Top things to do near John F. Kennedy Airport
The vast park at the heart of Manhattan is where crowds flock when the sun's out, whether they're tourists or residents. It’s tranquil in places and alive in others with the traffic of people on foot, bikes, roller-blades and skateboards, but the park as a whole is filled with lush greenery against the backdrop of the iconic skyline and Midtown apartment buildings.
Hire a bike and explore, sit by one of the lakes, walk through the woods, sit in the sun; everything you could want from an urban park is here on an incredible scale. About 17 miles (27 kilometers) from JFK Airport, it takes around 30-45 minutes to reach Central Park via the Grand Central Parkway.
National 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Earning incredible praise from most visitors, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum offers moving and poignant exhibitions, films and first-hand accounts of the events of 9/11 that are all beautifully presented in an atmosphere of peace next to the memorial fountains and gardens.
Every part of the memorial and museum has been meticulously designed, even down to the arrangement of the names of those who died, which line bronze plates around the fountains. A detailed algorithm was calculated to ensure that people who knew each other, worked together and saw their last moments together were placed alongside each other on the plates.
It’s about 21 miles (34 kilometers) from JFK Airport. Travel times are heavily dependent on traffic and mode of transport; on a good day, it can be a 40-minute drive, but when traffic is heavy, it can often take well over an hour.
Staten Island Ferry
The kind of trip that plenty of New Yorkers will take on a spare day when the weather is fine, the Staten Island Ferry runs the five miles (eight kilometers) from Manhattan (at South Ferry by Battery Park) to Staten Island 24/7. It's completely free of charge, takes about 30 minutes each way and provides perfect photo opportunities of the famous southern Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Rather than trying to drive through Manhattan, the quickest route to get to the ferry from JFK is often to go the 24 miles (39 kilometers) to the Staten Island terminal, which takes around 45-60 minutes. You’ll need to allow a couple of hours for the ferry trip to Manhattan and back – the views are more than worth it.
Times Square and Broadway
One of New York’s busiest intersections, Times Square features everything from world-famous theater to fascinating waxwork museums, iconic lights and advertising to bizarre street performers, all admired by lively crowds day and night. It’s a place you're unlikely to forget and it's only 19 miles (31 kilometers) from John F Kennedy Airport.
Go to enjoy the energy or get in the queue at the TKTS booth, which offers last-minute discounted tickets for the biggest Broadway shows playing that evening - but watch out for the individual ticket touts on street. It's a huge slice of the New York that you'll have seen in a hundred movies and TV shows, so it’s a remarkable experience to see it for yourself.
Grand Central Terminal
More than just a train station, Grand Central is a piece of architectural and engineering grandeur with a spectacular interior. The buzzing station offers a good range of food on the lower ground floor, which features more striking décor.
With 44 platforms (more than any other train station in the world), there's a seemingly never-ending stream of great architecture to explore and discover around this vast building. Taking the bus is a straightforward route from JFK; you can catch the JFK Airport Shuttle towards Penn Station and it takes about 45 minutes to reach Grand Central on E 42nd Street.
Just nine miles (14 kilometers) from JFK International Airport, Citi Field is a ballpark on the other side of Queens in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Home to Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the New York Mets, Citi Field replaced Shea Stadium in 2009 and is popular for its wide-open concourses and friendly New York atmosphere.
The ballpark includes a family entertainment area, plenty of food including a specific “Taste of the City” food court full of diverse New York food and some exceptional restaurant dining and exclusive clubs for high-end ticket holders. A Mets Hall of Fame and Museum is also on-site and music concerts, soccer matches and other sporting events are occasionally held at Citi Field.
Radio City Music Hall
Nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, Radio City Music Hall is a legendary entertainment venue based in the center of Manhattan about 17 miles (27 kilometers) from John F Kennedy International Airport. Built in distinctive Art Deco style with a matching (and stunning) interior, the music hall is as much an iconic landmark as an operating venue, so it’s worth visiting just for the tour to learn about its remarkable history.
It still puts on a program of world-class entertainment from pop and rock music concerts to classical and country by some world-renowned modern composers - it’s a beautiful space in which to see a performance.
The Noguchi Museum
Dedicated to the works of artist, sculptor and architect, Isamu Noguchi, the Noguchi Museum is based in Queens about 16 miles (25 kilometers) from JFK International Airport. The museum was designed and created by the artist himself in an old printworks and developed into 12 galleries and a sculpture garden.
Beyond the permanent collection of Noguchi's sculpture, architecture, drawings and designs, the museum also stages special exhibits and acclaimed community outreach and children's art programs. The art itself is modern and minimal, displayed in a similarly minimal space with a tranquil outdoor area inspired by Japanese gardens.