The most expensive tourist attractions in New York City

The most expensive tourist attractions in New York CityThe most expensive tourist attractions in New York City.

A round-the-island boat tour of Manhattan with up-close views of the Statue of Liberty is $41 on Circle Line — or you can get a great view of Lady Liberty for free on the Staten Island ferry.

When the observatory at One World Trade Center opens to the public May 29, it will immediately land near the top of many tourists itineraries for New York City. But its $32 admission ticket will also place it among the priciest attractions most visitors to the city might see.

Fortunately many of the best options also have reduced-price options, free days or great alternatives.

Here’s a look at some of the most expensive New York City tourism attractions.

1. A Broadway show.

Broadway shows are one of the most expensive attractions in New York City.

The average paid admission for a Broadway show last year exceeded $100 for the first time, hitting $103.88, according to the Broadway League trade group. It was in the $85 range as recently as 2010. Of the 12.2 million Broadway tickets sold during the 2013-14 season, 70% were bought by out-of-towners.

But fear not, there are ways around the highest prices.

Howard Sherman, a producer and arts administrator, wrote on his blog that those top-tier prices could be thought of as “the theatre equivalent of a hotel’s ‘rack rate,’ the stated top price for rooms which were in reality variable and negotiable. In theatre, through group sales, discount offers, the beloved TKTS booth and day-of-show lotteries you could still see a Broadway show for much less than that.”

Playbill frequently updates a list of Broadway lottery, rush and standing-room ticket policies for each show.

2. Gray Line double-decker bus.

The ubiquitous red buses offers a range of hop-on hop-off routes and guided package deals, with a basic 48-hour pass priced at $59 for adults and $49 for children. An online special drops the adult pass to $54.

The basic 48-hour package lets riders see much of Manhattan as well as parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx.

For the do-it-yourselfers, a 7-day MetroCard costs $31 and offers unlimited rides on subways and local buses. (There is an additional $1 new card fee.)

3. Circle Line circumnavigation of Manhattan.

Circle Line offers a round-the-island tour of Manhattan for $41.

For $41, you can sail all the way around Manhattan on a classic Circle Line boat. The narrated trip starts in the Hudson River, goes all the way up to the Bronx, along the Harlem River and passes Brooklyn and Queens while on the East River. In all, it passes under seven bridges plus gets within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty.

The Circle Line company has been operating in New York City waters for 70 years.

Should you want a similar view from the sky, a Liberty Helicopter ride starts around $150.

For something significantly cheaper, the Staten Island Ferry is free.

4. Madame Tussauds New York.

Madame Tussauds has wax figures of every celebrity you can think of — and then some.

Located on 42nd Street since 2000, Madame Tussauds charges $37 for a standard admission to see the waxen images of Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Lopez, Pharrell Williams, Jon Hamm, Taylor Swift, Derek Jeter, Marilyn Monroe, President Obama and many others.

Adult tickets start at $29.60 if you buy online.

Alternatively, you could reserve free tickets to a see a taping of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” at Rockefeller Center.

Other pricey nearby tourist-focused attractions include Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square ($29.95); and Discovery Times Square, where each exhibit is individually priced: Body Worlds ($27); Marvel’s AVENGERS S.T.A.T.I.O.N. The Exhibition; ($27); and the upcoming Hunger Games: The Exhibition ($29.50).

5. The Bronx Zoo.

Imani, left, a western lowland gorilla, stands with her unnamed son born Feb. 19, 2006 as he eats a leaf in the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Image: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press.

Operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, regular adult admission to the Bronx Zoo is $33.95. That includes access to the Congo Gorilla Forest, which just added two infant western lowland gorillas — the second pair of gorillas born at the zoo in just over a year.

The largest zoo in the United States, the Bronx Zoo first opened in 1899 and borders the New York Botanical Garden.

Buying a zoo admission ticket online drops the price to $30.55. Better yet, every Wednesday is pay-what-you-wish.

6. One World Observatory.

When it officially opens to the public May 29, One World Observatory will offer views from 1,250 feet above ground level. Views of Manhattan can be seen from levels 100, 101 and 102 of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The $32 adult admission ticket also buys access to exhibits about the bedrock under the One World Trade Center building and technology that lets visitors immerse themselves in real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below.

On Thursday, May 28, One World Observatory will host a free open house for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. Going forward, One World Observatory will offer free admission to 9/11 family members as well as rescue and recovery workers. (Those passes will be administered by the 9/11 Tribute Center.)

Downstairs at plaza level, the 9/11 Memorial Museum has a $24 admission, with free entry for 9/11 family, rescue workers and military. Nearly 2.7 million people have visited in its first year, Joe Daniels the president and CEO of the museum announced last week.

7. Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building is seen through the falling snow as it glows yellow in honor of the United Nations “International Day of Happiness,” on Friday, March 20, 2015.

Image: Stuart Ramson/Invision for the United Nations Foundation/Associated Press.

No longer the tallest building in New York City, but still iconic, the Empire State Building is currently charging $32 to get to its 86th floor outdoor deck, the same price as the observatory at the taller One World Trade Center.

The price climbs to $52 if you also want access to the smaller interior viewing area on the 102nd floor. There is a 103rd floor open only to VIPs and maintenance crews, where the roof clocks in at 1,250 feet. In 2014, 4.3 million people visited the observatory, bringing in revenues of $111.5 million, a 9.5% increase from 2013, according to the Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. As such, there are not a lot of free options here, unless you’re under six years old.

Still not quite as high, the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center charges $30 for an adult admission to its observations decks, including the 70th floor roof at 850 feet above street level.

8. INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum.

While general admission tickets to the INTREPID Sea, Air & Space Museum are $24, the price climbs to $31 with access to the Space Shuttle Pavilion. General admission with a tour inside the USS Growler Submarine, the world’s oldest existing nuclear missile-carrying submarine, is $44. And general admission with a tour inside the Concorde is $44.

Active and retired military are granted free admission.

And if you just want access to the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, the free summer movie season starts May 22 with a screening of “Top Gun.”

9. The Rink at Rockefeller Center.

The holidays at Rockefeller Center.

Starting in mid-October every year, Rockefeller Center opens its ice rink, welcoming skaters to its small but picturesque rink. A 90-minute session is priced at $27 per person.

A few blocks away, Bryant Park offers free ice skating — as long as you bring your own skates.

10. Museum of Modern Art.

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, painted in 1889, on display at the Musuem of Modern Art.

Both the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art are currently priced at $25 for general adult admission. But like many of the museums in New York, there are legitimate ways around that.

The Met is always a pay-what-you-wish museum, allowing visitors to pay as little as a penny. The $25 price is suggested. “To help cover the costs of exhibitions, we ask that you please pay the full recommended amount,” the museum states on its website.

At MoMA, admission is free Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. thanks to a UNIQLO sponsorship.

The now-downtown Whitney Museum of American Art (normally $22) also has pay-what-you-wish admission Fridays from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

And like the Met, the American Museum of Natural History has a “suggested” admission of $22, though some special exhibits may charge an additional price.

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