A view of San Francisco I took from the de Young Museum.

When I was in college, my friends laughed at my coupon-clipping mother when she bought me an expensive dress for a wedding. “She saves money on cans of tuna, then buys you that dress?” they said.

It made perfect sense to me. Save money when you can, and spend it where you want. So when I travel, I’ll find the cheapest coach fare available, even if it means leaving for the airport in the pre-dawn hours. And I often take my own food onboard. But then I can justify buying that one-of-a-kind handcrafted necklace in Santa Fe.

That’s why I love the CityPASS, a discount coupon booklet available in 12 cities.

Purchase the CityPASS for your destination, which is good for nine days from the first time you use it. They are good for several attractions, and in some cases, for transportation. For example, in San Francisco, the pass includes unlimited transportation for seven days on cable cars, buses and all Muni trolleys.

  1. You’ll save money.

That’s the prime reason many people purchase these popular discount booklets. On my recent trip to Chicago, a CityPASS booklet was $98. If I had purchased entrance fees separately, I would have spent $207.95.

I could save 53 percent on entrance fees to five attractions per person. My husband and I could use that $200+ in savings to go out to dinner. Or maybe even do a little shopping on the Miracle Mile.

  1. Hanging on The Ledge of Skydeck Chicago, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

    You’ll save time researching what to do.

I used to be the guidebook queen. That was in the pre-internet days, so it took extra effort to actually go to a bookstore (remember those?), buy books and research what we wanted to do on our trips. Now we travel more and are both busy, so I end up doing last-minute Googling as we wait for a flight.

With a CityPASS, the research to find major attractions is done for you. The top attractions are listed on the website and in the booklet. With the new New York C3, a mobile pass that allows users to select three of 10 popular attractions, I could see the top 10 places I might like to go on my next trip. This new pass was developed in response to buyers who loved the CityPASS concept, but only had a few days in the city.

3, You’ll go to places you might not have gone.

The de Young Museum, the fine arts museum in San Francisco, may not have been on my radar. Because it was on our CityPASS I went. I loved the American Painting collection, and got magnificent 360-degree views of San Francisco from the Hamon Observation Deck, one of my favorite parts of the trip.

I was also able to coax my somewhat-reluctant husband to join me on a visit to Skydeck Chicago, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It’s a bit unnerving to travel to the 103rd floor during the 60-second elevator ride. But that’s nothing compared to stepping out on The Ledge, a glassed-in balcony with vertigo-inducing views.

  1. You’ll skip past the lines

With our CityPASS in hand, I was able to skip ahead of lines at all the attractions we visited in San Francisco and Chicago. While we visited some at off times, and lines weren’t too long, I had read reports of lines at some attractions taking hours. Saving time is critical to me, especially when I only have a few days in a city.

With a CityPASS you can play tourist in your own town. I can visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights, just a few miles from my house.
  1. You can play tourist in your own town

We have fantastic attractions in Atlanta, my hometown. But sad to say, some are a bit pricy. While zoos are free in many large cities, Zoo Atlanta costs $25.99 for tickets purchased at the gate. That’s a third of the cost of the pass, which includes four other attractions.

So if I want to take out-of-town friends to the Georgia Aquarium, Fernbank Museum or our two new museums, the excellent Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame, I’ll purchase a CityPASS for me and for them.

And as we all know, we take attractions in our own town for granted and never visit. So even if you don’t have out-of-town guests, try a CityPASS and experience your own city while saving time and money.

  1. You have another present idea for holiday giving.

Is someone on your gift list planning a trip to Boston or Houston in the upcoming months? Or maybe a friend visits Canada every year and is planning on stopping off in Toronto.

Buy a CityPASS and a small guidebook, wrap them in travel-related gift wrap and you’ve found a unique present for your fellow traveler.

The CityPASS is available for these 12 destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto. For more information, visit www.citypass.com

 

Author

Jan Schroder is an award-winning writer based in Atlanta. She works as the managing editor and web editor of Travelgirl magazine and writes a weekly travel column for The Atlanta 100. Jan is appearing on the radio on “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Living” on WSB as a travel correspondent and also contributes to Belinda’s website. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

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