Is the New York Explorer Pass worth it? Explorer Pass review 2018

New York, a highlight for many, is a city dripping with charm, class, excitement and culture. Known for being one of the biggest melting pots in the country, New York caters to those who wish to see it all while on the go.

New York is also known for having some of the highest prices in the country as well. Due to this, visitors often prepare themselves for high hotel, food and attraction costs. Most visualize the city as a place to learn and see a lot, but also one to spend a lot in. But that doesn't necessarily have to be the case, at least as far as attractions are concerned. The New York Explorer Pass is designed with savings in mind, but how well does it actually work? We'll find that out and more below.

New York Explorer Pass prices for 2018

Depending upon your age and the the size of your card, you'll find that prices vary a bit. Ages 13 and up are classified as adults while those under then 13 are considered children. When traveling with children under the age of 3, you won't have to worry about purchasing a card as they can get into the attractions for free.

  • 3 Attraction Adult $89.00, 3 Attraction Child $67.00
  • 4 Attraction Adult $109.00, 4 Attraction Child $84.00
  • 5 Attraction Adult $129.00, 5 Attraction Child $99.00
  • 7 Attraction Adult $164.00, 7 Attraction Child $129.00
  • 10 Attraction Adult $209.00, 10 Attraction Child $169.00

Where to buy the New York Explorer Pass

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Top sights and attractions

Top of the Rock Observatory – $34.00

With 360 degree views of the skyline, the Top of the Rock Observatory is the best place in town to see all of what New York City has to offer. From 800 feet above the ground, you'll see sights like the One World Trade Center, the Bank of America Tower, Central Park and the Chrysler Building. You'll also have access to 3 floors of indoor and outdoor observation decks, the Sky Shuttle elevator ride and a few fun exhibits. This attraction takes about an hour or so and is both adult and kid friendly.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum- Ferry Ticket – $18.50

Taking about an hour or more, a visit to the Statue of Liberty is one for the record books. Here you'll find beautiful views of downtown Manhattan and of Lady Liberty herself. After, you'll want to head over to Ellis Island for a chance to learn about American immigration. Both attractions are kid and adult friendly, though each seems to be a bit more fitted to adults.

The Met – $25.00

With over 5,000 years of art to display, The Met covers art from around the world. With both permanent and temporary art displays and exhibits, you'll be sure to find a few pieces that inspire you. Some of the permanent collections include Egyptian Art, Islamic Art, Medieval Art, Arms and Armor and American paintings. Both kid and adult friendly, a visit here takes about 2 to 3 hours.

Central Park Bike Rental: Full Day – $40.00

If you love to hop on a bicycle and enjoy a new city, you'll find environment in the central Park Bike Rental program. With over 150 different bikes to choose from, you'll get your choice of mountain, tandem or regular bikes. There are even bikes with baby seats and baby trailers available for use. Though each rental is for a full day, generally speaking, it takes about 2 hours to explore Midtown.

Landmark Cruise – $36.00

An activity suitable for both adults and children, Landmark Cruises offer visitors and locals alike views of the the Manhattan skyline alongside a narrative explaining the history and facts of the city. Each cruise takes about 2 hours.

The RIDE – $55.00

A double decker bus, the RIDE is a great way to see the streets of New York City. This custom built tour bus takes you on a 75 minute trip through Times Square and Midtown Manhattan. On board you'll find 2 comedic hosts that will make you laugh with history, trivia and fun facts. Some of the things you'll see during your tour are Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, Central Park and more. This is a great activity for both adults and children.

New York Botanical Garden – $23.00

A garden in the middle of a concrete jungle, the New York Botanical Garden is a haven for those who love greenery and flowers. Not only will you see flowers galore in several different exhibits, but a gift shop, dining options and the Everett Children's Adventure Garden where they'll find hands on activities to keep them busy and entertained.

Is the New York Explorer Pass a good deal

This depends on how you use the card. Unlike other Go Cards, the New York Explorer Pass focuses on number of attractions instead of number of days. This can make things a bit tricky and therefore demand a bit more planning. But, if you do the necessary pre-trip planning and research, you'll find that the card is a great deal and in the end will save you a bit of money during your visit.

In order to help, we've created a sample itinerary with the 3 attraction card.

  • Top of the Rock Observation Desk $34.00
  • Ripley's Believe it or Not $32.61
  • NYC TV & Movie Sites $43.00

The attractions above equal out to $109.61. If visiting these attractions with the card, you'll find a nice savings of $25.61. Also, it's best to keep in mind that from the first attraction you visit, you have 30 days to visit the other attractions on your list, no matter the size of your card.

More attractions equals more savings

Unsurprisingly, the price for each attraction goes down with the more you purchase. New York City has some many worthwhile attractions that are normally around the US$30 level that 5, 7, or 10 attractions should be ideal. If you can lock in a price of US$25 or lower for each attraction, you'll be doing really well.

With the card, you'll also receive a handy little guidebook detailed with attraction descriptions, locations and hours. When planning what attractions to visit, it's good practice to use the location map included in your guidebook. This way you'll have a good idea of where each attraction is located in reference to the next. In addition, you'll receive multiple discounts related to shopping, dining and entertainment.

Are all of the attractions covered with the New York Explorer Pass worth a visit

Because there are over 60 popular attractions to choose from, no matter the size of your card, you'll find that there are at least a few that are worth a visit to you. But, you'll need to keep in mind the cost of each attraction. If you value each attraction based on cost and how much money you'll save on them with the card, you'll find that not all of the attractions are worth the visit.

How not to use to New York Explorer Pass

Because the card is priced based on how many attractions you wish to visit, there are some ways to not use the card in order to make sure you get the best bang for your buck. Firstly, you don't want to settle with secondary attractions (those costing $20 or less). If you do, then you'll find that you won't save much money, if any at all.

Next, you don't want to just plan attractions that are 2 hours or less. If you do, then you might find yourself looking for more sightseeing than intended.

The bottom line

If used correctly, then you'll find the New York Explorer Pass is a great deal that can save you a nice amount of money during your visit. If used the wrong way, by visiting only attractions that are low in cost and take very little time to see, then you'll find that the card is not the best deal.

Where do you purchase your New York Explorer Pass

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There are a few different ways to receive your card with the most popular way being via smartphone. This way allows you to instantly receive your card straight onto your phone after purchase. You'll also receive your detailed guidebook and extra discounts at the same time as your card.

The other three ways to receive your card include through email, snail mail or at one of the in-city pickup locations available.

Similar cards to consider

Photos from Flickr users Erick Daniel, Vincent Desjardins, KGSImaging, Brent Rostad and Glyn Lowe.

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