Although my children have been going to New York City every year for the last 9 years, we have only just completed visited all of the major tourist attractions in Manhattan. Why? The crowds, the lines and the expense. I can only cope with a couple of sightseeing options per trip before we go do something more off the beaten path. I feel New York City is crowded enough without immersing yourself in hordes of tourists. This recent trip we visited so many more of the top Manhattan attractions thanks to the New York City Pass. We used the New York City Pass for a 3 day visit to New York City and easily covered all the major attractions.
The New York City Pass
The New York City Pass saves you money and time. You don’t have to wait in the long lines (and, trust me, there are always lines at these major attractions). So many people have seen these monuments on television and film that they are always at the top of the list for visitors to New York.
Here’s what’s included in the New York City Pass:
- The American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is housed in a gigantic building on Central Park West. There are exhibits, a library and a planetarium. Although wonderful with children, the museum is a treasure trove for adults too.
- The Empire State Building Experience
The Empire State Building Experience takes you through exhibits related to this Art Deco building and then up to the top viewing floors. Recently renovated, the Empire State Building is gleaming from top to bottom.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a diverse collection of art spanning over 5000 years of human creativity. It is the most visited museum in New York City.
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR the Guggenheim Museum
The Top of the Rock Observation Deck gives you a view of New York City 70 floors up from the middle of Manhattan. Unlike the Empire State Building which is further away, you get a clear unobstructed view of how Central Park is laid out.
The Guggenheim Museum is world-famous for both its modern art collection inside and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture on the outside.
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
The Statue of Liberty is a well-known American symbol where you can walk around the base. With extra tickets which you have to get far in advance, you may be able to go inside the statue as well. Ellis Island Immigration Museum is where over 12 million immigrants came into the USA and has lots of exhibits on the immigrant experience.
The Circle Line takes you on either an hour cruise or a 30 minute speedboat ride (during the summer) around Manhattan’s famous skyline.
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum pays respect to the nearly 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on 9/11.
The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is located on a former working aircraft carrier, the Intrepid, and also lets you go inside a former submarine.
Suggested Itinerary for 3 days with the New York City
The New York City Pass lasts for 9 days once it is activated at the first attraction. Lucky you, if you have 9 days to roam the Big Apple. I’ve put together some suggested itineraries using the New York City Pass for a 3 day visit to New York City.
If you are a museum lover, start at the American Museum of Natural History and walk across Central Park to the Guggenheim Museum for the afternoon.
The next day you can easily spend an entire day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art because the collection is so massive. Visiting the Empire State Building Experience at night gives you a magical display of Manhattan lights at night.
The third day can be spent exploring the museum at Ellis Island and either the 9/11 Memorial and Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (depending on your interests). Although both museums are excellent, I prefer the 9/11 Museum for its excellent curation of those tragic events.
If you have children with you, I would suggest that you spent more time at the American Museum of Natural History on the morning of the first day. Children recognise it from the Night At The Museum movies with Ben Stiller. Between the dinosaur exhibits and the planetarium, most children love this museum. Then hang out at Central Park stopping off at the playgrounds especially the excellent Heckscher playground at 7th Avenue and Central Park South. The Empire State Building is once again a great place for the evening.
The next day watch New York City spring into action at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. My kids can’t seem to get enough of seeing New York City from the top of skyscrapers. There’s plenty for families to do at Rockefeller Centre and nearby, including the American Girl shop and Radio City Music Hall. You can once again wander through Central Park on your way up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s either a 45 minute walk or a short taxi ride (depending on traffic!). Once again, there is a great view of Central Park from the rooftop terrace.
On the third day, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island is a nice cruise for children and interesting history for adults. Alternatively, you can take a Circle Line Cruise which is conveniently located right next door to the Intrepid Museum. My kids LOVED the Intrepid Museum.
I would suggest children be at least 8 years old before they visit the 9/11 Museum because the subject matter raises a lot of questions. The more graphic exhibits are zoned off and parents can decide if they want to go through that section. For example, the live coverage of the day, including of the people who jumped from the towers, is in this section.
My New York City Pass Choices
My kids love the American Museum of Natural History especially the planetarium. We did a short stint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for my daughter to check out a special Faberge exhibit. She likes anything sparkly. I wanted to see the Psycho House exhibit on the rooftop terrace.
My children were duly impressed visiting the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island for the first time. The audio guides that walk you through the monuments have a special children’s audio tour which they found entertaining. You need to book far in advance if you want to go up into the base of the Statue of Liberty and even longer (to get into the torch area). I’ve heard from friends that the inside of the statue can be crowded and claustrophobic.
We went to the Empire State Building at night. As much as my kids loved the Guggenheim Museum, they preferred the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to another museum. I thought going at night would be less lines. Nope! Thankfully we breezed straight past the line with our New York City Pass.
The third day we went to the Top of the Rock in the morning and then the Intrepid Museum in the afternoon. My kids can spend hours at the Intrepid – for example, it’s got an old Concorde, lots of fighter planes, a Space exhibit and a submarine to explore.
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I partnered with City Pass to receive 2 New York City Passes and bought the third New York City Pass myself. All opinions are 100% my own.
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