I’m back today with a new article about passes! I have been receiving more and more practical questions on this subject in recent months:

How to use them? Is it necessary to book activities in advance? Do they offer skip-the-line entries? Where to buy them?

The questions asked in comments or DM are often the same, so here they are, all gathered in this article dedicated to benefits and use of attraction passes in NYC. If you’re starting your research on passes for a future trip to New York, this article should help you to see things much clearly!

Are the passes serious and safe?

Over the past few years, I have often been asked if the passes work well and if the sites selling them can be trusted. At a time when scams and theft of personal data are increasing on the Internet, it is quite justified to pay attention to the reputation of the selling websites. But also to ensure the quality of the products sold.

On these points, there is no doubt: attraction passes sold for NYC trips work perfectly. No scams, you can buy with confidence. Pass companies have been around for a long time and have proven their efficiency.

For an overview, here is a list of all the passes currently on sale for NYC trips and the websites where they can be purchased:

Practical benefits of passes

Passes are also a huge time saver. By grouping the tickets needed for several attractions in just one pass, you save precious time when organizing your trip:

  • This avoids having to book on multiple websites. No one wants to spend hours booking tickets, website after website, activity after activity.
  • This avoids carrying multiple tickets with you during your trip. This minimizes the risk of loss.
  • This avoids lines to buy tickets on the spot (which is probably the worst idea you can have in New York).

Passes offer the advantage of centralizing the entire booking process. By booking all the activities in one place, a fastidious part of the trip organization goes away.

Financial benefits of the passes

Of course, the main advantage is the savings they offer. For example, you can benefit from discounts ranging from 25% to almost 50% on the activities’ price!

If you take a closer look at the activities proposed in the New York City Pass and according to the activities chosen (3 activities are optional in this pass), the total value of the activities you can do is more than 220$. However, the pass is sold for $129, which allows you to benefit from a reduction of nearly $100 on the activities’ price.

On my side, I often took advantage of the savings offered by the GoCity Explorer Pass. By offering a total freedom for the choice of activities, this is my favorite pass to use in New York and it also offers great discounts on the price of activities. Of course, I couldn’t test all the passes available (unless to do the same activities over and over again). But all of them allow in their own way to get better prices.

The biggest difficulty is to find the pass that best suits your needs. In addition to these numerous advantages, the passes have other surprises to reveal… Some passes offer exclusive advantages that only their users can enjoy. For example:

  • The New York City Pass allows you to go to the Empire State building twice a day. Once during the day and once at night in the same day.

Booking activities and skip-the-line options

This is the subject that bring a lot of questions! Many of you have asked me how to reserve time slots and skip the line entries for activities, while using a pass. To simplify my answer as much as possible, here are the four main things to remember:

  • Most activities do not require advance reservations. Simply go to the front desk and present your pass to enter. The pass will be scanned and tickets for the attraction will be given to you if necessary (especially for passing through the checkpoints).
  • Exception: The Top of the Rock and the Empire State building are attractions where reservations are strongly recommended, even with a pass. For the Top of the Rock, it is necessary to go to the front desk to reserve your future slot. For the Empire State building, the reservation is also possible on spot, with the tablets disposed in the hall. Depending on the time of year, reservations can be made from a few hours to a few days in advance. Without reservation, you can also come but the access will not be guaranteed.
  • Since the Covid period, other attractions have also introduced early booking measures. To identify them, just check the “Reservations” tab on the pass website. You’ll also find information on the attraction’s details page. Then simply follow the links provided to make your reservations online. If nothing is specified about a possible reservation, then there is no need.
  • Purchasing a pass does not give you skip-the-line access to the attractions. NYC is a very busy city and it is recommended to be prepared to wait a little to access the attractions. It’s just logic: it’s always crowded in New York and even if everyone books in advance, there is always a bit of a wait to get in. The longest lines are at the most popular attractions, especially during the high season between April and October. If you don’t want to wait, travel between November and March 🙂

How to use your pass?

Using a pass is very simple. You just have to buy it online (the websites are at the top of the article) and then download it on your smartphone. You can also print them if you prefer.

And finally, if you have any questions about some activities (how to get there, opening hours, need to reserve or not), you will find all the relevant information here :

➜ For the New York City Pass:

Go to this page. Click on the attraction you are interested in and then on “attraction details”. This will give you access to all the practical information about the activity.

➜ For New York C3:

Go to this page. Click on the attraction you are interested in and then on “attraction details”. This will give you access to all the practical information about the activity.

➜ For the GoCity Explorer Pass:

Go to this page. Click on the activity you are interested in. Once on the activity page, scroll down to the “The Essentials” section. This will give you all the practical information you need to know about the activity.

➜ For the New York Pass:

Go to this page. From the list, click on the attraction you are interested in. Once on the activity page, scroll down to the “The Essentials” section. This will give you all the practical information you need to know about the activity.

➜ For the Sightseeing Pass:

Go to this page. In the list of activities, click on the activity you are interested in. Then scroll down to the “How To Redeem” section. You will get all the practical information you need to know about this activity.


That’s it! I hope this article helps you better understand how passes work in New York City! If not, feel free to ask your questions in the comments 🙂

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I’m a french travel blogger, crazy about New York City! Since I discovered NYC in 2014, each trip is an opportunity to learn more about the secrets of this fantastic city. I wish you a pleasant visit on my blog, with I hope, a lot of beautiful discoveries!