Culture Pass is a free ticket to New York City’s best attractions (for anyone over the age of 13 with a library card).
Wind up the all-white staircase of the Guggenheim. Travel back to the Victorian Age at the Lewis H. Latimer House. Explore an authentic World War II aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson. And do it all for free.
New York City boasts some of the best museums in the world. But the price of admission can really add up, especially if you want to bring the whole family. The Frick charges a $22 per person admission, the Whitney, $25, and if you want to hop on the Intrepid, admission is $33.
Thankfully, there’s a way New Yorkers can visit all these places for free: Culture Pass.
Looking for museums to visit on a snowy day? We have more listed in our post The Best Activities and Museums for Snow Days in New York
How Does Culture Pass Work?
Culture Pass is a way for New Yorkers to access over 50 attractions and landmarks around the city without paying the steep price of admission. All you have to do is register for a free Queens, Brooklyn or New York Public Library card. Then log onto culturepass.nyc and type in your library card number.
There, you’ll find a list of New York City’s participating institutions. These currently include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Botanical Garden. Choose your desired date and press reserve.
After that, it’s as easy as printing out the confirmation, showing up at your favorite museum, and enjoying the best culture New York has to offer.
Do’s and Don’ts of Culture Pass
Do: check the amount of people on the reservation. Most reservations will be limited to two people, but some let you bring a family of four. Make sure you know which type of reservation you have before showing up on the day.
Do: cancel if you can’t make it. If you make a reservation and then fail to show up, you won’t be able to visit that attraction for the remainder of the year. Once you make a reservation, you can cancel at any point before printing out your confirmation. That’s why it’s a good idea to wait until the day before your visit before printing out your confirmation just in case your plans change.
Don’t: wait until the last minute to reserve. There are limited spaces available on Culture Pass, so it’s a good idea to reserve well in advance. On the website, you can reserve up to three months in advance.
Don’t: try to make too many reservations at once. Culture Pass only lets you hold two active reservations at a time. It’s also important to note that you can only use Culture Pass to visit a given attraction once a year. Use your pass wisely!
What Are the Best Culture Pass Spots to Visit With Kids?
Culture Pass includes most of New York’s iconic museums. But that doesn’t mean that all the spots are great for kids. The Frick, for example, strictly refuses admission to anyone under the age of 10. To help you decide how best to use your culture pass, we’ve rounded up a list of the best kid-friendly spots included in Culture Pass NYC:
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan – Upper West Side
Five floors of interactive, educational and rotating exhibits. This year’s exhibit, opening 18 Jan. 2020, is “Inside Art.” It allows kids to step into, onto and through various art installations. They are also invited to create their own sculptures and attend various dance, music and theatre pop-up performances.
New York Transit Museum – Downtown Brooklyn
A look back at the history of mass transit in the New York metropolitan area. The museum is more exciting than it sounds, especially if you have a child that loves trains. Very toddler-friendly, kids are allowed to hop on and off trains and buses, and even sit in the drivers’ seats.
American Museum of Natural History – Upper West Side
The world’s largest collection of prehistoric fossil mammals and dinosaurs in the world, the hall of taxidermy African mammals, and the giant blue whale hanging from the ceiling are just a few highlights. You can also check out the Hayden Planetarium and Rose Center for an exploration into space.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Crown Heights
An engaging collection of over 30,000 interactive objects and exhibits. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum opened in 1899, the first-ever children’s museum in the United States. You won’t want to miss the “Sensory Room,” a self-guided exploration into the five senses, designed specifically for Autistic children.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – Hell’s Kitchen
An authentic World War II aircraft carrier now converted into a museum of military history. Setting foot on the Intrepid is a truly unique New York experience, equally unique views over the Hudson. The museum also includes a look into the USS Growler, one of America’s first nuclear-missile submarines.
Children’s Museum of the Arts – South Village
A 10,000 square foot space designed for kids aged 0-15 to create art. Children work with teaching artists to paint, sculpt and construct a variety of art pieces. The museum also includes a Media Lab and Sound Booth as well as a Quiet Room where families and children are encouraged to take a minute and relax. cmany.org
Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling – Sugar Hill
A place for children, ages 3 to 8, to learn about Sugar Hill through dialogue with artists and the medium of storytelling. The museum is the cultural heart of the Sugar Hill Project, founded by Broadway Housing Communities. It aims to nurture creativity and curiosity, allowing students to grow both as audiences and authors.
Click here for a full list of the institutions participating in Culture Pass.