Whether you’re planning a vacation or a staycation, there’s no shortage of ways to play on the cheap:
With CityPASS booklets, you can save up to 50% on the cost of admission to multiple attractions in select cities. Since there’s so much to see in each area, you’ll have to make a few choices–though most of the tickets in each CityPASS are only valid for admission at one attraction, others are good for admission to your choice of two attractions. Most CityPASS books are valid for at least nine days, so if you time it right, you’ll have two weekends + the weekdays in between to get to everything without feeling rushed, and you can skip most lines. Booklets can be mailed to you or simply print out a voucher and receive the booklet at the first attraction you visit by presenting the voucher.
CityPASS will save you up to 50% on admission to these attractions:
- Atlanta: Georgia Aquarium, World of CocaCola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, High Museum of Art OR Fernbank Museum of Natural History, and Zoo Atlanta OR Atlanta History Center
- Boston: New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Fine Arts Boston OR Boston Harbor Cruises
- Chicago: Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, The Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry OR John Hancock Observatory, Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago
- Dallas: Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Reunion Tower GeO-Deck, The Sixth Floor Museum or Dallas Zoo, George W. Bush Library & Museum OR Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
- Houston: Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo OR Museum of Fine Arts Houston Kemah Boardwalk OR Children’s Museum of Houston
- New York: Empire State Building Observatory, American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Cruises, 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea & Air Museum
- Philadelphia: The Franklin Institute, The Big Bus Company and Philadelphia Trolley Works, One Liberty Observation Deck, Adventure Aquarium OR Philadelphia Zoo
- San Francisco: Muni & Cable Car 7-Day Passport, Aquarium of the Bay OR Monterey Bay Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, Exploratorium OR De Young Museum
- Seattle: Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, Pacific Science Center, EMP Museum OR Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden & Glass OR Pacific Science Center
- Southern California: Save on admission to Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Sea World San Diego, Legoland California, Add-On the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.
- Tampa: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Museum of Science & Industry OR Chihuly Collection
- Toronto: CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto Zoo OR Ontario Science Centre
Go Cards/Smart Destinations
Want more flexibility with what you see in the city but still want to save? Check out a Go City Card. You have two ways to go on the cheap: 1) You can buy an all-inclusive Go Card and see any of the attractions the city has to offer, saving you up to 55% on entrance fees depending on what you see. You can buy anything from a one-day pass to a seven day pass, and the price per day drops as the number of days increases. 2) You can choose the attractions you want to visit and build your own pass, saving you about 25% off the admission price. Go Select passes are valid for up to 30 calendar days from first use.
Go City Cards are available in the following cities:
- Boston All-inclusive pass: 41 attractions
- Chicago All-inclusive pass: 26 attractions
- Las Vegas Explorer pass lets you pick from 3 or 5 attractions out of 25 choices
- Los Angeles All-inclusive pass: 31 attractions
- Miami All-inclusive pass: 27 attractions
- New York City: Explorer pass lets you pick any 3, 5, 7, or 10 attractions from 62 choices
- Oahu All-inclusive pass: 34 attractions
- Orlando All-inclusive pass: 33 attractions
- San Antonio Explorer pass lets you pick from 3 or 5 attractions out of 15 choices
- San Diego All-inclusive pass: 42 attractions
- San Francisco All-inclusive pass: 27 attractions
- Washington DC Explorer pass lets you pick any 3 or 5 attractions from 10 choices
Want to save where you live? Consider getting an Entertainment Book. Since it’s filled with 2-for-1 coupons, %-off discounts and often a few freebies, it’s a good deal if you actually remember to use the coupons. You’ll save on everything from dinner out and movies to mini-golf and theatre. And buying the book comes with a pair of bonuses: 1) As soon as you buy the Entertainment Book, you get accesses to extra online coupons, including some deals from venues that are not available in the print edition. 2) You can shop online to save on tickets to attractions, theme parks, and shows nationwide, from Six Flags and Legoland to Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group.
Whether you’re planning to visit Sea World, Busch Gardens, Six Flags, Discovery Cove, Sesame Place, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando or one of the Cedar Fair Parks, you’ve got a few ways to get in on the cheap. As always, if you live nearby and plan to visit multiple times, your best bet is to buy a season pass. At some parks, like Six Flags, you’ll get an extra discount on your season pass if you buy before the park opens for the season.
And don’t forget to take advantage of any “Bring a Friend” Days–at some theme parks, passholders can bring a friend for free or at a reduced admission rate on select dates. Since parking fees will add up quickly, at least one member of your party should add season parking to the pass if it’s not already included. But if the theme park offers an admission-only pass, like Busch Gardens’ Fun Card, you can cut the total cost for buying season passes by carpooling.
Only want to go for the day? Check online before you go. With Busch Gardens Williamsburg, you can save on one-day passes when you buy online, or you can opt for multi-attraction combo passes and save on admission to Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, and Colonial Williamsburg. Discounts at Walt Disney World are harder to find, but we write about the ones we stumble across at Orlando on the Cheap.
LOTC Travel Page
Don’t forget to check the Living On The Cheap Travel page for extra savings. With the deals, you’ll save about 50% on the cost of your room, and many of the travel packages include extras, like a complimentary bottle of wine or free/discount tickets for local attractions. Though the deals change frequently, you’ll find everything from quiet bed & breakfasts to hotels located near major attractions. And at times, attractions themselves will show up in the mix, like Nickelodeon Suites and Great Wolf Lodge, giving you a chance to stay and play on the cheap.
See all our stories about how to save money on travel here.