Boston CityPASS Review: Is It a Good Value?

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In this Boston CityPASS review, we cover how it works, explore what the pass includes, and explain how much it costs. We also help you decide if it’s a good fit for your Boston travel plans.

Planning a trip to Boston? You’re in for a great time.

Boston is a great city to visit because it combines the attractions and activities of a world-class city with a charming small-town vibe.

The first time I visited Boston, I realized quickly that it wasn’t one of the cheapest places to travel. In fact, I was surprised to learn that accommodations here are some of the most expensive in the country. If you’ve traveled much at all, you know accommodations can eat up your travel budget quickly. That’s why it’s important to look for savings wherever you can.

While Boston has some awesome free sightseeing opportunities (like the Freedom Trail, the Boston Public Library, and the Quincy Market), some of the biggest attractions are pretty pricey. Pair that with the high hotel prices and your wallet could take a huge hit.

So, how you would you like to cut your Boston sightseeing expenses by up to 47%? I thought you might. Allow me to introduce the Boston CityPASS.

Boston CityPASS: How It Works

boston citypass

The Boston CityPASS is a sightseeing pass that includes access to four major Boston attractions at a serious discount. Three of the attractions are included on the pass by default, and you get to choose the fourth attraction from two options. You don’t even have to make that decision when purchasing the pass – you can see what you’re in the mood for when the time comes.

Like its sister passes the Atlanta CityPASS and Houston CityPASS, the Boston CityPASS can be purchased online. You’ll receive your mobile tickets via email upon completing the sale. The tickets can be scanned at each attraction via your smartphone, or you can print a paper copy if you wish.

To activate the pass, simply use it at the first attraction you visit. Once you do, the pass is valid for nine consecutive days, so you have lots of time to visit the four attractions in any order you like.

Top Attractions on the Boston CityPASS

The Boston CityPASS gets you into the following four tourist sites:

  • New England Aquarium ($32.00)
  • Museum of Science ($29.00)
  • Boston Harbor Cruises ($36.70)
  • Franklin Park Zoo ($21.95) or Harvard Museum of Natural History ($15.00)

*Prices current as of May 25, 2021

These are all excellent sites that are absolutely worth a visit. As you can see, however, they aren’t exactly cheap. That’s where the Boston CityPASS comes in!

(Editor’s Note: Some attractions may require reservations. Due to COVID-19, some attractions may be unavailable, have limited hours, or may have reduced capacity.)

How Much Does the Boston CityPASS Cost?

Like with all sightseeing passes, you need to know how much a pass costs and what you’ll be saving to determine if it’s a good fit for you. The table below shows adult and child pass prices along with regular admission prices and the total savings for each option.

PassesBoston CityPASS PriceRegular Admission CostsTotal Savings
Adult (12+)$64.00$119.65$55.65 (47%)
Child (3-11)$54.00$94.45$40.45 (43%)
*Current as of May 25, 2021

The price of the Boston CityPASS is straightforward, but your exact savings depend on whether you choose the Franklin Zoo or the Harvard Museum of Natural History as your fourth attraction.

By choosing the zoo, you’ll save 47% off the regular price of all the attractions. Choosing the Museum of Natural History saves you slightly less, working out to a 41% savings. Either way, you’re saving money!

Save Money in Boston – Visit 4 of Boston’s top attractions and save up to 47% off the price of admission with the Boston CityPASS. Get your pass here!

Boston CityPASS Attractions Guide

Think the Boston CityPASS might be for you? Let’s take a closer look at each of the included attractions!

New England Aquarium

The Boston CityPASS offers entry to 4 of the best attractions in Boston. In this review, we'll explain how it works and determine if it's worth it for you.

The New England Aquarium is nothing short of impressive. It’s home to thousands of aquatic animals including sharks, lionfish, penguins, giant Pacific octopus, and many more.

Check out the following exhibits:

  • Marine Mammal Center
  • Science of Sharks
  • Penguins
  • Shark and Ray Touch Tank
  • Giant Ocean Tank
  • Olympic Coast

The aptly named four-story Giant Ocean Tank houses a coral reef, Myrtle the green sea turtle (she’s huge!), and hundreds of Caribbean reef animals. Kids will go crazy for the Touch Tank where they can view and stroke rays and little sharks.

  • Hot Tip #1: The Aquarium Will Call window has a separate (faster) line for Boston CityPASS holders, so if you have your booklet, skip the ticket line and go there.
  • Hot Tip #2: I visited on a Saturday, and it was quite crowded; I recommend going on a weekday if possible.

Museum of Science

The Boston CityPASS offers entry to 4 of the best attractions in Boston. In this review, we'll explain how it works and determine if it's worth it for you.

Boston’s Museum of Science currently features an impressive 36 exhibitions. Check out the massive 65 million-year-old triceratops fossil (his name is Cliff), learn about human biology in the Hall of Human Life, and marvel at the optical illusions that make up the Seeing is Deceiving exhibit.

Many of the museum’s exhibits are interactive, which keeps kids and adults engaged. There are live demonstrations every day, most of which are free with general admission. Some examples include indoor lightning bolts, live animals, and the science behind magic tricks. In short, the Museum of Science is a lot of fun!

There are a bunch of upgrades that Boston CityPASS holders can enjoy for a discounted price, too. These include the IMAX and 4D Theatres, Planetarium, Butterfly Garden, and the Simulator Experience.

Boston Harbor Cruise

The Boston CityPASS offers entry to 4 of the best attractions in Boston. In this review, we'll explain how it works and determine if it's worth it for you.

If the weather is nice during your visit, the Boston Harbor Cruise is a great way to enjoy the fresh air on the water while taking in an incredible view and learning about the city.

The cruise is 90 minutes and features a narrated tour of historic sites. If you enjoy the water and want a break from the museum circuit, the Harbor Cruise is for you.

  • Hot Tip: It’s best to reserve your ticket in advance, as the cruise frequently sells out, especially on beautiful days.

Franklin Park Zoo

Giraffe at Franklin Park Zoo

Measuring at 72 acres and found inside Boston’s Franklin Park, the Franklin Park Zoo is a treat the entire family can enjoy! Lock eyes with a lion as it sniffs around your “crashed” vehicle. Then, hang around with the red pandas before flying over to the Bird’s World exhibit.

While you are there, don’t miss the Giraffe Savannah, the Outback Trail, and the rainforest exhibit. You’ll have a blast enjoying your time with exotic wildlife in the big city!

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Boston CityPASS offers entry to 4 of the best attractions in Boston. In this review, we'll explain how it works and determine if it's worth it for you.

If you love dinosaurs, this is the museum for you. I mean, there’s lots of other cool stuff there too, but the dinosaur exhibits are really something. These are the exhibitions you can take in:

  • Africa (mounted specimens of African wildlife)
  • Arthropods: Creatures that Rule
  • Asia
  • Bees
  • Birds of the World
  • Cenozoic Mammals (this is where you’ll find the dinos)
  • Central and South America
  • Climate Change: Our Global Experiment
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Evolution (this is a cool one, too)
  • Glass Flowers
  • Great Mammal Hall
  • Lily Simonson: Painting the Deep
  • Marine Life
  • Microbial Life
  • New England Forests
  • Orb-Weavers
  • The Rockefeller Beetles
  • Romer Hall of Vertebrate Paleontology (more dinos here)
  • Sea Creatures in Glass

So that’s a lot to see! Plus, the museum is on the Harvard campus, which is an attraction all to itself.

Other Benefits of the Boston CityPASS

  • Save Up to 47% – If you choose the Boston Harbor Cruise for your fourth attraction, the Boston CityPASS will help you save up to 47% off the regular cost of admission. That’s almost half off!
  • Streamlined Entry – For most of the attractions, the Boston CityPASS booklet contains actual admission tickets – meaning you can skip the long ticket lineups. The Harbor Cruise and the Aquarium have lines specifically for CityPASS holders, so keep your eyes open for the sign.
  • Valid for Nine Days – If you like to spread out your sightseeing a bit, you’ll appreciate that the Boston CityPASS is valid for nine days once you use it for the first time. That gives you ample time to take a break or check out some of the other awesome stuff to do in Boston.

Visit Boston for Less – Use the Boston CityPASS to visit four of Boston’s top attractions and save up to 47% on admission! Learn more here.

Where the Pass Falls Short

I think the Boston CityPASS is a very good deal, but there are a few shortcomings worth discussing.

While I think the attractions included on the Boston CityPASS are great, I was disappointed to see that the Museum of Fine Art didn’t make the cut. MoFA is an incredible museum – art lovers could easily spend a full day there.

While the Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History are both worth visiting, there is some overlap in the content of their exhibits. I think the pass would be more diverse and appeal to a wider audience if they swapped out one of them for MoFA.

Who Should Consider the Boston CityPASS?

The Boston CityPASS offers entry to 4 of the best attractions in Boston. In this review, we'll explain how it works and determine if it's worth it for you.

First-Time Visitors – The Boston CityPASS includes some fabulous Boston attractions that first-time visitors are going to want to check out.

Anyone Visiting at Least Three Attractions – If you visit three of the included hot spots, you’re guaranteed to save money. Visit the fourth, and it’s icing on the cake.

Travelers Who Enjoy a Relaxed Pace – The Boston CityPASS is good for nine days, so you don’t have to worry about cramming too much into a short time.

Who Should Skip the Pass?

Travelers Who Aren’t Into Museums – If you don’t enjoy visual exhibits, you won’t get much value from the Boston CityPASS since three of the attractions fall into this category.

Anyone Who Won’t Visit Three Attractions – If you don’t think you’re likely to visit at least three of the attractions, don’t waste your money on the Boston CityPASS.

Power Sightseers – People who aren’t that into sightseeing won’t benefit from the Boston CityPASS, but neither will travelers who can’t get enough of it. If you love hitting multiple attractions every day, live for jam-packed itineraries, and want to see as much of Boston as humanly possible, check out the Go Boston Card instead.

Tips for Using the Boston CityPASS

  • Choose the Franklin Park Zoo – Since the regular price of the Franklin Park Zoo is higher than price of the Harvard Museum of Natural History, choose the zoo over the museum for the best value.
  • Mind the Expiration Date – Your Boston CityPASS is valid for one year from the date of purchase. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue unless your trip gets postponed. Just be aware of it!

How to Get the Boston CityPASS

Buying the Boston CityPASS is easy – buy it online here.

Once you’ve purchased the pass, your mobile tickets will be sent to you by email. You can use your smartphone to present your tickets at each location, or you can print them if you want to have a paper copy.

The Verdict: Is the Boston CityPASS Worth It?

Should you get the Boston CityPASS? Well, that depends.

If you don’t think you’ll visit at least three of the included attractions, skip the Boston CityPASS and pay à la carte. Similarly, if you know you’ll be doing a ton of sightseeing, you might want something more comprehensive. If that sounds like you, check out the all-inclusive Go Boston Card before making your decision.

On the flip side, if you’re interested in visiting the included attractions but not a whole lot more, the Boston CityPASS is likely a good fit. By visiting at least three of the included sites, you’re guaranteed to save money. If you visit four and choose the Franklin Park Zoo over the Harvard Museum of Natural History, you’ll save 47% on the cost of admission. Those are some pretty sweet savings!

I hope this Boston CityPASS review has been helpful. Thanks so much for reading and enjoy Boston!

Get the Boston CityPASS and Save – Save up to 46% off the cost of admission to four of Boston’s top tourist attractions! Get your Boston CityPASS here.

Boston CityPASS Review
  • Attractions
  • Pass Options & Lengths
  • Price
  • Fast Track Entry
  • Overall Value
Overall
3.1

Boston CityPASS Review Summary

The Boston CityPASS is best for travelers interested in just a taste of the city’s attractions. By visiting at least three of the included sites, you’re guaranteed to save money. If you visit four and choose the Franklin Park Zoo over the Harvard Museum of Natural History, you’ll save the most on the cost of admission.

While the Museum of Science and the Harvard Museum of Natural History are both worth visiting, there is some overlap in the content of their exhibits. I think the pass would be more diverse and appeal to a wider audience if they swapped out one of them for MoFA.

With that said, this pass has some pretty sweet savings and fast-track entry, making it valuable for the right visitor.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for these tips on the CITY Pass. I didn’t realize you could spread out the pass to 9 days. I was afraid you had to cram everything into a short time.

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