Ask New Yorkers about their feelings for their city, and they will often respond, “There’s just one New York.” By that they mean: one city so full of museums (more than 40 major ones); historical sites; world-famous institutions; parks; zoos; universities; lectures; concerts and recitals; theaters for opera, musicals, drama, and dance; architectural highlights; presidents’ homes; and kooky galleries. Its diversions are limitless, and you will never be bored. If you had the speed and stamina of a Usain Bolt, you would still be hard pressed to cover all of the attractions in several months of touring.

Because your own time is more limited than that, I’m confining my coverage to two categories of sights in this chapter: First, the city’s “iconic” attractions, by which I mean the places universally associated with Gotham—the headliners that make the city so massively popular. These include the major museums (the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, just to name two); the great historical and architectural sites (including Grand Central Station and the Brooklyn Bridge); and, in a category all its own, New York’s most sobering site: the 9/11 Memorial.

Second are the less famous attractions that, if they were magically transported to almost any other city in America, would instantly become that city’s top cultural draw and bring it acclaim, prestige, and millions of dollars in tourist revenue (no, I do not exaggerate). These attractions—such as the Tenement Museum, the Museum of the Moving Image, The Frick Collection—while lesser known, can add immensely to a New York City visit. And therefore it’s important occasionally to step off the tourist treadmill (Empire State, Times Square, Statue of Liberty) and try one of the so-called secondary sights. If you have the time, visit at least one of the places you might never have heard of before consulting this website.

A Worthwhile Sightseeing Pass
With this pass system, you pay one price ($129, or $109 for kids 6–17) for admission to five major attractions:

    *    The American Museum of Natural History (including the Space Show or an IMAX film)
    *    The Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock
    *    The Empire State Building Experience
    *    The 9/11 Memorial & Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
    *    The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, or a 2-hour Circle Line harbor cruise.
 Individual tickets to all these sites combined would cost 40% more.

Citypass also offers a pass that covers covers only three attractions (Citypass 3), and offers slightly less of a savings, but you have a wider choice, as all of the sites above are possibilities, plus the Museum of Modern Art, The Edge, or a city cruise. Cost for this one is $87/adult and $67/child. With this one you could save about 25% over individual tickets for all of the attractions covered by the pass.

Significantly, CityPass is not a coupon book: It contains actual tickets, so you can bypass lengthy lines (though advance reservations will also do that). CityPass is good for 9 days from the first time you use it. It’s sold at all participating attractions and online at You can download and self-print the pass or you may buy the pass at your first attraction (start at an attraction that’s likely to have a shorter admission line, such as the Guggenheim). If you begin your sightseeing on a weekend or during holidays, when lines are longest, online purchase is the smarter way to go. Online timed reservations, as we said before, are the smarter way to go.

When You Can Get In Free to NYC Museums

Many of the major museums in New York City offer "pay what you will" entry to residents of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Some also throw open their doors for free to all comers, at certain times of the week. Here's a look at where and when you can get in without paying:

National September 11 Museum (between 5:30 and 7pm)
Museum at Eldridge Street (all day)

Frick Madison (4-6pm)
Museum of the Moving Image (7-9pm)
New Museum of Contemporary Art (7–9pm)

Morgan Library & Museum (7-9pm, advance reservations required)

Museum at Eldridge Street (all day)
New York Historical Society (6-8pm)
Rubin Museum (6-10pm)
Whitney Museum (7-9:30pm)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (6-8pm)

Cooper-Hewitt Museum National Design Museum (5-6pm)

Subway stops for New York’s Top Attractions

American Museum of Natural History -- B, C to 81st Street

The Cloisters -- A to 190th Street

Ellis Island -- 4, 5 to Bowling Green or N, R to Whitehall Street 1 to South Ferry

Guggenheim Museum -- 4, 5, 6 to 86th Street

Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum -- A, C, E to 42nd Street–Port Authority

Metropolitan Museum of Art -- 4, 5, 6 to 86th Street

Museum of Modern Art -- E to Fifth Avenue or B, D, F to 47th–50th streets–Rockefeller Center

Brooklyn Bridge -- 4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall

Chrysler Building -- 4, 5, 6, 7, S to Grand Central–42nd Street

Empire State Building -- B, D, F, N, R, Q to 34th Street–Herald Square

Grand Central Terminal -- 4, 5, 6, 7, S to Grand Central–42nd Street

Rockefeller Center -- B, D, F to 47th–50th streets–Rockefeller Center

Staten Island Ferry -- 1 to South Ferry (first five cars)

United Nations -- 4, 5, 6, 7, S to Grand Central–42nd Street

Yankee Stadium -- 4, B, D to 161st River Avenue–Yankee Stadium

Chinatown -- 6, J, M, Z, N, R, Q to Canal Street

Greenwich Village -- A, C, E, B, D, F to West 4th Street

Times Square -- 1, 2, 3, 7, N, R, S to 42nd Street–Times Square

Wall Street -- 4, 5 to Wall Street or N, R to Rector Street

Cathedral of St. John the Divine -- 1 to Cathedral Parkway (110th St.)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral -- B, D, F to 47th–50th streets–Rockefeller Center or E to Fifth Avenue–53rd Street


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.