Friday 18 February 2011

Plan a Spring Getaway to New York City: Get Your Bite of the Big Apple Before the Busy Summer Season

Spring is a perfect time to visit New York City: Central Park is awash in blooms and new leaves, temperatures are ideal, and, thanks to those last lingering months of the school year, the family vacation season hasn't yet hit its peak. For travelers, that means shorter lines at Manhattan's most popular attractions combined with more affordable, shoulder-season hotel rates.

Making Manhattan even more budget-friendly is New York CityPASS, which saves visitors nearly half off admission to the city's most memorable attractions. Inside each New York CityPASS are prepaid admission tickets to the Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), as well as two option tickets that give travelers a choice of additional adventures. The first option ticket lets holders choose between the Guggenheim Museum and Top of the Rock; the second between a trip to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise.

New York CityPASS costs $79 for adults (a value of $146) and $59 for kids, ages 6-17 (a value of $103). In addition to the savings, each New York CityPASS admission ticket allows holders to bypass most main entrance ticket lines.

Less time in line means more time to enjoy the attractions, including Top of the Rock, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center. New to CityPASS in 2010, Top of the Rock is an ideal vantage point from which to scout Central Park for signs of spring. The observation deck, which soars 850 feet (259 meters) above Manhattan, also provides unobstructed views of the city, the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and other New York City icons.

Top of the Rock shares an option ticket with the Guggenheim Museum, whose stunning building is one of the most recognized in the world. Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of modern architecture features a grand ramp that curves from the ground to the museum's dome. And under that dome is one of the world's finest collections of 20th and 21st century art: Chagall, Kandinsky, Picasso, van Gogh and other modern and contemporary masters. Add one of the museum's free daily tours for fascinating insights into the artists' lives and creations.

Still one of the world's most romantic locations, the elegant Empire State Building's 86th Floor Observatory provides a glorious panoramic view of the city that never sleeps. Best of all, the observatory is open nightly until 2 a.m. (the last elevators go up at 1:15 a.m.), which makes it a perfect stop for a late-night kiss against a backdrop of glimmering city lights. Thursday through Sunday, the Empire State Building ups the ante on romance with a live saxophonist performing on the 86th floor from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

From awe-inspiring views to an awe-inspiring art collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses masterpieces spanning 5,000 years. Skimming through the Met's galleries, visitors revel in ancient Egyptian treasures, European masterworks (including sculptures attributed to Michelangelo), eclectic paintings by Picasso, Far Eastern antiquities and fascinating artifacts from colonial America. From the museum's sculpture-accented Roof Garden, open spring through late fall, visitors can drink in spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and enjoy a snack, latte or glass of wine.

As a bonus, the Met's CityPASS admission ticket also includes same-day admission to The Cloisters museum and gardens, located in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park. After admiring medieval art and the famous Unicorn Tapestries, visitors can enjoy views of both the Hudson River and the greening trees along the New Jersey Palisades.

For both adults and children, the razor-toothed jaws of the Tyrannosaurus rex at the American Museum of Natural History leave an indelible impression. And, thanks to its cameo appearance in 2006's hit film "Night at the Museum," the 94-foot-long (29 meters) blue whale suspended from the ceiling in the Hall of Ocean Life will be instantly recognizable to most kids. But, movie buff or not, anyone with a lick of interest in our natural world will be happy to lose themselves in this trove of scientific treasures. A New York CityPASS admission ticket also includes entry to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, as well as a Hayden Planetarium "Space Show."

As the first museum dedicated to artworks of the contemporary era, The Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) collection includes such masterpieces as Vincent van Gogh's "The Starry Night," Claude Monet's "Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond" and Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Cans." Additional works by Picasso, Matisse and a vast array of painters, photographers, sculptors and multimedia artists are represented. Inspired visitors can pop into the MoMA Design Store (across the street from the museum) for accessories, jewelry, furniture, lighting and more — all inspired by MoMA's collection.

Two of America's most inspiring national treasures are highlighted on the second New York CityPASS option ticket, which gives visitors a choice between the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket takes visitors on a ferry ride to both Liberty and Ellis islands. Visitors can spend time touring each at their own pace (budget 4-5 hours to see both without rushing). Although the Statue of Liberty Pedestal/Museum entry is not included with CityPASS, access is free and available on a first-come, first-served basis to a limited number of early birds each day. Also, note that tickets to the crown are typically snapped up months in advance. For more information on pedestal access and crown tickets, visit

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum provides an important look at the building of our nation, as 12 million people passed through the island on their way to a better life.

On a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, passengers glide past both the majestic Statue of Liberty and the iconic New York skyline. CityPASS ticket holders can choose a two-hour Semi-Circle Cruise, a two-hour Harbor Lights Cruise at sunset (both providing panoramic views of Manhattan and a close-up of Lady Liberty), a 75-minute Liberty Cruise (a shorter trip along the Hudson River) or The Beast Speedboat Ride (a 30-minute, full-throttle spin past the Statue of Liberty). Note: The Liberty Cruise and The Beast Speedboat are available only May-October.

New York CityPASS can be purchased online at or at any of the CityPASS attractions. It is valid for nine consecutive days, beginning with the first day of use.

As a premier product for travelers who crave savings, convenience and a well-defined means to discovering a city's leading attractions, the CityPASS concept showcases the best attractions in North America's most exciting destinations at an incredible discount. CityPASS ticket booklets are available for New York, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Hollywood, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California and Toronto. For more information on CityPASS and its partner cities and attractions, visit

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