New York, USA

How I saved almost $200 on NYC tourist attractions!

When planning my first ever trip to the infamous New York City, I knew there was a LOT that I wanted to see and do. I also knew I only had about 4 or 5 days there so wondered how I would fit everything in.

My first views of NYC.. dreamy

While doing my own research online, I came across an attraction pass called The New York Pass that I’d never heard of before. It’s a pass available for either 3 days, 5 days or 7 days and includes access to over 90 attractions, tours, museums and more. It also means you can skip the lines at some attractions, and they give you a free little guidebook with lots of great information.

I had a good look at every attraction that the pass included and compared it to my list of attractions I had as ‘must do’s’ for New York City and worked out how much it would cost me to pay for each attraction ticket separately. I calculated that I would save myself at least $50 by buying the 3 day pass so I thought it was worth purchasing. As I talk about a bit later on, I even went to attractions that I didn’t necessary include in my ‘must do’ list when calculating so it was a bonus to get extra stuff essentially for free and I ended up saving myself almost $200!

Because the passes are done by day, and not by amount of attractions you want to go to, I naturally wanted to make the MOST of my three day pass. I would NOT suggest doing everything I did in three days as it was really rushed and I’m also a solo traveler so could go at my own pace. If you’re traveling with others, or want to see everything in more detail, then you’ll definitely need more than three days!

NYC skyline

Tip: Keep an eye on the website for special offers – when I purchased they were offering 20% off so I saved myself almost $50 off the original ticket price. The pass doesn’t start until you validate it at certain attractions so you can purchase it weeks or months before you even arrive in New York!

Here’s a little run down of what I did, in alphabetical order for you so you can skip to the parts you want to read about. Also the prices mentioned are what you would normally pay if you went without the New York Pass. Simply show your pass at every attraction you want to go to and get your admission ticket for free.

P.s. Don’t forget to check out the Shop part of my website for a free $25 from!

9/11 Memorial and Museum: $24

One of the most harrowing, but interesting museums I’ve ever been to. 10/10 would recommend but be ready for some possible tears. You could spend a good 2-3 hours here.

I was here so early that not a single other person was there. So serene
A real fire truck from 9/11

9/11 Tribute Museum: $15

A few blocks away from the memorial and you learn more about people that were directly affected by the tragedy. 6/10 would recommend. If you go to the previous one and find that’s enough for you, then I’d say skip this one. I spent less than an hour here.

American Museum of Natural History: $23

One of the funnest and interesting history museums I’ve ever been to! 8/10 would recommend. Large and could easily spend more than 3 hours here.

Big Bus Hop on/Hop off Tour: $60

Informative tour that goes all over the city (different routes available so you can pick what one/s you want to do). Bus is open top so it could be very cold in the winter but there are seats downstairs too. Also customer service was not great by both team members I dealt with (one in the office and another on the street). 6/10 would recommend. Time varies depending on how many routes you want to do.

Central Park Sightseeing Bike Tour and Rental: $45

Amazing bike tour with a great guide pointing out hot spots in Central Park as well as giving lots of interesting information about the area. 10/10 would recommend. Takes about 3 or 4 hours total.

Empire State Building: $37

A classic must do when you’re in the Big Apple. 8/10 would recommend. Waiting to go up to the top can take a little while (anywhere from an hour to 4 hours) so plan this in advance.

I was in NYC in November and it was pretty cold!

Grand Central Terminal Audio Tour: $9

Sitting on the grand stairs in Grand Central Station and listening to an audio history guide was a great way to wind down after a hectic day of sightseeing. If you’re not interested in the history of things then skip this one, but I did enjoy it. 7/10 would recommend. Takes less than an hour.

Madame Tussauds New York: $37.02

Full disclosure: I didn’t plan on doing this one originally but because it was already included in my ticket price and I was nearby with some time to kill in the evening, I thought why not?! I quite like celebrities so I enjoyed this attraction but if you’ve visited Madame Tussauds elsewhere (e.g. London like I have) then you could maybe skip this. 6/10 would recommend. You can spend 2-3 hours here.

Just chilling with my friend Jimmy!

Madison Square Garden: All Access Tour: $28.00

Something I never thought I’d be interested in but one of my favorite things I did in NYC! I was lucky and that no one else signed up for the tour I did so I had a one-on-one tour with an awesome guide who let me do and see things other people might not. I also found out the Knicks were playing the following night (which I wouldn’t have known otherwise) and so I went back the following night and saw LeBron play (extra cost, not included with NY Pass). 10/10 would recommend. Tour takes about 1-1.5 hours.

I got to see inside the NY Knicks changing room!

MoMa (Museum of Modern Art): $25

In all honesty, visiting MoMa and The Met museums in NYC made me realize I just don’t really care for art. I’m not a creative type of person and I never studied any History/Classics etc. in high school so half the famous artwork I was clueless about. If you’re into art, especially modern art, then this place is probably heaven for you. But it wasn’t for me so I’m going to be rough and give it a 4/10. It’s kind of on the small side so you can spend anywhere from 1-3 hours here.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigrations Museum: $25.50

Another very classic NYC thing to do but again one of my favorites. Your ticket with the pass includes the ferry to the Statue and Ellis Island and back to the city, as well as an audio tour of both. I absolutely loved the Ellis Island audio tour as I am a permanent resident of the USA without being born there so I loved learning about how I would’ve gone about this back in the day. 10/10 would recommend. Visiting both islands, doing the audio tour of both and the ferry could take up to five hours.

Again, pretty cold!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET): $25

See description under the MoMa for why I wasn’t the biggest fan of this place. 6/10 would recommend. You could spend up to 10 hours here if you are a huge art fan, and wanted to look at every single piece. I would say the average tourist spends 3-4 hours here.

Top of the Rock Observatory: $34

I did this one as I quite simply wanted to see what the Empire State Building looked like from the top of another tall building! 8/10 would recommend. I spent approximately an hour here.

I always loved this shot as a kid

So that concludes all the attractions I did within three days using the New York Pass. BUT there’s so much more to see and do in NYC! I only had about a day and a half spare outside of the days I was doing the pass attractions so not much time but I managed to go to the following:

Brooklyn Bridge

Got me feeling like Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl going across here. A must do for every new visitor to NYC. 9/10 would recommend. I only walked halfway across and came back the same way but you can walk all the way across to Brooklyn. Halfway round trip takes about 30 mins.

Sooo beautiful

Times Square

A visit to New York is not complete without visiting this place! There weren’t too many people around when I went but I have heard it gets a little crazy.

New York Stock Exchange

I wanted to see where all the magic happened and also see if it was as exciting as the movies. It wasn’t. 6/10 would recommend. I just stood outside the beautiful building and took a photo so only took 5 mins!

My quick photo wasn’t that great but a beautiful building!

The High Line

A former railway for trains, the High Line is now a 2.3 km (1.45 miles) long walkway which includes gardens, artwork and other fun stuff. I wasn’t a hugeee fan of this but it was also super cold when I was in NYC and I was on a time frame so couldn’t walk aimlessly and enjoy it! 6/10 would recommend. You could spend up to 1-1.5 hours here.

Friends Apartment

I’ve already mentioned how much I like celebrities and the TV show Friends is no exception. I had to pay a visit to the outside shots of the apartment building while in the area!

Broadway show

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not a very creative/artistic type. I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy a Broadway show and didn’t want to buy stupidly expensive tickets. After using StubHub to get cheap Macklemore tickets in both LA and NYC on this trip, I thought I’d try for Broadway tickets too and succeeded. I paid just under $70 USD for a ticket to Wicked about two hours before it started! And I did really enjoy it 🙂

My seats weren’t too bad seeing as I purchased a few hours before the show started!

Have a cronut where they invented cronuts

After arriving at the ferry for the Statue of Liberty faaaarrrr too early, I had some time to kill. Nearby was the cafe Dominique Ansel Bakery so I just HAD to try one from the birthplace. They do a flavor of the month for $6 each. Worth every penny!

Event at Madison Square Garden

Depending on the season, you can see anything from basketball, ice hockey and wrestling matches to Billy Joel live in concert (who has been performing once a month in the arena since 2014 and has said he will keep going until the demand is no longer there). I bought my tickets off Stubhub a few hours before the game and got to see LeBron James play so I would 10/10 recommend going to see whatever is on while you’re there.

Post game photo op

I hope I’ve helped you plan your New York City vacation and even if you don’t end up buying the New York City pass, my descriptions of each attraction have helped in some way!

P.s. If you love museums, then you have to check out this list about the best FREE museums in NYC!

Courtney xo


Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links where I earn commission if you purchase using those links. It will not affect how much you pay, but funds my traveling just that little bit more. Thanks in advance for supporting me and this website! 

54 thoughts on “How I saved almost $200 on NYC tourist attractions!

  1. Wow, you fitted so much in. I’d love to go to New York, it’s on my all time want list but it’s a big dream at the moment!! Great money saving advice though for anyone going.

  2. NYC is my all time favorite city. Totally loved it and I hope I will go back to visit soon. Love your article. I saved it for my next trip. Thanks for sharing this tips.

    1. A lot of people say that and I actually didn’t like NYC at all! I loved all the attractions and seeing everything from the movies and tv shows but I didn’t really enjoy the city at all!

  3. What a trip! Looks like an amazing adventure, good on you for finding a way to budget it all too! 🙂 I’d love to visit New York one day it seems like such an amazing place!

    1. That is probably the BEST compliment to receive!! Thank you soooo much. Feel free to share this with any of your family and friends who may be visiting you in NYC!

  4. I never knew you could save 30% on City Passes, that’s awesome. You are right – there is SO MUCH to see! I’m looking forward to going to the 911 Museum and Memorial, and touring Grand Central when in the Big Apple. Thank you for your inspiration! xo Evelyn,

    1. I did enjoy all the attractions in NYC but not so much the city! I hope you get to go someday 🙂

  5. I honestly really enjoyed reading this post blog Hun! I am planning on New York trip as well this year, and this was so useful! Especially thank you for mentioning StubHub, just checked it out as well and its amazing idea!

    1. Thank you! I hope you use this as a rough guide for your visit and feel free to contact me if you need any more advice/tips 🙂

    1. Wow, that’s so interesting to hear! I found everyone in NYC a little rude but those two people were insanely rude!

  6. I have always wanted to visit New York , reading through your article will make me put it in my travel bucket list . This look so so amazing 😉

  7. This was a very informative post. I did something like this when I got to visit London and it really does help you save money. It also helps you be able to see things that you might not have ever thought of on your own. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow! You really did do a lot! We were there for just over a day because of travel delays and we barely touched the surface on what you managed to pack in — But what a great deal! I really want to go to the Top of the Rock! We loved the 9/11 Memorial — we actually went at midnight and it was so nice and quite!

  9. The New York Pass sounds like an excellent way to see New York City for a short visit and on a budget (I don’t really linger long when I check out an attraction so this is pretty OK with me). Definitely keeping this guide for my own planning when I visit NYC too! 🙂 I’m not much of museum-type of person too (maybe with a few small exemptions, of course) so I think I’ll skip some museums and focus on other attractions. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigrations Museum, Broadway Show and Times Square sounds fun. And maybe the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

    Thank you for this guide, Courtney! 🙂

    1. Oh definitely! I feel like I missed a LOT and I never claim that these are the only things to do in NYC. I want to go back and see some more!

  10. You lucked out big time! I love NYC. I often visit NY for various reasons. My all time favorite is the 9/11 memorial/ museum. Love your post and all the tips and details:). Great savings!

  11. I’ve been to the States a couple of times, but I only managed to check out California and parts of Tennessee. I’d love to visit the Big Apple, especially Lady Liberty! Never knew that the attraction fees were so exorbitant, but glad that the pass is there to help! 🙂

    1. There’s so much to see and do in the USA so I hope you get to go back and explore a little more!

    1. Me too! I love saving money anywhere I can and then using those savings on something exciting 🙂

  12. I’ve never been to NY…or the States as a matter of fact, but I’d love to visit the Big Apple one day. I love the idea of a city pass, it makes your life so much easier…especially if you can skip the queues! Btw, hats off to you…your trip was jam-packed! Wow!

    1. I hope you do get to go one day! Hahaha yeah it was a verrrrry hectic 5 days and I was exhausted at the end! I needed a week in Florida to recover 😉

  13. New York is considered one of the most costly cities and I am sure many travelers must think twice before including it in their plan. But then you have shown there are ways to be able to save on the trip in various ways. Even after including all the major sites like the Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and others that one mostly wants to visit.

  14. What an amazing adventure; I love visiting NYC! You definitely packed a lot into your trip, but i’m sure it was totally worth every second. You’ve made me add Madison Square Garden: All Access Tour to my list for my next visit 🙂

  15. Such a great post! I am in the process of planning a trip there next fall. Any suggestions on how to get a good deal on lodging?

    I will be using this to help me plan my itinerary!

    1. Fall will be sooo beautiful in NYC! If you check out my Shop part of my website, I have a link for $25 when you use for your accommodation! I used all across the USA for my accomm as it has a wide range of options for every budget.

  16. Wow, you definitely managed to cover major of the attractions in New York in just $200! The 9/11 Memorial and the Tribute Museum although heartbreaking to visit, one cannot miss it while in NYC. Thanks for sharing all the important tips on saving money!

  17. wow, this is a great post. NYC is my ultimate destination and I have been wanting to go for like forever. I have never traveled out of my country, so this will be a really big deal for me. saving these tips for future 🙂 thanks

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