10 Things To Do on a Layover At JFK

While layovers can be boring and tiresome, JFK Airport has a lot to offer for those with some time to spare. From exploring the surrounding neighborhoods to enjoying some of the airport’s amenities, there are plenty of things to do at JFK Airport to make the most of your time. JFK is among the busiest airport in the United States as it is located in the bustling city of New York, so there are multiple things to do if you are having a long layover at JFK.

things to do on a layover at jfk airport

In this blog, we’ll share what to do at JFK Airport during a layover, so you can make the most of your time and create a memorable experience during your journey.

1. Visit the TWA Hotel

The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport is a unique and stylish hotel that pays homage to the golden age of air travel. The hotel is located in the iconic Trans World Airlines (TWA) Flight Center, which was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962. The Flight Center was a symbol of the jet age and an architectural masterpiece, and the TWA Hotel has preserved its original features while adding modern amenities and conveniences for guests.

Guests can walk directly from their terminal to the hotel via the TWA Flight Center’s iconic tunnels, which have been restored to their original glory.

The hotel also boasts a rooftop infinity pool with views of JFK Airport and a fitness center. Besides, there are a variety of dining options, including a restaurant inside a vintage Lockheed Constellation airplane.

Whether you’re a fan of aviation history, a design enthusiast, or simply looking for a comfortable place to rest during a layover at JFK, the TWA Hotel is definitely worth considering. And, is the #1 activity on the list of “Things to do at JFK Airport”.

2. Explore the Shops

things to do at jfk

Have you ever wondered “What are the various things to do at JFK Airport for retail therapy”? JFK airport has a variety of shops, from luxury brands to duty-free stores, where you can shop for souvenirs or essentials. Some of the popular shopping destinations at JFK Airport are:

Duty-Free Shops

JFK airport has a variety of duty-free shops where you can purchase products at discounts without paying hefty taxes. The duty-free stores at JFK offer a range of products such as cosmetics, liquor, tobacco, and chocolates. Various duty-free stores at different locations of the Airport are given below in the table-

Duty-Free StoresLocation
KioskShopping Area
Int’l ShopsCheckpoint to Gates 4-10
DFSGate A4 & B32
DFS – BeautyRetail Hall – Main Store
DFS – SpiritsGate B23 & Near Main Store
DFS – Watches and Accessories (Temporarily Closed)Near Main Store
iS BeautyMarketplace
iS StyleBetween Gates 23 & 24
AmericasImmediately Post-Security


Hermes is a luxury fashion brand that has a store at JFK Airport. It is one of the top options among the best things to do in JFK Airport for retail therapy. They offer a range of products such as scarves, ties, bags, and accessories. It is located at Terminal 1. You can contact them at +1 718 215 1364  Ext.233. The day-wise operational hours are given as follows- 

Monday10 am to 12:30 am
Tuesday10 am to 10:30 pm
Wednesday10 am to 12:30 am
Thursday10 am to 10:30 pm
Friday10 am to 12:30 am
Saturday & Sunday10 am to 10:30 pm

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is a popular American fashion brand that has a store at JFK Airport. They offer a range of products such as handbags, watches, jewelry, and clothing. This brand has three stores at JFK Airport at different locations given below-

Terminal 1Checkpoint to Gates 4-10
Terminal 4Retail Hall – West
Terminal 8Main Terminal

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret is a popular lingerie and beauty brand that has a store at JFK airport. They offer a range of products such as bras, panties, sleepwear, and beauty products. It has 3 stores at JFK Airport, have an overview- 

Terminal 1Checkpoint to Gates 1-3
Terminal 4Retail Hall – West
Terminal 8Concourse B – Near Gate 8

3. Try the Food

JFK airport has a diverse selection of restaurants and food outlets serving cuisine from around the world. You can indulge in a quick bite or sit down for a meal, and it is among the top things to do at JFK airport for food aficionados. Here’s the list of diners, QSRs, and restaurants available at all the terminals of JFK – 

Terminal 1Terminal 2Terminal 4Terminal 5Terminal 7Terminal 8
McDonald’sBKLYN Beer GardenBento Sushi5ive SteakApartment 7BAbitino’s Pizza
Downtown MarketCibo Express GourmetBlue Point BreweryAeroNuovaBrooklyn RebelAngelina’s Metro Market
DunkinCroque MadameBuffalo Wild WingsArtichoke PizzaDunkin’Baskin-Robbins/Dunkin’
Eat & Go Istanbul:Due AmiciCamden FoodsAunt Butchie’s Bakery CaféLe Grand ComptoirBobby Van’s Steakhouse
Euro CafeShisoDelite Chocolates and MoreBaked by MelissaCascata
JikJi CafeTagliareDunkinCaribbean KitchenCibo Gourmet Market
Martini BarWendy’sLa Brea BakeryCibo Express Gourmet MarketDunkin’
Panini ExpressWorld BeanLe Grand ComptoirCustom BurgerDrink Martini Bar
Pizza PubMcDonald’sDeep Blue on the FlyMezze Cafe
Soho BitesMi Casa Cantina and RestaurantDeep Blue SushiNew York Deli
Soy and SakePeet’s Coffee & TeaDunkin’New York Sports Bar
StarbucksShake ShackH&H BagelO’Neal’s Restaurant
The LocalThe Palm Bar & GrilleHorizon Bakery CafeSoho Bistro
Uptown MarketTigin’s Irish Pub & RestaurantJamba JuiceStarbucks
Tuscany CaféUptown BrasserieLoft
Wok & RollUrban CraveLucy’s Asian Kitchen
New York Sports Grill
Revive Bars
World Bean Coffee Bar & Cafe

4. Lounge Access

jfk lounge access

Make the most of a tedious, protracted stopover by treating it as a day of rest. While there are many things to do near JFK Airport, sometimes the best option is to just relax. Many airport lounges only serve First and Business Class passengers, several lounges at JFK accept any passenger willing to pay, regardless of the travel class to enjoy a more luxurious few hours. Many lounges offer food and drinks as part of the admission price, and some even have showers for freshening up. 

  • At Terminal 1 – 
    • Delta SkyClub
    • KAL Business Class
    • Prime class 
  • At Terminal 4 –  
    • Air India Maharajah
    • Centurion
    • Swiss Business Class
  • At Terminal 7 –
    • Alaska Lounge
  • At Terminal 8 – 
    • American Airlines Admirals Club

5. Connect with Nature

things to do at jfk airport

While there are not many things to do near JFK Airport that help to connect with nature, but there are a few ways you can do so while waiting for your flight:

  • Visit the T5 Rooftop Garden – If you’re flying out of Terminal 5 i.e. JetBlue Terminal at JFK Airport, be sure to check out their rooftop garden, which features a variety of plants, flowers, and herbs. You can take a self-guided tour or join one of their daily tours led by a horticulturist.
  • Take a walk – There are several walking paths and trails around JFK Airport that offer some greenery and fresh air. The Van Wyck Trail is a popular one that runs alongside the airport and offers views of trees and birds.

6. Explore the Big Apple

If you have a long layover at JFK, we suggest you settle for the things that this ‘Emerald City’ offers. You can hail a ride on one of the airport buses or simply take an AirTran. 

Among the best things, the most popular is to visit the nearby places, where you can explore Jamaica Bay, Rockaways, Queens Botanical Garden, and everything in between.

In the list of fun things to do near JFK Airport, one of the most popular options is to relish some great food and visit Jackson Heights. If you have a layover for 6 or more hours, head to the most visited and happening part of the Metropolis – Times Square.

There are several transportation options you can use to get from JFK Airport to Times Square:

  • Taxi – The trip from JFK to Times Square typically takes around 45 minutes, but can vary depending on traffic conditions. The fare will depend on the time of day and can range from 52-75 USD.
  • Public Transportation –  You can take the AirTrain from JFK Airport to Jamaica Station, and then transfer to the subway to get to Times Square. Take the E subway train towards World Trade Center to Times Square-42 Street Station. The total cost for this option is 7.75 USD per person.
  • Airport Shuttle – There are several airport shuttle services available at JFK Airport that can take you directly to Times Square. The cost for this option can range from 20-30 USD per person.

7. Soak into the Peaceful Sessions

things to do at jfk airport

If you want to partake in the spiritual sessions, visit the Interfaith Alley at JFK Airport at Terminal 4. Chapels could be an ideal place where you can sit and indulge in mindful therapies away from the hustle and bustle of the airport. It is one of the best things to do in JFK Airport. There are 4 places of worship at Terminal 4.

  • a Jewish synagogue
  • a Protestant chapel by the name of Christ for the World Chapel
  • a Roman Catholic church by the name Our Lady of the Skies Chaplaincy
  • an Islamic center

8. Watch Planes Take-Off and Land

things to do at jfk airport

JFK Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, and watching planes take off and land can be an exciting experience. JFK Airport has several designated viewing areas where you can watch planes take off and land. The most popular viewing area is the rooftop parking lot of Terminal 5 (JetBlue terminal), which offers unobstructed views of the airport runways.

You can also check out other viewing areas around the airport, such as the JFK Rotary Park or the Idlewild Park Preserve.

9. Use the Fitness Center

things to do at jfk

If you have a long layover at JFK and among the multiple things to do at JFK Airport, you are looking for ways to stay active, using the fitness center at TWA Hotel is a great option. It is located in Terminal 5 and is open 24/7, making it convenient for travelers with any schedule.

The fitness center offers a range of exercise equipment, including treadmills, stationary bikes, free weights, and yoga mats. There are also showers and changing rooms available for use. The cost for a day pass is 25 USD, which includes access to the fitness center and all of its amenities. You can reach them at +1 212-806-9000.

10. Take a Nap

things to do at jfk airport

Although JFK isn’t the best airport to sleep in due to its rush, there are still some excellent options i.e. the sleep pods at JFK Airport.

Minute Suites at Terminal 4 have private mini-suites with a couch for resting, a TV, and a work desk. But go to the TWA Hotel if you want real, sound sleep. The rooms feature excellent blackout drapes and amazing noise isolation. Both day rooms and night accommodations are available for reservation.

In conclusion, if you find yourself with a layover at JFK, don’t waste your time scrolling your smartphone! There are plenty of fun and interesting things to do at JFK Airport, both inside the airport and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to do at JFK Airport during a long layover?

During a long layover at JFK Airport, you can explore various dining options, visit airport lounges for relaxation, or take a short trip to nearby attractions like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge or Rockaway Beach.

Can I go out of JFK Airport during a layover?

Yes, you can go out during but make sure to check visa requirements and allow enough time to clear security and customs when returning for your connecting flight.

What are the different things to do near JFK Airport?

Near JFK Airport, you can visit attractions like the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Rockaway Beach, or Resorts World Casino New York City.

What are the different things to do around JFK Airport for a hunger craving?

There are multiple options to explore around JFK Airport for a food craving, one of the most popular options is to relish some great food at Jackson Heights.

What to do with 12 hours layover in JFK?

If you have a 12-hour layover, consider taking a taxi to visit the Empire State Building (pre-purchase tickets to skip long lines), enjoy a meal at a nearby restaurant, and return to JFK Airport with ease.

What to do on a 10-hour layover at JFK?

If you have a 10-hour layover, you can head to Manhattan by taking the AirTrain and LIRR to Penn Station, avoiding traffic concerns. However, if you prefer a relaxing walk near the airport, you can visit Howard Beach.

Published March 29, 2023
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