New York Explorer Pass

Is the New York Explorer Pass worth it?

Image of author Maureen
Maureen
24. January 2020
546 ratings

The New York Explorer Pass is one of the most popular attraction-based passes for New York for those who prefer to be flexible and save money at the same time. It allows you to choose between 3-10 attractions and once purchased, it fully covers all admissions. 

Contents

What is the New York Explorer Pass?

Go New York Explorer Pass

The New York City Explorer Pass is a great option to visit attractions in New York without needing to purchase tickets at every single attraction. The New York City Explorer Pass covers it all and lets you save up to 50% compared to regular admission fees. You can choose between 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 of over 90 attractions. If you don’t know what you want to see, don’t worry: There is no need to select any New York Explorer Pass attractions in advance. Simply choose as you go!

The Explorer Pass also offers a “build your own pass” option, formerly called Go Select Pass. Choosing this pass, however, you will need to predetermine your attraction upon purchase and only save 10-20% based on the number of attractions. Because it offers less flexibility and also lower savings, I do not recommend this version. If you do want to learn about it, head to the Go Select Pass.

The NY Explorer Pass at one glance

  • 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 attractions choices
  • 90+ attractions, museums, and tours
  • valid for 30 days after activation
  • free travel guide & app available
  • mobile ticket or print ticket options
  • available online

BUY NOW

How does the New York Explorer Pass work?

Go New York Pass mobile

  • Step 1: Purchase it

You can buy your Explorer Pass for New York online at any time. Thanks to the mobile ticket option you can receive your Explorer Pass digitally and start exploring immediately! Simply download it onto your phone or print it out. Purchasing the pass does not activate it. You have one year to do so, meaning you shouldn’t buy it more than a year before your trip.

  • Step 2: Activate it

Your Explorer Pass will automatically be activated once you first use it. At your first attraction, simply present your pass. The QR-code on your phone or printout will be scanned and activate your pass. Starting from that day, you have 30 days to explore your remaining attractions. That gives you plenty of time to explore the city at your own pace.

  • Step 3: Use it

To use your NY Explorer Pass, simply head to your attraction of choice and present your pass at the ticket counter to receive your admission ticket. There won’t be any additional charges, because the Explorer Pass already covers all admissions for the number of attractions you chose. You also don’t have to know which attractions you want to visit. Simply choose as you go. The pass does not care which attractions you visit, only how many. Each attraction can be visited only once.

Online reservations with the Explorer Pass are not possible, except for a few tours that require prior reservations.


New York Explorer Pass Prices

New York City Explorer Pass prices start at $94. The more attractions you choose, the higher will be your savings compared to regular ticket prices. Due to its low price offer, there are no further New York Explorer Pass discounts, meaning that an Explorer Pass promo code isn’t even necessary anymore!

Number of attractions

(13 years and up)

(3-12 years)

3

$94

$70

4

$132

$95

5

$156

$117

7

$212

$158

10

$270

$200

New York Explorer Pass Attractions

The list of attractions covered by the New York City Explorer Pass includes many of New York’s must-sees and dos, making it a great pass for those visiting for the first time. The pass, however, also includes many behind-the-scenes tours and experiences that make it a great option for repeat visitors as well.  In total, there are over 90 attractions, museums, and tours to choose from.

Remember that all attracti0ns are already fully covered by the pass, meaning you won’t face additional charges unless you choose to upgrade a ticket.

These are the most popular attractions included in the NY Explorer Pass:

Attractions

Museums

Cruises

Tours

  • Empire State Building
  • Top of the Rock
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met)
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Intrepid Museum of Sea, Air & Space
  • Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Best of NYC Cruise
  • Landmarks Cruise
  • Statue by Night Cruise
  • Daytime Statue Sail
  • Harbor Lights Cruise
  • 1-day hop-on hop-off ticket
  • Hop-on hop-off night tour
  • The RIDE
  • The TOUR
  • Gossip Girl Sites Bus Tour
  • When Harry met Seinfeld Bus Tour
  • NYC TV & Movie Bus Tour

Observation Decks

The New York Explorer Pass offers access to two iconic viewing platforms, Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building. One World Observatory is not included. None of the New York attraction passes currently include the city’s newest viewing platform Edge. Once it is, we will let you know.

Museums

From the MoMA and Met Museum to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the Explorer Pass also offers many highlights for museum lovers. The American Museum of Natural History offers you to pay-what-you-wish admission. You do not necessarily need to consider the museum when choosing a pass. Learn more about free museums in NYC.

Boat tours and cruises

We love admiring New York’s skyline from the water. Luckily, the New York Explorer Pass features a major cruise provider in their offer: Circle Line. Their sightseeing cruises belong to some of the best tours. Some cruises offer you the option to upgrade to a longer cruise for an additional charge. The ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island does not include access to the pedestal or crown. For those of you who do want to explore the statue’s pedestal or crown, it’s best to buy your tickets separately. We’ve summarized your options to see the Statue of Liberty.

Hop-on hop-off buses & bus tours

Of course, the popular hop-on-hop-off bus tours are part of the New York Explorer Pass as well. Go New York works with Big Bus. Your 1-day ticket is valid for both the Uptown and Downtown route. To use the hop-on-hop-off buses, let the driver scan your pass upon boarding the bus. The Explorer Pass counts the Uptown & Downtown hop-on hop-off routes as only one attraction. You can ride both routes for one entire day. Each additional bus tour would be considered an additional attraction. Keep in mind that the purpose of these bus tours is sightseeing. They are not suited for regular transportation within the city.

Walking Tours

With the Explorer Pass, you also have access to a lot of sightseeing tours, walking tours, food tours, bike tours, and themed tours across all neighborhoods. With so many choices, here’s surely a tour for everyone!

New York Explorer Pass Fast Track Entry

With the Explorer Pass for New York, you can skip the ticket line at these popular attractions.

  • Top of the Rock
  • Madame Tussauds
  • Empire State Building

Explorer Pass Attractions


Is the New York Explorer Pass worth it?

Yes, it is! With the exception of One World Observatory, the NY Explorer Pass covers all major attractions. It allows you to save money, stay flexible and spend whole days without sightseeing. Especially if you want to go to both the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock, the Explorer Pass is a good choice for you.

Pros of the NYC Explorer Pass

  • save up to 50% on tickets
  • you stay flexible
  • it’s suited for first-time and repeat visitors
  • includes fast-track entry for popular attractions

Cons of the NYC Explorer Pass

  • does not include One World Observatory
  • only includes a 1-day ticket for hop-on-hop-off buses
New York Explorer Pass

My personal opinion

I’ve only had positive experiences using the New York Explorer Pass and therefore recommend it to anyone who is happy with the attraction choices. Compared to regular admission fees, you can save a lot of money that you can then spend on more experiences!

I do not recommend this pass, however, if you want to visit One World Observatory or use the hop-on-hop-off passes for more than a day. In this case, the New York Sightseeing Flex Pass may be a better option.

I recommend the New York Explorer Pass to:

  • everyone who wants to explore New York’s top sights, take guided tours and bus tours without sticking to a tight plan
  • first-time visitors as well as repeat visitors

Still not sure?

Reviews on other platforms are also very positive. You can read more New York Explorer Pass reviews here if you like to. If you are not convinced that the NY Explorer Pass a great pick for you, check out our Savings Calculator! It’s the most convenient way to find the best New York Pass for you. You simply select the attractions and tours you would like to see and the savings calculator will recommend the cheapest New York attraction pass to visit them all during your stay in the Big Apple.

CALCULATE YOUR SAVINGS


Explorer Pass compared to other passes

If you are interested in the other attraction passes available you can check them out via our extensive Pass Comparison. We have created some handy tables to help you find the pass that fits your budget, and still includes all the sights you want to see.

The pass that is most similar to the Explorer Pass is the Sightseeing Flex Pass. While they share a lot of features, however, there are minor differences that could affect your choice. If you’re between these two passes, head to the battle of Sightseeing Flex Pass vs Explorer Pass to let us help you reach a decision.


FAQ

Can I buy the Explorer Pass when I get to New York?
No! You used to be able to pick up your New York Explorer Pass at Macy’s Herald Square. Now, however, you have the option to print it at home or use the New York Explorer Pass mobile version with the corresponding app. Pick-up in New York is no longer needed, making using the Explorer Pass even simpler.

Can I make reservations with the Explorer Pass?
Generally, you do not need any reservations with the New York Explorer Pass. The only exceptions are walking tours and other tours whose group size matters.

Can my partner and I share a New York Explorer Pass?
No! Unfortunately, you cannot share a New York Explorer Pass with another person. You will need to buy one pass for each of you. Every New York Explorer Pass has its own QR Code. This way you can also head to different attractions, even if you purchased your New York Explorer Passes together.

Can I visit an attraction multiple times using the Explorer Pass for New York?
No! You can only visit attractions once using the New York City Explorer Pass.

Does the Explorer Pass include fast lanes?
Yes! The New York City Explorer Pass offers a fast lane ticket to the Empire State Building, for example. Please remember though that New York sightseeing passes focus primarily on price and flexibility, which is why typically, only standard admission is included.

Are there any New York City Explorer Pass discount codes available?
No! The NYC Explorer Pass is sold at a very competitive, highly reduced price, so a further New York City Explorer Pass discount code is not necessary! The only further New York Explorer Pass discount available is the New York City Explorer Pass group discount for groups of 10 and larger.

Can I ride the hop-on-hop-off buses with the NY Explorer Pass?
With the New York City Explorer Pass you will have access to the hop on hop off bus tours for one day. The uptown and downtown routes combined count as only 1 attraction (instead of 2)!

Is the Empire State Building included in the Explorer Pass?
The New York City Explorer Pass includes standard admission to the Empire State Building. The observation deck on the 102nd floor is not included.

Can I visit the Statue of Liberty with the New York Explorer Pass?
The New York City Explorer Pass only includes the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island. It gives you the opportunity to explore the islands on your own. If you would like to access the pedestal or the crown of the Statue of Liberty, you will need to purchase those tickets separately. Take a look at our Statue of Liberty ticket guide, detailing all the different options.

Is the One World Observatory included in the Explorer Pass?
No! One of the only downsides of the New York City Explorer Pass is that the One World Observatory is not included. The One World Observatory is, however, included in the Sightseeing Day and Flex Passes.

Does the Explorer Pass include the bus to the Woodbury Outlet?
In order to use your New York City Explorer Pass for the popular Woodbury Outlet Tour, a reservation is required. Call (212)-246-0597 at least 48 hours in advance and let them know that you are a New York Explorer Pass holder (have the pass number handy!) and be ready to choose your point of departure.

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Maureen Steinert
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