A few years ago, I couldn’t wait to leave the airport, but all that’s changed, thanks to new terminals and amenities. This past November, a mix-up from an airline left me with a mere hour to spare post-flight before I had to attend my brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner… Thankfully, I was at one of the best airports in the U.S. and could get a blowout on a moment’s notice. And if you happen to be wondering, I arrived on time with perfectly coiffed locks, thank you very much.
When we use the phrase “best U.S. airports,” it can mean a lot of things—top-notch amenities, innovative restaurants, shortest security lines… The list goes on, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today because let’s be real, you’re always going to fly out of the airport closest to you (or you could do this to score the cheapest fair). Instead, we’d like to focus on the top six airports in the U.S. that you wouldn’t mind spending a long layover (or delay) in. From an in-airport museum to rentable sleep pods, you won’t believe what we found.
For Party Animals: Las Vegas (LAS)
No one ever wants to leave Sin City (come on—it has all-day pool parties, high-class dining, and gambling galore). But sometimes you’ve got to leave. The good news is that if you get stuck in McCarran International Airport, you can always hit up the slot machines there, too. Yes, you heard that right. And the best part is that you don’t need to stick to one main area: All 1300 slot machines are dispersed throughout the airport. Fingers crossed you’ll turn out like one traveler who took home $3.9 million on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine.
For Beauty Lovers: San Diego (SAN)
Have you ever jetted off to the airport only to realize you have a chipped mani? That’s what the gorgeous, inviting Be Relax beauty bar in Terminal 2 at San Diego’s International Airport is for. It also offers massages and pedicures if you have a little extra time to spare.
For Anxious Travelers: Dallas (DFW)
If you get anxiety before you board a plane, you’re not alone. Thankfully, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s K9 Crew of 12 therapy dogs roam the airport in their signature harnesses so you can spot them for a cheer-up session. There are now designated areas in the airport’s Terminal B so you can have a calming moment before or after your flight.
For Foodies: New Orleans, Louisiana (MSY)
The yummy cuisine doesn’t stop until you’ve officially jetted out of NOLA. Stop by Dooky Chase’s for some crispy fried chicken, hit up Zatarain’s for some jambalaya or gumbo, and then grab a beignet for dessert at West Beignets. (Okay, its beignets are no Café du Monde, but the French-style doughnuts will do until your next trip to the Big Easy).
For Nap Enthusiasts: Atlanta (ATL)
You know the deal: You stayed up late to pack, you had to get up extra early, or maybe you’re just tired. Point being, you want a nap. Other than having to take a quick snooze with your head awkwardly resting on your travel pillow, ATL offers its flyers private sleep pods through Minute Suites where they can catch some z’s right in Concourse B. If you just want a little privacy, you can also rent a pod out to relax and watch TV or get some work done (they’ll even provide you with a desk). At $42 for your first hour, this is something we can get behind.
For Gallery Regulars: San Francisco (SFO)
Calling all artistic types: San Francisco International Airport was the first airport in the world to be named an accredited museum (how cool is that?). SFO Museum was founded in 1980 in what is now Terminal 3, but over the years the exhibits have spread to all areas of the building (including outside). Current exhibitions include The Typewriter: An Innovation in Writing and Elaine Mayes: It Happened in Monterey, among many others. Chances are that since they’re constantly on rotation, you’ll never see the same one twice.
Pack Your Bags
Do you have a favorite U.S. airport, and if so, why?