You are having an 8-hour layover in New York City from JFK at daytime and wondering what can you do outside the airport? With that amount of time, you can definitely bail out of the airport and do a New York City sightseeing or even grab a nice sumptuous meal. When my wife, and I went to Orlando, I planned a plenty time for layover in New York on our way back home. I will share what we did and at the same time, I will share some interesting sites to visit nearby where we went base on my research. As a Filipino, I grew up loving Jollibee chicken joy. For over a year living on the beautiful island of Bermuda, I am really craving for it. Fortunately, there is a Jollibee in the city. That is why when we landed in Terminal 5 at 2:00 PM, we immediately proceeded to Terminal 1 via AirTrain to deposit our luggage. We spent sometime in Terminal 1 to settle things and leave for the city.
Your Guide to 8-Hour Layover in New York
The easiest and most convenient way to travel from terminal to terminal is through the AirTrain. It’s always free when you are just traveling inside the airport. The train system connects you to public transportation services as well. Download the map here.
The storage facility is located at the arrivals area. Facing the terminal, it is on the left end side near Alitalia. It is open from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM only. So be sure to get it just in time for your next flight. Cost can be as high as $16 depending on luggage size. There is also another storage facility in Terminal 4 at the Arrivals area. Good news is, it operates 24/7. Price vary according to luggage size and can be as high as $16 too. So depending on your circumstances, choose what option is best for you.
OFF TO NEW YORK CITY
From any of the terminals, take the AirTrain that says going to Jamaica Station, the interchange station with public train systems. The first station after the airport is the Federal Circle. You need to alight here and take the other train to Jamaica Station. Once in Jamaica, follow the signs going to the exit. Right before the turnstile, the vending machines for tickets are on the right. You can use cash or credit cards.
New York City Subway or Long Island Rail Road
Before you take your turn on the ticket machine, be sure to decide before hand which do you like to take you in your chosen destination. Is it the Subway or the Rail Road? To help you decide, here’s a comparison.
1. The Cheapest option. Purchase your MetroCard by placing $5 fee for the AirTrain plus $2.75 Subway fare per person, one way. Children under five are free to ride. $1 fee for new cards purchased in vending machines apply.
2. You will spend almost an hour from Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Ave/Jamaica Station to New York City. There are so many stations in between. Be sure to ride the E train.
3. Stations are very hot especially during summer. The Subway is notoriously known for this.
4. Since it’s underground, no New York neighborhood sightseeing.
You can check on the MTA Subway Map here.
1. Faster way to travel. Lesser stations in between. In 35 minutes, you will reach the city.
2. Tickets cost $15 each person, one way.
3. Lets you see a glimpse of New York neighborhood along the way.
You can check the LIRR map here.
Since our goal is just to get a good chicken joy meal in Midtown Manhattan, our stop is at the 34 Street-Pennsylvania (Penn) Station. Both train system will pass through this station. Travel time in the AirTrain could take more than 30 minutes. Factor that in your journey as well.
Jollibee is located along Eight Avenue between West 39th and West 40th Streets. It is a few minutes walk from the station. We reached the location at 5:00 PM and wasted no time to order. I had my two piece chicken with rice plus pineapple juice. My wife got her two piece chicken with spaghetti plus pineapple juice.
The place is a bit small, and it is packed with hungry people like us. They say, the branch in Queens has more in their menu than this one in Manhattan. Will definitely try there next time.
Goal achieved. So, we went back to Penn Station, took some photos and made our way back to the airport. This time catching the Long Island Rail Road service.
In case you are wondering which train I will recommend, I’d say take the LIRR and ditch the Subway. However, it will be great to experience the Subway too. Depending on your time constraint, choose what’s best for you. LIRR isn’t cheap but if you came from never ending flight, you might want to get out of the airport and go to the city as quick as possible without wasting time inside the tube. From Penn Station to Terminal 1, it took us 1 hour. 30 minutes faster than using the subway.
Central Park. From the airport, you can also go straight to the Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. There are a lot to do and explore in the park. Stroll in the garden, watch free acts, visit museums, etc. A breath of fresh air in a city of concrete jungle.
How to get there: Take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, then take the E line Subway going towards World Trade Center in Sutphin Blvd-Archer Avenue/JFK Station. Alight at 7th Avenue Station and walk approximately nine minutes to reach the park. Travel time takes around an hour and cost $7.75. Don’t forget to include your travel time in the AirTrain.
Times Square, the famous and iconic place in New York is also a few minutes walk from the 7th Avenue Station. If you have plenty of time, killing two birds in one can be fun. People watching while sitting on a bench is a popular thing to do here. It has one of the busiest pedestrian in the world.
How to get there: Take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, then take the E line Subway going towards World Trade Center in Sutphin Blvd-Archer Avenue/JFK Station. Alight at 7th Avenue Station and walk approximately six minutes to reach the Square. Travel time takes around an hour and cost $7.75. Don’t forget to include your travel time in the AirTrain.
So there, if you have eight hours or more of layover in New York, do yourself a favor by not just sitting in the airport. There are so much to explore in New York that I believe you can’t do it even in one year.