If you’re making a long layover, where’s the best place to stop? From the East Coast to the West Coast, these are the best stopover airports in the United States.
Factors that contribute to delays are severely impacted during the holiday season. More travelers means slower passage through lines and security checkpoints, and the cold winter months can increase wait times and canceled reservations. All of this adds up to unplanned time at unfamiliar airports. If you’re planning a long layover halfway through the season, where’s the best place to stop? We looked at airport facilities from the East Coast to the West Coast to find the best U.S. airports for stopovers.
Austin is home to about 2,000 bands and performers in this music city. Every week, 27 artists perform at Austin Airport – it may not be a glamorous show for musicians, but it’s certainly a boon for passengers. While waiting for your flight, you can catch free live music at Saxon Pub, Annie’s café and Bar, Tacodeli, Haymaker and Hut’s several times a week.
Chicago O’Hare has more than three times the flight delays of Midway. So the amenities at this airport really come in handy. ORD is known for its extensive public art collection, which provides visual appeal to airport visitors. Head to Terminal 1 in Concourse b to see the carpal tunnel skeleton model, and don’t miss The Sky’s The Limit, a 745-foot-long (180 meters) kinetic light sculpture located in Terminal 1 between Concourse b and Concourse c. Terminal 1, between Plaza B and Plaza C. When traveling, it’s hard to know whether to leave the airport or wait comfortably for a long time. With the first airplane garden at any airport in the world, passengers can at least feel like they’re outside. Head to the loft level of the O’Hare Rotunda Building to see the greenery, get a little fresh air and enjoy a nice meal. o’Hare’s restaurant uses some of the vegetables and herbs grown in the garden, so your meal can even count as a farm-to-table meal.
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
Dallas has all the standard amenities of larger airports – like yoga studios and showers – but you don’t have to go to an in-airport hotel to rest. Travelers can rent bedrooms by the hour. Budget travelers can head to the free lounge area and enjoy ambient lighting, lounge seating and charging stations. But passengers can also get an adrenaline rush caused by playing games in the two Gameway entertainment lounges. Each lounge has 36 game stations with a leather chair, an Xbox One with games, a 43-inch TV, and sound-cancelling headphones.
Denver International Airport
This Rocky Mountain city makes sure travelers love winter, even if it causes delays in their travel. Each winter, the airport installs a free ice skating rink between the terminal and the Westin Hotel, which is open from late November through the end of January. In other seasons, this plaza hosts a pop-up park with trees native to Colorado, and a beer garden. Denver Airport’s therapy dog team also has a unique twist: It includes one hundred dogs and one cat, all of which are directed around the terminal to ease travelers’ nerves.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
In this snowy region, weather delays are inevitable. The Detroit airport has free WiFi, a 24-hour restaurant, and a self-reflection room to ease the stress of weary passengers. It’s also a great place to take a walk: a 700-foot tunnel connects concourse b/c with concourse a and the McNamara terminal. It’s a home to LED light displays that feel like you’re living in a kaleidoscope.
San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco’s airport has so many passenger amenities that it feels like a hotel: free WiFi, baggage storage, (paid) showers, charging stations, a yoga studio with mats, and a children’s play area open 24 hours a day. To entertain the kids, there is an aviation museum in the airport, and a self-guided educational tour. The friendly canine “Wag Brigade” roams the airport, giving passengers something to cheer about, but LiLou, the therapy pig, seriously ups the cute ante.
Minneapolis St. Paul Airport
At MSP Airport, travelers can take a 1.5-mile walking route along the perimeter of the airport. If travelers want to get away from the airport for a while, Minneapolis’ Mall of America is just a three-stop light rail ride from the airport. Hundreds of stores, a movie theater and Nick’s Theme Park are all just 12 minutes away.
This airport is filled with artwork from local, regional, national and international artists. Constantly changing exhibitions keep the visuals fresh, so travelers can see new works each time they fly or return home. Pittsburgh has joined San Diego and Tampa International Airports in hosting an Art Village program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. If travelers want to participate in this event, they can head to Paint Monkey, a do-it-yourself painting studio where they can paint a canvas bag to tuck their luggage into before taking off.