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What To Do With A 5-Hour Layover At JFK


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Gwenore Sipes



Welcome to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City! Whether you're a New Yorker returning home or a traveler embarking on a new adventure, a layover at JFK can be an opportunity to experience a taste of the city that never sleeps. With a 5-hour layover, you have just enough time to explore some of the highlights within the airport and its vicinity. From world-class dining to shopping and relaxation options, JFK offers a myriad of experiences to make the most of your time.


As one of the busiest airports in the United States, JFK is a bustling hub of activity, offering a diverse range of amenities to cater to the needs of travelers. With a focus on Terminal 4, operated by JFKIAT, you'll discover a wealth of options to indulge in during your layover. Whether you're seeking a culinary adventure, a bit of relaxation, or a chance to pick up some last-minute gifts, Terminal 4 has you covered.


So, if you find yourself with a 5-hour layover at JFK, fear not! This guide will walk you through the best ways to make the most of your time, ensuring that your layover becomes an enjoyable part of your journey. Let's dive into the vibrant tapestry of experiences that JFK has to offer, making your layover a memorable and enriching experience.


Exploring Terminal 4

Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport is a bustling nexus of activity, offering a plethora of attractions to captivate travelers during their layovers. Boasting a diverse array of shops, restaurants, and amenities, this terminal provides a microcosm of the vibrant New York City experience. As you step into Terminal 4, you’re greeted by a vibrant atmosphere that reflects the city’s energy and diversity.


One of the highlights of Terminal 4 is the expansive duty-free shopping options, allowing you to indulge in some retail therapy and pick up souvenirs or luxury goods at competitive prices. From high-end fashion boutiques to specialty stores offering unique gifts, the shopping experience at Terminal 4 is sure to delight even the most discerning of travelers.


Beyond shopping, Terminal 4 also houses an impressive selection of dining options, ranging from quick bites to fine dining establishments. Whether you’re craving a classic New York-style pizza, a gourmet burger, or a taste of international cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate. The terminal’s diverse culinary landscape reflects the rich tapestry of cultures found throughout the city, offering a culinary journey within the confines of the airport.


For those seeking a bit of relaxation, Terminal 4 provides comfortable seating areas where you can unwind and recharge before your next flight. Additionally, the terminal offers convenient amenities such as charging stations, ensuring that you can power up your devices and stay connected throughout your layover.


As you explore Terminal 4, you’ll encounter a vibrant blend of modern design, cultural diversity, and a palpable sense of excitement. Whether you’re strolling through the concourse, sampling international flavors, or perusing luxury goods, Terminal 4 offers a multifaceted experience that sets the stage for an unforgettable layover at JFK International Airport.


Dining Options

When it comes to dining during your layover at JFK’s Terminal 4, you’re in for a treat. The terminal boasts an impressive array of dining options that cater to a diverse range of tastes and preferences, ensuring that every traveler can find something to satisfy their cravings.


For a quick and satisfying bite, head to Shake Shack, a beloved New York institution known for its delicious burgers, crinkle-cut fries, and creamy shakes. If you’re in the mood for a taste of Italy, Vini Volo offers a delightful selection of wines and gourmet small plates, allowing you to savor the flavors of the Mediterranean without leaving the terminal.


For those with a penchant for Asian cuisine, Okiway serves up delectable Japanese dishes, including mouthwatering ramen and fresh sushi. Meanwhile, 5ive Steak provides a refined dining experience, offering a menu of premium steaks and seafood for those seeking a more upscale meal during their layover.


Vegetarian and vegan travelers will find plenty of options at Uptown Brasserie, which features a menu highlighting fresh, plant-based fare in a stylish and contemporary setting. Additionally, the New York Sports Grill is the perfect spot for sports enthusiasts, offering a lively atmosphere and a menu of classic pub grub.


Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely meal or a quick bite on the go, Terminal 4’s dining options ensure that you can savor a diverse range of flavors, reflecting the culinary richness of New York City itself. With its vibrant and varied dining scene, Terminal 4 invites you to embark on a culinary journey that complements your layover experience at JFK International Airport.


Relaxation and Wellness

Amidst the hustle and bustle of travel, finding moments of relaxation and rejuvenation is essential, and JFK’s Terminal 4 offers a range of options to help you unwind during your layover. Whether you seek a tranquil oasis to decompress or a rejuvenating wellness experience, the terminal provides amenities to cater to your relaxation and self-care needs.


One of the standout features of Terminal 4 is the XpresSpa, where you can indulge in a variety of spa services designed to ease travel-related stress and tension. From rejuvenating massages to revitalizing facials, the XpresSpa offers a sanctuary of serenity within the airport, allowing you to pamper yourself and emerge feeling refreshed for the next leg of your journey.


For those who prefer a moment of quiet contemplation, Terminal 4 provides designated relaxation areas where you can unwind in a peaceful environment. These dedicated spaces offer comfortable seating and a serene ambiance, providing an ideal setting to relax, meditate, or simply enjoy a moment of tranquility amidst the terminal’s vibrant energy.


Additionally, if you’re in need of a quick wellness boost, be sure to visit BeRelax, where you can experience rejuvenating chair massages and other wellness services. Whether you’re looking to ease muscle tension or simply enjoy a brief moment of relaxation, BeRelax offers a convenient way to invigorate your mind and body during your layover.


Terminal 4’s commitment to providing relaxation and wellness amenities ensures that your layover at JFK International Airport can be more than just a waiting period – it can be an opportunity to prioritize your well-being and embrace a sense of calm amidst the excitement of travel. By taking advantage of the terminal’s relaxation and wellness offerings, you can elevate your layover experience and arrive at your destination feeling revitalized and ready for the adventures that lie ahead.


Shopping at JFK

Embarking on a retail exploration at JFK’s Terminal 4 presents a delightful opportunity to peruse a diverse selection of shops and boutiques, offering everything from luxury goods to unique souvenirs. Whether you’re seeking a last-minute gift or simply looking to indulge in some well-deserved retail therapy, the terminal’s shopping options are sure to captivate your interest and cater to your needs.


For those with a penchant for luxury, the terminal is home to a range of high-end retailers, including duty-free shops where you can find premium fragrances, cosmetics, and spirits at tax-free prices. Whether you’re in search of a signature scent or a bottle of top-shelf liquor, the duty-free shopping experience at Terminal 4 allows you to indulge in luxury goods without leaving the airport.


Beyond luxury items, the terminal also features specialty stores offering a diverse array of products, from designer accessories to artisanal chocolates. Whether you’re drawn to iconic brands or unique, locally sourced goods, the shopping experience at Terminal 4 invites you to explore a curated selection of items that capture the essence of New York City’s vibrant spirit.


Additionally, if you’re in need of travel essentials or electronics, the terminal’s convenience stores and tech shops ensure that you can find everything you need for a seamless journey. From travel adapters to reading materials, these retailers offer a convenient way to stock up on necessities and entertainment for the remainder of your travels.


As you navigate the terminal’s retail landscape, you’ll find that the shopping experience at JFK goes beyond mere transactions – it becomes an opportunity to discover unique treasures and immerse yourself in a world of luxury, convenience, and local charm. Whether you’re seeking a lavish indulgence or a practical purchase, Terminal 4’s shopping options invite you to embark on a retail adventure that enriches your layover experience.


Transportation Options

Upon landing at JFK International Airport, you’ll find a range of transportation options to facilitate your journey to and from the terminal, ensuring a seamless transition to your next destination. Whether you’re heading into the heart of New York City or to a nearby locale, the airport provides convenient and efficient transportation services to suit your needs.


For travelers venturing into the city, the AirTrain offers a swift and reliable connection to the New York City subway system, providing access to various neighborhoods and iconic landmarks. The AirTrain operates 24/7, making it a convenient option for those looking to explore the vibrant streets of Manhattan or beyond, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural tapestry during your layover.


Additionally, if you’re in need of ground transportation to specific destinations, JFK offers a multitude of taxi and car services to cater to your travel requirements. Whether you prefer the convenience of a taxi or the personalized service of a private car, the terminal’s transportation hub ensures that you can find a suitable option to reach your desired destination with ease.


For those with connecting flights or in need of transportation to nearby accommodations, JFK provides shuttle services and hotel shuttles, offering a convenient way to reach your next point of departure or restful accommodations. These services are designed to streamline the transition between flights or provide a comfortable journey to nearby hotels, allowing you to make the most of your layover without the added stress of navigating transportation logistics.


By offering a diverse array of transportation options, JFK International Airport ensures that travelers can seamlessly navigate their layovers and connect to their next destinations with ease and efficiency. Whether you’re embarking on an urban adventure in the city or seeking a smooth transition to your next flight or accommodations, the terminal’s transportation services are tailored to enhance your travel experience and provide a hassle-free journey.



As your 5-hour layover at JFK International Airport comes to a close, you’ve had the opportunity to immerse yourself in a microcosm of New York City’s vibrant culture and energy. Terminal 4 has proven to be a dynamic and multifaceted space, offering a diverse range of experiences to enrich your layover and set the stage for your onward journey.


From the moment you stepped into the terminal, you were greeted by a bustling atmosphere that reflects the city’s diversity and dynamism. As you explored the terminal, you indulged in a culinary journey, savoring a diverse array of flavors that mirror the rich tapestry of New York’s dining scene. Whether you opted for a gourmet meal, a quick bite, or a taste of international cuisine, the dining options at Terminal 4 catered to every palate.


Amidst the excitement of shopping, you discovered a world of luxury goods, unique souvenirs, and travel essentials, allowing you to find the perfect mementos or indulge in a bit of retail therapy. The terminal’s commitment to relaxation and wellness provided a welcome respite, offering spa services and tranquil spaces where you could unwind and rejuvenate before continuing your journey.


As you prepare to depart, the terminal’s transportation options ensure a seamless transition to your next destination, whether it’s a swift connection to the city’s vibrant streets or a convenient transfer to your next flight or accommodations. Throughout your layover, Terminal 4 has proven to be a gateway to a myriad of experiences, encapsulating the essence of New York’s diversity, energy, and hospitality.


As you bid farewell to JFK International Airport, you carry with you the memories of a layover that transcended mere waiting – it became an opportunity to savor the essence of New York City, albeit within the confines of the terminal. Whether you return to JFK in the future or embark on new adventures elsewhere, your layover at Terminal 4 has left an indelible impression, offering a glimpse of the city that never sleeps and setting the stage for the journeys that lie ahead.