12 Hours in NYC: What to do with a long layover

Any amount of time in New York is very welcome to me! I always love visiting big cities, but something about NYC just has a special place in my heart. Whether we have a half a day or a week, there is always a new restaurant or experience to try. Fortunately for Alex and I, we had a solid 12 hours to play in the city before flying overseas on our recent trip to South Africa. We decided to use the time to check a few more items off of our NYC to-do list!

Hudson Yards

After storing our luggage in Terminal 4 (the cost was between $4-$16 per day depending on the size of your bag; call 718.751.2947 for information), we took the AirTran to Jamaica Station and took the subway into the city. The AirTran costs $7.75 ($5 to exit into one of the stations and $2.75 for the MTA card). You can add money onto the card to use for the rest of your subway trips in the city. ProTip: Many credit cards will only allow you to add money onto the MTA card twice a day before locking, so try to put as much as you’ll need for the day on the card at one time. Also, this website is a great source of information if you are flying into JFK.

Once we got into the city, our first stop was to the famous Katz’s Deli for an authentic deli sandwich. Katz’s was started in the Lower East Side in 1888 and has been family run ever since. The restaurant was not nearly as crowded as I had expected it to be (with the exception of the famous table where Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat in When Harry Met Sally) and is full of helpful staff to direct you to where you order your sandwich, drinks, desserts, etc. Alternatively, you can also sit at full-service tables. I’m not going to give you any tips on what to order because I assume you already know what you want if you go to Katz’s Deli, but for what it’s worth, we shared a delicious reuben and a piece of cheesecake. Don’t forget, Katz’s is CASH ONLY.

Reuben, pickles, and cheesecake. Oh my!
Sitting at the When Harry Met Sally table

Next up, we headed for a walk on the High Line. On the way, we stopped into the Gansevoort Market, which I absolutely loved because it reminded me so much of  the markets in Spain. The original Gansevoort Market was a farmer’s market that originated in 1884 and evolved into the current market with stands and an open-air seating area. With locally produced items such as fresh flowers, ice cream, and crepes, the market offers a huge variety of items! This map details the many offerings of the market.

Gansevoort Market
I love this seating area!

We entered the High Line at Gansevoort and Washington Street, near the Whitney Museum of American Art and walked the nearly 1.5 miles through the park. Unfortunately, the High Line was ridiculously full of people to the point that I kind of felt that we were walking in a long line of people. I think that may have had to do with the fact that it was an incredibly beautiful day, one of the first of the season. I think tourists and locals alike were out and about enjoying the weather. Despite the crowds, it was still enjoyable and I loved seeing all of the art in the park and stretching our legs before our long flight.

The Whitney
Art on the High Line
Alex and I – trying out our new selfie stick!
I love this view!
What a fun water fountain!

While we were walking the High Line, I contacted a couple of my friends in NYC to see if they were available for a short visit and we ended up meeting my good friend Julia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she works. By the way, a job at the Met is pretty much the most glamorous job ever. It was so great to see my super smart and sweet friend in her element! Alex and I had never been to The Met so when Julia offered to show us around, we gladly accepted. A friend visit AND an insider tour of the Met? Sign me up! Julia showed us her favorite pieces and exhibits while we caught up on life and then she went back to work while Alex and I kept exploring the museum. It could take hours (if not days!) to adequately see everything, but we managed to see a good portion of the museum. I particularly enjoyed the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition, a mix of Asian art and haute couture pieces by various designers from Alexander McQueen to Balenciaga that were inspired by Chinese culture and art. It is open through August 16 if you are heading to NYC soon.

Inside the Met
Glass over a taxidermied deer- beautiful and so creative!
Part of the China: Through the Looking Glass installation
Part of the China: Through the Looking Glass installation
The beautiful view from the Met
It was so great to see Julia!

To cap off our day, we took the subway down to 230 Fifth for a happy hour cocktail on the roof with views of the city and particularly, the Empire State building. I have to laugh because I came across this list of the “25 Douchiest Bars in NYC” when we got home and 230 Fifth was number one. The article is correct in that the drinks were ridiculously overpriced, but in my opinion, that is pretty standard in New York. 230 Fifth was packed with both locals and tourists alike, but we managed to snag a table. As tourists ourselves, it was nice to end the day with a drink and a great view!

At 230 Fifth
The view from 230 Fifth

We wanted to get dinner before heading back to the airport. We originally planned to eat at Eataly again, since it was right down the street, but on the way, we stumbled upon Madison Square Eats, which is a pop-up market with stands from some of NYC’s favorite restaurants and chefs. We each had wood-fired pizza with daily made fresh mozzarella at Roberta’s and an ice cream sandwich at Melt Bakery. There is a lot of seating within the market, but if you want a little more space, you can do what we did and walk across the street to find a bench in Madison Square. It looks like Madison Square Eats is only open for the months of May and September, so you may have to wait for fall to go yourself. What to eat: The Bee Sting at Roberta’s and the Lumberjack at Melt (An oatmeal bacon cookie sandwich with maple ice cream, quite possibly the most delicious dessert I have ever had!)

Madison Square Eats

In the next two weeks, I’ll be telling you all about our evening in Abu Dhabi and our trip to South Africa! Lots of adventures to share with y’all!

Katz’s Deli, 205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002
Gansevoort Market, 52 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014
Madison Square Eats, between 24th and 25th Streets at the intersection of 5th Ave and Broadway

230 Fifth, 230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001

High Line, Gansevoort and Washington St
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028


  1. Thanks for sending – You do such a great job with this blog, I love it! It’s easy reading and makes you want to go everywhere you’ve been! Love you! Mom

  2. Such great tips Candie! We had an 11 hour layover in JFK a while back and was so overwhelmed with the planning we ended up just chowing down on burritos and wine… as you can imagine… it ended up messy! haha!

    Love these tips!

    Lloyd & Yaya 🙂 xx

    • Thanks so much for reading, guys! And I understand-burritos and wine are never a bad thing! 🙂

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