You’ll quickly realize how vast New York’s JFK airport is as soon as you land. Located in the Queens borough, many passengers transiting JFK wonder if they can get out of the airport and perhaps visit NYC’s landmarks such as Grand Central or the World Trade Center monument.
So, can you leave JFK airport during your layover?
Yes, you may leave JFK airport to any destination in the city or in the larger NYC area including NJ as long as you have enough time to get back and catch your connecting flight.
Given that it is a really big airport, it is important to let you know that there are higher chances you will get delayed or lost trying to navigate the Airtrain, subway, and or cabs to get out of the airport during your layover hours.
Deciding when to leave or stay at JFK airport during layover:
If you have a long layover of say 8 hours or more, we recommend that you head out and explore the city. If time permits and you don’t want to venture too far from the airport, you can take the Airtrain to Howard Beach station and change for the A-line train into Brooklyn where you can enjoy some good food on Coney Island.
If you have a short layover of 4 hours or less, we recommend that you stay at the airport since the chances of making it back on time are pretty slim. If you still insist on leaving, your best bet is to take a taxi to Manhattan where you can explore Chinatown or Little Italy for some great food options.
Are there sleep options at JFK Airport?
Yes, there are many sleep options at JFK airport. One of the most popular is the Minute Suites which is located in Terminal 5 near Gate B6. The suites come equipped with a daybed, workstation, HDTV and a private restroom. You can book the suites by the hour or overnight.
Other sleep options at JFK airport include:
-The Yotel located in Terminal 4 near Gates B15 and B17
-The Recharge Lounge located in Terminal 1 near Gate B22
-The Campbell/Amsterdam Lounge is located in Terminal 8 near Gate A14
-The Wings Club located in Terminal 4 near Gate B6
-And many more.
Cost of transport to leave JFK Airport during layover:
A subway card can be purchased at any station booth for as low as $1. The card can be used for multiple rides and you can refill it as needed. A single ride costs $2.75.
The Airtrain is JFK’s light-rail public transportation system that runs between the airport terminals, parking lots, rental car services and local NYC subway stations. A single ride on the Airtrain costs $5.00.
Taxis are probably the most expensive way to get in and out of JFK airport. The metered fare from JFK to Manhattan is a flat rate of $52, not including tolls or tips. Additional fees may apply for extra passengers, luggage, night-time and peak hours.
Things to do in NYC During a JFK Layover:
Visit Time Square:
If you have enough time, we recommend that you visit one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks- Time Square. This bustling area is always filled with people and it is home to many famous theaters, restaurants and stores. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Midtown Manhattan.
Visit the Empire State Building:
For amazing views of the city, head over to the Empire State Building. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this 102-story skyscraper is one of the most popular tourist destinations in NYC. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Midtown Manhattan.
Visit Central Park:
Central Park is a large public park in the heart of Manhattan. It is a great place to relax, go for a walk or have a picnic. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Midtown Manhattan.
Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood in Lower Manhattan with lots of great food options. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Chinatown.
Visit Little Italy:
Little Italy is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan known for its Italian restaurants and cafes. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Little Italy.
Visit the Statue of Liberty:
The Statue of Liberty is one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks. Located on Liberty Island in Upper New York Bay, the statue is a symbol of freedom and democracy. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Howard Beach station and change for the A train to Fulton St. station. From Fulton St. station, you can take the ferry to Liberty Island.
Visit Ellis Island:
Ellis Island is a historic site located in Upper New York Bay. It was the entry point for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 to 1954. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Howard Beach station and change for the A train to Fulton St. station. From Fulton St. station, you can take the ferry to Ellis Island.
Visit Ground Zero:
Ground Zero is the site of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. It is now a memorial and museum dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Howard Beach station and change for the A train to Chambers St. station. From Chambers St. station, you can walk to Ground Zero.
Brooklyn is a borough of New York City with a population of over 2.6 million people. It is known for its diverse neighborhoods, art scene and food. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Brooklyn.
Queens is a borough of New York City with a population of over 2.3 million people. It is known for its parks, museums and diverse neighborhoods. To get there from JFK, take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and change for the E train into Queens.
JFK Airport Layover Tips:
- – Buy an unlimited ride MetroCard: If you’re planning on taking multiple trips on the subway or bus, we recommend that you buy an unlimited-ride MetroCard. This will allow you to take as many trips as you want within a certain time period for one fixed price.
- – Check the Airtrain schedule: The Airtrain runs 24 hours a day, but the schedule varies depending on the time of day. Be sure to check the schedule before you plan your trip so that you know when the next train will be arriving.
- – Give yourself plenty of time: We recommend that you give yourself at least 2-3 hours for any trip into the city from JFK. This will give you enough time to get to your destination and back without feeling rushed.
- – Wear comfortable shoes: You will be doing a lot of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- – Bring a map: A map of the city can be helpful in planning your trip and figuring out how to get around.
- – Ask for help: If you’re not sure how to get to your destination, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The staff at JFK are happy to assist you in any way they can.
Is JFK airport open 24 hours?
Yes, JFK Airport is open 24 hours. Even at the peak of the COVID pandemic, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey did not announce any closure of JFK airport. Also worth noting that JFK is always open even when there are reparis in some terminals. If you have several hours to burn at JFK, check out some cool lounges such as Centurion or Jet Blue.
Can I leave the airport during my layover?
Yes, you can leave the airport during your layover. However, we recommend that you give yourself at least 2-3 hours so that you have enough time to get to your destination and back.
What are some things to do during a layover at JFK Airport?
There are many things to do during a layover at JFK Airport. You can visit the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn or Queens. You can also buy an unlimited ride MetroCard and explore the city by subway or bus.
My name is Alex Mutuma and I founded this blog, Airport LLC as a way to document and engage with clients in my travel consulting business. Airportllc.com is the only source of over 2,000 fun things flyers could do during layovers.
Over the past 7 years, I have designed and planned tour packages for hundreds of clients and have recently focussed on the mission of changing boring layovers to excellent mini-vacations by giving you the best suggestions on must-do activities when flying over different airports.
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I currently reside in New York City and have obtained a license to provide professional tour guidance at Airports in the US and across the world. Why should you listen to my suggestions? I have flown through more than 100 airports in the world and fortunately, I have pictures, stories, and tips to share with you regarding all the fun stuff you can do as you wait for your next flight.
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This is only recommended for flyers with long layovers of over 5 hours. If your layover is 3+ hours, you can still reach out but we cannot guarantee the ideal package that will change your layovers to mini-vacations. I only support clients flying through US airports and a select number of cities across the world.
Name: Alex Mutuma
Profession: A professional travel consultant with a focus on airport activities to do during layovers
Phone: +1 945 348 889
Location: 322 Main Packway Street, Boston, US