I posted a while back about the Tampa Bay CityPASS and what a great value it is. Apparently a little too good because prices went up on March 1, 2017. The rates are also going up in Houston, Dallas, Chicago, and Seattle.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that these passes aren’t for everyone. If you’re not the type that likes to hit lots of big attractions in a city when you roll into town, you can ignore all this and just pay for what you want. They’re not going to cover everything you might want to do, like Central Park rickshaw tours. For other people though—especially vacationing families—these CityPass booklets can provide some budget certainty and enable some sizable discounts.
That Tampa one I covered before is $99 through the end of this month, then $119 after that. Keep in mind though that it includes the Busch Gardens Tampa theme park, which by itself is $93 these days. Then throw in the Florida Aquarium, the Chihuly Collection glass museum or the MOSI science museum, the zoo, and Clearwater’s aquarium and you’ve got a deal.
The Chicago CityPASS is currently $98 (or $82 for children) but will go up in March. If you use everything on it the pass will save you 54% compared to one-off ticket purchases. Here’s what it includes:
- Shedd Aquarium
- Skydeck Chicago
- The Field Museum
- Museum of Science and Industry or 360 CHICAGO
- Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago
With all of them you get the highest-tier ticket, which means a Fast Pass or a VIP level with the most perks. See the official website for descriptions and links to all the attractions.
There are a lot of city and museum passes out there around the world, with a lot of different names. My main beef with most of them is you have to run around like a maniac to really get your money’s worth from them. If you’re more of a slow traveler who wants to soak up what the place has to offer, these passes can add unneeded pressure and stress to your visit. And how many kids want to go to four things in one day?
The CityPASS is different though because it’s good for nine days. From what I’ve seen, even that has some wiggle room with the ticket takers at the attractions. So you can take your time and space out the visits. If you hit one attraction a day over a week and a half you still have plenty of time for other activities—or nothing at all. You can get the advantages of slow travel.
These passes also break you out of your comfort zone a little and nudge you into doing things you might not have done on your own. That’s good for you and your brain. Maybe out of the list of things for Seattle, you weren’t going to go on a boat cruise, or visit the Museum of Pop Culture. Maybe you thought it was not your scene to travel to the top of the Space Needle like a cheesy tourist. But a lot of times people use their pass for these experiences and then go, “Hey, that was really fun!”
You can use this on your phone as an app, or you can get a paper booklet that you bring with you. The ticket window scans your phone or rips out your ticket until you’re done.
Because you get VIP tickets, there’s usually an extra bonus experience or two in these packages also. An IMAX movie, 3-D film, or special museum admission, for example, that would usually require an additional fee—and an additional discussion. In other words, getting two of these passes can help avoid a few arguments. How much is that worth?
Buy Now to Save a Bit
I said in the beginning that prices are going up March 1, but if you don’t read this until after that, the penalty won’t be too harsh. The Tampa Bay one is going from $99 to $106 for adults. The Chicago one is only going from $98 to $100. The Seattle one is increasing five bucks.
CityPASS is in 11 U.S. locations plus Toronto though and the other 7 aren’t raising prices this year—including popular New York City. You’re certain to save around 50% no matter when you get yours.
See more information on the official CityPASS website, then find a good hotel deal nearby.