And then there are the classics, a huge list that includes everything from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Central Park and the High Line to the Empire State Building.
The choices can seem overwhelming, especially if you have limited time. But one way to take advantage of the Big Apple’s best attractions is the CityPASS, a ticket booklet designed in partnership with NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism agency.
CityPASS gives you 40% off the admission price to your choice of six attractions—and you’ll have 9 days in which to visit them. The current price is $116 per ticket booklet for adults, $92 for kids 6-17.
Passholders get prepaid admission to the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Then, some tough decisions come into play, with choices between the Top of the Rock (the observation deck of NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Center) or the Guggenheim Museum, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line sightseeing cruise and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Another benefit is that passholders get the VIP treatment and are able to skip most main entrance ticket lines.
As a frequent visitor to New York City who had yet to visit several of the locations, we had a number of memorable experiences checking them out through our CityPASS.
Top of the Rock
First destination, Top of the Rock. So much history inside the gorgeous Art Deco building, so many spectacular views from 70 stories up. We activated the CityPASS– with the help of one of the pages– and went straight up the elevator to the observation deck. On a lovely but partly cloudy day, visitors were taking in the 360° views from their lofty perch in Midtown. We shot dozens of photographs from every direction, with our favorite being the southern view towards the tip of Manhattan encompassing its other most famous towers, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building seemingly just a stone’s throw away.
American Museum of Natural History
There is so much more to see besides the iconic dinosaur that greets visitors on the ground floor. Check out the new Titanosaur, another must-see exhibit in the museum’s world-famous fossil halls: a cast of a 122-foot-long dinosaur. The Biodiversity and Environmental Halls offer a vivid and inspiring vision of the spectacular beauty and abundance of life on Earth while the Earth and Planetary Sciences halls showcase remarkable specimens, including meteorites, minerals, and rare gems that offer clues about the origins of our solar system and the dynamic processes of our planet. And don’t miss the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which encompasses the spectacular Hayden Sphere and exhibitions that explore the vast range of sizes in the cosmos, the 13-billion-year history of the universe, the nature of galaxies, stars, and planets, and the dynamic features of planet Earth.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
View New York City’s landmarks from the water on a variety of cruises available, including the popular Landmark Cruise, which takes you on a “drive-by” of the Statue of Liberty in all her glory—twice. Whether from the bow of the ship or a comfortable seat inside, you’ll get a view you couldn’t possible get from the street, or atop a skyscraper. Our tour, which took about two hours around lower Manhattan, was made even more memorable by the knowledgeable guide, who gave a brief history and anecdotes about everything we passed, including the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. We can’t wait to go back for the Harbor Lights cruise. Or The Beast speedboat ride, which zooms down the Hudson River at 45 mph, operating only in the warmer months.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Among the world’s greatest museums, and the largest in the United States, the Met can be overwhelming. More than two million pieces of art are on display in 17 curatorial departments, and there are always special exhibits in addition to the vaunted permanent collection. Fashion fans will appreciate the Costume Institute, which puts on the famed Met Ball annually. It organizes exhibits around famous designers and style icons. But our absolute favorite part of the museum is the gift shops, where you can purchase unique items, many of which are tied into the exhibits. The bookstore alone is worth the price of admission.
(In March, the museum opens a new venue at 75th St. and Madison Ave. called The Breuer, at the site of the old Whitney Museum, which moved to the Meatpacking District.)
Empire State Building
Open from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m., there are always lines to go to the top of this iconic Art Deco masterpiece, which opened its doors in May, 1931 and is the most photographed building in the world. You can experience the stellar views from the 86th floor or the 102nd floor. But be prepared for long waits, especially on clear days. We bought an expedited pass and it still took nearly an hour and a half to get to the top of the ESB. However, we can cross this off our bucket list.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
Fifteen years after that horrible day, a visit here honors the 2,983 people killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and at the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. The Memorial consists of two reflecting pools set in the footprints of the Twin Towers. Along the sides are emblazoned the names of the victims, and the mood is somber, yet the pools attract a massive number of visitors who reflect on the magnitude of the tragedy. Inside the Museum, exhibits tell the story of the events of 9/11 through artifacts that range in scale from the monumental to the intimate, while presenting stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery.
In addition to the admission tickets, passholders receive these perks as well:
- Guggenheim Museum—Free tote bag with $35 purchase
- Top of the Rock–20% off merchandise
- Intrepid–$10 off $50 purchase of merchandise
- Metropolitan Museum of Art–$10 off $50 purchase of merchandise
- 9/11 Memorial–Free tote bag with $25 or greater purchase of merchandise
- $5 off Rockefeller Center Tour ticket
- $5 off $20 or more bill at North River Lobster Company Restaurant located next door to Circle Line
- $5 off Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals and Tours
- 15% certificate (good for one day) at Bloomingdale’s
- $5 off City Sights NYC Bus Tour
- 15% off certificate from Macy’s
Get more info at nycgo.com