Boston, Massachusetts is one of the cities that has long been on my bucket list of must-visit destinations. Itâ€™s a town with a rich history that also doubles as a cultural and educational hotspot. Oh, Boston is also on the shortlist of the best sports cities in North America.
For the longest time, Iâ€™ve been an admirer of Beantown from afar. Not too long ago though, I finally got the chance to experience Boston firsthand. In the hopes of making the most out of my experience, I decided to use the Boston CityPASS.
So, should you purchase the CityPASS before heading to Boston as well? Is the Boston CityPASS worth it? These are some of the important questions weâ€™ll be answering in this review.
Find out if booking a tour or seeing the city on your own with some help from a special pass will be the better move by reading on.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Boston CityPASS?
- Key Features of the Boston CityPASS
- Savings on the Boston CityPASS
- Boston CityPASS Special Offers
- How to Purchase Your CityPASS
- CityPASS Limitations
- Attractions Included in the Boston CityPASS
- The New England Aquarium
- The Museum of Science, Boston
- The Boston Harbor Cruises
- The Franklin Park Zoo
- The Harvard Museum of Natural History
- The Pros and Cons of the Boston CityPASS
- Pros of Boston CityPASS
- Cons of Boston CityPASS
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- When Is the Busy Season for CityPASS Purchases?
- How Long Has the CityPASS Been Around?
- What Other Cities Are Covered by the CityPASS?
What Is the Boston CityPASS?
Before we get into my experience of using the Boston CityPASS, letâ€™s first discuss what that aforementioned product actually is.
Think of CityPASS as a curator of sorts. They look at one of the most popular metropolitan areas in the United States and they choose what they think are some of its top attractions.
CityPASS then creates a ticket bundle containing passes for those aforementioned attractions.
Aside from curating the attractions, CityPASS also presents customers with the opportunity to save on their vacation expenses.
The tickets included in the bundle are discounted. You wonâ€™t have to pay as much for those tickets as you would have if you were purchasing them at the location directly.
Key Features of the Boston CityPASS
What can you expect if youâ€™re buying Boston CityPASS tickets?
Obviously, the number one thing youâ€™re getting from your CityPASS is access to some of the top tourist destinations in the city of Boston.
Those destinations in question are the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium. You can also use your tickets to go to one of the Boston Harbor cruises.
CityPASS owners will also have the option of visiting either the Franklin Park Zoo or the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
As of writing, COVID-19 restrictions have kept the Harvard Museum of Natural History closed, so you’ll have to go with the Franklin Park Zoo by default.
Weâ€™ll detail those attractions included in the CityPASS Boston MA later in this article, so stay tuned for that! For now, letâ€™s talk more about pricing.
Savings on the Boston CityPASS
CityPASS has done us the favor of outlining how much you could potentially save if you use their service. Those are savings that could go towards your accommodations, food, or souvenirs!
Letâ€™s assume that youâ€™re planning to visit the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, the Franklin Park Zoo, and also go on the Boston Harbor cruise.
To get tickets for all those attractions as an adult, you will probably have to pay (prices are subject to change, but they are accurate at the time of this writing) $120.65. Yeesh.
If youâ€™re using CityPASS, you can secure tickets for all those attractions for $64. Thatâ€™s a near 50 percent discount!
For kids, the CityPASS costs $54, making it even more of a substantial discount if you have young’uns.
Knowing about those price points is important to many tourists. A lot of folks consider the CityPASS vs Go Boston card debate and the conversation tilts in favor of the former when prices get mentioned. Online reviews speak for themselves.
Boston CityPASS Special Offers
Discounted access to some of Bostonâ€™s top attractions is not the only thing youâ€™re getting from your CityPASS. The service also presents buyers with an opportunity to jump on some deals.
During your visit to the Museum of Science, you can get discounts on some of that establishmentâ€™s top attractions. You can also enjoy a discount at the museum’s gift shop.
Also, expect a discount offer if youâ€™re looking to buy souvenirs at the New England Aquarium. The Boston Harbor cruises CityPASS offers a discount if you want to take part in the Whale Watch.
Lastly, you can again purchase discounted souvenirs at the Franklin Park Zooâ€™s gift shop. Your CityPASS purchase could also give you access to a behind-the-scenes tour while youâ€™re at the zoo.
How to Purchase Your CityPASS
Getting your hands on a CityPASS is not that difficult from my experience. Since the idea behind the service is to make traveling more affordable and convenient, it should come as no surprise that accessing it is easy.
Ahead of your upcoming trip to Boston, simply go online.
Hereâ€™s the direct link to CityPASSâ€™ website. Use it to make your purchase and you should be good to go.
Check your email after you purchase the CityPASS. The tickets should be there if the transaction went through without any issues.
Clearly, there are some great benefits to be had from purchasing a CityPASS package. Still, there are some things you should know before you push through with that purchase.
For instance, advance reservations are still required even if youâ€™re buying a CityPASS. If youâ€™re traveling during a busy time of the year, you need to plan ahead of time. Other tourists may snag your slots otherwise.
The number of attractions you can visit using your CityPASS is also fairly limited.
Going back to that Go Boston vs CityPASS debate we touched on earlier, the former has a big advantage when it comes to accessible attractions.
You have way more attractions to choose from if youâ€™re getting the all-inclusive pass from Go Boston. There are no Boston CityPASS duck (DUKW) tour deals sadly, however, you can include that in your itinerary if you have a Go Boston Card or are prepared to fork out the extra cash.
There are also limitations placed on how long you can use your CityPASS tickets.
The validity period for your tickets is nine consecutive days. The timer starts the first day you use those tickets and the day you used them is included in the tally.
Buyers are also given one year from the date they bought CityPASS to start using their tickets.
Attractions Included in the Boston CityPASS
Now itâ€™s time for us to look at the different attractions that are included in your CityPASS if youâ€™re touring through Boston.
We already listed what those attractions were earlier so letâ€™s detail them further in the sections below.
The New England Aquarium
You donâ€™t have to head to the sea if you want an up-close look at some incredible marine life. The New England Aquarium is already home to a fantastic collection of nautical creatures we rarely ever see.
There is no shortage of incredible animals to see once youâ€™re inside the New England Aquarium. Get a closer look at interesting inhabitants of the deep including the lionfish, the balloonfish, and the pacific sea nettle while checking out the aquariumâ€™s giant tanks.
You may even spot some sea turtles swimming around as you walk by. Some of these turtles have been at the New England Aquarium for a long time and theyâ€™ve grown very comfortable there, enjoying near-celebrity status.
Also present at the New England Aquarium are some adorable amphibious animals. The adorable amphibians in question are penguins and seals, each with buckets of personality.
By the way, the New England Aquarium is also home to some green anacondas. If youâ€™re up for seeing one in person, you should definitely set aside some time for a tour of the New England Aquarium. Seeing the green anaconda there is certainly one of the most memorable experiences of my trip!
The Museum of Science, Boston
The Museum of Science, Boston is home to a staggering amount of interesting exhibits.
You can start your tour of the museum by traveling into the past. Marvel at the dinosaur fossils on display and imagine what life was like back when they roamed the land.
The Arctic Adventure exhibit is another one worth your time if you’ve long been curious about that largely underexplored area of the world. You may even get to see some of the arctic wildlife while checking out that exhibit.
Sometimes, you don’t have to look far in order to find a subject of great interest. The Museum of Science’s Hall of Human Life touches on our biology and how our bodies are able to do what they do. Gain a newfound appreciation for yourself by spending some time at that exhibit.
Numerous other exhibits at the museum are devoted to topics such as mathematics, engineering, the celestial bodies, and so much more. Go ahead and visit them if you have the time.
Visitors should also know that the museum is home to some traveling exhibits. That means you may see something different every time you visit there using your CityPASS.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in Boston?
The Boston Harbor Cruises
Pack up your favorite travel accessories in preparation for your upcoming Boston Harbor cruise.
The cruise typically involves a tour of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. There are so many things for you to see while the ferry is slowly moving along the islands. Make sure you have some good binoculars with you so you donâ€™t miss any of them.
The 34 islands that make up the park are quite varied.
Some of them have been transformed so they are better suited to accommodate guests. Others have remained relatively untouched, which makes them fun spots for experienced campers.
You may not have time for camping during your trip, but itâ€™s something to keep in mind for subsequent visits.
The Franklin Park Zoo
The Franklin Park Zoo introduces guests to the amazing examples of wildlife that roam our world. Exploring the Franklin Park Zoo is especially fun because you get to see different animals in varied environments.
Head to the Kalahari Kingdom and introduce yourself to the African lions. You’ll understand right away why they’re known as the kings of the jungle after seeing them in their habitat.
The Outback Trail exhibit allows you to get a glimpse of animal life down under. Inhabiting the Outback Trail are emus, kookaburras, and of course, the kangaroos.
Don’t pass up on the opportunity to visit the Tropical Forest exhibit as well. While you’re there, you’ll see hippos, lemurs, and gorillas. The exhibit truly does take on a tropical feel that makes the experience of being there even more memorable.
There are also some seasonal exhibits at the zoo. Inquire about them beforehand if there are particular animals you want to see.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History
Sadly, visitors aren’t allowed to tour the Harvard Museum of Natural History at the moment, due to the pandemic; thanks COVID-19. If you want to see the museum’s exhibits, all is not lost, as the museum is now offering virtual tours.
Still, you should consider heading back to Boston in the future when restrictions are lifted so you can see the museum’s attractions firsthand.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History is in the running to be considered among the best museums in the country. It constantly bombards you with fascinating exhibits.
Develop a deeper understanding of the world around you by visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Learn about the microbes invisible to the naked eye that have shaped our world. Also housed within the museum are some exhibits that shine the spotlight on insects and their unique qualities.
Some of my favorite exhibits at the museum are the ones devoted to the mineral makeup of our planet as well as climate change.
Checking out those exhibits puts into perspective just how special the world is and why we need to do more in order to save it from climate changeâ€™s destructive effects.
The Pros and Cons of the Boston CityPASS
Weâ€™re nearing the end of the review, but before we draw things to a close, letâ€™s highlight some pros and cons of purchasing a CityPASS.
Pros of Boston CityPASS
- Significant savings on ticket purchases
- Good selection of Boston-based attractions
- Some discounts for gift shops are provided
- Tickets are delivered directly to your email address
- Buying the CityPASS online is easy
Cons of Boston CityPASS
- Some of the signature Boston attractions are not included
- Reservations may be required depending on when you intend to travel
- Ease of Use â€“ 5/5
- Features â€“ 3/5
- Customer Service â€“ 4/5
- Value for Money â€“ 5/5
Ultimately, the deciding factor for whether or not youâ€™ll like the Boston CityPASS is your level of interest in the included attractions. The CityPASS is very convenient and budget-friendly. But if you donâ€™t like the attractions, then those pluses will not matter.
As someone who likes museums and wildlife, I feel that I got the most out of my CityPASS. Even so, I understand the folks out there who believe that alternatives such as the Go Boston pass provide a better deal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When Is the Busy Season for CityPASS Purchases?
Unsurprisingly, the busy season for CityPASS purchases coincides with the summer and other extended holiday stretches. Reserving your tickets ahead of time is a must if youâ€™re traveling during those times of the year.
How Long Has the CityPASS Been Around?
The CityPASS has been around since 1997. It was first launched on the West Coast that year, with San Francisco and Seattle serving as the target locations.
What Other Cities Are Covered by the CityPASS?
Cities other than Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle that are covered by CityPASS include Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. There is also a CityPASS for the region of Southern California.