John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is America’s 6th busiest airport. By far, JFK handles the most international flights in America. Despite numbering terminals 1-8, there is no terminal 6, This huge airport is located on the southern coast of Queens, New York so driving and transit options both can take over an hour reaching Manhattan. JFK Airport Terminal Map
JFK-Brooklyn-Manhattan Rail Connections:take AirTrain JFK light rail to the Howard Beach Station and transfer to the A subway train. It costs under $10 (AirTrain + MTA subway) and rides last 50-70 minutes to various lower Manhattan stations. You can also catch an AirTrain to Howard Beach Station to catch the Metro A train to Brooklyn and Manhattan.
JFK-Queens-Manhattan Rail Connections: from JFK Airport, take the AirTrain JFK commuter to the attractively upgraded Jamaica Station, then transfer to a LIRR express train to NYC Penn Station. Your fair will cost $7 LIRR peak commute fare + $5 AirTrain for the 35-minute ride. AirTrain JFK runs 24/7. On return, purchase tickets from a NYC Penn Station vending machine and catch the Jamaica LIRR express train.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is America’s 22nd busiest passenger airport with 4 compact terminals that host domestic flights. Unfortunately, there is no rail transit from the airport to Manhattan. LGA AIRPORT TERMINAL MAP
Newark International Airport (EWK) is America’s 14th busiest passenger airport and New York’s 2nd busiest for international flights. With 3 large terminals encircled by freeways and tollways, auto access is a piece of cake in New Jersey. EWK Airport Terminal Map
EWR-Newark-Manhattan Rail Connections: AirTrain Newark automated people mover whisks you between terminals and connects to NJ Transit trains that commute to downtown Newark and NYC Penn Station. The cost around $15 and the commute is 25 minutes or less. On your return, purchase tickets from the Penn Station vending machine and catch the EWR NJ Transit train.
Shuttles and Limos: Super Saver Shuttle (800-924-9954), Westchester Express (800-910-5466) and Classic Limousine (800-666-4949) are available from JFK and LGA from 7am to Midnight. Go to the ground transportation desk at each airport to catch a relatively inexpensive Gray Line Express bus to Grand Central Terminal.
Limousine rates vary greatly, depending on number of passengers from each airport, major events nearby and hour of commute.
Car Rentals: all three airports feature a huge selection of Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National cars. Taxis are plentiful at all three airports.
NYC Penn Station anchors the most Amtrak train routes in America. Penn Station, located underneath Madison Square Garden, is cramped and rife with utilitarian architecture. The good news, you don’t have to look it very long. Trains arrive every 5-20 minutes, 24/7. That level of activity supports gift shops and cafes from 5:30a-11:30p for Amtrak, MTA subway, Long Island Railroad, Metro North, New Jersey Transit and PATH commuter train patrons. BoltBus and a multitude of taxis await you on 33rd Street and 7th Avenue as well.
Business travelers catch Amtrak Acela Express from NYC to Washington in 2 hours 50 minutes. The service frequently sells out. People with less than Acela Express budgets take the regional train which runs about half hour longer. Amtrak routes served from this station:
Acela: DC-Baltimore-Philadelphia-Newark-NYC-New Haven-Providence-Boston
Northeast Regional: Newport News-Richmond-DC-Baltimore-Philadelphia-Newark-NYC-New Haven-Hartford
Crescent: NYC-Philadelphia-Baltimore-DC-Charlotte-Atlanta-New Orleans
Empire: NYC-Albany-Syracuse-Rochester-Buffalo-Niagara Falls
Vermonter: St. Albans-Burlington-NYC-Newark-Philadelphia-Baltimore-DC
Lakeshore Limited: NYC-Albany-Rochester-Buffalo-Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago
2020 is a big year for Amtrak service to NYC. Amtrak Acela trains currently travel up to 135 mph between NYC, Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore. Amtrak is upgrading 24 miles between Newark and Trenton to reach 160 mph, shortening travel time. Simultaneously, NYC is extending the underground concourse of Penn Station to a re-imagined Farley Post Office that will serve as Moynihan Train Hall. Highlighted by a 92-foot high atrium over a spacious concourse surrounding by shopping and service amenities, Moynihan Train Hall will be the preferred venue for train departure and arrival in NYC. Moynihan Train Hall will be Larger than Grand Central Terminal concourse and a visually dramatic upgrade for Amtrak, MTA Metro-North MTA Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit patrons.
Bigger plans lie ahead for Acela High Speed Rail in an upgraded Northeast Corridor.
Rapid transit, buses, taxis and Uber/Lyft rides rule New York City commutes. Unless you are hauling family plus luggage, rental cars only make sense for travel to areas not served by rapid transit — the outskirts of Queens, and the suburbs of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) manages a vast network of subway trains, commuter trains and buses linking the entire region at a single low cost. MTA Subway lines travel to 471 stations over 660 miles. More than 4,000 buses travel on 207 local and 36 express routes citywide. An MTA subway or bus ride costs $2, regardless of trip length and all fares are paid via a MetroCard at the pay fare machine or downloadable mobile app. Visit MetroCard Promotions to access money-saving deals for reduced admission to museums and attractions or discounts at many stores and restaurants. Do not confuse MTA subway or MTA commuter trains with New Jersey Transit or PATH trains, since they have separate ticketing, schedules and station boarding areas.
The Arts for Transit initiative is designed to enhance the travel experience of subway riders by adding the beauty of art and culture to their trips. The initiative’s Music Under New York (MUNY) program provides riders with a variety of musical performances at select subway stations.
MTA Subways, though slightly noisy and hard-seated, are an efficient transportation marvel that run 24/7. Many subway stations have been refurbished. Newer trains replace older trains each year. Several north-south subway lines through Manhattan have express and local trains on separate tracks, speeding commuters from Downtown to Midtown to Uptown in minutes. Express trains skip 3-4 stations (20-30 blocks) between each stop making it the best way to go north-south during commute hours. Ask a MTA station agent for a free subway map and information about express trains before boarding. MetroCard vending machines accept cash, debit cards and credit cards. The MTA Q line recently extended north from Lexington Ave/63rd St Station under Second Avenue to 96th St Station, thereby reducing congestion on MTA 4, 5 and 6 lines through the Upper East Side. Q Line Phase 2 extension to 125th Street in East Harlem is funded and planned for completion in 2027. There are currently 26 MTA subway lines: MTA SUBWAY SYSTEM MAP
MTA Long Island Railroad (LIRR) commuter trains serve the length of Long Island, New York. It is America’s busiest commuter railroad and operates 24/7. Excluding the Port Washington line, all lines from Penn Station stop at Jamaica Station in Queens for connection to JFK Airport. LIRR operates on these popular routes:
Grand Central Terminal serves over 500,000 daily transit commuters and out-of-town visitors. Civil engineers marvel at the multi-layered network of 44 platforms and 67 tracks under this transportation temple first opened in 1871. It remains one of the busiest train stations in the world. Enter from Lexington Avenue to get a jaw-dropping view of the GCT Main Concourse. Its vaulted ceiling that has an astronomically inaccurate design that nonetheless makes it joy to crane your neck looking at. Dotted with monuments and marble steps, Grand Central Terminal reminds us of what America lost when it destroyed many of our great train stations. Twice upgraded, GCT has nearly 30 upscale boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Visitors may contact the Municipal Art Society at (212-935-3960) for a Wednesday tour. While there, check out the free New York City Transit Museum and store.
MTA Metro-North is one of America’s busiest commuter railroads and operates 24/7. Three Metro-North lines run from Grand Central Terminal — Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines. Their first stop is 125th Street Station in East in Harlem, where the Hudson Line peels off with a stop at Yankee Stadium, then proceeds north along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, NY. The Harlem Line goes several dozen miles north to Wassaic, NY. New Haven Line passes through Stamford then branches into 4 routes to New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury and New Haven, CT. Two Metro North Lines run from NYC Penn Station — Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines. They splinter into 4 branches.
Before boarding, it is essential to review Metro-North Map, confirm your station destination, and confirm your train’s precise name, since boarding the wrong train can cause a very bad commute. MTA METRO-NORTH RAILROAD MAP
Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains connect Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken in New Jersey to the World Trade Center and Penn Station each day between 5am and Midnight. PATH commuter trains to downtown utilize World Trade Center Transportation Hub is also home to 2 PATH lines, 12 MTA subway lines and a taxi depot. Architecturally stunning, World Trade Center Transportation Hub includes the eye-popping Oculus, plus an underground Westfield shopping mall that make it an outside-inside destination equal to Grand Central Terminal.
Though Hoboken and Jersey City have significant public transit centers, in New Jersey, one intermodal transportation center stands above the rest in New Jersey. The fully restored neo-Classic Newark Pennsylvania Station is home to Amtrak, PATH subway trains, a New Jersey Transit light rail line, and New Jersey Rail Transit commuter commuter trains, including those to New Meadowlands Football Stadium and Atlantic City.
Harlem Heritage Tours
Celebrate Harlem’s past and participate in the cultural and economic renaissance taking hold in the community. All tours are conducted by those who live in the community; they offer an assortment of cultural walking, bus, jazz, gospel, and day trip experiences with experiences tailored for: Religious Groups, Family Reunions, Individuals, Senior Groups, School Groups, Fraternities & Sororities
Motherland Connextions Tours
Underground Railroad tour covering Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Canada; guides are dressed in period costumes; Georgia to Canada tour is offered annually
Braggin’ About Brooklyn
Excellent historical and cultural tours to make you aware of the contributions of African Americans art and science in Brooklyn and Manhattan
ADDRESS: 685 Gates Avenue
The Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant
House tours featuring the architectural and cultural heritage of Brownstone houses in the Bed-Stuy community of Brooklyn; contact Akwaaba Inn Brooklyn for more info
Queens Jazz Trail
The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts host a Jazz trail that includes tours past the former homes of the Jazz giants and visits to the town hall Jazz exhibition; 137-35 Northern Blvd, Flushing
Wall Street Helicopters
This charter service favored by business executives, operates from a Downtown Manhattan Heliport.
New York and New Jersey Spirit Cruises
Bateaux New York and Spirit of New York day and dinner cruises traverse both sides of the Hudson River. On the NYC side, they depart from Chelsea Pier; on the New Jersey side they depart from Lincoln Harbor
PRICES: vary depending on the type of cruise
ADDRESS: Pier 62 at West 23rd Street, Suite 200, New York, NY
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry
Breath-taking Inexpensive ride – plan on using a roll of film; departs every 30 minutes in warm months, every 45 minutes in colder months. With either island, stay for as long as you like, since there are many return ferries throughout the day. Depart NYC from Battery Park (on the southwestern tip of New York City). Ferries dock net to Castle Clinton.
Hoboken-Battery Park City Ferry
A commuter ferry that crosses the Hudson River; great inexpensive views of the Statue of Liberty, Jersey City and lower Manhattan skylines
Circle Line Ferry
New York City is an island of breathtaking man-made structures and riverside parks. Both traits make it ideal for sightseeing by a circle-route ferry. Service departs from Battery Park in New York City and from Liberty State Park in Jersey City; purchase refreshments and souvenirs on board; check websites for schedule and prices
Freeways & Tollways
New York Freeway and Tollway Network is extensive. Two highways worth driving are the magnificently designed Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island and the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey. The tollways, bridges and tunnels are expensive for short distances traveled. Keep at least $10 handy drive to/from Manhattan. The highways are crowded and in varying states of repair, so congestion can occur any hour before 10pm. Such congestion incentivizes urban dwellers to use the rapid transit system.