Travel Guide

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal

Whether you're catching a train or simply soaking in the sights of its celestial ceilings and the famous four-faced opal clock, Grand Central is a universe in itself, boasting the largest number of platforms in the world. Here, history and modern day hustle blend seamlessly, making it a must-visit for every New York itinerary.

Grand Central Terminal in a nutshell…

Grand Central Terminal is a historic world-famous landmark and transportation hub located in the heart of New York City, known for its stunning architectural features and bustling atmosphere.

Location: 89 E 42nd Street, New York, NY, prominently situated in Midtown Manhattan.

Transportation: Accessible via multiple subway lines (4, 5, 6, 7, S), numerous city buses (M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, M42), Metro-North Railroad, and the newly connected Long Island Rail Road through Grand Central Madison.

Tickets: Entry to the terminal is free, with guided tours available to enrich the visitor experience. Tours can be enhanced with the New York Sightseeing Pass.

Visiting Hours: Open to the public daily from 5:15 am to 2:00 am. Individual stores, restaurants, and other services such as the Grand Central Market and Dining Concourse may have different operating hours.

Opened on February 2, 1913, Grand Central Terminal marks its presence not only as a pivotal point for commuters but as a beacon of architectural and cultural significance. Whether you refer to it simply as Grand Central or the Grand Central Station of yesteryears, this terminal has more to offer than meets the eye.

From its breathtaking main concourse illuminated by the restored celestial ceiling to the whispering corners and secret staircases, Grand Central Terminal offers a treasure trove of experiences. It’s not just the largest train station globally by the number of platforms; it’s a lively destination packed with shops, dining options, and architectural wonders. Whether you’re grabbing a bite at the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar or gazing up at the starry vault, each corner tells a story.

This iconic terminal serves as a node from which Metro-North Railroad trains depart to various destinations across New York and Connecticut, with a recent extension accommodating the Long Island Rail Road. However, most visitors come to admire the grandeur of the Main Concourse, which stood as a testament to New York’s growth during its electrification, turning the surrounding area into a coveted district for commercial offices.

Practical information

Planning your visit to Grand Central Terminal is essential to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here’s what you need to know:


Grand Central Terminal stands as a beacon in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, located at 89 East 42nd Street.

The terminal’s position makes it a perfect starting point for exploring the city’s famous attractions, including Times Square, the Chrysler Building, and the New York Public Library, all of which are just a short walk away.

How to get there

Navigating to Grand Central Terminal is a breeze given its central location and connectivity.


Accessing Grand Central is most efficiently done by subway. The 4, 5, 6, 7, and S lines all stop at the 42nd Street station, directly beneath the terminal, making it an easy destination for anyone traveling within Manhattan.


Multiple bus routes including the M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, and M42 service the area around Grand Central, making it accessible from various points in the city.

Metro-North Railroad

The terminal is a major hub for the Metro-North Railroad, providing expedient connections to the northern suburbs of New York and Connecticut.

Long Island Rail Road

The newly opened Grand Central Madison now also accommodates the Long Island Rail Road, enhancing the terminal’s accessibility for a broader range of commuters and visitors alike.

Hop-on Hop-off Buses

Using hop-on hop-off buses is a fantastic way to explore Grand Central and other landmarks. These buses provide flexibility and a scenic route around the city’s key attractions, perfect for a leisurely day out.

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While driving in New York City is generally not recommended due to traffic and high parking fees, those who choose to drive can find several parking garages in the vicinity; however, public transit remains the best option to reach Grand Central.


Grand Central Terminal is open to the public free of charge, making it an accessible attraction for all. However, to truly appreciate its history and architectural nuances, taking a guided tour  is highly recommended.

Visiting Grand Central with Discount Passes

Utilize the New York Sightseeing Pass for a guided tour of Grand Central. This pass not only offers guided access but also ensures savings on various other city attractions.

The New York Sightseeing Pass

Choose the New York Sightseeing Day Pass for a thorough and cost-effective way to explore New York’s major landmarks, including an insightful tour of Grand Central Terminal.

Visiting Hours

Grand Central is open daily from 5:15 am to 2:00 am. While stores, restaurants, and other amenities within the terminal have varying hours, the general visiting hours provide ample time for exploration.

Best time to visit

To experience Grand Central without the crowds, consider visiting outside of peak commuter hours, either early in the morning or later in the evening. This allows for a more relaxed atmosphere to admire the architectural details and ambiance of the terminal.

Official Grand Central Terminal Tour

Discover the hidden secrets of Grand Central Terminal through the Official Grand Central Terminal Tour. This journey through one of the world’s most famous train terminals reveals more than just the passing trains.

Delve into its fascinating history, uncover its hidden corners, and hear the stories of the people who made the terminal what it is today. From its grand beginnings to its near-demolition and subsequent revival, this tour showcases the magic and mystery of Grand Central in a way that will leave you looking at it with new eyes.

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What to Expect at Grand Central Terminal

Discover the marvels of Grand Central Terminal, a majestic building that’s much more than a transit hub. It’s a place where you can start your day with a delightful breakfast or enjoy a leisurely lunch after exploring its grandeur. Here’s what to look out for during your visit:


Begin your exploration on the exterior of Grand Central Terminal. Lift your gaze to the top of the building to admire a magnificent sculpture group designed by Jules Felix-Coutan. This iconic artwork, known as “The Glory of Commerce,” features Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules, embodying Wisdom, Speed, and Strength. At the time of its unveiling, it was celebrated as the largest sculpture grouping in the world, adding a mythic layer to the terminal’s everyday hustle.


One of Grand Central’s most iconic features is the four-faced opal clock that sits atop the information booth in the Main Concourse. Valued between 10 and 20 million dollars, this clock not only keeps time for the over 750,000 daily visitors, many of whom are college graduates, but also stands as a symbol of the terminal’s enduring beauty and function. The clock and the surrounding area have seen extensive renovations, preserving their grandeur amidst the evolving cityscape, highlighted by the recent addition of the One Vanderbilt skyscraper and its Summit One Observation Deck.

Bring someone special to the Whispering Gallery, located on the Dining Concourse near the Oyster Bar. Here, a fascinating acoustic phenomenon allows whispers to travel clearly across the room from one corner to another. This spot provides a playful yet intimate experience that surprises and delights visitors of all ages.

The Oyster Bar

The Grand Central Oyster Bar is a venerable institution and a culinary landmark. Established in 1913, the same year the terminal opened, the Oyster Bar has been delighting seafood lovers for over a century with its vast selection of oyster varieties and other fresh seafood dishes. Renowned for its unique, whispering gallery arches and enchanting Guastavino tile ceilings, the restaurant offers a dining experience steeped in New York City history. The Oyster Bar’s ambiance and architectural charm make it the perfect spot to enjoy a meal while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of one of the world’s most famous train stations.


Don’t forget to look up at the celestial ceiling in the Main Concourse. After a 12-year restoration, the ceiling now displays a vibrant astronomical mural that had been obscured by decades of tobacco smoke. This artwork is famous not only for its beauty but also for its inaccuracies—the constellations are backward, a mistake supposedly reflecting the view from God’s perspective, based on a medieval manuscript. This intriguing error, first pointed out by a commuter in 1913, offers a fascinating story to share, especially with young explorers.

The Biltmore Room

Visit the Biltmore Room, affectionately known as “The Kissing Room,” where travelers on the 20th Century Limited train would reunite with loved ones, creating scenes of joyful embraces. While here, check out the back wall where a chalkboard remains from the days before digital displays, a relic from when daily train departures were manually updated—a task that became particularly challenging during Grand Central’s busiest years.

Shops and Restaurants in Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal stands as a premier shopping and dining destination. Visit the Apple Store on the East Balcony for breathtaking views of the Main Concourse or explore the Grand Central Market on the ground floor, a bustling spot offering locally sourced products like fresh fruit, artisanal coffee, and baked goods. For more casual dining, head to the Lower Level Dining Concourse, where a variety of eateries serve up delicious meals, providing a perfect ending to your Grand Central adventure.

Interesting Facts About Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal is not just a transit hub; it’s a place of culinary delight and historical intrigue. Here, you can find an array of dining options and uncover the secret corners of this iconic New York landmark.

  • Dining Delights: Inside Grand Central, you’ll find a wealth of food options, particularly in the Dining Concourse on the lower level. Noteworthy spots include Prova Pizzabar, Grand Central Market, Doughnut Plant, Murray’s Cheese, Shake Shack, Great Northern Food Hall, Shiro of Japan, La Chula, Dishes At Home, and the famous Magnolia Bakery.
  • The Campbell Bar: Hidden inside Grand Central is The Campbell, a sumptuous lounge accessible from Vanderbilt Avenue. Once the office of tycoon John W. Campbell, this space offers Jazz Age-inspired cocktails in a setting of ornate rugs and plush sofas, making it one of the best hidden bars in New York.
  • Valuable Clocks: Grand Central boasts two significant clocks. Outside, the world’s largest Tiffany clock, made of brass and stained glass, adorns the station façade. Inside, the iconic four-faced opal clock atop the information kiosk is estimated to be worth $20 million.
  • Vanderbilt Motifs: Throughout the terminal, you’ll find oak tree and acorn motifs, symbols of the Vanderbilt family, who financed the station’s construction. These motifs are present in Vanderbilt Hall, the main concourse arches, and the bronze chandeliers.
  • Whispering Gallery: The Whispering Gallery near the Oyster Bar is an acoustic marvel where voices can carry across the room. Its origins are unknown, and it’s unclear whether the effect was intentional.
  • Backwards Ceiling: The celestial ceiling in the main concourse, famous for its depiction of the zodiac, is actually painted backwards. This error, attributed to painters misreading the design, adds a unique touch to the terminal’s lore.
  • Tennis Anyone?: The Vanderbilt Tennis Club is a little-known gem located on the fourth floor, open to the public for those willing to pay the court fees.
  • Secret Walkways: Hidden walkways behind the giant windows of the main concourse are used by employees to navigate the terminal without the crowds.
  • Secret Track to the Waldorf: Track 61, with its direct elevator to the Waldorf Astoria, has served VIPs like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, allowing them to avoid public attention.
  • M42: A top-secret room known as M42, located 10 stories below the main concourse, once housed rotary converters powering East Coast trains. Its existence was a closely guarded secret during WWII.
  • Narrow Escape from Demolition: In the mid-20th century, Grand Central was nearly demolished. Preservation efforts led by Jackie Onassis and architect Philip Johnson saved the terminal.
  • 21st Century Construction: The recent East Side Access Project, completed in 2023, introduced a new terminal for the Long Island Railroad, significantly enhancing commuter connectivity.


Grand Central Terminal is committed to being accessible to all visitors. It offers:

  • Elevator access throughout, with ramps for easy navigation.
  • Public elevators and ramps are marked in the terminal directory.
  • Signage in large print and Braille.
  • Assisted Listening Systems available at the Main Concourse Info Booth and Ticket windows.
  • Customer Service representatives are available to assist in the Main Concourse and the Station Master’s Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

Grand Central Terminal is a famous landmark and transportation hub in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, known for its rich history and stunning architecture.

Grand Central Terminal is the terminus for commuter trains servicing the suburbs, thus the name “terminal.” Grand Central Station refers to the subway station where trains pass through but do not terminate.

You can reach Grand Central via several subway lines (4, 5, 6, 7, S), numerous bus routes (M101, M102, M103, M1, M2, M3, M4, Q32, M42), Metro-North Railroad, and the newly connected Long Island Rail Road through Grand Central Madison.

No, there is no entry fee to visit Grand Central Terminal. It is open to the public and free to explore.

Grand Central Terminal is open daily from 5:15 am to 2:00 am. However, operating hours for individual stores and restaurants may vary.

Visitors can shop, dine, enjoy art exhibitions, and take guided tours to learn about the terminal’s history and architectural details.

Yes, guided tours are available and can provide a deeper understanding of the terminal’s history, architecture, and operations.

Grand Central offers a variety of dining options from quick bites in the Dining Concourse to fine dining establishments and famous spots like the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Grand Central features a range of shops including major brands, specialty stores, and the Grand Central Market which offers local and gourmet foods.

Located near the Oyster Bar, the Whispering Gallery allows people to stand at diagonal arches and whisper to each other from across the room due to its unique acoustics.

The ceiling in the Main Concourse is famous for its backwards astronomical mural depicting the Mediterranean sky with zodiac constellations.

The Campbell is an upscale bar located within Grand Central, known for its luxurious decor and Jazz Age-inspired cocktails. It was originally the office of tycoon John W. Campbell.

Yes, the Vanderbilt Tennis Club offers tennis facilities to the public at an hourly rate and is located on the fourth floor of the terminal.

Track 61 is a secret platform that historically served VIPs, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to discreetly enter the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Yes, there are hidden walkways behind the large windows in the Main Concourse for terminal employees, and a top-secret room known as M42, which is not on any public maps.

Grand Central Terminal was saved from proposed demolition in the mid-20th century through the efforts of preservationists, notably Jackie Onassis and architect Philip Johnson, who fought to protect and preserve this iconic New York landmark.

Where to Stay Near Grand Central Terminal

Staying near Grand Central Terminal is highly recommended for visitors to New York. The area not only provides convenient access to various parts of the city via transit but also situates you in the heart of Midtown, close to key attractions and bustling city life. Nearby hotels offer a range of options from luxury to budget-friendly, ensuring something for every traveler.

Other Nearby Attractions

Grand Central Terminal’s prime location makes it a perfect starting point for exploring New York. Here are some nearby attractions that are a must-visit:

Empire State Building

Just a short walk from Grand Central, the Empire State Building stands as an iconic symbol of New York City. Offering breathtaking views from its famous observation deck, it’s a must-visit for its architectural grandeur and historical significance.

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Times Square

Known for its bright lights and bustling atmosphere, Times Square is the heart of New York’s theatre district and a hub of entertainment. This vibrant area is perfect for those looking to experience the energy of the city.

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Bryant Park

A serene oasis amidst the hustle and bustle, Bryant Park offers a peaceful retreat with lush lawns, seasonal markets, and cultural events, making it a pleasant contrast to the urban surroundings.

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New York Public Library

Adjacent to Bryant Park, the New York Public Library impresses with its majestic architecture and vast collections. It’s a haven for book lovers and history enthusiasts alike.

Rockefeller Center

Known for its Top of the Rock observation deck and seasonal attractions, Rockefeller Center is a cultural landmark offering shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

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St. Patrick's Cathedral

This stunning Neo-Gothic cathedral is not just a place of worship but a striking architectural landmark, offering a quiet space for reflection amid the city’s chaos.

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United Nations

Take a guided tour of the United Nations headquarters to learn about its role in international peace and cooperation. This landmark offers a unique glimpse into the workings of global diplomacy.

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Explore Our Comprehensive Travel Guide

On this page

  1. Introduction
  2. Practical information
  3. Official Grand Central Terminal Tour
  4. What to Expect at Grand Central Terminal
  5. Interesting Facts About Grand Central Terminal
  6. Accessibility
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Where to Stay Near Grand Central Terminal
  9. Other Nearby Attractions