American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
The Benefits of CityPASS, Part 2
In America, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is usually a popular time to take family vacations. Of course, many people are concerned about their budgets these days – and, therefore, hoping to spend as little as possible. That's why travel discounts are so welcome – especially in the case of large families.
Given this need for budget-friendly travel suggestions, I decided to prepare a three-part series about CityPASS, a program that allows travelers to save a considerable amount of money while visiting major attractions from one coast to the other. Last week, in fact, I highlighted the benefits of using CityPASS in places like Seattle, San Francisco, Hollywood, and Southern California. In this particular post, I'm focusing on locales in the South and the Midwest:
For one low price, the Houston CityPASS ($39 adults, $29 children 3-11, children under 3 free) covers admission to five of Houston's most popular attractions. Specifically, you'll be able to visit Space Center Houston (1601 NASA Pkwy., 281/244-2100), the official visitors center of NASA's Johnson Space Center, where you can also hop aboard the NASA Tram Tour, a behind-the-scenes journey that takes you to the Historic Apollo Mission Control Center, Rocket Park, and, when possible, working areas such as the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. The CityPASS also ensures general admission to the permanent exhibits of the Houston Museum of Natural Science (5555 Hermann Park Dr., 713/639-4629) and the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit of the Downtown Aquarium (410 Bagby St., 713/223-3474), where you'll spot marine creatures native to rainforests, Louisiana swamps, the Gulf of Mexico, and other unique habitats.
In addition, you'll have two option tickets. One enables you to choose between admission to the Houston Zoo (6200 Hermann Park Dr., 713/533-6500) and The Health Museum (1515 Hermann Dr., 713/521-1515), while the other allows you to select between the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1001 Bissonnet St., 713/639-7300) and the interactive Children's Museum of Houston (1500 Binz St., 713/522-1138). All told, you could save up to 43 percent of the total admission costs by using the Houston CityPASS.
As with the Houston CityPASS, the Atlanta one ($69 adults, $49 children 3-12, children under 3 free) grants you admission to five popular attractions, including the Inside CNN Studio Tour (190 Marietta St. NW, 404/827-2300 or 877/426-6868), a fascinating, 55-minute walking tour of CNN's global headquarters. You'll also be able to explore the Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St. NW, 404/581-4000), where you can experience Deepo's Undersea 3D Wondershow and a 15-minute Quick Dip Tour, and the World of Coca-Cola (121 Baker St. NW, 404/676-5151 or 800/676-2653), which includes a visit to the Secret Formula 4-D Theater and a free keepsake bottle.
Additionally, you'll have the option of visiting the High Museum of Art (1280 Peachtree St. NE, 404/733-4444), where you'll receive general admission to permanent exhibits and timed-entry to all special exhibits, or the Fernbank Museum of Natural History (767 Clifton Rd. NE, 404/929-6300), where, besides general admission, you'll gain entrance to all special exhibits, plus an IMAX film. You'll also be able to choose between touring Zoo Atlanta (800 Cherokee Ave. SE, 404/624-9453), where, in addition to having express-entry access to the home of more than 200 animal species, you'll be given an all-rides wristband, and the Atlanta History Center (130 W. Paces Ferry Rd. NW, 404/814-4000), which encompasses the Atlanta History Museum, the 1860 Smith Family Farm, the 1928 Swan House, the Centennial Olympic Games Museum, and 33 acres of historic gardens. In total, the Atlanta CityPASS can save you up to 57 percent of what you'd normally pay for five of these attractions.
If, like me, you're a fan of the Windy City, you might especially appreciate the Chicago CityPASS ($76 adults, $59 children 3-11, children under 3 free), which guarantees admission to five of seven major attractions, all of which I highly recommend to any first-time visitor. All CityPASS holders will have express VIP entry to The Field Museum (1400 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312/922-9410), where you'll have access to all permanent collections plus special exhibits like Underground Adventure; the Shedd Aquarium (1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312/939-2438), where you can enjoy all galleries, a 4D Theater Experience, the Aquatic Show, and the Jellies special exhibit; and Skydeck Chicago (233 S. Wacker Dr., 312/875-9696), an observation area offering 360-degree views of the city, plus access to the thrilling Ledge, a glass balcony that extends four feet beyond the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower.
With the CityPASS, you can also opt for either admission to The Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Ave., 312/443-3600), where you'll have access to all permanent collections, plus special exhibitions and an audio tour, or express VIP entry to the historic Adler Planetarium (1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., 312/922-7827), which covers admission to all exhibits, even Planet Explorers, plus the Atwood Sphere Experience, an exclusive scavenger hunt, and one 3D theater show. In addition, you'll have an option ticket that allows you admission to either the John Hancock Observatory (875 N. Michigan Ave., 94th Fl., 888/875-8439), where you'll receive Fast Pass entry to the 1,000-foot-high observatory, a multimedia Sky Tour, and a free coffee at Lavazza Café, or the Museum of Science and Industry (57th St. and Lake Shore Dr., 773/684-1414), where you can take advantage of express VIP entry to various exhibits, such as Science Storms, plus an Omnimax show and a motion-simulator ride. With the Chicago CityPASS, you could save up to 56 percent of what it would normally cost to visit five of these major attractions.
As I mentioned last week, you can purchase a specific CityPASS by visiting the official website or stopping by any of the participating attractions. If you have any questions, feel free to contact customer service (208/787-4300 or 888/330-5008, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. MST Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-2 p.m. MST Sat.-Sun.) – and be sure to stay tuned for the last installment of my CityPASS series. In the meantime, you can learn more about the travel destinations mentioned in this post by consulting Andy Rhodes's Moon Spotlight Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast and Moon Texas, Tray Butler's Moon Atlanta, Kap Stann's Moon Georgia, Christine des Garennes's Moon Illinois, and Moon Metro Chicago.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Chicago's Willis Tower / Text © 2011 Laura Martone