We plan out each and every … well, almost every … aspect of our travel. What to pack, how to get to the airport, where to sit on the plane, how to get to our destination. Yet rarely do we plan out how to spend our time at the airport before leaving on our flight.
Many airports are like a shopping mall, restaurant row and cultural experience – all under one roof. Beyond crawling through long security lines and running to our gates, it can be surprising to discover all the experiences airports may offer.
During the holiday season you’re likely to arrive at your airport earlier than normal, so why not add a bit of planning to this part of your travel? You’ll not only realize aspects to your airport you may never have known about, you may even find reasons to head to the airport on non-travel days to visit the pre-security amenities.
Here’s a rundown of a host of U.S. airports with links to their websites, which offer a list of stores, restaurants and things to do:
Albany – Albany International Airport – ALB. Did you know they have a Departure Museum Shop?
Albuquerque – Albuquerque International Sunport – ABQ. Check out their meditation room – especially great during holiday travel stress!
Atlanta – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – ATL. Lots of art, stores, mother’s nursing pods … even a piano player.
Austin – Austin-Bergstrom International Airport – AUS. Check out their monthly music schedule of local musicians.
Baltimore – Baltimore/Washington International – BWI offers the Benson Hammond House, located on a corner of the airport grounds. The house is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Birmingham – Birmingham-Shuttlesworth InternationalAirport – BHM. Check out their art display.
Boston – Boston Logan International Airport – BOS. In addition to eating great seafood, check out their rotating exhibitions and community art.
Cincinnati – Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport – CVG. Their front-page display of the number of available parking spaces is helpful!
Columbus – John Glenn Columbus International Airport – CMH. View the walking timeline of the airport from its opening in 1929 to present day.
Dayton – Dayton International Airport – DAY offers a meditation room and cultural arts galleries.
Denver – Denver International Airport – DEN. Check out their Open Windows light display, an interactive digital experience combining art, entertainment and technology.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport – FLL offers a full list of shops, restaurants and services for each terminal.
Greensboro, North Carolina/Greater Triad – Piedmont Triad International Airport – GSO offers an art walking tour.
Honolulu – Honolulu International Airport – HNL offers a business center and a casual dining venue featuring local, farm-grown, sustainable products supporting local farmers.
Jacksonville – Jacksonville InternationalAirport – JAX. Two art galleries with rotating exhibitions.
Kansas City – Kansas City International Airport – MCI offers restaurants and shops.
Los Angeles – Los Angeles International Airport – LAX has rotating art exhibitions featuring local and regional artists, permanent art installations, and cultural performances, in addition to an extensive search feature to find various amenities.
Louisville – Louisville International Airport – SDF offers restaurants and shops.
Memphis – Memphis International Airport – MEM offers restaurants and shops and also a Blue Suede Service volunteer group that offers a wealth of local knowledge and aviation expertise.
Miami – Miami International Airport – MIA offers an airport app listing their services.
Milwaukee – General Mitchell International Airport – MKE offers the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, an aviation museum.
Minneapolis – Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport – MSP offers an airport app listing their services, “Fly” – a digital travel and lifestyle magazine, a video arcade, and a great search engine for finding finding restaurants and stores by airport location.
Nashville – Nashville International Airport – BNA offers live music across four stages located in the terminal with 80 to 100 bands playing throughout the year. They also have rotating public art exhibits and permanent art acquisitions appearing throughout the terminal, including the ticketing lobby and even the rental car facility.
Orlando – Orlando International Airport Here’s info on MCO’s app, radio station, Delta’s “mini movie theatre” and more: Airport Secrets: Reduce Your Travel Stress Inside Orlando International Airport
Philadelphia – Philadelphia International Airport – PHL offers a nationally recognized, award-winning visual arts initiative with its Art Exhibitions Program.
Phoenix – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – PHX offers a unique artistic and cultural heritage museum.
Raleigh/Durham – Raleigh-Durham International Airport – RDU offers a full list of shopping and dining along with a flower shop and spa.
Sacramento – Sacramento International Airport – SMF offers a museum-worthy public art collection.
St. Louis – Lambert-St Louis International Airport – STL offers a full list of shopping and dining experiences, as well as offering special event, business, and private gathering spaces.
San Antonio – San Antonio International Airport – SAT offers art in the airport, including the “Suitcase Wheel” — a 16-foot diameter wheel made of 75 vintage Samsonite suitcases stacked face to face together by an internal metal ring.
San Francisco – San Francisco International Airport – SFO offers tips for business travelers, traveling with kids and more. Also has an aviation museum and library as well as a reflection room.
San Jose – Mineta San Jose International Airport – SJC offers a public art display and massage chairs.
Seattle – Seattle–Tacoma International Airport – SEA offers a list of shopping both pre-security and post-security.
Tampa – Tampa International Airport – TPA offers a list of restaurants, shops and airport events.
Washington, D.C. – Reagan National Airport – DCA offers an exhibits hall and arts program. Dulles International Airport– IAD offers both an interactive and printable directory of their shops, restaurants and other offerings, including current promotions.
Wichita – Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport – ICT. Ranked among the best of the small airports in the United States, it offers massage chairs and a business center.
Enjoy the airports you’ll be traveling through in ways you might not have imagined!
Previously published on BizWomen | The Business Journals