Even the most avid travelers can have their enthusiasm dampened by endless security lines, delayed flights, and interminable layovers. Luckily, more airports are figuring out that passengers on a layover shouldn’t feel like they’ve been trapped in Dante’s 9 circles of hell! So we’re doing a countdown of the best airports US Airports to get stuck in. These airports offer pretty awesome layover experiences for travelers passing through them and are a destination in themselves.
Over the past decade, there’s been a concerted effort to make airports more welcoming and hospitable. As a result, airports across the US now offer a wide range of amenities. These include free Wifi, nap pods, soothing spas, fantastic food, premium shopping, and yoga rooms. Some airports, of course, do more than others. So we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best airports in the US where layovers seem like mini-vacations.
Denver International is the largest airport in the US by total area at an enormous 53 square miles! Yet, despite its enormous size, travelers find it easy to navigate and find their way around. Here are some of the things that got Denver Airport onto our list of the best US airports to get stuck in:
- The striking white canopied roof lets in loads of natural light and lowers electricity and natural gas usage.
- A pet resort – Paradise 4 Paws- offers private suites and even massages for your four-legged friends.
- You’ll take in several permanent and rotating art exhibits, including the interactive and chatty gargoyle. The gargoyle is just one among many nods to the airport’s wild conspiracy theories.
- During summer, the outdoor plaza hosts mini-golf and lawn games and, in winter, offers an ice rink.
- Tuck into some great food at any of the restaurants offering local cuisine or airport staples.
- Down a pint or three at one of the 6 breweries scattered across the airport.
Just 5 miles downtown of Vegas, McCarran International Airport is one of two US Airports that allows gambling! Its’ directly across the street from famed casinos like the Luxor. Travelers will not find themselves wondering what to do at the Las Vegas Airport. Here’s what travelers like about the McCarran Airport:
- There are over 1,400 slot machines throughout the airport where you can try your luck.
- McCarran boasts of an interesting aviation museum that you can visit for free.
- LAS Airport has partnered with Google to make a Google Map version of the entire airport, making it easy to navigate.
- Unique artwork, including tons of wildlife, fluid, and glass sculptures, adorn the airport.
- Walking paths ranging from 0.5-1.5 miles in length encourage airport fitness and help you loosen your muscles.
- With 52 shopping and 104 dining outlets, you won’t find any shortage of things to do here.
San Francisco International Airport is probably one of the most hi-tech airports in the country. But that’s not the only reason why travelers love this airport. The wide range of amenities and stores make the longest layovers enjoyable at SFO. Here are some of the things that helped bump San Francisco Airport into our list of the best US airports to get stuck in:
- Admire the multi-colored fish and sea creatures at the Steinhart Aquarium branch in the airport.
- Flex and stretch your muscles in the peace and quiet of the airport’s two yoga rooms.
- Potter around the aviation exhibits at the SFO Museum, the first museum of its kind in an international airport.
- Enjoy live music by local musicians and bands at stages set up throughout the airport.
- According to popular opinion, the real pièce de résistance at SFO is the food and drink, with most eateries being branches of popular local restaurants.
- Free high-speed Wifi is available all through the airport and even extends to the planes waiting to take off or land.
Travelers seem to love the Portland Airport, which probably explains all the awards it’s garnered – crowned the best airport in the US by Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler multiple times! PDX is probably one of the few airports you’ll want to arrive a few hours early. Here’s what makes the Portland Airport so popular:
- Sample some of the best craft beer in America at the outposts of local breweries, or try some whiskey at the world’s first airport distillery tasting room, House Spirits.
- There are three airline lounges at the Portland Airport, all of which will allow economy passengers in on purchasing a day pass.
- Free Wifi has been available throughout the airport here for almost a decade!
- Portland Airport has a highly-regarded food selection with plenty of locally-sourced food and international cuisine, all for the same price as their off-airport locations.
- Shop to your heart’s content – there’s no sales tax in Oregon, and there’s no need to go through an annoying duty-free process.
- Watch short movies by Oregon filmmakers at the 17-seater micro-cinema, Hollywood Theater.
- Check out the rotating art exhibits or the live music shows while you’re there.
The Phoenix Sky Harbor is located in the middle of it all – only a little over 4 miles from downtown Phoenix; it’s just minutes from Scottsdale and Tempe. Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport prides itself on being ‘America’s friendliest airport,’ and most passengers seem to agree that it is the best US airport to get stuck in. Here are some things you can do at Sky Harbor airport that make a traveler’s favorite:
- Enjoy the artwork – you’ll find Phoenix Airport Museum exhibits throughout the airport.
- Relax in comfort at one of the 6 lounges, with 4 of which you can purchase day passes. However, you may not need one – the airport has plenty of seating (though fitted with armrests).
- Get in your steps at the FitPHX walkway, with connects Gates A30 and D80.
- Let your pets stretch their legs at any of the 7 pet relief areas that offer areas that offer water and toilet facilities.
- Let your children run around in the play areas with padded and safe gear.
- Sample some delicious local cuisine from authentic Mexican to popular local dining spots, from all-American to vegan.
- The automated PHX Sky Train offers free, 24-hour rides to the airport terminals and the East Economy Lot and links up with Valley Metro Rail and city bus service.
So, the next time you plan your travel, including a layover, if it’s at any of the above best US Airports to get stuck in, it’s a safe bet!
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 airport parking spot online.