There are so many things to see and do in New York City that it can be overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to research the accessibility of each attraction. I recently spent a weekend in New York City after a fun 8 days on the South Coast of Iceland and explored multiple wheelchair accessible attractions with the help of CityPASS.
This pass can be purchased online and gives you the opportunity to visit 6 of the most popular tourist destinations in NYC, all of which are wheelchair accessible. There’s also an option to purchase a smaller pass, C3, which gives you access to 3 attractions.
In my opinion, using CityPASS is the best way to visit wheelchair accessible NYC attractions with ease. With CityPASS, you can focus on enjoying the sites and your time in the city, over needing to coordinate visits and buy tickets.
Getting Started with CityPASS
CityPASS is an attractions package that gives visitors a discount on admission to 6 of the most popular tourist destinations in NYC. Using CityPASS means that for one purchase, you can visit 6 attractions in 1 to 9 days. A few attractions included on the pass give you a choice between two destinations. This is great because you can decide during your trip where you want to go based on what you want to see and the crowd levels.
There’s a one time purchase, and if you use the mobile ticket option, you’re likely to get your tickets faster, which means you can spend more time in the city and less time arranging accommodations. There is also a paper ticket booklet, but the mobile ticket may be easier to have on hand instead of keeping track of a booklet throughout your trip.
The CityPASS website is very well organized and informative. I liked reviewing the attractions and the details of the pass before my trip. The website also outlines what is included in the entire pass, as well as which perks are included with each attraction, such as which admission line or method to use, which times you can visit, and if there are any other attractions included with your ticket.
I only managed to visit 5 of the 6 attractions, but it was still a great deal. The following are the 6 attractions included in the pass. There are a few tickets where you choose between two attractions, so I’ll highlight which ones I visited, as well as what the other options are.
1: Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is one of the most popular tourist destinations in NYC, and for good reason. It’s an iconic piece of the city and it is quite impressive in person. This is the place to go to overlook the city, as it takes you 1,500 feet into the air. The views are amazing and it’s the perfect place to take pictures.
There are free, high powered binoculars to give you a closer look at the view and it’s all worth seeing in person.
Aside from the view, there’s an art exhibit that highlights the construction of the building. It’s a transportive experience that displays the city in the 1920s to experience the construction first hand. There’s also memorabilia and even King Kong.
The best time to visit the Empire State Building is between 8AM and 10AM, or after 10PM. The Building is open until 2AM. This attraction is completely ADA compliant.
There are wheelchair accessible bathrooms on the 86th floor Observatory. In the observation room, there are sections of lowered walls and lower binoculars for an unobstructed view. The 86th floor also has ramps and wheelchair accessible accommodations.
2: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Another must-see destination in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the MET.
When I was visiting, there was a great CAMP exhibit, but as with most art galleries, many exhibits are temporary. Be sure to explore both the CityPASS website and the MET site to see which galleries are currently being exhibited, so you’ll know what to expect for your visit.
The MET has an amazing entrance, the Grand Hall, which is a great way to start any visit. You’ll want to take pictures and spend time taking in the art as soon as you get inside. The collections range in their type and theme, from modern art, Asian art, and American art, to European painting and Arms and Armor.
There are free public guided tours during the week offered in a range of languages. This can be a good way to see most of the museum and get insights into each exhibit. The CityPASS gives visitors access to several MET locations, so be sure to look into these if you’re looking for a full MET experience beyond the museum itself.
There are several dining options at the MET, including the Cafeteria, the Dining Room, and 3 separate cafes. MET hours are Sunday to Thursday 10AM to 5:30PM, Friday and Saturday 10AM to 9PM. I found the museum was wheelchair accessible throughout my visit. If you do need to rent a wheelchair, there are a few available at the coat check when you first arrive.
3: Top of the Rock Observation Deck
I chose to visit the Top of the Rock Observation Deck with my CityPASS, but I could have chosen the Guggenheim Museum instead. Since I visited the MET on this trip, I wanted to check out Top of the Rock and take in the amazing outdoor views of Central Park. I would highly recommend visiting this attraction, especially if your trip to NYC is during good weather because the views are spectacular and it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the city from a new height, as well as take pictures and get a feel for the landscaping.
Top of the Rock takes you 70 stories up for a spectacular outdoor view. The 70th floor is open air, while the 68th and 69th floors offer indoor unobstructed views complete with binoculars.
This is also a good opportunity to consider taking the tour of Rockefeller Center. While the tour isn’t included in your CityPASS, Top of the Rock tickets are scheduled for specific viewing times. The Rockefeller Center Tour is 75 minutes, so it may be worth the extra cost if you need to spend some downtime doing something close by.
You can also reserve and redeem your CityPASS for this attraction ahead of time online.
The entire Top of the Rock experience was wheelchair accessible. The hallways were plenty wide enough to accommodate any wheelchair and the exhibits were designed with wheelchairs in mind, offering spaces to enjoy the view without an obstructed view. The bathrooms are also wheelchair accessible. The best time to visit Top of the Rock is 8AM to 10AM or 10PM to 11PM. The crowds fluctuate depending on the season, time of day, and the weather.
4: The 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a very popular tourist attraction, so it’s useful for a lot of tourists to visit with a CityPASS. With CityPASS, you can choose between this attraction or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a very powerful experience. The entire attraction covers one acre of property and includes the outdoor memorial waterfalls and reflecting pools. Other highlighted exhibits include the “Survivor’s Stairs”, which is a portion of a staircase that many survivors used to escape. There’s also a Foundation Hall containing the “slurry wall”, a portion of the retaining wall from the World Trade Center, and the 36-foot high “Last Column”.
It’s highly recommended that you visit the 9/11 Memorial website before your visit to understand what to expect and what you should know before you arrive. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday 9AM to 8PM, Friday and Saturday 9AM to 9PM.
Both the Memorial and Museum are fully wheelchair accessible.
5: Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
As part of my trip, I visited the Statue of Liberty, but unfortunately by the time I was finished with my visit it was raining so I skipped Ellis Island. I did really enjoy the new museum at the Statue of Liberty and I hope that in a future NYC trip, I can make it back to Ellis Island.
With CityPASS you can choose the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises instead. A sight-seeing cruise would be a great opportunity to enjoy the city by water, but make sure your visit is during a time that the weather cooperates with your plans.
When people think of NYC, they immediately think of the Statue of Liberty, so it was great that with CityPASS I was able to visit the island and see the statue. The statue stands 151 feet tall and the Statue of Liberty Museum is a great place to learn about the history of the statue as well as the meaning behind what she stands for and represents.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is the perfect place to learn all about how the island served as an entry point for millions of immigrants into the city. The grounds of Liberty and Ellis Island are open to exploring and you can take an audio tour of both locations.
You do need to take a ferry from the mainland to the island, with a ferry departing every 30 to 45 minutes starting at 8:30AM, or 9:30AM depending on the time of year. It’s advised that you depart no later than 2PM so you have enough time to visit both islands before closing time.
It is recommended that you allot upwards of 5 hours for this visit in order to experience both islands and get a chance to see everything available. All vessels and facilities are wheelchair accessible.
6: American Museum of Natural History
There’s so much to do in NYC that while the American Museum of Natural History is included in CityPASS, I didn’t get a chance to visit during my trip. It seems like a fantastic attraction and I’m looking forward to visiting in the future. Even though I didn’t make it to this 6th attraction, I think CityPASS is worth the overall cost because it provided access to so many amazing attractions and it was easy to keep track with one admission ticket through the mobile ticket option.
The American Museum of Natural History offers a unique experience to go under the sea and back in time to experience dinosaurs, as well as meteorites, fossils, and the history of evolution. There are amazing views and hours of exhibits to explore. I’m interested in taking the self guided “Night at the Museum” tour to see all the exhibits that are featured in the films. There are also Space Shows every half-hour on giant screens, which is a great way to take a break from the crowd and still get to experience the museum.
The museum is open daily from 10AM to 5:45PM. The museum is completely wheelchair accessible and strives to provide an enjoyable experience for all visitors. The exhibits and services are accessible to everyone. All the public floors are accessible by elevator and the theater is as well.
C3 by CityPASS
If you’d like to experience the benefits of CityPASS, but won’t have the time to visit all 6 attractions, there is a smaller pass called C3. C3 allows you to pick any 3 of the attractions included in the pass and works just like the full CityPASS. This is a great way to visit the attractions you were planning on seeing in the first place with the added bonus of one combined ticket and a discounted rate.
Choosing to explore New York City with CityPASS is a great way to visit all the best wheelchair accessible attractions in the city throughout your trip. It’s a convenient, easy to use pass that covers all the most popular attractions and provides a discounted rate. I enjoyed every attraction I visited and found that every stop was wheelchair accessible.
Using CityPASS made it easy for me to enjoy my entire trip. I didn’t have to plan or arrange to purchase my tickets in advance. I just simply got to enjoy my stay. Since CityPASS lasts up to 9 days starting with the day you use your first ticket, it’s a great way to take your time in the city, but still ensure you get to see all the best attractions while you’re there.
*Thank you to CityPASS for working with me. While my CityPASS was complimentary, all opinions expressed are authentic and my own.