As one of the busiest transportation hubs in the country, Penn Station can be overwhelming for first-time visitors to New York City. Located in Midtown Manhattan, the station serves as a hub for Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, and New Jersey Transit. It is a central hub for both local and long-distance travel. With so much going on, it can be tough to know where to start. But don’t worry – this insider’s guide will help you navigate Penn Station like a pro.
PRO TIP: If you really want to make things easier on yourself, don’t forget the value of traveling light. Drop off your unneeded bags at a Penn Station luggage storage! You’ll find it far more pleasant and efficient to navigate this super-busy transportation hub.
Shopping and Dining
Penn Station has a variety of shops and restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a souvenir you’ll be able to find something. Here are a few options to consider:
Penn Station Market:
Located on the lower level of the station, the Penn Station Market offers a variety of grab-and-go options. including sandwiches, salads, and snacks. You’ll also find a variety of drinks, including coffee, tea, and soda.
If you’re in need of a sweet treat, Cinnabon is the place to go. Located on the upper level of the station, this chain bakery serves up delicious cinnamon rolls and other baked goods.
For last-minute souvenirs or travel essentials, the newsstand on the upper level of the station has you covered. You can grab magazines, snacks, and other items to help you pass the time while you wait for your train.
Things to Do Near Penn Station
While Penn Station itself is a hub of activity, there are also plenty of things to do in the surrounding neighborhood. Here are a few attractions to get your sightseeing started:
Madison Square Garden
Located just a few blocks from Penn Station, Madison Square Garden is home to the New York Knicks and Rangers. If you’re in town for a game or show, this is definitely worth checking out. If you’re not into seeing an event, avoid this area if you can on game days.
Empire State Building
Another iconic New York City landmark, the Empire State Building is just a short walk from Penn Station. Head up to the observatory for stunning views of the city.
Just a few blocks from Penn Station, Bryant Park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. In the warmer months, you’ll find lawn games, food vendors, and other outdoor activities. In the winter, the park is home to a popular ice skating rink. If you’re planning to be cooped up in a train for the next few hours, a visit to this local park is a good way to stretch your legs.
With so many transportation options available at Penn Station, it can be tough to know which one is best for you. Hopefully, this will help you understand your options:
If you’re traveling long distances, Amtrak is a great option. The station is a hub for Amtrak, with trains departing to destinations all over the country.
Long Island Rail Road
The Long Island Rail Road serves destinations on Long Island and in the suburbs of New York City. If you’re heading out to the suburbs or to the beach, this is a convenient and affordable option.
New Jersey Transit
If you’re traveling to New Jersey, New Jersey Transit is the way to go. The train will take you across the Hudson River and into New Jersey, with stops in cities like Newark and Hoboken.
Lines 1, 2, and 3 of the New York subway system connect to Penn Station via 34th St. and 7th Avenue. Penn Station also has underground access to 34th St. and 8th Avenue, making it easy to catch the A, C, and E trains.
Tips and Tricks
- Know your exits: Penn Station has multiple exits, and each one leads to a different part of the city. Make sure you know which exit to use to get to your destination. The main exits are located on 34th Street, 32nd Street, and 31st Street.
- Use the maps: Penn Station can be confusing, with a maze of corridors and passageways. Make sure to use the maps located throughout the station to help you find your way.
- Know the train schedules: Penn Station serves multiple train lines, and it can be easy to get confused about which train to take. Make sure to check the schedules before you head to the station, and consider downloading a train app to help you plan your trip.
- Use the information kiosks: If you have any questions or need help finding your way, there are information kiosks located throughout the station. Simply press the button, and a friendly staff member will assist you.
- Know the peak times: Penn Station can get very busy during certain times of the day. Try to avoid traveling during peak hours if possible, as it can be more crowded and hectic.
- Be aware of your surroundings: As with any major city, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings and try not to be distracted by looking at your phone or consulting a map.
Overall, the key to navigating Penn Station is to be prepared and know where you’re going. With a little planning and awareness, you can easily navigate this bustling transportation hub and get to your destination without any stress.
Penn Station is as relentlessly busy as the city it serves, making it, in some ways, the ideal introduction to New York. However, it can be overwhelming. But follow these tips, and you’ll be able to navigate the station like a local!