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An Ultimate Guide to Visiting New York City Attractions

This is a guest post from "Where Are Those Morgans." Mark and Kristen Morgan are two scientists who put their careers on hold in 2018 and followed their dreams to explore the world together. They recently visited NYC and created this ultimate guide for visiting with New York CityPASS and New York C3.

Visiting New York City is one of the most unforgettable experiences you will ever have, but planning your trip to this legendary bucket list city does come with challenges and seemingly endless expenses.

You already know from movies, popular culture and instagram that there are an extraordinary amount of unique and truly amazing things to do in New York City.

Many of the most popular places to visit are free, such as Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. However, the remainder of those iconic NYC must-visit attractions are paid and associated entry costs add up very quickly indeed.

That's where the money-saving New York CityPASS and New York C3 swoop in with the best bargain in town. Up to savings on top attractions sounds awesome, right? Well, it's even better when put into practice.

We hope you agree that your money is better spent on famous New York pizza slices and rooftop bar cocktails?!

We're going to show you why buying a New York CityPASS or New York C3 is the easiest and quickest decision you have to make when planning your trip to NYC.


First, why did we get a New York CityPASS and New York C3?

As travel bloggers (and people who suffer greatly from FOMO!), we needed to see and do as many of the top New York City attractions as possible throughout our time in New York City. Ideally, without breaking the bank in the process.

After researching entrance prices for each of our most sought after attractions, we were left a little downbeat. It looked like we would be blowing through our budget after all.

Sure, we expected and budgeted for a higher than usual attractions spend, but even then we were surprised. For us as a couple, every entry price was x2.

Fortunately, after a bit of digging we found the perfect money saving solution to suit our travel style - the New York CityPASS and New York C3.

We each had the New York CityPASS and New York C3, which allowed us to hit the major NYC attractions and save a small fortune in the process. Double win!

After bleeding money on transport, hotels, food and drinks - snapping up a New York City bargain like this was a no brainer for us.

Now, let's get into the benefits of buying an attractions pass and what is included.


Benefits to Buying a New York Attractions Pass?

Visiting a city like London, Paris, Tokyo or New York for the first time with a long list of things you just can't miss is inevitably going to be expensive.

The first thing you can do to limit expenses is figure out the best neighborhood and hotel to stay in New York City based on your budget.

Next, buy a New York CityPASS to guarantee savings on attractions. It's that easy.

Are you the type of traveler who can't wait to get stuck into the very best bits of a new city?

The CityPASS all-in-one attractions solution is perfect for organizing your visit and saving money.

Here's a brief summary of why it pays to buy an attractions pass:

  • By bundling attractions, you will pay less than buying individual tickets.
  • Timed reservations to each attraction in one place (in this case your online New York CityPASS reservations area).
  • Organize your vacation effectively before arriving into NYC, meaning no wasted time in the city.
  • You won't have to book each attraction as you go or potentially miss out on preferred times.


But why Choose New York CityPASS or New York C3?

There are a number of passes you can choose between but New York CityPASS and New York C3 offers visitors a unique take on attractions.

First, let's take a look at what happens with other products:

  • Hundreds of attractions available but only 1 or 2 days to do them all.
  • Resulting in an overwhelming visit, making you rush around the city and feel obliged to do every single attraction in order to make the most of your money.

And here's the benefit of choosing New York CityPASS:

  • CityPASS includes only 12 of the very best NYC attractions at a heavily discounted rate.
  • You can then choose between those 12 attractions, so you only visit what is important to you... and you save money at the same time.
  • You have 9 consecutive days to visit your preferred NYC attractions. So, you can take as much time as you need at each attraction.

It already sounds less overwhelming, right?


How Do New York CityPASS and New York C3 Work?

Let's take a look at how the New York CityPASS and New York C3 attractions passes work, including each attraction and total savings:

New York CityPASS

  1. Empire State Building
  2. American Museum of Natural History
  3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum
  5. Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Cruises
  6. 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

As you can see, the Empire State Building, Natural History Museum and MET are included as standard with all purchases of New York CityPASS.

You then have the option to choose between Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum and so on.

  • By selecting 6 attractions, you can save up to total against individual tickets (if you choose the most expensive option from numbers 4, 5 and 6).
  • Even if you selected the 3 cheapest attractions from numbers 4, 5 and 6, you would still save 27%.
  • Based on our own preferred choices (Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty and 9/11), we would save 34% vs individual tickets. That's a lot of pizza slices!

Note: MoMA, City Cruises and Edge are not included with CityPASS - they are only part of New York C3, which we will summarize now.

New York C3

With New York C3, you can simply select any 3 of the total 12 attractions (see full list below).

By selecting 3, you can save up to a maximum of by selecting the 3 most expensive attractions and you have fewer obligations on your visit to NYC. But you will only be able to visit 3 instead of 6 attractions with New York C3.

Both passes give you control over exactly what you would prefer to do and not be bound to 'every' attraction in New York as is the case with other attraction pass options.


How Much Is New York CityPASS And What Is Included?

The beauty of choosing a New York CityPASS or New York C3 is having the ability to choose between the very best of New York's attractions.

You have control over what you do for your upfront fee.

* CityPASS allows entry to 6 New York attractions (from 9 available), while the C3 ticket lets you select any 3 attractions from a list of 12 options.

  • A 6 attractions New York CityPASS costs US$ 136 per adult (18+) and US$ 112 per child (6-17).
  • A 3 attractions New York C3 pass costs US$ 87 per adult (13+) and US$ 67 per child (5-12).

Let's take a look at each of the 12 attractions you can select from (with individual adult ticket prices included):

  1. Empire State Building:
    • C3=US$ 42 - 49 (US$ 45 average value)
    • CityPASS=US$ 64 average (two separate entrance tickets are included)
  2. American Museum of Natural History - US$ 28 (includes 1 special exhibit)
  3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art or MET - US$ 25
  4. Top of the Rock - US$ 38 OR
  5. Guggenheim Museum - US$ 25
  6. Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - US$ 23.50 OR
  7. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises - US$ 19-44
  8. 9/11 Memorial & Museum - US$ 26 OR
  9. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum - US$ 33
  10. Hornblower Sightseeing Cruises (C3 Only) - US$ 35-37
  11. The Museum of Modern Art or MoMA (C3 Only) - US$ 25
  12. Edge at Hudson Yards (C3 Only) - US$ 41.37 (average non-sunset vs sunset cost)

Remember, with New York C3 you can select any 3 of the 12 options above.

With CityPASS you get 1, 2 and 3 plus either 4 or 5, 6 or 7 and 8 or 9. But you won't be able to visit 10, 11 or 12.

*Unless like us, you get both passes. That way you see, do and save even more in NYC!

Now you can already start to build up an idea of how much you would spend in total on attractions.


Our Experience Using CityPASS and C3 in New York

Our New York CityPASS and C3 attractions pass turned out to be even better than we had imagined.

Not only did we save money on attractions we would have visited at full price anyway, but it also helped us to organize and plan our days more effectively.

Reserving time slots for certain attractions gave us structure and allowed us to book tables at busy restaurants around our attraction visits.

Our favorite aspect of New York CityPASS was having 9 full days to make each attraction. We prefer to spend longer at each attraction and didn't like the idea of being rushed on a 1 or 2 day attractions pass.

A fantastic exclusive perk with New York CityPASS is getting a free second entry to Empire State Building in the same day. So, we visited for sunset, went for dinner and then went back up again later in total darkness. Awesome!

Personally, we thought the MET was in a league of its own, the 9/11 Museum was harrowing but exceptionally presented, the Statue of Liberty was even better in person and both Empire State Building and Top of the Rock were amazing.

But one of our most memorable NYC moments actually came from using the New York C3 as we watched a stunning sunset with a hot chocolate on a cold windy evening at the top of futuristic looking sky deck Edge at Hudson Yards.


Who is the New York CityPASS best for?

We recommend you go for the CityPASS if you have a comfortable amount of time to spend in New York.

The New York CityPASS with its supercharged 6 top NYC attractions is perfect for the following travelers:

  • Those planning a longer visit to New York, such as a 4 day NYC itinerary or even a full week.
  • Travelers who love to hit all of the best attractions a city has to offer.
  • Budget savvy travelers who enjoy saving the most money possible.

Who is the New York C3 Pass best for?

The New York C3 pass is an excellent alternative option to the full CityPASS. It won't save you quite as much money but it is perfect for those with less time available in the city.

The lighter New York C3 Pass featuring a pick of any 3 NYC attractions is for the following travelers:

  • Those who only have 1 or 2 days to spend in NYC.
  • Travelers who prefer to spend longer at each attraction.
  • Visitors who prefer not to be tied into a 6 attraction pass.

How to Purchase Your New York CityPASS

Buying your New York CityPASS or C3 pass couldn't be any easier. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Navigate back to New York CityPASS.
  • This will land you on the CityPASS 6 attraction page, where you can enter number of adult or child tickets and purchase.
  • Alternatively, if you would prefer New York C3 with 3 attractions, navigate to C3 ticket options.
  • Enjoy the best of New York City's amazing attractions!