Fairy Travels

Navigating New York City with New York CityPASS

Navigating New York City with New York CityPASS

New York City, also affectionately known as “the city the never sleeps“, “the Big Applethe concrete jungle where dreams are made of“, whichever name you use,  once you set foot in this memorising city you will be captivated, it offers a plethora of iconic attractions that beckon travellers from around the globe. However, exploring the Big Apple’s wonders can quickly turn into a costly affair, especially for families looking to experience the best the city has to offer. Fear not, for there exists a savvy solution to maximize savings while indulging in unforgettable adventures: the New York CityPASS.

So what is New York CityPASS

The New York CityPass, is a digital pass that can save you up to 40% on 5 of New York’s top attractions. Included in the pass is both of:

  1. Empire State Building Observatory; and
  2. American Museum of Natural History

Plus get admission to 3 more attractions of your choice. No need to choose upon purchase you can decide closer to your trip or even while there depending on availability.

  1. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
  2. Ferry Access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  4. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  5. Intrepid Museum
  6. Guggenheim Museum

Once you purchase your New York CityPASS, you simply download the app and from there your tickets are all stored and you can make the reservations.  We were there in the end of January which is off season so nowhere was particularly busy however we did reserve our slots in advance just to be safe. For context it wasn’t our first visit but it was the kids first trip so lots of the New Yorks icons were on the bucket list to visit.

Cost of New York CityPASS

An adult ticket costs €134.47 and a child (aged 6-17) ticket costs €114.98. Couple of things to note:

  • tickets are valid for a year from the date of purchase
  • tickets can be use for 9 consecutive days including the fist and last day
  • You can only visit each attraction once except for Empire State Building where you can visit again at night if your first visit was during the day and only same day.
  • Note that cost increases apply from 29 February 2024 where the cost of an adult ticket will increase to €146 and a child’s ticket €124

What did we think of New York CityPass

The important part! So what did we think, how did we find using New York CityPASS, did we save money and would we recommend!! I do have full blog posts in progress on our itinerary however below, I will run through how we used our New York CityPASS and what we really thought. I will be comparing the cost like for like so booking the same time as we did with the pass and showing the cost.

Empire State Building

New York CityPASS - empire state building view

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Our first stop was the towering emblem of New York City’s skyline, the Empire State Building. Using the app we pre-booked the 10am slot as it is the first available for booking via the app with the pass. There was a line forming outside but it moved super quick and once inside, we bypassed the long queues and headed straight for the high speed elevator line and ascended to the 86th-floor observation deck.

The panoramic views of the city’s sprawling landscape, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, left us in awe.

Top Tips: 

  • The first slot on the app is 10am which gets busy so id hold off until 11 to let the initial rush through.
  • Spend time at the revamped 2nd floor museum its really well done
  • The art deco lobby out to Fifth Avenue is also lovely to wander through
  • Lots of eating places but expect prime pricing given its location
  • The cost of 102nd floor isn’t included but can be added on as an extra while there or in advance
  • If you are close by that same evening you can return for a different view of New York as the lights come on

Cost direct: Family total including taxes and booking fees – €184

Top of the Rock

New York CityPass - Top of the ROck view

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Next on our itinerary was the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Centre.  We pre booked in the app and choose the 3pm slot so that we could see the city change from day night, bearing in mind as this was January this was going to be from around 4.30 or so.   The kids adored the unobstructed views of the city across the three levels with the top floor feeling like you are really party of the city skyscape. Its a magical experience. We arrived at just before three to no queue at all, we had pre booked the slot in the app and was aware it classed as a peak time due to the sunset. It wasn’t busy up top and we had plenty time to gaze out over the city at our ease.

Top Tips:

  • There is a new attraction called the Beam which recreates the famous scene of the builders sitting out over the City, this is not included in the New York CiytPASS but can be purchased there for $25
  • Do book via the app in advance especially if you are travelling in peak season or are looking for peak times, ie sunrise and sunset
  • There is lots to do in the area from the ice rink, the Lego store, St Patricks Cathedral and the shops and eateries of the Rockefeller Centre.
  • There is a free audio guide

Cost direct: Family total including taxes and booking fees- €226.46

9/11 Memorial & Museum

Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Our journey took a poignant turn as we visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, a somber yet essential tribute to the lives lost during the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As we explored the museum’s exhibits and paid our respects at the memorial pools, we were reminded of the resilience and unity that define the spirit of New York City. Similar to the above we booked in advance on the app as I had heard that year round it can be quite crowded.

It is a really moving experience and the visit allowed us to honour the past while embracing the city’s unwavering resolve.

Top Tips:

  • Do book in advance
  • Consider your children’s ages, I think at almost 9 my youngest was even a little young. He was really moved by the experience and found it hard to comprehend.
  • Allow about 2 hours for your visit
  • Be respectful while there, it is a humbling experience
  • If you time your visit correctly, it is worth noting  that admission is free Mondays from 5:30-7pm. Tickets are available on the Museum website each Monday beginning at 7am ET and are first-come, first-served.
  • The museum is closed on Tuesdays

Cost direct: Family total including taxes and booking fees – $108 (€100 approx)

Circle Line Sightseeing cruise 

To add a nautical twist to our New York City adventure, we embarked on the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise—a scenic voyage around Manhattan’s waterfront. From the vantage point of the Hudson River, we admired iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Getting within 100 feet of Lady Liberty I think will also be my littlest mans highlight. We sat upstairs in the open on the way down the Hudson to get the best views of the Statue of Liberty but did go indoors on the way back as the cold was getting to us then!!

Top Tips:

  • The mid town cruise was only available at 10am during our stay so I would recommend you book well in advance if you can
  • Sit on the right hand side for the views of the Statue of Liberty on the way down the river
  • Wrap up warm it can get really cold up top but they do have a seated indoor area also

Cost direct: Family total including taxes and booking fees – $82 (€75 approx)

American Museum of Natural History

This is certainly a New York icon and a must see attraction for kids and adults, it interactive, immersive and literally captivates you for hours. Just don’t make the mistake we made and allocate enough time to this attraction.

Top Tips

  • Download the museums explorer pass before you go to help ensure you get to visit the must see exhibits
  • 10am is opening time so do expect a bit of a queue but it does move quickly
  • Allow 4 hours at least for your visit or if constrained by time plan in advance the exhibits that appeal most.
  • Some exhibits are ticked in top of your entry slot for no cost but you do need to reserve

Cost direct: Family total including taxes and booking fees – $126 (€116 approx)

Overall cost savings with New York CityPASS

  • Total cost direct€701.46
  • New York CityPASS cost – €498.90
  • CityPASS Savings – €202.56


In conclusion, the New York CityPASS is an invaluable asset for families seeking to explore the city’s treasures without breaking the bank. By providing access to key attractions such as the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, this pass offers unparalleled savings and convenience for travellers of all ages. The app and ability to pre-book and store your tickets even for use off line is really handy and efficient.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned New York City enthusiast, the New York CityPASS unlocks a world of adventures waiting to be discovered, ensuring memories that will last a lifetime.

Would we recommend? That’s an emphatic yes from the Mamma F crew. The ease of use, central storing of tickets and ability to pre book through a user friendly app were massive benefits on top of the cost savings.

Link to our Instagram page for lots more pictures and highlights from our trip.

For more information on all there is to see and do across New York City’s five boroughs, visit www.nyctourism.com


Note: Thanks to New York CityPass who kindly gifted us a pass for this trip. All views and opinions are our own and we were not asked or expected to write this review.

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