’s own CityPASS line, and although it was moving and thought provoking, both myself and Harry had some mixed feelings about it, which I will leave that for another post.  The memorial outside is a fitting tribute to all those who lost their lives on that tragic day, and it truly is a sight to behold.  I think if we had more time we would have loved to head to the Air & Space Museum, we caught a glimpse at some of the exhibits when we were heading for the Circle Line cruise which is just next door and it looked really great!   


Needless to say, I fell in love with CityPASS!  It was super easy and convenient to use, it saved me money and time!  As a first timer to the city it was perfect, as all the main tourist attractions are included.  Here’s a quick round up of why I loved using CityPASS!

It saves money
This is the main reason people are going to use CityPASS let’s face it.  The ticket can save you as much as $80 per person then buying at the Box Office and 41% off regular admission of some attractions.  

It saves time
New York is one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world, so then you are headed to visit its icons you can expect to find them busy.  With CityPASS you can skip the ticket queue, and some attractions even have CityPASS entries to pass the queues.  Of course, there’s always going to be some waiting involved but with CityPASS we definitely saved time during our precious five day visit.  The tickets also last 9 days from the first use so there’s no need to rush through them.

There’s extra discounts too!
In the back of your CityPASS you will find discounts to other great city attractions including restaurants, shops, souvenirs, museum shop discounts and more.  For example at the time I used them they include Macy’s, Bloomingdales's and discounts on Hop On Hop Off tour buses.

Easy to purchase
Once you order online the passes can either be delivered to your home, hotel or just print out a voucher that you simply exchange at your first attraction.  Ours was waiting for us at the hotel so we could start exploring straight away. Decide you want to get one while you're already there?  That’s fine, just head to any attraction working with CityPASS and purchase your pass there.  


I had such a great experience with CityPASS that I would definitely use them again.  CityPASS is available in 12 different US cities and I am currently planning another trip in the next few years so I will be getting one of these again.  Also if you think this is full on, they now do a C3 ticket, where you can pick from 3 of the above attractions if you have less time.  

Have you ever used CityPASS?
P.S want to see a little more of NYC, check out my travel vlog below:

CityPASS sent me two passes to use in New York that I could review if I wished to, and I did because it was honestly fab!  All words and opinions my own. 

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