4. Eat burgers, drink at beer gardens, and hit the only place in the world you can get a Shake Shack breakfast sandwich
At JFK, the food situation has greatly improved in recent years with the additions of Shake Shack, Piquillo, and BRKLYN Beer Garden. In Terminal 4, you’ll find the only Shake Shack in the world that serves breakfast sandwiches in addition to the usual burgers. In Terminal 5, the tapas spot Piquillo, from La Vara’s Alex Raij, feels nothing like an airport restaurant, with a bar that would be mobbed if it were in the Flatiron instead of far Queens. In Terminal 2, Laurent Tourondel dreamed up a wurst-and-burger menu, but the real attraction is the more than 20 beers on tap.
At LGA, Biergarten has a rotating list of beers picked by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, who obviously knows what he’s doing. An outpost of Artichoke has huge slices of its cult-favorite pizza. And if you absolutely must have Pat LaFrieda meat, hit Metro Burger Bar or Custom Burgers, two spots where the master’s proprietary blend goes into the patties.
At EWR, yes, there’s a Grand Central Oyster Bar, but do you really want to double down on bivalves before a long flight? Instead, opt for one of two wine bars in Terminal C -- Vino Volo or Le Grand Comptoir, both of which also have classy food to go with their classy drinks. (Since we’re talking Newark, classy clientele is not guaranteed.)
5. Hang out on an open-air deck (plus other small things you can enjoy)
At JFK Terminal 5, restock your stationary at the MUJI store, which also has Japanese oddities (desk toys, scent diffusers, etc…) and super-simple basics like T-shirts and socks in case you forgot to pack them. In Terminal 4, go retro and watch planes come and go from the outdoor observation deck at the newish Delta Sky Club lounge.
At LGA, geek out in the Marine Air Terminal, where a 1942 mural aptly called Flight has been restored to its Depression-era glory. Look, if it’s famous enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you should see it instead of just browsing a Brookstone.