Home / Travel Information / Anthony Bourdain's "Layover" Kerwin-style: New York City

Anthony Bourdain's "Layover" Kerwin-style: New York City

Statue of Liberty, NYI just finished watching Anthony Bourdain’s “Layover: New York City.”  I was quite disappointed though as it was mostly all about his private hangouts.  He started out in his neighborhood in the Upper East side, then pretty much headed downtown.  It was weird as he did not talk about a hotel since he was home. He also found a bar where you needed like special people to get you into the place.

JFK AirTrainI did agree with Tony, as he’s affectionally called, that the New York airport sucks when it comes to transportation from the airport to the city.  For JFK, you have to take the AirTrain that runs to all terminals to the either Jamaica station where you can then take the J, E or Z trains that goes into the city or to the Howard Beach stop where you can tale the A train to the city.  At Jamaica station, you can also take the LIRR into the city.  This is the commuter train that runs out to Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties).

In La Guardia (LGA), you take the M60 bus into the city or take the local Q48 bus to Flushing where you can take the #7 NYC Transit train into the city. You can find additional information about the buses from LGA and JFK on this page from the MTA.

If you arrive in Newark (EWR), you can take the AirTrain to the NJ Transit train which will take you into New York Penn station via Newark Penn Station; don’t get confused, try to keep up.  You may also take a bus from the Terminals into the city and to the area airports.

New York is also served by Islip Airport (ISP) out in Long Island but you need a cab or a rented car to get into the city as well as White Plains Airport (HPN) and if you want to save some more try landing in Stewart/Newburg (SWF) on JetBlue or Delta and take a short bus to the Metro North station in Stewart then head into the city.

In other words, airport transportation in New York can be a real hodge-podge.  But you can get into the city, as long as you know what to do which is always the half of traveling.  Renting a car is not recommended as the traffic is horrendous, you will never get used to it and you can’t find anywhere to park and if you do you can’t afford it anyways.  Remember, its all about the journey.

Once in the city, ensure that you get some NY pizza at the many shops which like the Delis are everywhere.  Try Ray’s, there are about 6 or 7 locations around the city.  For hot dog, try Papaya King at 179 E86th St. between Lexington and 3rd. Avenues ).  Don’t forget to pop into a Deli and get a sandwich on Rye bread :-); NY has a ton of Delis. Its like there’s one on every corner.  If you have time you can head to Coney Island in Brooklyn to the original Nathan’s for hot dog.  Oh, NY is no nonsense so don’t talk to strangers and keep the map in your pockets.

The subway gets you almost everywhere and yes, it smells like a subway, but you can also hail a cab by standing on the corner and raising you hand.

Jamaican beef pattyYou can also take the #5 train up to the last stop at Dyer Avenue in the Bronx and get the best Jamaican beef patties (a traditional Jamaican pastry packed with beef or chicken inside a thin flaky crust served very hot) in NY and maybe outside of Jamaica.  People double park and get tickets for this patty as well as other Jamaican foods.  The name of the place is Royal Caribbean Bakery.

If you want to do the museums, you have choices such as the MOMA, Guggenheim and the Modern Art.  Of course you should go see Central Park as well as Times Square. If you want to see a Broadway (500 seats or more) show go to the TKTS booth in the middle of Times Square and get one on the cheap.  If you can catch an Off Broadway (499 to 100) or an Off Off Broadway (99 or less) show they are even better as the theatres are very small and intimate.  Plus you may be able to meet the actors after the show.  Broadway lesson; theaters are not labeled based on their location but by the number of seats they have.  Although most of the Broadway theaters are in the main theater district.

As you are in Times Square, go to the Deuce (42nd street between 8th Avenue and Broadway).  Disney has cleaned it up now, but it used to have a lot of peep shows back in the days.  Then pop down to 34th street and Broadway to see the Macy’s department store and head to 42nd street and Park Avenue to see Grand Central station.  Oh, if you want to see a piece of New York that’s interesting, just go into New York Penn station at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street.

Incidentally, New Yorkers will always give you directions in the manner: “the address between one street and another street” as the city is so large.  For example as I did above; note though that they may sometimes just give you two cross streets such as 34th street and Broadway for Macy’s since it takes up the entire block.

That’s the thing about New York, there’s so much to do; we’ve have not even gone downtown to the Village and SOHO, China Town and Delancey Street as yet.  Oh, not to mention Harlem; the Legendary Apollo Theatre at 253 West 125th Street is a must see.

So here’s what my friends and I do when we visit New York City for a “Layover.”

Valerie and her son Max

Valerie and Max in NYLiterally for my kids when we travel, your tag line runs very true: for them it’s all about the journey–the anticipation of getting there is all part and parcel of the fun.  So my 8-year-old son Max was very excited when I told him I was flying him to New York for a day.  I wanted to make the most of our time there, but didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money, and 24 hours was just enough time to take in a sampling of the city…

I decided to arrive early in the morning of September 10th, returning on September 11th. Which freaked a lot of my family out, but having lived in the DC metro area during 9-11, I knew that part of the country would be hyper-vigilant,  and it was. I have to say all the New Yorkers were wonderful – very much on their game, but friendly and helpful.
New York can be an overwhelming place for newcomers  – it’s got a lot going on. That’s why for my son’s first trip, I decided to limit our exploration to a  well-known, tourist-y section of NY – Times Square. We stayed in the Milford Plaza, for about $300.  Not a stellar hotel (“This place is a dump! Let’s go for a walk!” my son said) but I can tell you from personal experience that it was in much better condition than it was years ago–and what I was paying for was the convenient location, and a relatively clean and safe place to sleep, not luxury.
Max having thin crust pizza in NYWe were easily able to walk around Times Square and take in all the visuals – the bright lights of Broadway, the giant 3-D billboards, the showgirls- Max absolutely loved it.  Of course, we had to get a slice of thin-crust New Yawk-style pizza for lunch, so we ate at a local neighborhood joint (of which there are many in NY). We hit all the candy and memorabilia stores, including a must-see for kids – the Times Square Toys R Us .
Then we met a friend, an actress in full makeup (Of course! It’s New York!) who had just come off of shooting a small role in a friend’s film – she was very excited as her character had just been murdered by her husband!  We had dinner with her at an American-style restaurant nearby that served the most transcendent blood orange margarita I’ve ever had….

I skipped things like Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not exhibit–$42 bucks a person? No way, and not really necessary.

After dinner, Max and I walked around Rockefeller Plaza, got to see the outside of 30 Rock, and then the Lego Store – Max was in heaven…

The highlight of the trip? As we were walking back to our hotel, we , we happened to run  into a TV star from one of Max’s favorite Disney Channel shows, Jason Earls from Kickin’ It, apparently in town for his own mini-NY vacation.  It was the perfect trip.

Here’s another viewpoint from another person who took a trip or two to N.Y

I took my family on a 48 hour trip to NYC; this was my fast pace tour of the city.

We arrived at La Guardia (LGA) and took the Q48 bus to the #7 train in Flushing which took us to Manhattan where we stayed at an overpriced hotel. On the first day we did the Empire State Building, Chinatown, the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square.

Chinatown, NYIn Chinatown we had dim sum at Jing Fung, it was really good authentic Hong Kong dinning.

Here the carts of food rarely make it to you table because people will rush to them as soon as they come out of the kitchen and grab the plates/steamers of food from the cart ladies before they can make their rounds. It’s a learned skill as you have to push your way through the crowd and be aggressive all while not angering the cart lady as she is the one who decides who gets their order.

In Chinatown we also had xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Shanghai Asian Cuisine (right next to Jing Fung), bubble tea, and had dessert at Little Italy which is near Chinatown. After that we crossed The Brooklyn Bridge and had pizza at Gramaldi’s, then took a cab back into Manhattan. We then headed to Macy’s Department Store to shop and then to Times Square to gawk.

Statue of Liberty aerialThe next day we did the Statue of Liberty which takes half a day due to the lines; so go early. Before catching our flight back to Houston, TX, we headed to Korea Town for some authentic Korean BBQ.

Another friend’s NY experience except for two One Day Trips this time

Newark Liberty International Airport AirTrain StopNYC is also great for a day trip, I’ve taken 2 “day trips” there this year to shop and eat. I usually land in Newark (EWR) and buy a ticket from AirTrain kiosk in Terminal C to NY’s Penn Station, be aware not to get off at New Jersey Penn station (it can be confusing if it’s your first time on the train). It was $25 round trip and is a 20-min ride into NY minus any train delays/traffic. [Kerwin’s Note: its about $13 on the express bus from Terminal C]

For my day trip in September I wanted to shop in Soho and eat in Korea Town. As soon as I arrived at NY Penn station I found a nearby Deli and bought a bagel with cream cheese (NYC has the best bagels). From NY Penn station I exited towards 34th street then headed towards the Radisson Martinique to the subway station. I took the N or the R to Prince St., that brings me right across from Uniqulo (my favorite Japanese clothing store). After shopping there and H&M I headed back to 34th street to grab some Korean food before taking the train back to the airport.

Chinese Noodle Soup, New YorkIn Oct. I wanted some good Chinese food and also to shop at the new Uniqlo store that just opened on 34th st. From NY Penn station I walked to 34th street and took the N or the R trains to Canal street for some Chinese food and Chinatown shopping. I had some wanton noodle soup that was just O.K. I then walked around to some souvenir shop (it’s the best and cheapest place in NYC for souvenir shop).

Ice cream in NYThere was a long line at “The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Company”, so of course I had to try some. I was glad I did, they had regular flavors along with unqiue ones. I got a scoop of the almond cookie and a scoop of the egg custard, the egg custard was one of the best ice creams I’ve had in a long time.

Next door was Xian Famous foods, this is one of the places Anthony Bourdain visited and recommends; it was also on my list of resturants to try. I had the lamb noodle soup and my suggestion for this place is to order spicy, all the hand pulled noodle dishes here are good and even better when you get it spicy. You no longer have to go to Soho and shop,  there are plenty of new shops opening on 34th street and the day I went Uniqlo had a grand opening sale for their 34th street store. Other stores include Macy’s, H&M, Zara and many more.

Other shopping trips I suggest taking the Airtrian to P4 at Newark (EWR) and wait for a bus that will take you to the mall in New Jersey. The same bus will take you back to the airport free of charge.

Best time to visit NYC is September, the weather is really good (not too cold and not too hot and it doesn’t rain as often that month).

There you have it; a few different and distinct options for your next visit to the Big Apple.

So, when you visit, what do you do?  Please leave a comment below.

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