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The top 8 airports for a long layover

A long layover can make the already strenuous process of air travel feel endless. We looked into which domestic airports help you pass the hours, adding to your leisure time instead of subtracting from it.

If you’re getting ready to book a relaxing summer vacation, take note: Some airports are actually pretty fun during long layovers. Here are eight domestic airports that have amenities you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a travel hub.

1. Denver International Airport (DEN)


Image: Wars/Wikimedia Commons

DEN has one of the largest collections in the world of artwork on display in a public airport. You’re basically flying into a museum of local art and history. You can also take a long walk up and down the half-mile-long terminals to combat flight fatigue and catch a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains.

2. Nashville International Airport (BNA)


Image: Paul Nicholson/Flickr

Four words: drinks on the go. Last year, BNA received an airport-wide liquor license, meaning you can pick up a drink and take it anywhere within the terminal. Add to that several live music venues throughout the airport, and your long layover might feel more like a night out in college.

3. Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport (MSP)

Mall of America

Image: Michael Ocampo/Flickr

If you love to shop, flying through MSP might be the highlight of your trip. You can jump on a 12-minute light rail ride to the Mall of America, basically the world’s biggest playground for shopaholics. MSP also offers a 1.4-mile walking path in Terminal 1, perfect for letting the kids run around or exercising your travel-weary legs.

4. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)


Image: Eric Salard/Flickr

ATL knows what today’s travelers need most — ample charging stations, free Wi-Fi and cushy seating. The shopping and dining amenities don’t go above and beyond standard fare, but as far as pure ease of making connections, this Delta hub consistently beats out the competition.

5. McCarran International Airport (LAS)


Image: Craig Howell/Flickr

Who needs an actual casino when this Las Vegas airport has slot machines scattered throughout the terminals? Art lovers (and those under 21) who would prefer to skip over the gambling can choose from a variety of exhibits, and aviation geeks will want to check out the 3,000-square-foot Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum.

6. Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW)


Image: Ines Hegedus-Garcia/Flickr

With its central location, plenty of east-west travelers find themselves with a layover in Dallas. Get a little namaste on the go with a full yoga studio, and follow it up with a massage from one of the licensed massage therapists located in various hotspots around the airport. If you’ll be there for several hours, consider booking a Minute Suite — micro hotel room that offers a private spot to shower and take a quick nap between flights.

7. Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)


Image: Ken Mayer/Flickr

BWI offers something truly unique — bike rentals that let you outside the airport and onto a 12.5-mile bike trail, connecting travelers to an aviation observation area. You can spend the bulk of your layover out in the sunshine and fresh air instead of pacing back and forth between newsstands. Just be sure to reserve your bike in advance — they only have 10 in rotation.

8. San Francisco International Airport (SFO)


Image: David Lytle/Flickr

If you’re booking a family trip across the Pacific, choose SFO to ensure your kids won’t get bored — no matter how long the layover. SFO features two airplane-themed play areas, a full aviation library, various museum exhibits and DVD player and movie rentals. Additionally, over a dozen airport eateries offer special menus for children with fun, kid-friendly meal options. You can also ride around on the AirTrain between terminals, which will give your plane-loving brood great views of the airfield.

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