There are several different passes you can buy for New York City. Many cities have similar, a pass where you pay a flat fee to cover the entry fee for as many attractions on the list as you can fit in for a limited number of days, usually 3, 5 or a week. The more days you want it for, the more expensive it is and it's worth it if you have the energy to fit a lot in each day and rush from one to the next during opening hours. I've never found them worth it for me. I wouldn't break even.
I discovered one for NYC that's a bit different. The New York Explorer Pass by Smart Destinations. You pay for 3, 5, 7 or 10 attractions and it's good for 30 days. They have a list of over 50 sights, museums and tours that it covers with some limitations. It lets you skip the ticket line in many cases. You can also use it for discounts at a few shops like Macy's. Depending on what you want to see, it may be a better option. It is for us.
You book and pay for it and they send you (free shipping) a smart card with a chip on it. it keeps track of how many things you've used it for. You get a guide as well that outlines all the things you can do, locations, transportation to the site and if there are any rules, such as pre-booking. There are a handful of hop-on hop-off tours but you can only take one of them, that's one restriction.
We booked the 5 attraction pass since 4 of the things we wanted to do were on the list anyway and we'll decide on a fifth thing when we get there. We've got it narrowed down to two or three choices already. Our trip will cover 4 days so it'll be nice to spread the sightseeing out instead of cramming it in 3 days to do/see everything that would make the other type of pass worth while. For longer visits to the city, I think this would be your best bet.
Fondest memory: The website says the pass is on sale and it "ends today". It's been saying that the whole time I've been looking at it. Over a month. Never mind, it's a good deal. They ship to Canada, too, using Fedex so keep that in mind. There's also free cancellation insurance. You can display on your smartphone, too, instead of using the smartcard.
They also have a GoSelect card where you can specifically pick the attractions and they charge you discounted fees overall depending on how many you choose. Still good for 30 days. You can pick from pre-set packages or build your own.
Price as of today (April 2013) including the "sale" (all in US$) for the Explorer pass (cheaper for children):
3 days - $79.99
5 days - $116.99 (reg. $129.99)
7 days - $145.19 ($164.99)
10 days - $178.49 ($209.99)
Smart Destinations, New York Explorer passes
You can try the online automatic trip planner
It algorithmically creates the itinerary free in a couple of seconds based on your interests.
For the Broadway show do book your tickets in advance
The Letterman show
Don't forget your combined citypass and metro pass for the week. It knocks a lot off the entrance fees for all the attractions and allows you unlimited travel on the subway (the very best way to get around, although there are lots of steps, maybe not so good for the parents). It's a good idea to buy online (we picked ours up from the Hard Rock Cafe) so you get a good deal. You also do not have to stand in line, the ticket tells you where to go to get in faster.
As for food, opposite Penn Station (near the New Yorker Ramada hotel) there was a lean against the rail hot dog street bar, 75c a dog. Incredibly cheap but not spotless. The other end of the scale was a $40 per person full breakfast in a fancy restaurant.
I'd get a sandwich from a deli plus a drink and have my lunch on a bench near Battery Park. New Yorkers often eat lunch in a park outside, it's fine as long as you don't drink alcohol outside.
Lots of ice cream places for a sugar fix. Whatever you do, don't have one of those *wraps*. The two I had (different locations) tasted like cardboard.
Fondest memory: Oh, if you want to shop, take your passport to the customer services desk at Macy's and you can get a discount card. International shoppers can get a discount card good for 11% off most purchases at the Visitor's Center.
With dollar at $1.50 for £1 and the 11% discount, you can't really go wrong.
I think you can increase the quality of your NYC experience, good deals can be had and you can save money by:
- renting an apartment vs a hotel room;
- buying a CityPass
NYC / Manhattan hotels are mostly small and really expensive. Large nice ones (e.g. Grand Hyatt) can be $300-500/night in Manhattan.
Craigslist has apartments in the best neighborhoods (Greenwich Village, East Village, etc) for much less.
That is what I did & it worked out great.
I rented an excellent apartment in an upscale Greenwich Village brownstone with my own private terrace and full amenities for $150-175 a night.
Most of the apartment listings use PayPal for deposit & payment making it totally painless. I will never stay in a hotel again in NYC unless I want to and have bucks to burn.
Tip: Just make sure you screen the owner (if they are legit, they will screen YOU carefully), and don't pay full amount in cash upfront.
Most good Craigslist NYC apartment deals use PayPal or some other method to prevent both of you from getting ripped off.CityPass is available for about $65 and gets you into 6 NYC tourist sites, harbor cruises etc. without waiting in line.
If you know you're going to hit any three of these (imo a "no-brainer")
- Empire State Building Observatory (especially this one)
- Guggenheim Museum
- The Museum of Modern Art
- American Museum of Natural History & Rose Center
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
then CityPass is definitely worth it.
If only one or two, imo pay as you go and skip the pass.
Fondest memory: Aside from all the great food, art, music, nightlife & streetscenes, strolling the neighborhoods and just sitting & relaxing quietly on the deck of a Greenwich Village apartment overlooking the garden with an old friend,
resting up for the next foray into the city.
Hitting Paris and NYC back-2-back in fall of 2005 was for me a really hedonistic & amusing comparison of cultures & style, and I would recommend it to anyone.
For $65 per person, New York CityPass lets you visit
- Empire State Building Observatory
- Circle Line cruise
- American Museum of Natural History and Rose Center
- Guggenheim Museum
giving you a savings of US$131. Valid for 9 days
Take a bus tour of the city. You'll get a great view if you sit top deck and take in most of the sights in relative comfort.
I strongly recommend buying a 'Lonely Planet' guide for every destination though. If you're limited by time you can pick out the places of interest and head straight for them.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of New York was meeting one of the locals in Bloomingdales. It was a lady promoting a brand of perfume who upon hearing my accent, chatted to me for a good 45 mins! She was interested in England and asked for my point of view on various topics.
I found the people to be friendly and open and for me, it's the people that make a place.
Last time I was in NYC, I looked up walking tours (always a good way to get to know a piece of the city better). Since my travel was in November, most of the sites that popped up on google were not offering tours (they operate in the summer, basically). I did find, however, www.walknyc.com.
WalkNYC is run by a young couple and they have a very large array of walking tours to choose from. You can email them or call them, let them know when you'll be in town, how many people you are, and voila - your walking tour is set in motion!
James was our guide and the tour we did of the Upper West Side was very informative, fun, funny and enlightening.
Highly recommend it to anyone. Check out their web site for more info.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of the walking tour of the Upper West Side was James's theory on why the accoustics are so good at Avery Fisher Hall (it has to do with selling more CD's and the occupation of the designer).
Purchase a City Pass. For $48 you can get tickets for the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum, the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, the Empire State Building Observatory, and a Circle Line Harbor Cruise. www.citypass.net
Fondest memory: Hopping the subway around town, over-paying for a cup of coffee, people-watching in Central Park.
All of the numbered avenues reach Houston Street, with the exception of Fifth Avenue, which runs into Washington Square Park. The avenues with even numbers run one way, north to south. The avenues with odd numbers run one way, south to north. However, the East side numbered avenues run the opposite way.
Fondest memory: There is so much to see even waiting in line at tkts (Times Square) to get my half price ticket to a show in Broadway was interesting.
CityPass is simple. The New York CityPass gets you into six famous New York City attractions. You have nine days to visit each attraction (once) beginning the day you first use your CityPass. You can purchase CityPass at any of the New York City attractions, or you can buy online here. Once you have your CityPass, simply present your booklet on your way into each attraction. The agent will remove that attraction's ticket, and you're in. (Tickets are void if removed from the CityPass booklet). For detailed information about each attraction, including hours, location and an Insider's Tip, please click on the attraction links located on the left hand part of this page.
MoMA has moved to Queens while MoMA Manhattan undergoes a 3-year renovation. CityPass includes admission to MoMA in Queens.
Fondest memory: The price for an adult ticket is $45.00, a $46.00 savings from the $91.00 it would cost without the pass.
Youth pass for ages 6-17 is $39.00, which is a $38.50 savings from the $77.50 cost without the pass.
Usually, just visiting a couple of these attractions make the pass worth the purchase. You can purchase them at any of the attractions or online at the following site.
Casablanca Hotel New York City
1 Review and 2413 Opinions This is a Hotel /Bed and Breakfast. It is a oasis in the middle of Times Square. It is quiet inside...
Library Hotel New York City
3 Reviews and 1718 Opinions The Library is a good little hotel but the frustration is it could be a great hotel. Great concept...
The French Quarters Guest Apartments New York City
1 Review and 395 Opinions The location is great, some 5 minutes fom Time Square and is situated in the street called...
see all New York City member meetings