So, you’re stuck with a long layover in New York City? Before you start making big plans to spend the next 24 hours in the terminal trying to beat your “Angry Birds” high score, consider venturing outside the airport.
All three of the city’s nearby airports—LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International, and Newark Liberty International—provide ground transportation to some of the most iconic spots in town. Even if you have just one day in New York until your next flight, that’s plenty of time to explore the cityscape. So forget about napping in the terminal; instead, discover “The City that Never Sleeps.”
How to get around
When your flight to New York lands at the terminal, flag down one of those famous yellow taxis or take advantage of the airport’s transportation.
To temporarily escape John F. Kennedy, climb aboard the AirTrain, which services the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway and bus stations. As for LaGuardia Airport, the MTA offers rides from the terminal to the Queens and Manhattan stations that connect to the subway, too. Meanwhile, if your layover is at Newark, you can hop on the Newark Airport Express Bus to arrive at the legendary Grand Central Station. If you decide to ride public transportation, check the timetables in advance to ensure you can make it back to the airport in time for your next flight.
To top it all off, there’s always the option of renting a car in New York, but keep in mind, the city’s known for traffic jams and impatient drivers!
Where to go in New York City
You might be wondering what to do in New York, but the better question is where to start? With excitement and entertainment around nearly every corner, choose to be savvy and stick to your itinerary or let the pulse of the city drive your spontaneous adventure. For some inspiration, consider adding some of these attractions to your schedule.
Start your 24 hours in New York City by standing on any street corner and looking up. Buildings—countless stories tall—cast shadows over intersections and New York City hotels, while skyscrapers reach even higher heights, dominating the skyline. Embrace this concrete jungle with a visit to One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Standing at 1,776 feet tall, the “Freedom Tower” is more than just an architectural achievement; it’s symbolic of the city’s strength and resurgence post-9/11. To witness other quintessential New York structures, track down the Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, and the Empire State Building, too.
If the skyline gives you a sense of the way New York City looks, Times Square will give you a sense of the way it feels. Excitement buzzes through the air as travelers from around the globe flock to this epicenter to experience the NYC way. At “The Crossroads of the World,” cars really do honk and screech around pedestrians, and the billboards are just as bright and flashy as they appear in the movies.
Still making good time? Take the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty to continue exploring New York in a day. The ride alone is worth the trip as it cruises parallel to the famous cityscape, allowing you to trace the outline of the buildings in the distance. Once you’ve arrived at Liberty Island, climb the 337 steps up into Lady Liberty’s crown, or stop midway at the pedestal. Be forewarned, if you’re planning to venture inside the structure, you must reserve tickets in advance.
A day spent in an NYC airport is a day wasted. When you have more than a few hours before your next flight, get out there and explore “The Capital of the World!”