Skip to content

TPG's guide to New York City's Grand Central Terminal

Aug. 06, 2020
5 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor's Note

As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year. Note that some retail shops and restaurants mentioned below may be closed or have reduced hours due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When New York City's Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, The New York Times raved, "Without exception, it is not only the greatest station in the United States, but the greatest station, of any type, in the world." Now, over a hundred years later, Grand Central remains an architectural icon, star of movies such as "North by Northwest," and one of the most popular landmarks in the world, with more than 21.6 million annual visitors, excluding commuters.

Of course, as the terminus of Metro-North Railroad and a major subway station, it's also a working transportation hub and one of the busiest train stations in North America, behind New York Penn Station and Toronto Union Station.

Grand Central's fate wasn't always certain. As train use declined in the mid-20th century, the station's owners sought to renovate the building. But thanks in part to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the building became a New York City landmark in 1967 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places nine years later.

(Photo by Oliver Dumoulin on Unsplash)

It was certainly worth saving. Today, tourists and commuters alike can marvel at Grand Central's magnificent Beaux-Arts architecture and design features, including its famous celestial ceiling mural, whispering gallery, and world's largest Tiffany clock. The terminal has also become a go-to spot in the city for grabbing a bite to eat, shopping, or simply taking the world in.

Here's how to make the most of a trip.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Getting there

Grand Central is located between Vanderbilt and Park avenues on East 42nd Street (perhaps the busiest road in all of New York). The main entrance is at 89 East 42nd Street between Vanderbilt and Park Avenues, with additional doorways on Vanderbilt Avenue, Lexington Avenue and 45th Street.

Taking public transportation will help you avoid the inevitable midtown traffic. Grand Central is directly accessible via the 4, 5, 6, 7 and S subway lines, while the M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32 and M42 buses have stops outside the station.

If you prefer to use a ride-hailing app or cab, specify the 89 East 42nd Street entrance. It’s the closest one to Metro-North service.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

The levels

Considering it’s a major travel hub, Grand Central has a surprisingly simple layout. On the main level, you’ll find everything related to transportation, including ticket booths, Metro-North tracks and subway access. Here, you’ll also discover corridors with restaurants and shops.

The lower level is a dedicated dining hall, while the small balcony level has a couple of restaurants, bar and, yes, even an Apple store.

(Photo by Reiseuhu on Unsplash)

Metro-North Railroad

Grand Central serves Metro-North, a commuter rail that runs along the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines to destinations like Westchester, the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. Ticket and information booths, along with self-serve kiosks and track entrances, are all conveniently located in the main concourse hall. (Still, it’s not a bad idea to purchase tickets ahead of time if you’re traveling at rush hour.)

Grand Central doesn’t have a dedicated waiting area -- so spend any extra time marveling at the architecture or consider getting there a little early for a drink at cocktail den The Campbell.

Dining, shopping & entertainment

Grand Central is worth visiting even if you don’t have a train to catch.

One of its most popular restaurants, Grand Central Oyster Bar, is as old as the station itself. There’s also Michelin-starred Agern, a relative newcomer and star of Nordic cuisine. If you’re looking for something more casual, don’t miss the great collection of local New York favorites like Jacques Torres Chocolate, Doughnut Plant, Shack Shake and Cafe Grumpy. Meanwhile, shoppers can check out 65 boutiques, including Warby Parker and Tumi, and tennis fans can get in a workout at the public tennis club. Check out Vanderbilt Hall to see if there's an upcoming event or art exhibit.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your time and money, here’s a reminder of how different credit cards classify travel and dining purchases.

Bottom line

Grand Central is a temple to the past -- but it’s also continuing to evolve. If everything goes according to schedule, it will be a new hub for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) starting in 2022. The project will create a new eight-track terminal and concourse underneath Grand Central and extend the LIRR from its main line in Queens, making the station an even more integral part of New York in years to come.

Featured image by (Photo by Stephen H on Unsplash)

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

Fair/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Credit One Bank Wander® Card
at Credit One Bank's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for earning alternative rewards for travel purchases
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
1XEarn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

    Earn 10,000 Bonus Points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees