New York’s Penn Station serves more than 500,000 passengers each day, making it the busiest commuter station in the western world. Inaugurated in 1810, sprawling Penn Station is the perfect hub for exploring downtown Manhattan. New York City’s most iconic attractions lie within walking distance. Here are some interesting things to do near Penn Station while you wait for your train connection!
Travel Back in Time at the Empire State Building
Located less than a mile southeast of Penn Station, the Empire State Building has been one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world since its inauguration in 1930. The bold Art Deco design takes you back to a time when the Empire State Building represented the height of modern technology.
Although the building is now dwarfed by today’s superstructures, its viewing deck on the 86th floor remains the highest open-air observation deck in the world. Adventurous visitors can ride the glass elevator all the way up to the 102nd floor and take in panoramic views of the city. You’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take unique photos. Don’t miss the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty, all with a backdrop of Central Park and the Hudson River.
Art lovers and history buffs shouldn’t miss the second-floor exhibits, which showcase the construction of the building and its continuing role in pop culture.
Grab a Bite at Korea Town
While you’re in the area of New York’s Penn Station, make sure you hit K-Town for some of the best Korean food in New York. Locals call the area the Korean Times Square, as it lights up two enormous blocks along 32nd Street near Broadway. You can easily spend an entire afternoon shopping for K-Pop kitsch or relaxing at a day spa while sampling authentic Korean dishes.
After dark, visitors barhop their way through K-Town’s famous karaoke clubs, and the nearby Empire State Building sets the scene with a colorful light show.
Explore Manhattan’s Magical Rockefeller Center
Just a little over a mile from Penn Station, Rockefeller Center is a fascinating place to explore. The “city within a city” offers visitors a host of attractions, including:
- NBC Studios, where TV fans can tour the sets of Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show while learning more about broadcast history and technology.
- Rockefeller Center’s Ice-Skating Rink has become a New York family tradition, warming hearts every winter since Christmas of 1936.
- For nearly 100 years, the Rockettes have been dazzling fans with their exquisitely-coordinated dance numbers at the Radio City Music Hall.
- Visitors will find an oasis in the city strolling through the center’s art-themed Chanel Gardens.
- Locals prefer the observation deck at the Top of the Rock for some of the most incredible views of downtown.
Add top-notch dining and shopping, and Rockefeller Center becomes one of the best places to spend a layover near Penn Station.
Catch a Concert or Game at Madison Square Garden
World-famous Madison Square Garden is practically built right on top of Penn Station. Home of the New York Knicks and Rangers, the Garden is a fantastic spot to catch live events. Iconic acts from Elvis to Led Zeppelin have graced the stage at The World’s Most Famous Arena.
Gamblers and animal lovers can watch international contestants compete in thrilling horseraces or dog shows at Madison Square Garden. The Hulu Theater hosts live performances of some of NYC’s best comedy acts and theater productions. Even if you can’t see a show or game, you can still entertain yourself with a behind-the-scenes tour of this incredible venue.
Spend a Day in Central Park
If you take the train to 86th street from Penn Station, you’ll find yourself right in the middle of Central Park. The enormous 843-acre urban park is rather fitting for the City that Never Sleeps. Central Park offers a nearly infinite variety of activities, such as:
- Running or biking the 10-kilometer outer loop or the shorter trails around the Central Park Reservoir
- Catch-and-release fishing or boating on the lake
- Hearing the lions roar at the Central Park Zoo or a monologue at Shakespeare-in-the Park
- Bird-watching or curling up with a good book at the Sheep’s Meadow
- Strolling in search of the best selfie-spot among the park’s stunning statues, fountains and bridges
You can even test your skills at sports ranging from basketball to lawn bowling. Kids love riding the antique carousel, listening to the melodies played by the Delacorte Clock, and watching the marionette shows at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater. Central Park’s landscaped memorial at Strawberry Fields, dedicated to John Lennon, is a must-see for music fans.
Meet Winnie the Pooh at the Schwarzman New York Public Library
The Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of the New York Public Library features 2.5 million books, book-signing events and frequently changing special exhibits. A docent-led or free audio tour will acquaint you with the library’s highlights, including the original Winnie the Pooh manuscript.
On your way out, browse the gift shop and take selfies with Patience and Fortitude, the marble lions in front of the library.
Explore Manhattan Luggage-Free
If you have a few hours before your train at New York’s Penn Station departs, why not store your luggage with Stasher? This will make it easier to check out what downtown Manhattan has to offer. With Stasher’s secure and affordable luggage storage near Penn Station, you can ditch your baggage and take a bite out of the Big Apple during your next layover.