Traveling to Boston, Massachusetts? There is so much to do in this exciting city, and you could save a lot of money on these activities by buying the right Boston attractions pass. But which one is better: the Go Boston Card or the Boston City Pass?
We dive in deep to compare these two discount cards to determine which is the best deal.
Should you decide your Boston itinerary first?
Before considering these attraction cards, it can be beneficial to think about what you really want to do and see while in the city. Prioritizing those sites that are most important to you will help you to see which pass will offer you more value. You should also consider how long your Boston vacation is going to be. For a short trip, you may prefer to pay for attractions individually.
Be sure to check out our massive blog post on things to do in Boston to give you some ideas for a fantastic visit.
What do you get with the Boston CityPASS?
Let’s start with the Boston CityPASS. This pass grants you admission to 5 of Boston’s top attractions:
- New England Aquarium
- Museum of Science
- Skywalk Observatory
- Boston Harbor Cruises OR Harvard Museum of Natural History
It’s likely that you would want to visit one or more of these on your visit to Boston. Personally, we LOVE the Museum of Science, and it’s a place worth spending an entire day visiting. The Skywalk Observatory is also a Boston bucket list item. Located atop the Prudential Tower, the Skywalk Observatory grants you views of Boston from nearly 750ft in the air.
A Boston Harbor Cruise is a great way to get out on the water and view Boston from another angle, as you enjoy a 90-minute historic cruise.
Even those three attractions alone, when purchased individually, outprice what you would pay for a Boston CityPASS. Long story short, if you want to visit even 3 of the Boston attractions listed above, the CityPASS is a tremendous value. And you get to visit 2 more essential spots as part of the package.
In addition to admission to 5 major Boston attractions, the Boston CityPASS gets you expedited entry at many of these spots. This saves you the time spent waiting in line and gives you more time for vacation fun.
How long is the Boston CityPASS good for?
The Boston CityPASS is valid for nine consecutive days, including the first day of use. The 9 day period begins on the first day you use/redeem the pass. However, you can purchase well in advance. Passes purchases currently do not expire until 2021.
How much does the Boston CityPASS cost?
Current June 2019 pricing is $64 for an adult (ages 12+) and $52 for a child (ages 3-11). This represents a 45% savings over the cost of individual admission for all activities included with the Boston CityPASS.
What do you get with the Go Boston Card?
Now let’s look at the other popular Boston travel discount card.
You have some choices and flexibility when it comes to buying a Go Boston Card.
The All-Inclusive Card option gives you access to the 40+ sites, and you can choose the number of days of validity: 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 consecutive days. The 3,5, and 7 day passes also include a Premium Experience (denoted below with an asterisk*).
You can also Build Your Own card, combining 2 or more attractions to save 20% on your overall admission.
The Available Attractions (With an All-Inclusive or Build Your Own Card)
- Boston Duck Tour*
- New England Aquarium Whale Watch*
- Red Sox Ticket*
- Blue Man Group Ticket*
- cityView Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley
- New England Aquarium (Fast-track entry available)
- Skywalk Observatory
- Fenway Park Tour
- USS Constitution Cruise
- Museum of Science (Fast-track entry available)
- Freedom Trail Walk into History Tour
- Paul Revere House
- Old State House Museum
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Salem Witch Museum (located in Salem, MA)
- Swan Boats of Boston
- Sam Adams Brewery Tour
- Old South Meeting House
- Boston Children’s Museum
- The Harvard Tour
- Harvard Museum of Natural History
- MIT Museum
- MIT Tour
- Charles Riverboat Cruise
- JFK Presidential Library and Museum
- Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States
- Boston Bike Rental
- Franklin Park Zoo
- Plimoth Plantation/Plimoth Grist Mill Combo
- LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
- Six Flags New England
- HighFlyer Zipline at Foxwoods Resort Casino (Connecticut)
- Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
- Institute of Contemporary Art
- Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA)
- House of the Seven Gables (Salem, MA)
- Mary Baker Eddy Library/Mapparium
- Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour
- Liberty Ride (Lexington + Concord, MA)
- Buckman Tavern (Lexington, MA)
- Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
- Otis House Museum
- Louisa May Alcott House (Concord, MA)
- Concord Museum (Concord, MA)
- Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, MA)
- Hyannisport Harbor Cruise (Cape Cod, MA)
- John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum (Cape Cod, MA)
- Cape Cod Canal Cruise (Cape Cod, MA)
*Denotes Premium Experience (available with 3,5,or7 day All-Inclusive Card)
Clearly, the Go Boston Card would be a value, saving you money on admission to these many attractions. The difficulty with this card is the practicality of using it. The 7-day version of the card is the longest duration available. While you could certainly pack a great deal into 7 days in Boston, it is unlikely you’d be able to visit all 40 of these sites, especially as some of them are located outside of Boston.
Of course, if even a few of these attractions are of interest to you, you could absolutely save money by purchasing the Go Boston Card.
How long is the Go Boston Card good for?
The Go Boston Card’s validity varies based on what card you choose. If selecting an All-Inclusive Card, you are limited by the number of consecutive days you’ve chosen: 1,2,3,5, or 7.
With the Explorer Card, you actually have a much larger window. According to the Go Boston Card website:
“Visiting your first attraction activates your pass. Your pass will then be valid for 30 days after activation.
For example, if you have a three-choice Explorer pass and visit your first attraction, you’ll have the next 29 days to visit your remaining two attractions.”
The Build Your Own Card is also valid for 30 days from first use.
How much does the Go Boston Card cost?
The pricing for the Go Boston Card will vary depending on your specific options. Current pricing as of June 2019 is below:
All-Inclusive Go Boston Card
1 Day Pass – $63 (adult) $42 (child 3-12)
2 Day Pass – $86 (adult) $64 (child 3-12)
3 Day Pass – $126 (adult) $85 (child 3-12)
5 Day Pass – $158 (adult) $118 (child 3-12)
7 Day Pass – $189 (adult) $139 (child 3-12)
3 Choice Pass – $78 (adult) $53 (child 3-12)
4 Choice Pass – $98 (adult) $65 (child 3-12)
5 Choice Pass – $114 (adult) $75 (child 3-12)
Build Your Own Card
Prices vary based on attractions chosen
So, which is the best?
Clearly, there are many options to choose from when selecting a Boston attractions pass. What is our recommendation?
While the right card for you is going to depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, travel goals, and who you are traveling with, our personal recommendation would be to choose the Boston CityPASS. This pass is well-priced, lasts for a relaxing 9 days in duration, and includes 4 essential Boston attractions.
You could consider purchasing a Boston CityPASS as well as an Explorer Boston Go Card. These combined would give you admission to as many as 10 major Boston attractions, with a much more flexible schedule.
While the 40+ attractions included on the All-Inclusive Boston Go Card are attractive, the time frames for visiting them all are too short. The 7-day pass would make it more feasible, but it is the most expensive of all the options. You’d be very busy trying to visit as much as possible during your trip. For shorter trips, you might be better off buying individual admission to attractions or choosing the Build Your Own card.
Going beyond Boston? We’ve got plenty of ideas for your New England travels. Check out some of these useful posts.
- The Absolute Best Day Trips from Boston
- Things to Do in Salem, Massachusetts
- Things to Do in Rockport, Massachusetts
- 5 Sites to See on a New England Coastal Road Trip