For those who are looking for things to do during your layover in New York City, here are a few things to do as well as the best ways to go around the city.
New York city has a lot of traffic (like a LOT), if you are planning to get out of the airport, I would personally recommend a minimum of 7 hours or longer.
JFK offers free AirTran within the airport. It is a cheaper and faster option to get to Manhattan. Estimated cost and time to Manhattan are $7.75, 50 mins- stops are Midtown Manhattan New York Penn Station W. 34 st., Lower Manhattan below W.14 St, Upper Manhattan, Southern Queens Northern Brooklyn.
Follow signs at the exit to use a taxi. Yellow taxis also called cabs are the most hassle free but also the most expensive method of transportation. Taxis at JFK charge a flat fare of $52 for trips between the airport and Manhattan, (they cost more than AirTran), $34-$39 to LaGuardia Airport and over $100 to Newark Liberty International Airport.
To help reduce costs, passengers traveling to similar destinations can also chose share ride option using Bandwagon app. , click here to check out their site. You can also reserve a car, van or bus service for shared or private rides through Go AirLink NYC, Prime Time Shuttle, etc.
PRO TIP: Ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal for your safety, they are usually illegal.
3. Car rental:
Several car rental options are available at the airports. I recommend making an online reservation in advance for better pricing and availability. To locate the rental area at JFK airport, on the Arrivals level, look for either a rental car counter or courtesy telephone to contact the rental agency and then head to the location via AirTran to pick up your vehicle.
Rental companies provide free shuttle to pick up and drop off customers to and from their locations at LaGuardia Airport. All rental car shuttles will drop off/pick up their customers in front of Terminal A in the Rental Car Transfer Point. You can take the free airport shuttle Blue or Red Route to Terminal A.
Keep in mind there are tolls charged throughout the city. Typically, those can be paid using cash at each toll booth or you can request an E-ZPass transponder tag, make sure to check with your car rental agent on any additional fees or charges.
New York City has a very extensive subway transit system which is utilized by thousands of passenger daily. Click here to read about the airport service and other information such as fares, connections, etc. You will need a MetroCard to access the buses and subway, click here to find out which card is best for you. If you are planning to go around NYC for a few hours, it might be best to get the pay-per-ride option, if you are here for a week, you can purchase a 7-Day unlimited card for $32. Click here to find out more.
If you are like me, I am guessing you are not a fan of lugging your luggage around. Even though, the airports do not offer storage lockers due to security, there are several luggage storage options around the city, companies like Vertoe help you locate convenient locations in places such as convenient stores, gift shops, etc. that are open early and close late. Vertoe also offers insurance upto $3000 and costs $5.95/day/item. Click here to find a convenient location.
LuggageHero is another option to store your luggage. Click here to find one of their 140 locations.
Other options to store your luggage are: your airlines offering early baggage check in, your hotel concierge service or your Airbnb room.
WHAT TO DO
JFK— There is not much to eat or do around JFK, it is mostly a wasteland. You are better off getting on the AirTran and heading to Manhattan which takes roughly 1 hour. There you will find plenty of options for food and things to do.
If you are in New York during summer, get on a cab and head to the Rockaway beach which is roughly 9 miles away from JFK.
The third option is to take a cab and go to Flushing, NY, a busy Chinatown with lots of Asian cuisine options. It is 9.5 miles away and should be a less than 30 mins drive without traffic.
La Guardia— Has more options around the airport. Queens Museum is 2.7 miles away, just a quick cab ride!
If time permits, you can head to Manhattan and do the following:
Stop 1: Visit the One World Observatory. This is the best way to get a view of Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. It is also the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Standard reserved tickets cost $34 (make sure to reserve your date and time before you get there), Priority anytime admission tickets cost $67 (you can access the observatory at anytime, VIP entry). To get there, from the JFK airport take the AirTran JFK green from Terminal 1 to the Howard Beach Station (after 8 stops), get out of the AirTran at that stop and walk to the Howard Beach-JFK Airport to the ‘A” train to get off at Chambers St. (15 stops later), the Observatory is less than half a mile walk away. Click here to purchase your tickets.
Stop 2: 9/11 Memorial. A couple of blocks away (walkable) is the 9/11 Memorial. Here you can either visit the museum which costs $24 per adult or simply pay your tributes at the fountains which are engraved with all those who lost their lives during the attacks also called Ground Zero. Click here to purchase your tickets.
Stop 3: Central Park. Relax or enjoy some outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, etc. at Central Park. To get to the park from the 9/11 Memorial, head to the Cortlandt St. Station take the ‘W’ train towards Astoria-Ditmars Blvd and get off at 5 Av Subway Station, Central Park is a 2 mins walk from there.
Stop 4: Times Square. Last stop is Times Square. No trip to New York City is complete without a visit to the busiest intersection and one of the most instagrammable location, Times Square. You can also visit one of the several stores there or grab a slice of a NY style pizza.
From Times Square you can head back to the airport either via a taxi or public transportation. I would highly recommend giving yourself atleast one and a half hours to commute back to the airport in addition to the airport security clearance time.
If you are short on time, you can also check out NYC Express Bus for a quick trip from JFK to Times Square for under $20! Click here to find out more. You can also purchase the sightseeing FLEX pass which gives you access to several attractions. Click here.
I have also found hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tour buses great way to explore a major city like New York without having to stress about transportation. Click here to purchase your pass.
I hope you enjoy your stay at New York! No matter how short your visit is, I say make the most out of it! Please feel free to share your thoughts on this post about what to do in New York for a layover.