We’re going to come right out and say it, taking the whole family on a trip can be downright expensive. All those ticket prices really add up!

But when you’re vacationing with your family this summer, you want to make the most of your time and experience the best attractions that city has to offer.

What’s a budget conscious traveler supposed to do? That’s where CityPASS comes in!

CityPASS bundles prepaid admission to the most popular city attractions in 13 different U.S. cities and Toronto so you can save up to 50% (depending on location).

This way you and the kids can check out more parks, museums, and attractions… for less money. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

Not sure how it works? Neither were we at first. But now that we understand the program, we can see how it adds up to big savings.

We’ll break it all down for you so you can decide if CityPASS is a good option for your family travel plans…


What Is CityPASS?

CityPASS rates a particular city’s top attractions based on annual attendance numbers and bundles their admission fees into a single book of tickets that costs up to half of what it would cost to purchase each of the tickets separately.

If you’re planning a short 1-2 day trip, CityPASS probably isn’t for you because you wouldn’t have enough time to hit up all the attractions and take advantage of the savings.

However, if your family is staying in town for 3 or more days, and you want to visit all the popular sites…why wouldn’t you go the CityPASS route?

You get to see the best a city has to offer at a significant savings. Plus, once you activate your voucher at your first stop, you can avoid waiting in line to buy tickets at the rest of your destinations. Another added bonus!


What Popular City Attractions Can I See?

CityPASS is currently available in the following 14 metro areas:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Southern California
  • Tampa Bay
  • Toronto

Each location offers a slightly different package of tickets and the cost of the pass will vary depending on which city and option you choose. The passes are priced separately for children and adults.

To give you an example, we’re going to do a breakdown of two of the most popular CityPasses, New York City and Southern California, so you can see how they work.

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In New York you have two distinct cityPASS options; the Choose-3 plan or the 3 Preset + Choose-3 plan.

If you go with the NYC Choose-3 plan, you can pick any 3 attractions from the following list of options (and score a 25% savings):

  • Top of the Rock
  • Empire State Building
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Hornblower Cruise

If you go with the NYC 3 Preset + Choose-3 Plan, the first 3 attractions are set and then you choose 3 more (and score a 43% savings):

  • Empire State Building
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Top of the Rock -OR- Guggenheim Museum
  • Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island -OR- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum -OR- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum


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The Southern California CityPASS offers a slightly different format. The basic pass comes with the following 3 attractions (at a $150/per person savings):

  • 3-day Disneyland Park & California Adventure Park Hopper Ticket w/ Magic Mornings
  • SeaWorld, San Diego

You can also upgrade your ticket and add a 1-day admission to either the San Diego Zoo -OR- the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for even more savings.


How Does The Program Work?

You can purchase your CityPASS online and you’ll be issued a voucher. If you are purchasing a voucher for Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, or Dallas a mobile voucher will be issued. For all other cities, you’ll need to print out your voucher before arriving at your first destination, where you’ll exchange it for your CityPASS booklet of tickets.

Also In Beenke: 10 Great Tips For Traveling With Kids

You may have to wait in line to exchange your voucher, but after that no more ticket lines…you can proceed to the entrance. Keep in mind, you must exchange your voucher within 6 months of purchase.


What If My Travel Plans Change?

We know, kids have a funny way of messing with the best laid travel plans. They get sick, or schedules change… stuff happens. It’s a concern for parents when buying prepaid tickets.

CityPASS makes it very clear that no partial refunds will be issued. So if you only use 2 of the 3 tickets in your booklet, they will not issue a refund for the unused ticket.

This is why we don’t recommend passes for short visits. You want to be sure you have time to hit up all the attractions.

The good news is that CityPASS allows you to cancel your ticket booklet up to 365 days from the date of purchase and receive a refund on full booklets where no tickets have ever been used.

You’re also eligible to return your full, unused booklet of tickets for an exchange to another city’s booklet of tickets within 365 days. You will only be required to pay any difference in cost between the two booklets.

If you have to cancel your trip and rebook last minute, no worries. The one-year refund gives parents peace of mind when buying advance tickets like this.

Bottom line, if you’re planning to visit one of the 12 cities listed above for more than 2 days, it’s in your best interest to check out what options CityPASS has to offer.

You can save your family a whole lot of money, and see the most popular city attractions to boot.

Be sure to check out all the CityPASS options before planning your next family vacation!


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