Grand Central Terminal in a Day

Grand Central Terminal–not “Station”–is one of the most visited public buildings in New York City–and it’s pretty easy to see why. Built at the turn of the century, the ornate building is a testament to the city’s Gilded Age. Find out why you should visit, the best way to get to there, how much time to budget, and why you might want to skip Grand Central.

Want to save even more time and get more out of your visit to Grand Central? Take my self-guided walking tour!


Why You Should Visit Grand Central Station Terminal

Icons NYC in a Day Iconic: Grand Central is one of the most iconic buildings in New York City as it has been a major (and stunning) transportation hub since its completion.

  Photographic: Breathtaking murals, dozens of globe chandeliers, and marble imported from Italy make this New Yorker one of the most photogenic in the city.

Empire State Building NYC in a Day Architectural: A great example of Beaux Art architecture, Grand Central was considered one of the most beautiful buildings of its time.

Kid Friendly NYC in a Day  Kid Friendly: Though most kids will find the foot traffic in the Great Hall overwhelming, they love the Whispering Corner and transit museum and gift shop.

History NYC in a Day  Historic: Built in the Gilded Age by the Vanderbilt family, GCT remains one of the most important historic icons in the city. There’s also plenty of hidden history if you know where to look!

Cinematic NYC in a Day  Cinematic: Grand Central has been the backdrop for dozens of movies and TV shows, including Gossip Girl, North by Northwest, Arthur, and many more. Check out a more comprehensive list!

Artsy NYC in a Day  Artsy: Grand Central is full of famous works of art, including the largest Tiffany’s clock face, a mural by Paul Helleu, and a sculpture by Jules Coutan.

Foodie NYC in a Day  Foodie: Though not necessarily the top foodie destination in the City, Grand Central has a great indoor market with fresh produce, fish, cheese, and a spice market.

Shopping NYC in a Day  Fashion/Shopping: Many visitors never worry what to see at Grand Central when there’s so much shopping. You can wait for your train while shopping at one of the many stores, including Warby Parker, Aveda, and Apple.

Like a Local NYC in a Day Like a Local: Grand Central is a working and active train station–which means you’ll pass plenty of locals headed to and from work every morning and evening.


Cost NYC in a Day Grand Central Cost/Money Savers: Free!

Grand Central is free to visit every day of the week. Shopping, food,and tours cost an additional fee, of course.


Time Commitment NYC in a Day How Much Time to Spend at Grand Central/Time Savers:

Fly-By NYC in a Day Fly-By: 15 minutes. You can swing by Grand Central from Bryant Park or Times Square for a quick photo from the outside (42nd and Lexington offers a great view of the facade). Or, pop inside the Great Hall for an impressive photo of the ceiling mural.

In-Depth NYC in a Day  In-Depth: 90 minutes will get you through the entire self-guided tour and even leave time for a drink at the Oyster Bar or some shopping.

  • Still not sure what to see at Grand Central? Take a tour of Grand Central! You’ll learn so much more about this amazing landmark–as well as some secrets, hidden deep inside the walls!
  • Take my self-guided tour of Grand Central for a quick overview and some invaluable insight.


Need to Know NYC in a Day  Need to Know:

  • During rush hour (before 10 AM and after 3 PM), Grand Central is crowded with commuter traffic. Please do locals a favor and don’t step in front of them for that perfect photo when they are running to catch a train.
  • Though it’s commonly called Grand Central Station, the correct name is Grand Central Terminal.


Why You Should Skip NYC in a Day  Why You Should Skip:

  • I recommend doing at least the fly-by if you’ve never been to Grand Central. If this isn’t your first NYC rodeo and have seen the terminal previously, you might want to pass.


When to Go NYC in a Day  When to Go to Grand Central:    

After 10 AM, before 3 PM, or after 7 PM. Disregard all this advice if you want to check out the happy hour at the Oyster Bar. Check out there website for more details. If you’re really not sure what to see at Grand Central, definitely check out the Oyster Bar.


How to Get to NYC in a Day  How to Get to Grand Central Terminal

Walking NYC in a Day  Walking: Grand Central is located on 42nd and Lexington (the most impressive entrance). Park Avenue “runs through” the terminal.

Subway NYC in a Day  Subway: You can get directly to Grand Central via the 4, 5, 6, or 7 trains. You can also take a shuttle train from Times Square if you don’t feel like walking a few blocks.

Taxi NYC in a Day  Taxi/Car: Taxis are kind of a pain near Grand Central as it seems someone is always trying to hail one nearby, and the traffic is horrendous.

Bus NYC in a Day Bus: The best way to take public transit to Grand Central is definitely by subway. Sorry, bus lovers.


Alternate Ways to See Attractions NYC in a Day  Related Attractions/Other Ways to See

The only way to get to Grand Central is to visit using one of the ways above. You could always watch a movie featuring the famous train terminal before heading over to see if it lives up to its hype.

Want to save even more time and get more out of your visit to Grand Central? Take my self-guided walking tour!


Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.

Already know what you want to do? Find out the best ways to get to the attractions you love, find a place to stay, or discover New York City’s neighborhoods to round out your itinerary!

Want all the fun without all the work? Check out my New York City itineraries. Or, get a customized itinerary to save even more time.

Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!


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