7 hacks to make the most of NYC's Moynihan Train Hall

From finding good food to finding quiet, here's how to optimize your wait time.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Things to Do Editor
The interior of Moynihan Train Hall.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

Everybody has an opinion about how early to arrive at the airport, and we won't wade into that debate. But we will staunchly insist that it's worth getting to the train station a little early when you're traveling out of Moynihan Train Hall because this beautiful station is packed with local spots worth visiting. 

Here are seven hacks for how to make the most of your time while you wait for your Amtrak or LIRR train to arrive. 

RECOMMENDED: Moynihan Train Hall in New York City: The ultimate guide to this major transit hub

Moynihan Food Hall.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

1. Don’t worry about eating beforehand

If you were rushing to pack and ran out of time to eat lunch (guilty), don't worry. There are more than a dozen actually good options for eating at Moynihan Food Hall. To name a few, there's Maman, Pastrami Queen, Alidoro, Naya, Jacob’s Pickles, E.A.K. Ramen, The Irish Exit, Yono Sushi by BondSt, and Vesuvio Bakery. If you're running really late, the line at H&H Bagels is usually not too long, and you can grab a bagel for the train. 

Threes Brewing at Moynihan.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

2. Pick up a gift while you’re there

Let's say you're traveling to your friend's bachelorette party in Philadelphia, your college roommate's wedding in Chicago, or your cousin's graduation in Washington, D.C. and you forgot to get a gift. Don't sweat it. 

There are several shops where you can put together a very cute and very New York gift that nobody will know was purchased at the last minute. For that bachelorette party, grab some perfume at Malin+Goetz and pair it with a couple of beers from Threes Brewing. For the wedding, contribute to their honeymoon fund, pick up a few beach reads at Gotham News to go with it, and find a card at Lovepop. Finally, for the graduation, buy a backpack at Rains and fill it with a few Moleskine notebooks. Done and done. 

A fancy ceiling in a post office.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

3. Find some peace and quiet

Need to listen in on a Zoom call while you wait for your train? The food hall can be pretty loud, so grab your luggage and head upstairs where you'll follow signs for the Farley Building. This gorgeous Post Office building is usually pretty quiet, meaning you'll actually be able to hear the person on the other line. Just to be clear, though, this isn't a spot to sit down and take a call. It's more of a walk-and-talk zone for a quick call.

A display of artful notebooks.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

4. Take in a little art and history while you wait

Banish boredom by checking out the lovely art exhibit across from the Moleskine store, then peek at historic Penn Station photos inside the Amtrak Baggage Claim area near the food hall. Inside there, you'll see an apt quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan that reads: "In the old time, you arrived at Penn Station at the train platform. You went up the stairs to heaven. Make that Manhattan. And we shall have it again. Praise all."

In the main train hall, glance upward at the digital boards, which are often populated with art as part of the Art At Amtrak program.

A picture of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

5. Seating is limited, but you can find it

Seating is a hot topic here. There's a ticketed passenger waiting lounge with seating, and there are plenty of tables and chairs in the food court. But there are no seats or benches near the actual boarding areas—and if you sit on the floor, you'll likely be told to move. Officials say that's to help with circulation and flow in the terminal, but critics have called it hostile architecture.

If you happen to have first-class tickets, sleeping car accommodations, or certain reward levels, you'll get access to the Metropolitan Lounge, which offers plentiful seating. 

The inside of Moynihan Train Hall.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | The quiet bathrooms are in this hallway.

6. Know where to go when you've got to go

There are several spacious and usually clean bathrooms in Moynihan, but they can get quite busy. The least busy one is on the second floor across from the Metropolitan Lounge on the 31st Street side.

A kiosk for Damselfly Flowers.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

7. When you get back home to NYC, treat yourself

After your travels when you've finally arrived back home in New York City, treat yourself before you even leave the station. There's Magnolia Bakery, Davey’s Ice Cream, and La Maison du Chocolat for some sweet treats. And grab yourself a bouquet at Damselfly Flowers while you're at it.

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