New York City’s JFK Airport is located near an eclectic mix of restaurants, movie locations, a wildlife refuge, a beach made famous by The Ramones, and the only Little Guyana in the United States. The AirTrain provides a quick, hassle-free connection to the A-train (via Howard Beach). As a result, you can skip the overpriced, cookie-cutter airport food, put your laptop away, get out and explore Southeastern Queens, and be back at the airport in less than an hour.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Lenny's Clam Bar Howard Beach
Vetro by Russo's on the Bay
Russo's on the Bay
Sweet May's Bakery
Henry Hill's Boyhood Home
Go Birdwatching at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Open all year round from sunrise to sunset, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has one of the most compelling bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States. The serene landscape can make you forget that Times Square is only 15 miles away. The visitor center is open until 5 daily (4 on the weekends). There is no charge.
Distance from JFK Airport: 6 miles south
Hitch a Ride to Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach, immortalized in the 1977 Ramones classic tune, is the largest urban beach in the United States. At four miles and roughly 100 city blocks, it is also New York City’s only legal surf beach.
With a lively boardwalk in the summer and a calming, serene vibe during the off-season, the Rockaway Peninsula can feel a world away from the City. Venezuelan arepas, Peruvian ceviche, and other Latin American street foods are available along the boardwalk. You can find Venezuelan fast food, Central-Asian cuisine, New York-style delis, Italian Ice (try Uncle Louie G) and more on Rockaway Beach Blvd. The AirTran connects to the A, which takes you the Rockaways.
Distance from JFK Airport: 10 miles south
Explore Little Guyana along Liberty Avenue
More people immigrate to New York City from Guyana than from any other South American country. The majority of Guyanese businesses in New York are under the A train along Liberty Ave (between 103rd and 133rd Streets) in South Ozone Park. Guyana is South America’ only English-speaking country, so there’s no language barrier. The Guyanese accent is similar to that of Jamaicans, who are the fourth largest group of immigrants to New York City (Guyanese are fifth). The food is a curious mix of Caribbean, Chinese and Indian.
Distance from JFK Airport: 4 miles north
Visit the Real-Life Locations from Goodfellas
The area northwest of JFK Airport is where most of Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic movie Goodfellas was based. As Henry Hill says in the movie, “The airport belonged to Paulie.” The AirTran connects to the A train, which will take you near the old Robert’s Lounge, which is now a Caribbean restaurant. Henry Hill‘s boyhood home is still standing at 392 Pine Street, just outside of the Euclid Av subway stop in Brooklyn.
Distance from JFK Airport: 3 miles north
Dine in Some of New York’s Classic Italian Restaurants in Howard Beach & Ozone Park
You can find some of New York City’s best Italian food in the Howard Beach and Ozone Park sections of Queens. Located in South Ozone Park, Don Peppe is one of those classic, cash-only, Italian restaurants sandwiched between the Aqueduct Racetrack and JFK Airport. The restaurant is nearly always full, despite being located far from touristy Manhattan and hipster Brooklyn. No paper menus. Try anything with clams!
In Howard Beach, the stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard to the west of the Shellbank Basin is lined with classy Italian restaurants like Bruno’s, Vetro, Lenny’s Clam Bar, and Russo’s on the Bay. Some offer valet parking. Howard Beach is also accessible via the A-line/JFK AirTrain, which stops on the other side of the basin.
Distance from JFK Airport: 2 miles west