What if you have a day to spend sightseeing but need to store your luggage? Your options are rather limited, but there are solutions.
Established in 2013, Short-Term Stow
offers convenient daily storage for all types of people visiting New York City -- tourists, job-seekers, event-goers and anyone else looking for a simple way to keep personal items safe. Short-Term Stow also provides check-in and/or print options for entertainment (concerts, sporting events, theatre, etc.), transportation (air, bus, train, etc.) and other travel-related needs. Short-Term Stow is conveniently located at 270 West 36th Street, which is near Grand Central Station, Penn Station, Times Square and other New York City landmarks. Reservations can be made via payment in-store or online
Most of Manhattan's finer hotels have a luggage storage room. If your hotel does not store luggage, you might ask the concierge of a nearby one that does. You might also find that a generous tip can possibly help find you a solution if the hotel clerk hasn't got an answer. However, less expensive hotels might not be of any help at all, at which point you need to consider other options.
On a similar note, if you just stepped off a cruise ship and have eight hours before your flight, what to do? If you are the persuasive sort and well-dressed, you likely could store your luggage at a four-star hotel simply by approaching the concierge. Again, a generous tip would be in order, in addition to any fee the hotel might charge.
A mention of places that currently do NOT store luggage: The Port Authority Bus Terminal; LaGuardia Airport; and Newark Airport. Advance airline check-in does not function here as it does in some European countries, whereby your luggage can be delivered to the airline 24 hours in advance. Thus, an early trip to the airport would be a waste of time anyhow. Some foreign carriers do make special arrangements for their first-class passengers; inquire of the airline.
Although JFK airport does have two luggage storage facilities, unless you intend to fly into JFK and fly out again from JFK, it's a waste of your time to travel so far just to store your luggage. This service is most useful if you have just arrived after a long-haul international flight and have a day to spend before your onward connection. At the Terminal 4 Arrivals area, the facility operates 24 hours per day, and charges $4.00 to $16.00 per day depending on the size of your luggage. For more information, phone (718) 751-4020. The facility in Terminal 1, located near Alitalia and Olympic Airlines in the Arrivals area, operates from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, also charges $4.00 to $16.00 per day depending on the size of your luggage. For more information, phone (718) 751-2947.
Pennsylvania Station does store luggage, but the facility can be hard to find. Do ask a uniformed Amtrak employee for assistance at the station if you have difficulty finding it. Generally, you need to be able to present a train ticket to use this service, but not always. Costs are moderate. This option is most useful if you intend to travel via Amtrak, or if you will take NJ Transit/AirTrain to Newark Airport.
Due to heightened security concerns, museums are now more reluctant to store big items. Certainly if you arrive with three suitcases you will have an extremely difficult time convincing the museum staff to accept your luggage. But one medium-sized backpack or suitcase with wheels and carrying handle might be perfectly acceptable. Usually museums store luggage for free.
You might also try the coat check facility of a well-known restaurant, although this could require some persuasion and a generous tip. While a decent-looking suitcase on wheels might be fine, more than that likely would be unacceptable. A generous tip is appropriate, especially if you have no intention of eating at the restaurant. Do if you intend to return at an off-hour such as 4 p.m. ensure the restaurant does not close in the mid-afternoon!
In sum, with a bit of planning you can arrange to store your luggage should you find you have a day or so to spend in New York minus your possessions. A final note: Always lock your luggage before storing it! Even though United States air transportation policy no longer allows you to lock your checked luggage, things unfortunately do occasionally disappear in hotel facilities. Obviously under no circumstances should you leave any valuables your luggage (camera, passport, money).