How to Save Money on NYC Attractions: New York Sightseeing Pass…


Do you want to save money on NYC attractions?

The Big Apple is not a cheap city to travel to so the more you can save the better you’ll feel about having fun on your visit to New York City.

New York Sightseeing Pass benefits

 

We spent two weeks in New York City soaking up the Christmas festive spirit and exploring one of my favourite cities in the world.

We waited until our last two days to visit the famous NYC attractions with a New York Sightseeing pass. They were the only consecutive days where we had nothing else schedule in and we wanted to get the most out of the discount tourist card.

In other words, see as many attractions in New York as we could with the New York Sightseeing pass to get our value’s worth.

It’s the first time I’ve used a city sightseeing pass before – can you believe it, with all the travel we’ve done?

I was impressed with the the value and so excited to share how to save money in New York with the attraction passes.

NYC Sightseeing Pass

What is The New York Sightseeing Attraction Pass?

The New York Sightseeing attraction pass is a discount tourism card.

The New York City passes includes admission to several attractions for one price. Additionally, there are discounts to other attractions and tours as well as restaurants and retail outlets.

We were given complimentary passes from the New York Sightseeing Pass to use during our visit to New York. We were under no obligation to write this post.

We think it can help save you money, so why not share the love?

The links in this post are affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission if you book via those links, at no extra cost to you! We’d appreciate it if you did to help cover our time in putting together useful free travel posts to save you the time and hassle in research.

What New York Attractions Does the NYC Sightseeing Pass Include?

New York holiday travel tips

The Sightseeing Pass allows cash free entry to over 90 New York Attractions.

While it’s impossible to list them all here, I’ll share some of the top attractions in New York you may use this with:

  • One World Observatory
  • 4 Double Decker Bus Tours, including hop on and off and the night tour
  • 2 River cruises
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • Empire State Building
  • Manhattan by Sail
  • The Ride
  • On Location tours
  • Escape Rooms
  • Many of NYC museums

See more of the included New York attractions here.

In this post, I’ll also share the New York Pass which is another popular tourism discount card. I’ll outline more in detail below.

Many of the attractions they include are the same.  Check them out here.

The Sightseeing Pass is the only NYC Pass that includes all Hop-on Hop-off buses for the duration of your Sightseeing Pass.

Which is the Best New York Attraction Pass?

NYC attractions

There are several New York attraction pass companies. The most well known are The Sightseeing Pass and the New York Pass.

Which NYC attraction pass is best comes down to what your budget, and time frame is and what attractions interest you. So do your research.

Planning a trip to New York does involve a bit of time and careful research. It is just too big and expensive, with so much to do that it’s not a good idea to turn up unprepared.

We only experienced the New York Sightseeing Pass so can only share our thoughts on that from a personal experience.

However, I have done some research to highlight what the New York Pass may offer.

They are very similar, yet will have slight differences in what attractions are included.

These are what I think are the major differences that will help you decide which pass is best for your circumstances.

  • Access to the 911 Memorial Museum was NOT in the Sightseeing Pass, but it is in the New York Pass. That was a little disappointing as we had to pay our $24 entry fee and wait on the queue whereas those with the New York Pass were going straight through.
  • However, the Sightseeing Pass had the One World Observatory ($34) where the New York Pass doesn’t. So in comparison to the World Trade Center attractions, the Sightseeing Pass will save you the most.
  • Both passes includes access to the 911 Tribute Museum ($15) (The Sightseeing pass has fast track access). The Tribute Museum sounds amazing and I like how it supports the victims families. We were too exhausted after the memorial and museum to visit. You can read more about it here. 
  • With The Sightseeing Pass we could reserve The Ride in advance, whereas with the other city sightseeing passes you can only turn up in the morning of the day and hope there is space on The Ride for that day. It’s a busy attraction and going in every morning to try and land a spot is a bit of a hectic time waster.
  • The Sightseeing Pass is the only pass to offer the Gray Line City Sightseeing Double Decker Tour Pass and they have four different routes to choose from and the night time ride.
  • The New York Pass has three different hop on hop off routes on The Big Bus. These are great overviews of the city and I do love hearing the history and stories as you travel through the city.

But, be warned, traffic in NYC can be mental, so a tour can take up a lot of your time.

We did the night time tour, which I enjoyed, however it was freezing (as it’s upper deck, although there are heaters so sit under the cover part) and the traffic drove me crazy.

  • The New York Pass includes Top of the Rock ($34), with a fast pass access, whereas the Sightseeing passs does not. Top of the Rock can have huge lines so this makes the New York Pass very attractive.
  • With the New York Pass you have to collect it from a location in New York or have it sent to you for extra fee (starting at $8). The Sightseeing Pass can be used with the email confirmation on your phone. (or you can print it off yourself)

How Much Does the NYC Sightseeing Pass Cost?

Sightseeing New York City Sightseeing pass

The Sightseeing Pass:

  • 1 Day Pass is $119 for adults and $99 for children (4-12)
  • 2 Day Pass is $189 for adults and $169 for children
  • 3 Day Pass is $259 for adults and $199 for children
  • 5 Day Pass is $309 for adults and $219 for children
  • 7 Day Pass is $349 for adults and $239 for children

The New York Pass:

  • 1 Day Pass is $119 for adults and $89 for children (4-12)
  • 2 Day Pass is $189 for adults and $159 for children
  • 3 Day Pass is $259 for adults and $199 for children
  • 5 Day Pass is $309 for adults and $219 for children
  • 7 Day Pass is $349 for adults and $239 for children
  • 10 Day Pass is $399 for adults and $259 for children

So you can see their prices are very similar. So it just depends on which pass covers the attractions you most want to visit.

Both tourism discount cards often have sales so be sure to check both passes before you purchase.

How Does the Sightseeing Pass NYC Work

new York sightseeing pass hop on hop off bus

1. You purchase the pass online and receive it via email

The Sightseeing Pass

  • Choose 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days of Unlimited Sightseeing. The Pass can be used for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 consecutive calendar days. It becomes activated when it is used at its first attraction, then expires at midnight of its last valid day.
  • The Sightseeing Pass is recommended for first time visitors to NYC, as well as active travelers who like convenience and visitors with an open itinerary who like to control their sightseeing budget.

The Sightseeing FLEX Pass

  • Visit 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 10 Attractions – Choose from 90 Options.
  • Valid for 7 Days.
  • With The Sightseeing FLEX Pass, you select the number of attractions you would like to see and then build a custom itinerary to fit your exact interests as you go.
  • This option is recommended for visitors who have already been to NYC and want to enjoy a more customized experience on their subsequent visits. It’s great for those who are short on time, or have a limited sightseeing budget.

2. Swipe your card at your first attraction. Your card is then automatically activated and validated.

3. You can pre-book some well known popular attractions or use special entrance lines with Fast Track Entry privileges at select locations.

  • There are sample itineraries on site to help you plan
  • You have 12 months from the date of purchase to activate your NYC Sightseeing Passes
  • There is no daily limit to the amount of attractions you can visit per day. The more attractions you visit, the more money you save.

The New York Pass works the same way, except that you can only pick up the card from a location in the city, or pay extra to have it sent to you.

They only have day passes, they don’t have a flex pass like the Sightseeing pass does.

Is the Sightseeing Pass NYC Worth It?

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

New York is a large city that is filled to the brim with exciting things to see and do.

Most people that visit like to see as much as possible, but paying individual admission at NYC’s most iconic attractions can add up!

Here are the tours and NYC attractions we did on the Sightseeing Pass with a cost comparison so you can see how you can save money in New York with them.

  • Empire State Building ($36)
  • OneWorld Observatory ($34)
  • The Ride ($55)
  • Circle Line Landmarks Cruise ($37)
  • Gray Line City Sightseeing night tour ($59). You get access to all the hop on hop off tours, but we only had time for the night one.

Savings of $51.00

Since we only saw a few attractions, The Flex pass ($129) may have worked well for us.

If you want to visit more NYC attractions, consider getting the day passes and perhaps more than one. The more days you purchase the cheaper the daily rate gets.

Some other tours and attractions that I think look awesome (or we did without using the pass) are:

  • Bike and Roll – inside Central Park tour ($40)
  • Central Park Tours – Bike Rental ($15)
  • Food on Foot Tours ($49)
  • Luna Park Coney Island ($69) for families in the summer
  • Airport shuttle ($23)
  • Plus entry to the biggest NYC museums

Here are some other reasons that make the NYC Sightseeing Pass worth it:

  • Visiting the top 10 popular NYC attractions can save you up to 70% from buying the tickets alone! That’s the biggest saving in NYC.
  • There is no limit on how many attractions you can visit. Whatever attraction is listed on the pass is yours to visit!
  • Most of the attraction passes offer cheaper passes for children, so they can be a good option for people traveling with a family.
  • You also get skip the ticket line privileges. This saved us about an hour at The Empire State Building. Some attractions have fast pass entry to skip the lines, which is super handy for some of these popular New York attractions. Be sure to find out which ones offer fast track so you can optimize your travel day.
  • The pass also gives discounts to various other things like shopping and dining. We got 15% off our meal at Heartland Brewery. The food wasn’t great, but I did love their gluten free beer.
  • The passes come with guide books to help you plan your visit in New York.

I think it’s tempting to grab the pass for a few days because there are so many attractions and tours on it. It can be quite exciting.

However, visiting attractions in New York takes up a a lot of your time, especially if there are lines.

We waited for an hour to get into the Empire State Building and we skipped the ticket purchase queue – which saved us about another hour.

So you may not get time to do all the attractions.

It’s important to list your must not miss attractions. Work out the price of individual admission and figure out how much time you’ll need to cover them.

Then see which pass covers those for you and what the cost of that pass will be.

Now you’ll know whether to get the pass or just pay for the individual attractions. If the sightseeing pass saves you money, then if you have extra time, you can fit in some of the extra tours that come with it.

How to Get the Most Value from the Pass

New York highline NYC attractions

  1. Research the passes carefully to know what they include and what NYC attractions you want to see are covered.
  2. Run the numbers and work out which NYC discount tourism card is best for you.
  3. Plan your day around the pass as they do have time limit restrictions. So we saved our NYC attractions for the last two days of our visit to New York as they were the only two consecutive free days we had.
  4. For the busiest and most popular New York Attractions, get there for opening.
  5. Prebook tours and use your fast pass whenever you can.
  6. Lines can be long, so do your must sees first. Then have a list of other tours and attractions you are interested in to fill up the spaces in between.
  7. Try to limit the distance between each attraction to reduce travel time. So focus on exploring one section of New York at a time with your pass.
  8. Start early. You paid for the card, why not maximise your time, see more attractions and save more money!

Planning a Trip to New York City

We’ve been traveling 20 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights, and car rental.

Booking Accommodation in New York City

Booking Flights to NYC

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

Tours of New York City

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