The busiest airports in the U.S now offer a wide array of activities, exceptional food, and even flights of wine to take the sting out of your next layover.
Show of hands: How many of you actually enjoy spending time at the airport?
We didn't think so. But that may changing. While airport "entertainment" once consisted of only bars and chain restaurants, today many airports offer a number of fun ways to chill while you’re waiting to fly out. Here’s how to get the most out of a layover the next time you fly from one of the five busiest U.S. airports.
1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
With more than 100 million passengers visiting it in 2017, Atlanta’s international airport is the busiest airport in the world, according to Airports Council International.
Flying with Fido? Check out the 1,000-square foot fenced-in dog park, which is part of the ground transportation center in Domestic Terminal South. It features flowers, grass, rocks, and benches—and has biodegradable waste bags for easy pet cleanup.
History buffs should check out "A Walk Through Atlanta History." Located in the Transportation Mall between Concourses B and C, the multimedia installation uses video, audio, murals, and photographs to take you through key periods in Atlanta’s development.
Have time to enjoy a fine dining meal? Hit up One Flew South in Concourse E. This critically acclaimed restaurant specializes in cuisine inspired by world travels, and it has a cocktail list that pays tribute to the flying boats (‘Floatplanes’) that carried wealthy passengers from Miami to Nassau and Havana so they could drink legally during the Prohibition era.
Art lovers will enjoy the airport’s permanent exhibit, “Zimbabwe Sculpture: a Tradition in Stone,” which features 20 stone sculptures from the South African country. Find it in the transportation mall between concourses A and T.
2. Los Angeles International Airport
Over 84 million people visited LAX in 2017. The second largest airport in the U.S., Los Angeles's main airport has an array of food and entertainment options for travelers.
The size of three football fields, the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) serves as the "Rodeo Drive" of LAX. It boasts tons of shops, including Fred Segal, which sells trendy clothing, accessories, and grooming products, and Sunset Strip's famous bookstore Book Soup. The caveat: it's not connected to any other terminal, so to visit from another terminal you'll have to go through security again.
Wine aficionados will enjoy Vino Volo, a wine bar that offers vintages from around the world and a food menu of locally sourced cheeses, smoked salmon rolls, and other light bites. Find it in the TBIT.
Need to pick up a snack for your flight? Los Angeles’ Original Farmers Market has a store in Terminal 5 where you can choose from a broad selection of meals, snacks, wine, and coffee from local vendors.
3. Chicago O'Hare International Airport
This is a major connecting airport for destinations in the Midwest. It’s also not a bad airport to be stuck in.
Parents traveling with children should take them to the Kids on the Fly interactive play area, which features child-sized model airplanes and a control tower. Find it in Terminal 2.
Enjoy the stunning display of 466 squiggly neon tubes above a moving walkway in "The Sky's the Limit,” a mile-long neon light sculpture that connects concourses B and C in Terminal 1.
Don’t depart without stopping by one of the airport’s Garrett Popcorn shops, located in Terminals 2 and 3. Go for the Chicago staple’s Garrett Mix, a combination of handcrafted cheddar and caramel popcorn.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Spanning more than 17,000 acres, the busiest airport in Texas is also the fourth most-visited airport in the country. In fact, because of its size, it has its own postal code.
Find your happy place before you board a plane for a long trip by doing some pre-flight stretches in the free 24-hour yoga studio, tucked between Terminals B and D.
View works from more than 30 local, national and international artists in the International Terminal D. Also, check out the sculpture garden just outside the Terminal D parking garage on the arrivals level.
Let your kids burn off energy in Terminal B’s Junior Flyer Club, a 685 square-foot aviation themed play area.
5. Denver International Airport
A hub for Frontier Airlines and United, this Colorado airport handled more than 61 million passengers in 2017.
Eat like a local at the popular Colorado burger chain Smashburger in Concourse C, Elway’s steakhouse Concourse B, or Root Down, a veggie-centric restaurant in Concourse C that serves up tasty dishes like thai carrot curry and roasted beets with seed pesto and basil vinaigrette.
Take in a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains at the west end of Terminal C. While you’re there, grab some reading material for your flight at Denver’s famous Tattered Cover Book Store outpost.
Sip a glass of wine Lounge 5280 in Concourse B. Rated one of the best airport bars in the U.S., the establishment offers hand-picked wine selections from around the world and a beer list highlighting Colorado's craft brewers.