Carroll Street Bridge in Gowanus Brooklyn

How to get from JFK to Gowanus (& Gowanus to JFK)

In Brooklyn, Gowanus, Guides by Megan IndoeLeave a Comment

Trying to find the best way to get from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK? Our guide has got you covered as well as all the different options from trains, buses, private cars, rideshare apps, and taxis.

John F Kennedy Airport is located in Southern Queens and there are multiple public transportation options or quicker options involving a car service or taxi. We will help you decide what the best mode of transportation is for you and your trip to Gowanus.

The total journey from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK is anywhere from 13-23 miles depending on the route and can take anywhere from 25 minutes (on a REALLY good day) to 1-1.5 hours – traffic, and other circumstances can vary times drastically.

Looking for where to stay in Brooklyn during your visit? See our entire guide by neighborhood and budget to help you pick the best area to stay in.

JFK Travel Tips

If you’re coming from another country, be prepared for the possibility of long immigration lines. So if you’re planning your trip from JFK to Gowanus precisely the possible long immigration lines can make things more complicated.

We don’t recommend ordering a car on a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft until you have your luggage and are ready to leave the airport.

The fastest way from Gowanus to JFK or JFK to Gowanus is a private airport transfer or using a private car via a rideshare app.

The most inexpensive route is via subway and train.

Subway & Train 

Smith-and-9th-street-station-in-Gowanus-Brooklyn

This will always be the cheapest way to get from Gowanus to JFK or JFK to Gowanus.

JFK Airport runs and operates the AirTrain from Terminal 4 which will connect you to Howard Beach Station or Jamaica Station which you can transfer to the subway to get to Gowanus.

Many of the best route options from JFK to Gowanus takes you to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn via the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) where you can transfer to the R line to Union Street in Gowanus.

Atlantic Terminal operates the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) as well as the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, R, or Q subway lines to get you to your final destination.

The quickest route will vary depending on the time of day and next available train.

There are four main stops surrounding the perimeter of Gowanus including 4th Ave, Smith – 9th Street, Union Street, and Carroll Street Station serving the F, G, & R subway lines.

      • 4th Avenue Station runs the F, G, and R lines.
      • Smith – 9th Street Station runs the F & G lines.
      • Union Street Station runs the R line.
      • Carroll Street Station runs the F & G lines.
Getting a Metro Card at the Subway

If you plan on taking the train from Gowanus to JFK and do not have a MetroCard you simply need to go into the station and use a credit card at the kiosk to buy a MetroCard.

When you get to a kiosk to buy a MetroCard you have two options, to buy a MetroCard with a preloaded amount of money to spend for example $20 worth of rides that you can add value you to when you run out OR you can buy an unlimited MetroCard for x amount of days where you can ride multiple times a day.

If you’re going from Gowanus to JFK, since you’re leaving, the best choice would be to get a preloaded amount, a single ride is $2.75 and the AirTrain will cost $5.00 one way totaling up to $7.75 for the entire journey, so make sure you buy accordingly.

Note, if you’re taking a route via Atlantic Terminal you’ll be riding the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and will need to buy an LIRR ticket in addition to a MetroCard.

Getting a MetroCard at JFK

If you plan on taking the train via the AirTrain and subway from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK you will need to pay with a MetroCard.

When you get to the AirTrain Station you will choose either the Jamaica Station Line or the Howard Beach Line.

You will need to pay your ride in the AirTrain to connect to the subway with a MetroCard which will be purchased once you get to Jamaica Station or Howard Beach Station.

The total ride on the AirTrain will be $7.75 (one way on the AirTrain $5 plus a single subway ride $2.75).

When you get to a kiosk to buy a MetroCard you have two options, to buy a MetroCard with a preloaded amount of money to spend for example $20 worth of rides that you can add value you to when you run out OR you can buy an unlimited MetroCard for x amount of days where you can ride multiple times a day.

The best choice would depend on how often you plan on using the subway during your trip, if you’re going to use it a lot then the unlimited card is a better option, if you don’t plan on riding many times then put a set value on the card is the better economic option.

Helpful Metrocard Tips:

  • A single ride on the subway is $2.75, after swiping you can transfer freely between subways and busses.
  • Children under 44 inches tall can travel for free.
  • You can pay for busses with exact change if you don’t have a MetroCard, but its easiest to just have a preloaded MetroCard.
  • If you plan on riding on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) a separate ticket is needed and you can purchase at a kiosk, ticket office, or on your smartphone using the MTA eTix app. Prices vary between $5-10 one way depending on time of day.
How to get a LIRR Ticket

The easiest way to get a Long Island Railroad Ticket for your journey from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK is using the mobile app using the MTA eTix mobile ticketing app. Simply download it, input your trip details, and purchase.

If you prefer to use a ticketing machine you can do so at the LIRR station. There are four different types of tickets; gray, red, blue, and green.

  • Gray Tickets are sold in full-service machines and sell most LIRR ticket types as well as MetroCards.
  • Red Ticket machines sell one way and round trip tickets as well as MetroCards.
  • Blue Ticket machines sell most LIRR ticket types and MetroCards. These machines do not accept cash payment.
  • Green Ticket machines sell most LIRR ticket types and sell $5 AirTrain MetroCards.

You can also go to a ticket booth if you are unsure and have the person behind the counter help you with your ticket by purchasing directly through them.

JFK to Gowanus: Subway & Train

This is the cheapest option for you to get from JFK to Gowanus, and depending on traffic it could be the same amount of time or quicker than getting a ride in a car.

While there is no direct train from JFK to Gowanus, you can take the JFK Airtrain departing from JFK Terminal 4 to Jamaica Station where you will transfer to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and take it to Atlantic Terminal where you can transfer to the final train or bus depending on your route and where you’re staying in Gowanus.

You’ll want to follow the signs in JFK airport to the Airtrain, which is open 24 hours a day 365 days of the year, however, the train schedule varies and sometimes the train only comes every 30 minutes.

The total length of this from JFK to Gowanus is approximately 60 minutes including transfers.

We recommend planning your time table out in advance so you don’t miss your LIRR train and giving yourself a little extra time cushion if you are unfamiliar with the NYC subway and train system so you’re not stressed!

Gowanus to JFK: Subway & Train

This will be the cheapest and most economical option for you to get from Gowanus to JFK. Depending on traffic, going by train could be the same amount of time or quicker than taking a car.

Depending on what subway stop is closest to you, you will want to get to the JFK AirTrain via Jamaica Station using the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) via Atlantic Terminal.

The most common ways from Gowanus to JFK by subway is  R Train to Union Station to Atlantic Terminal. At Atlantic Terminal you will transfer to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Jamaica Station where you transfer to the JFK AirTrain.

The total length of this from Gowanus to JFK is approximately 60 minutes including transfers.

We recommend planning your time table out in advance so you don’t miss your LIRR train and giving yourself a little extra time cushion if you are unfamiliar with the NYC subway and train system so you’re not stressed!

Express Bus & Subway

Gowanus mural on 9th street in brooklyn

Another option for getting from Gowanus to JFK or JFK to Gowanus is the NYC Express Bus and subway combo.

Note that this option is ONLY AVAILABLE between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm as that’s the only time the Express Bus runs.

The NYC Express Bus has buses leaving every 30 minutes from JFK heading to either Port Authority Bus Terminal or Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan where you can transfer to the subway to complete your JFK to Gowanus journey to Brooklyn.

You can buy your ticket for the NYC Express Bus in advance. They are currently $19 for a one-way trip or $35 for roundtrip. If you purchase your ticket in advance you will have to present your online confirmation to one of their Golden Touch Transportation agents who will provide your actual bus tickets.

JFK to Gowanus: Express Bus & Subway

There are two options for routes from JFK to Gowanus via Express Bus and subway.

NYC Express Bus picks up at JFK Airport from terminals 1, 4, 7, and 8. You can find the agents and podium past the ground transportation and welcome center by spotting the red signs.

For all other terminals, you need to take JFK’s free monorail to terminals 1, 4, 7, or 8.

Via JFK to Port Authority in Manhattan

The bus ride from JFK to Port Authority Terminal is approximately 60 minutes give or take depending on the traffic.

From here you will walk approximately one minute to the 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station. This subway station operates the 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, Q, R, W, and S subway lines.

The easiest route is taking the C train at 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station to Jay Metro Tech Station where you transfer to the R train to Union Street Station in Gowanus.

This is the most direct route and is around a 35-45-minute journey from 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station.

Another easy option, if you don’t have too much luggage, is to walk 6 minutes from Port Authority Terminal to Times Square – 42nd Street Station where you can get on the Q train towards Downtown & Brooklyn to Atlantic Terminal where you can transfer to the R train to your final point in Gowanus. This route takes around 4o minutes.

We do recommend plugging in your directions in Google Maps as well so that you can see which route via 42 St- Port Authority Subway Station you need to get on as it varies depending on the next departing train and your final point in Gowanus and there are a few routes.

This route has a discounted rate, you can purchase those tickets here.

Via JFK to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan

The bus ride from JFK to Grand Central Terminal is approximately 60 minutes give or take depending on the traffic.

From here you will walk approximately two to three minutes to 42 St – Grand Central Subway Station. This subway station operates the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines.

You’ll want to get on either the 4 or 5 train towards Brooklyn to Atlantic Terminal where you can either transfer to the R line to your final point in Gowanus.

These routes take anywhere from 40-50 minutes.

We do recommend plugging in your directions in Google Maps as well so that you can see which route via 42 St – Grand Central Subway Station you need to get on as it varies depending on the next departing train and your final point in Gowanus.

This route has a discounted rate, you can purchase those tickets here.

Gowanus to JFK: Express Bus & Subway

There are two options from taking the NYC Express Bus from Manhattan to the airport for your Gowanus to JFK journey.

You’ll either need to take the subway in Gowanus to 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station to get to Port Authority Bus Terminal or 42 St – Grand Central Subway Station to get to Grand Central Terminal.

The pickup locations are under each route below. We recommend giving yourself extra time to get from Gowanus to JFK if you choose this option as traffic can wildly vary your time and you don’t want to miss your flight.

Via Port Authority Terminal to JFK

First, you will need to get to Port Authority Terminal in Manhattan. The nearest subway, approximately a one minute walk is the 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station. This subway station operates the 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, Q, R, W, and S subway lines.

You will most likely take the R train at Union Street Station to Jay Metro Tech Station where you will transfer to the C train to 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station. This is the most direct route and is around a 35-45-minute journey to 42 St-Port Authority Subway Station.

Another easy option, if you don’t have too much luggage, is to take the R train at Union Station in Gowanus to Atlantic Terminal, you can transfer to the Q train which will take you to Times Square – 42nd Street Station which is a 6-minute walk to the meeting point. This route takes around 40 minutes.

The bus pick up location is on 42 St between 8th & 9th Avenues in the middle of the block by the steps.

You will want to keep an eye out for red signs and the agent. Their buses are black or white with Golden Touch written on them.

Bring your online confirmation to the Golden Touch Transportation agents to redeem for bus tickets.

The bus runs every 30 minutes and takes approximately 60 minutes, however, if there is bad traffic there could be significant delays. We recommend giving yourself some extra time if you choose this route in case of traffic.

Via Grand Central Terminal to JFK

First, you will need to get to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. The nearest subway, approximately a two to three-minute walk is 42 St – Grand Central Subway Station. This subway station operates the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S subway lines.

You’ll most likely take the R line from Gowanus to Atlantic Terminal and transfer to the 4 or 5 subway lines which will get you to 42 St – Grand Central Subway Station for your meeting point.

This route takes anywhere from 40-50 minutes, we recommend scheduling in a little extra time if you’re not familiar with the NYC subway system.

The NYC Express Bus pick up location is on the corner of 41 Street and Lexington Avenue. The closest address for this location is 140 East 41st Street or The Public House.

You will want to keep an eye out for red signs and the agent. Their buses are black or white with Golden Touch written on them.

Bring your online confirmation to the Golden Touch Transportation agents to redeem for bus tickets.

The bus runs every 30 minutes and takes approximately 60 minutes, however, if there is bad traffic there could be significant delays. We recommend giving yourself some extra time if you choose this route in case of traffic.

Taxi or Rideshare Apps

view of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

The driving distance between JFK to Gowanus is 13-25 miles depending on the route your driver takes as well as traffic conditions. Sometimes taking the longer route by miles is the quickest because of the traffic.

It takes approximately 25 min to drive from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK on a perfect day. Honestly, you should really prepare that the ride will take longer than 30 minutes as traffic patterns can change often. We usually recommend planning for at least an hour if not more.

You really need to plan accordingly by the time of day, especially if you’re going from Gowanus to JFK so you’re not late for your flight.

JFK to Gowanus: Taxi or Rideshare Apps

Taxis at JFK

You can find taxi stands with taxis ready to take you from JFK to Gowanus after you exit your terminal. You can follow signs clearly marked for the taxis and you’ll find a line, or if you’re lucky you can walk right up to the front of the line.

Reservations are not necessary for a taxi, the cabs are waiting to pick up passengers who need them. If there is a line, don’t worry they move pretty quickly. Also, double-check with the driver that someone hasn’t claimed the taxi before hopping in.

Taxis have a flat rate to get from JFK to Brooklyn, between $59 – $64 not including tolls and tips. There is also a surcharge during peak traffic hours from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This will be an additional $4.50 charge.

If you feel like something’s wrong, ask for a receipt and double-check.

Don’t take transportation offers from JFK to Gowanus from solicitors that aren’t the licensed NYC taxis in the taxi stand or an Uber or Lyft that you have ordered. Solicitors that are not licensed is not only dangerous but it’s illegal.

Rideshare App Pickup at JFK

Another great, direct way to get from JFK to Gowanus is via a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft. We like to check rates between the two before ordering our ride as sometimes our account has discount codes activated.

Ride costs can fluctuate depending on various factors like time of day and demand, whether or not you want to carpool with other riders, or if you need a larger car.

For pool rides or regular cars, nonpeak hours fluctuate from $40-$70.*

For luxury cars and larger cars that can fit more people, they can range during nonpeak hours between $80-$160 depending on availability.

These rates do not include tip either!

We recommend ordering your rideshare car once you have your luggage and you’re headed to the designated pick up area.

You can find that in Terminals 1-4 outside from arrivals or baggage claim and for Terminal 5 you can find it outside the departures level.

Always double check your location after you order your car not to cause confusion and never get in a car that doesn’t match the license plate and car matched on your rideshare app.

Read Next: Best Things to do in Gowanus

Gowanus to JFK: Taxi or Rideshare Apps

Taxis in Gowanus

Taxis typically run from $40-$90 depending on a few factors not including tolls or tips. You should be able to find a taxi easily along the busier streets, if you’re close to 4th Avenue then that is where a lot of taxis are typically.

Rideshare App Pickup in Gowanus

What’s nice about rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft is that it will pick you up at your exact location. When you order your car make sure you know which terminal you need to go to as they will take you directly to the correct departing terminal.

We like to check rates between the two before ordering our ride as sometimes our account has discount codes activated. For pool rides or regular cars, nonpeak hours fluctuate from $40-$70.*

For luxury cars and larger cars that can fit more people, they can range during nonpeak hours between $80-$160 depending on availability.

These rates do not include tip either!

Always double check your location after you order your car not to cause confusion and never get in a car that doesn’t match the license plate and car matched on your rideshare app.

Private Airport Transfer

Gowanus Canald and city view in Brooklyn

The driving distance between JFK to Gowanus and Gowanus to JFK is only 13-25 miles depending on the time of day and traffic sometimes it’s better to take the longer mileage route.

It takes approximately 25 min to drive from JFK to Gowanus or Gowanus to JFK on a perfect day. Honestly, you’ll only get these times if you’re coming in the middle of the night. Most other times of the day there’s a considerable amount of traffic and you should expect some delays and allow for at least an hour if not more.

What’s nice about a private airport transfer is that your driver will deal with everything. If you’re going from JFK to Gowanus you just have to tell them your flight information is and they will be waiting for you with a sign with your name just like in the movies.

Plus, there’s no lugging around your luggage!

From Gowanus to JFK you can let the driver know what time your flight is and they will know what time to pick you up with variables like traffic in mind and get you to JFK airport on time for your flight.

Book your private car transfer to ease stress and confusion over public transportation as well as have more of a white-glove service during your travels with comfort.

If you need anything, the private car transfers also of 24/7 customer service. The price you pay includes tolls, taxes, and tip!

The private transfers can also accommodate for accessibility, however, they need a 3-day notice so they can arrange for the proper car.

Read Next: 100+ Awesome Things to do in Brooklyn

What to Pack

Scott walking in Brooklyn at Gowanus

Whether you’re going from Gowanus to JFK or JFK to Gowanus these are essential items to pack for any city trip or trip to the airport. See our full guide for what to pack for Brooklyn for more ideas.

This Pacsafe Shoulder Bag slings over your body and is the perfect size to carry your day essentials while exploring Brooklyn. This lightweight bag has anti-theft features so you can enjoy Brooklyn with ease of mind with Pacsafe’s anti-theft patent products whether you’re in a crowded area or on the subway.

This Pacsafe Anti-theft Backpack is another essential for Brooklyn or any city trip. This backpack has a patented anti-theft design with lockable zippers and slash-proof material in this sleek and comfortable designed backpack.

Avoid high tech thieves with this 15 pack of RFID blocking sleeves that doesn’t require you to buy a special travel wallet, you can carry your favorite purse, wallet, or backpack by simply putting your credit cards and sensitive information in these RFID blocking sleeves.

Upgrade your wallet with this RFID Blocking Wallet by Pacsafe is the perfect pick. Always have your identification, bank cards, and credit cards protected from high tech thieves with this RFID blocking wallet in this sleek and slim design.

One of the best ways to keep valuables safe when you travel is this Portable Safe by Pacsafe. This is ideal when you’re hotel has a safe that is too small for your belongings, with it’s sleek and compact design so it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage offering maximum security with its stainless steel wire mesh covered in a piece of cut-resistant canvas fabric. You simply lock this portable safe to a secure fixture in your hotel room when you leave.

This iPhone crossbody case is perfect for sightseeing as you can easily grab your phone for that perfect photo moment on the fly as well as keep your phone secured to your body and safe from pickpockets!

We recommend Allbirds Women’s Wool Runner as well as the Allbirds Men’s Wool Runner for an everyday walking shoe that’s breathable, comfortable, and feels like you’re walking on clouds. Your back and feet will thank us later, plus they are all the rage in the city at the moment.

A good reusable water bottle is one of the best things you can have in your day bag or on you at all times, plus New York City has some of the best drinking water in the country, cut back on single-use plastic and have a good reusable water bottle for your trip.

Don’t leave the house without a good power bank. Don’t spoil your fun exploring all the fun neighborhoods and things to see in Brooklyn by having your battery die on you. If you’re anything like me you’ll be using your phone to take photos, navigate, and post to social media while you’re exploring.

When it comes to the city, this weather is not forgiving and you don’t want to get caught out and about in the rain without an umbrella. That’s why we recommend this compact wind resistant travel umbrella for what to pack for Brooklyn.

Are you a sensitive sleeper?  A good pair of earplugs are essential for your Brooklyn or city trip, especially if you’re not from a big city.

Travel Insurance is one of the most important things travelers can get. If you’re traveling over 100 miles away from home, you should get travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because you can buy anytime before or during your trip no matter where you are.

Covering everything from lost or stolen documents, electronics, or if you get sick unexpectedly, don’t leave home without it!

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