Being stuck at the LAX airport with nothing much to do can turn your travel experience in the City of Angels hellish! Lately, this colossal airport no longer induces dread in travelers who have to endure a layover at LAX Airport. If you know where to go inside and near the airport, you can even turn your LAX layover into a mini-getaway!
LAX or Los Angeles International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world. LAX has 9 terminals and 132 gates, all laid out in the shape of a horseshoe! You can easily travel between the terminals by hopping the terminal shuttle that runs every 10 minutes (you’ll find them under the blue ‘LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections’ signs). If you’d prefer to walk, there are walkways and tunnels connecting Terminals 1 to 8, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Need to get out of the airport? Try the Metro Bus/Rail or the Flyaway Bus for an inexpensive ride to LA hotspots. Hire an Uber or Lyft if you’re short on time and willing to spend a little extra. There’s a whole lot to do in and around the LAX airport, depending on the duration of your LAX layover.
Here’s our list of the top 7 things to do while on a layover at LAX Airport.
1. Grab great grub
From upscale international to authentic local, LAX has it all! In fact, the list of great food joints at LAX is so extensive that we’ve decided to break it down by terminals. Here’s how you can eat your way through your LAX Layover!
Trejos Tacos dishes up an intriguing array of tacos with unconventional ingredients like jackfruit, cauliflower, chicken tikka, and mushroom asada. You can also choose from a selection of bowls, burritos, or quesadillas. For something a little more traditional, try the classic cheeseburgers and patty melts at Cassell’s. There’s also an Urban Market Grab and Go that offers fresh sandwiches, salads, parfaits, and caffeine fixes you can enjoy on the go.
Try the fantastic Clobster Grilled Cheese sandwich (it has lobster, crab, in a creamy herb sauce!), lobster rolls, or fish-and-chips at the seafood Slapfish Modern Seafood Shack. Build your own burger at Built Custom burgers. You can choose from a wide range of beef, turkey, and veggie options. Pick Up Stix offers affordable Asian comfort food like wontons and egg rolls.
If you’re worried about piling on the pounds while traveling, then the Earthbar with its fruit smoothies, wraps, and sandwiches will ease your mind. Another diet-friendly option, The Parlor gastropub, offers quinoa and kale salad and tuna, turkey, and chicken BLT sandwiches. There’s also a Shake Shack for burgers, and shakes, and La Familia, for Latin fusion cuisine plus 80 or more tequila varieties!
Head over to Homeboy Café for super-fat wraps, sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and fresh orange juice. Munch on the famous French dip sandwich at Cole’s or try the spicy garlic fries or even spicier Atomic Pickles. For a slightly more upscale experience head over to Campanile, the LAX outlet of chef Mark Peel’s renowned La Brea eatery. If you want to avoid sugary, fatty food, Real Food Daily offers tofu, veggies, and organic menu items.
If you feel like sampling French cuisine while on your layover at LAX, you can’t go wrong with the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market & Bistro’s extensive collection of cheeses and charcuterie. Terminal 5 also plays host to Farmers Market to Go, which is a food court with a kombucha bar. Ford’s Filling Station is where you’ll get breakfast pizza with sunny-side-up eggs! Lemonade serves up Southern California–inspired comfort food, including salads, sandwiches, and poke bowls. The Dog Bakery even has treats for traveling pups!
Celeb chef Fabio Vivani’s Osteria serves steak and eggs all through the day, besides other popular choices like the Osteria, the meatless Impossible Burger, fried calamari, and truffle potato skins. Point the Way Café offers a casual dining experience with flatbreads, sandwiches, and craft beers.
If you have a hankering for steak head straight to the B Grill by BOA Steakhouse to feast on a steak and eggs breakfast or petit filet with red wine butter. Ashland Hill offers Intelligentsia-brand coffee and delicious avocado toast. Loteria Grill offers tasty Mexican fare including burritos, enchiladas, and tacos. The Marketplace by Wolfgang Puck provides custom-made pizzas, salads, and sandwiches.
Engine Co. No. 28 serves a range of classic American dishes such as firehouse cobb salad, meatloaf, vegetarian chili, and a wide selection of burgers. The Corona Bar and Grill has a diverse menu that includes vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options for you to enjoy on your layover at LAX Airport.
Tom Bradley International Terminal
The Tom Bradley Terminal is pretty much a foodies paradise with heaps of dining options to choose from. Enjoy fresh-made sushi at Chaya or grab some pre-made sashimi and sushi rolls to go. Celebrity chef Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack serves its bestseller, cold fried chicken sandwich, along with made-to-order banh mi and other small sandwiches. You could also enjoy a touch of decadence at the Petrossian Caviar and Champagne Bar. Relish wood-fired thin-crust pizzas at 800 degrees, or classic America comfort food with a SoCal beach vibe at James Beach. Indulge your sweet tooth with cupcakes, macarons, and cookies Vanilla Bake Shop for or buy to snack on at Treat Me Sweet.
2. Shop like a star
The LAX Airport is a shopaholic’s delight, reflecting the shopping mecca that is Los Angeles. In fact, the Great Hall in the Tom Bradley International Terminal is inspired by the stores on Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive. Some of the stores can explore during your layover at LAX include Burberry, Emporio Armani, Bvlgari, Fred Segal, Porsche Design, Michael Kors, Coach, Gucci, Hermes, Tumi, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Victoria’s Secret, Hugo Boss, and more. If luxury watches are your thing, take your pick from brands like Longines, Chopard, Omega, Hublot, Zenith, and Montblanc. Beauty brands including fragrances and cosmetics by Christian Dior, Bobbi Brown, Crème de La Mer Guerlain, Chanel, Estee Lauder, MAC, as well as local LA brand Smashbox are also available at LAX. LAX also has quite a few Hollywood-themed souvenir shops, surf, and sports stores, as well as the usual books and electronic stores.
3. Indulge in spa therapy
If you need to loosen up and get the kinks out after sitting in an airplane seat (with the prospect of more of the same to come), the XpresSpa offers massages, facials, and even private showers! There’s also a Be Relax Spa that offers mani-pedis and facials. This is the perfect solution to kill time during your LAX layover. You’ll also look refreshed after a long day of travel!
4. Get some shut-eye
Sleeping during your layover at LAX is a bit of a good news-bad news kind of scenario. The good news is that LAX does offer cots and blankets (in limited numbers) for stranded or delayed passengers when flight cancellations occur. The bad news, however, is that most LAX seating comes with armrests! That said, there are a few benches and couches scattered throughout the terminals where you can grab forty winks. Terminals 4 and 7 group chairs in a way that affords some privacy. The Terminal 6 Arrivals Hall has benches without armrests. The quietest part of LAX is where the shuttle buses depart to take passengers to terminals 1, 2, and 3. LAX terminals can tend to get quite cold. So arm yourself with a blanket and warm clothing if you’re planning to sleep here. Carrying some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones is also a good idea.
5. Enjoy the art scene
There’s quite an impressive collection of art scattered throughout LAX Airport. Art lovers can take in exquisite paintings and sculptures located in Terminals 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The art exhibits keep changing, so there is always something new to see here. Aviation geeks will love that there’s a FlightPath Museum here. It is a veritable treasure trove of aeronautical artifacts and history. The airport also provides live music and shows to entertain travelers during their layovers at LAX.
This is probably LAX’s best-kept secret. Did you know that you can use some of the lounges here even if you are an economy-class traveler? The LAX Airport is home to over a dozen lounges. Yes, some of them do restrict entry. However, several lounges will allow access to travelers of all classes for a price. You can simply offer to pay at the door, try to purchase a pass online, or even use a lounge membership program like the Priority Pass. Once you’re in, spend your layover at LAX relaxing in a less noisy ambiance! You can also enjoy the food, drinks, and amenities on offer.
7. Enjoy LA attractions
If you have more than a few hours during your layover at LAX, you can explore the city of Angels! Head over to the Manhattan Beach Pier, which is just a short ride away. El Segundo, only 3 miles from LAX, has some fantastic local brews and food. A 20-minute drive from the LAX airport lies the famous Venice Beach. It’s also a great spot to relax and enjoy the view, sipping on a cold drink. A couple of miles north from Venice Beach lies the picturesque Santa Monica Pier with its Ferris wheel and carnival games.
Hit the tables at Inglewood’s Hollywood Park Casino, just a short drive from LAX, and play blackjack, poker, or party craps. If you have more than a couple of hours to spare, take an uber to Beverly Hills or Hollywood and check out the Walk of Fame. Another option is to visit the Griffith Observatory for its gorgeous views. You could also spend time shopping at Rodeo Drive or The Grove. If you have an entire day at your disposal, you could spend it at any of LA’s famed amusement parks, like Universal Studios Hollywood, or even Disneyland. If you’re feeling a little adventurous and have enough time on hand, you could even consider hiring a car to drive up the Pacific Coast to Malibu!
On the other hand, if you don’t have much time to spare, but still want to get out of the airport, we recommend In-N-Out Burger near LAX. It’s real close and a great option to get a taste of authentic LA as well as their famous burgers!
How much layover time do you need at LAX?
To avoid stress, we recommend that you give yourself at least five hours of layover time at LAX. Airports, such as LAX, are massive. You’ll need the additional time to collect your baggage and find your way to your connecting gate, which may be in another terminal and reachable by shuttle bus.
Remember, there aren’t any physical airside connections connecting any other terminals. Inter-terminal connections between terminals 1, 2, and 3 and between them and the other terminals necessitate passengers to exit security, walk or take a shuttle bus to the other terminal, and then re-clear security.
What can you do at LAX for 5 hours?
There’s plenty of options to eat, drink, relax, and even sleep at LAX during a 5 hour layover. Don’t believe us? Scroll up!
What can you do on a long layover at LAX?
Long or overnight layovers at LAX can be fun and even relaxing. Don’t believe us? Check out our blog on what you can do on an 18-hour overnight layover in LAX.
Can you leave LAX airport during your layover?
We advise you not to leave LAX Airport while on a layover, especially for first-time tourists. US Customs and TSA officials can take more time than you might anticipate.
- If you want to spend time enjoying all that LAX Airport has to offer, reach the airport early. Also, Make sure you book your LAX parking spot ahead of your travel so that there’s no last-minute hurrying.
- Avoid public transportation and services like rideshares or taxis as far as possible. Instead, drive yourself to the airport if you need to catch a flight. You can further minimize your risk by booking your contactless LAX airport parking spot online.