If there as ever been a time when there has been a long layover in New York City, then one has to go into the City. There is so much to do that time will pass by in a swift second compared to the long endless hours in the airport.
First, make sure that there is enough time to get to and from the City. Estimate about an hour to get to and back from the city. The traffic from the airport is just as bad as the traffic in the city. There are many possibilities for transportation. Depending on the circumstances, any transportation could be used. Taxi is better when there is not a large party and if you don't want to waste a lot of time. However, it is very expensive. The air train is cheaper but it is easy to get confused and lost. It is also a lot better to do if there was a group.
Once in the city, there are endless possibilities. Ask to be drop in Time Square. It feels like a dream standing in the middle of the concrete jungle. You can't help but think "I finally made it, time to seize the day." The buildings are overtaken with billboards that showcase musicals, movies, and music. No city advertises like New York. The people know how to tame the traffic through all of the noise of cars and street music. Around ever corner, there are musical theaters where you know magic is real. You never know what you will in encounter in the middle of the square. It may be Good Morning America doing an interview for a big upcoming movie, or a giant yoga class.
A must see is Central Park. It is hard to believe that in the middle of the concrete jungle there is a patch of green Earth. It is possible to get lost in Central Park; in fact, turning on your cell phone is as easy as to get lost in Central Park. The magic that the park beholds is the ability to make anyone feel like a kid again. The zoo is as crazy as the city itself with its own loud noise and variety of entertainment. The Balto and Alice statues are reminders of some of the most loved children's movies while the Belvedere Castle makes one feel like a true royalty. Don't worry about finding food. The park has many ice cream stands and restaurants along the water. Allow about two hours in the park. It will take an hour and a half alone to find the exits.
Once Time's Square is conquered, start to head towards Staten Island. Along the way, there will be many pit stops to take pictures. the top stop would be the Empire State Building. If there is time, go all the way to the top. It is expensive so be prepared and again it also depends on how much time one has. Also stop by to take a picture of Madison Square Garden and Rockefeller Center; especially if it is during the winter when the ice rink is out instead of an outdoor restaurant.
Another stop to see is the 9/11 Memorial. It is hard to believe that you are still in New York City because of the silence. It is as if you entered a new room and closed a sound proof door. No one talks, they just stare and pray. They pray for all of the people who lost their lives, they pray for everyone who helped, and they pray that history will not repeat itself. Never would you think that silence is possible in the city that never sleeps.
The final stop to see is the Statue of Liberty, which is much farther from the coast than expected. The Staten Island Ferry takes a couple of hours, so make sure that there is time. If not, Lady Liberty is still in eye sight for pictures. A tip for going into the city is to begin at Staten Island because the Ferry and the Empire State Building would take up more time while Times Square and Central Park would not.
New York City is as big has everyone says and even bigger. Therefore, if there is time to go into the city, do so because it is well worth it. This would present to opportunity to see a whole new world in a city that has the most famous name.