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If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, two things are certain: You’re in for an unforgettable time, and you’re about to drop some serious cash.
New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In 2018, 65.1 million people visited, making it a record-breaking year.
It’s no trouble to see why people flock to NYC. The city hums with energy and excitement. The neighborhoods, the people, the food, the museums, the music, the nightlife, the sightseeing. There’s just so much. And it’s 24-7, 365 days a year. There’s never a dull moment.
It’s also the most expensive city in the U.S., which means millions of visitors are looking for ways to visit New York for less.
The New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass are tools for helping travelers trim their NYC sightseeing costs. They’re both awesome passes, but they each suit a different kind of sightseer. Let’s find out which one is right for you.
How Does the New York Pass Work?
The New York Pass is an all-inclusive sightseeing pass that offers single entry to over 100 of NYC’s most popular attractions and tours.
It’s valid for a set number of consecutive calendar days, with pass lengths ranging from 1 to 10 days. You activate your pass by using it at your first attraction. From that point, it’s active for the rest of the day plus the remaining days purchased. In most cases, you show your pass at the gate and head in.
For one set price, you can use the New York Pass to access as many of the included attractions as you like. The more you do, the more you save. Maximize your sightseeing time by skipping the ticket line, a privilege at select attractions when you have the New York Pass.
The New York Pass is among the best sightseeing passes on the market in any city. For the right traveler, it offers value that’s hard to beat.
How Does the Go New York Explorer Pass Work?
The Go New York Explorer Pass takes a different approach. Rather than giving holders access to attractions for a set number of days, it’s valid for a set number of attractions: 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10.
Just because it isn’t an all-inclusive pass doesn’t mean your choices are limited, though. There are over 90 attractions to choose from, so you might have some tough decisions to make. But don’t worry, you don’t have to pick your attractions in advance.
Like the New York Pass, you show your Go New York Explorer Pass at your first attraction to activate it, no tickets necessary. Unlike the New York Pass, this little gem is valid for 30 days, making it a fantastic fit for people on a longer trip, or for anyone who likes to spread out their sightseeing.
The Go New York Explorer Pass can also help you skip the line at a few of the busiest attractions and can save you up to 52% on admission to NYC’s top tourist sites and tours.
Which New York Attractions Are Included?
Both the New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass offer a ton of selection. I can’t possibly list all 90+, but here are a few of the top attractions included on both passes:
- Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock
- Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Tour
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry
- Madame Tussauds
- 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Museum of Modern Art
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Guggenheim Museum
- Rockefeller Center Tour
- Central Park Bike Rental
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- The RIDE
So, how do they compare? The New York Pass offers slightly more selection, but the Go New York Explorer Pass doesn’t miss anything big.
Comparing the Costs
So, the selection is similar, but what about the price? Let’s look at the cost of each pass to see how they stack up.
New York Pass Pricing
|Passes||Adult Price (13+)||Child Price (3-12)|
|1 Day New York Pass||$159||$119|
|2 Day New York Pass||$249||$139|
|3 Day New York Pass||$329||$204|
|4 Day New York Pass||$379||$239|
|5 Day New York Pass||$419||$269|
|7 Day New York Pass||$484||$344|
|10 Day New York Pass||$544||$374|
|*Current as of August 07, 2023|
Go New York Explorer Pass Pricing
|Pass||Adult Price||Child (3-12) Price|
|*Current as of February 10, 2023|
Looking at these prices, we can see right away that the New York Pass is more expensive than the Go New York Explorer Pass.
The 3-day New York Pass is almost the same price as the 10-choice Go New York Explorer Pass. But which is better value? Let’s think about that for a minute.
First of all, could you do 10 attractions or tours in 3 days? I think so, although the day you did 4 of them would be tight. If you could manage it, the value would be pretty much on par. That assumes you’re cool with 3 very busy days. And that you’re in NYC that long.
If you’re in NYC for 3 days and you would do fewer than 10 attractions in that time, then you would get better value from the Go New York Explorer Pass (perhaps the 5 or 7-choice option). If you would do more than 10 attractions in 3 days, The New York Pass would be a better bet.
What Are the Maximum Savings?
Comparing the 3-day New York Pass and the 10-choice Go New York Explorer Pass is useful because they come in at around the same price point. But if you want to figure out the maximum savings from each pass, you need to take a different approach.
Figuring out the maximum value you can get from the Go New York Explorer Pass is fairly easy. You can tell from a quick glance at the prices that the 10-choice pass is the best deal. So, to get the highest possible savings from the pass, you’d have to visit the 10 most expensive choices. I did the math, and their total regular admission price would be $561.
The 10-choice Go New York Explorer Pass costs $270, so $561 − $270 = $291 in savings. That’s 52%.
Things are a little trickier with the New York Pass because there’s no limit to how many attractions you can visit in a day. For the sake of this example, I’m going to say the average person can do three attractions per day.
The 10-day pass is the best value, so to get the absolute highest possible savings, you’d have to do the 30 most expensive attractions. I added them up, and the total regular cost would be a whopping $1,398.
The 10-day New York Pass costs $469, so $1398 − $469 = $929 in savings. That’s 66%.
And guess what? I ran the math for the 20 most expensive attractions, too, just to see how it would work out if you only visited 2 a day. And you’d still save $543, or 54%. That’s pretty much on par with the Go New York Explorer Pass.
So, both passes can save you a handsome amount, but there’s no doubt that the New York Pass has the potential to save you more, if used strategically.
Who Should Get the New York Pass?
- First-time Visitors – If it’s your first time in the Big Apple, you likely have a huge to-do list. The New York Pass is a great fit for someone who plans to take in as much of NYC as they can and save a ton of money doing it.
- Power Sightseers – With the New York Pass, the more you do, the more you save. Although you can only visit each attraction once, you can visit as many of them as time permits. People who thrive on busy itineraries and jam-packed days will look at the New York Pass and think, “Challenge accepted!”
- Tour Junkies – If you can’t get enough tours, you’ll be blown away by the New York Pass’ selection – there are 42 to choose from! And because it’s an unlimited pass, you can do as many as time allows.
Who Should Get the Go New York Explorer Pass?
- Repeat Visitors – There’s so much to do and see in NYC, there’s no way to do it all in one trip. Repeat visitors will want to check out the attractions they couldn’t fit in last time and maybe revisit their favorites. That said, if you’ve been to NYC several times, you probably don’t plan to visit three or more tourist attractions every day for several days in a row. Instead, you’ll do well with the Go New York Explorer Pass because it allows you to take a more relaxed approach to sightseeing.
- Sightseers Who Prefer to Take it Slow – Anyone who balks at busy schedules, enjoys taking their time, and relishes spending a full day at an amazing attraction (like the Met) will do great with the Go New York Explorer Pass. The same is true for people who enjoy a day of sightseeing followed by a break. It’s valid for 30 days, so there’s no pressure to hit multiple attractions each day.
- Casual Sightseers – The New York Pass is best for the serious sightseer, while the casual sightseer does better with the Go New York Explorer Pass. No one goes to NYC without seeing any of the sites, but there are plenty who only want to see a key few. If that sounds like you, the flexibility of the Go New York Explorer Pass will be perfect for you.
The New York Pass and the Go New York Explorer Pass are two excellent options for saving money on sightseeing in NYC.
The New York Pass is all-inclusive and unlimited, making it the perfect choice for travelers ready to hit the ground running and take in a bunch of attractions and tours.
To get your money’s worth, you have to do at least two attractions a day for consecutive days. To get better value than you would from the Go New York Explorer Pass, you have to do three attractions per day.
The Go New York Explorer Pass isn’t unlimited, so it can’t save you as much money as the New York Pass. But being valid for a set number of attractions over 30 days makes it a more flexible option that some travelers find easier to get value from and is a better choice for those who want to take their time sightseeing.
At the end of the day, both are fantastic passes, and both can save you money on sightseeing in NYC. The pass you should choose depends on your sightseeing style.