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.
Why You Should Visit Grand Central
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.
Architectural: A great example of Beaux Art architecture, Grand Central was considered one of the most beautiful buildings of its time.
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.
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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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.
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.
How Much Time to Spend at Grand Central/Time Savers:
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: 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:
- 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:
- 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 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 There to Grand Central Terminal
Walking: Grand Central is located on 42nd and Lexington (the most impressive entrance). Park Avenue “runs through” the terminal.
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/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: The best way to take public transit to Grand Central is definitely by subway. Sorry, bus lovers.
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.
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
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!