Stuck on a Layover? Secrets to Beat Boredom in 20 Major Airports

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people at the airport in massage chairs
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LEARNING TO LOVE LAYOVERS

On the spectrum of fun, airport layovers fall somewhere between visiting the dentist and doing your taxes. They're an occasionally necessary, but often dreadfully boring part of the travel experience. Although it doesn't have to all be that bad -- if you know a few layover secrets and tricks. Many airports are striving to be more passenger-friendly. Here are some lesser known things to do when stuck in the biggest airports across the U.S. -- from yoga rooms to athletic clubs -- which will make your next airport layover far more bearable.

Experience Canine Therapy In Denver
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EXPERIENCE CANINE THERAPY IN DENVER

Traveling can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. So to help ease travel-related tension on your next layover in Denver International Airport, track down one of the airport's therapy dogs and spend some quality time hugging, petting or even taking a selfie with man's best friend. Members of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (aka CATS) can be seen strolling around the airport wearing "Pet Me" vests.

Movie Theater at Portland International Airport
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TAKE IN A MOVIE AT PORTLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

As part of its art program, the Portland International Airport opened a 17-seat movie theater in early 2017 to show short films that tell stories specific to the Pacific Northwest. Located on Concourse C, the theater is free and allows travelers to drop in and watch a film while waiting for a flight. The films are all family-friendly and play repeatedly on a one-hour loop.

The Massage Bar at Sacramento International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of massagebar.com

GET A MASSAGE IN SACRAMENTO

After being squeezed like sardines in an airplane, work out some of the kinks with a massage at Sacramento International Airport. The Massage Bar has two kiosk locations in Terminal B, one near Gate B8, the other near Gate B14. Seated and foot massages are offered at both locations. Prices start at $18.

Learn about Aeroponic Gardening at Chicago O'Hare
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LEARN ABOUT AEROPONIC GARDENING AT CHICAGO O'HARE

Chicago O'Hare has the distinction of being home to the first aeroponic garden at any airport in the world. Located in the mezzanine level of the O'Hare Rotunda Building, in Terminal 3, visitors can stroll through the garden and learn more about this unique and earth-friendly way of farming. The garden features plant roots suspended in 26 towers that provide more than 1,100 planting spots.

Be, Relax, Spas at San Diego
Photo credit: Be Relax Spa/yelp.com

PAMPER YOURSELF AT THE SPA IN SAN DIEGO

One can never have too many massages. And San Diego International Airport offers another opportunity to be pampered in between flights. There are two Be Relax Spas at the airport, both in Terminal 2. One is located at Gate 26, the other at Gate 36. The spas take relaxation seriously offering back, foot, chair, and table massages, as well as manicures, pedicures, and facials.

Maneki Neko Image SFO Art Exhibit
Photo credit: Courtesy of flysfo.com

TAKE IN THE ART EXHIBITS AT SFO

Indulging in art is yet another way to unplug from the hassle of travel. And at San Francisco International Airport they take their art displays very seriously. Terminals 2 and 3 feature a variety of impressive rotating exhibitions. Between now and Aug. 26, Terminal 2 will showcase an exhibit about "Maneki Neko: Japan’s Beckoning Cat." Through June 12, Terminal 3 is featuring "Thomas Jackson: Emergent Behavior," a collection images inspired by self-organizing, “emergent” systems found in nature such as schooling fish, swarming locusts, or flocking birds.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Fitness Trail
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WALK THE PHOENIX SKY HARBOR FITNESS TRAIL

Located inside Terminal 4, and a little more than one-mile-long, the Sky Harbor Fitness trail is part of FitPHX, a city of Phoenix program designed to keep travelers active in between flights. The trail runs from gate A30 to gate D8 and gives users a chance to exercise, while also providing views of a variety of landmarks including the downtown Phoenix skyline, Camelback Mountain and more. Trail maps are available on the airport website.

Hyatt Regency Hotel in Orlando International Airport
Photo credit: Hyatt Regency Orlando Int’l Airport/yelp.com

RETREAT TO THE DAY USE ROOMS IN ORLANDO

If you have several hours to kill while passing through Orlando International Airport, consider booking a day use room at the Hyatt Regency hotel located inside the airport's main terminal. The hotel offers a large outdoor pool and sundeck, and a 24-hour fitness center, as well as the quiet of your own hotel room, all of which can make a layover much more bearable.

Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum at McCarran International Airport
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EXPLORE AN AVIATION MUSEUM IN NEVADA

The exhibits of the Howard W. Cannon Aviation museum detail southern Nevada's fascinating aviation history. The largest part of the museum's collection can be found in Terminal 1, above baggage claim. Covering about 3,000 square feet, the exhibit showcases aviation history from 1920 through the introduction of jets.

Hilton Athletic Club at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
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SQUEEZE IN A WORK OUT AT CHICAGO O'HARE

Located just across the street from Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the Hilton Athletic Club offers day memberships. For  $20, visitors get access to a full fitness center, pool, sauna and Jacuzzi. If relaxing, rather than exercising, is what you have in mind, the hotel also offers day use rooms for $79 on weekends and $109 on weekdays.

Minute Suite at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
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CHECK INTO A MINUTE SUITE IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Escape the airport noise and crowds by checking into a Minute Suite when passing through Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Located in Terminal D and Terminal A, Minute Suites offer 17 private suites, and at the Terminal D location there's also showers. Each suite includes a daybed sofa, a sound masking system and a computer equipped with a 32-inch screen and DirectTV. Suites cost $42 per hour.

Animated Water Fountain at Detroit International Airport
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WATCH THE ANIMATED WATER FOUNTAIN IN DETROIT

The 39-foot wide, elliptical shaped water fountain at the center of Detroit International Airport's McNamara Terminal, Concourse A is both mesmerizing and relaxing for travelers. Inspired by the lines of a flight map, the fountain is made up of 45 leapfrog devices that shoot streams of water. Making this space even more inviting, the fountain is surrounded by a peaceful lounge that offers floor-to-ceiling views of the aircraft outside.

Xpress Spa at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
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TREAT YOURSELF TO A FACIAL IN ATLANTA

Xpress Spas are popping up at airports across the country and at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta there are two locations -- in Terminal A and in Terminal C. The spas offer everything from manicures and pedicures to massages and facials. Some even have showers.

Live Music at Seattle-Tacoma Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of portseattle.org

ENJOY LIVE MUSIC AT SEATTLE-TACOMA AIRPORT

Seattle-Tacoma Airport offers live concerts seven days a week. Introduced in 2012, the program is part of an effort to showcase the diverse music of the Northwest while also enhancing the experience of travelers. The concerts take place throughout the airport.

Kidport Play Area at Logan International Airport
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KIDPORT PLAY AREAS IN BOSTON

Those traveling through Boston with young children will find a small slice of peace visiting the Kidport play areas located Logan International Airport's terminals A, B and C. The play spaces include climbing structures, slides, replicas of the airport's control tower and replicas of vintage planes. Parents can unwind while kids play in a safe space.

Sculpture Garden at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

RELAX IN THE SCULPTURE GARDEN IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH

Another popular pastime at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is perusing the $8 million art collection. The airport regularly displays works on loan from the Nasher Sculpture Center. To see some of this stunning art, visit the sculpture garden located outside Terminal D, between the terminal and the parking structure.

Library and Aviation Museum at San Francisco International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of flysfo.com

EXPLORE THE LIBRARY AND AVIATION MUSEUM AT SFO

San Francisco International Airport gets rave reviews from parents traveling with children and the Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum are a large part of the reason why the airport gets thumbs up. Located in the International Terminal, the library and museum offer exhibitions and educational programs free of charge. The exhibits are focused on the history of commercial air transport and the airline industry.

BWI Hiker-Biker Trail at Baltimore-Washington International Airport
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WALK THE BWI HIKER-BIKER TRAIL

If you have enough time to spare, stretch your legs on the 12.5-mile hiking and biking trail at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Many sections of the trail are said to be surprisingly peaceful despite being so close to airport runways. The trail wraps around the entire airport and includes a children's playground. If you're feeling even more ambitious, bikes are available for rent just outside the international terminal.

Children's Play Area at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of mspairport.com

LET THE KIDS FLY A PLANE AT MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Featuring mock airplanes, air traffic control towers and slides, the children's play areas at Minneapolis St. Paul Airport offer a welcome break for both children and their parents. The play spaces, which are free, are located in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. An added bonus, the play space in Terminal 1 features a life size statue of Snoopy, whose creator was a Minnesota native.

Yoga Room at at San Francisco International Airport
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CALM YOUR MIND AND SPIRIT AT SFO'S YOGA ROOM

Practice your downward dog in between flights at one of San Francisco International Airport's yoga rooms. The rooms, devoted to relaxation and self reflection, are located in both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. There is no charge to use the yoga rooms.

Massage Chair at George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Photo credit: broox/flickr.com

RELAX IN A MASSAGE CHAIR IN HOUSTON

Spend a few blissful moments relaxing in a massage chair at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Located throughout Terminal A, B and C, the chairs provide five-minute, deep tissue massages.

Yoga Studio at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport
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YOGA STUDIO AT DALLAS-FORT WORTH AIRPORT

San Francisco isn't the only airport in the country that understands the benefits of yoga between flights. Dallas-Fort Worth is home to two free yoga studios. Located in Terminal B and Terminal E, the studios include practice mats, exercise balls, stretch bands and a 20-minute instructional yoga video.

Children's Play Area at Philadelphia International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of phl.org

CHILDREN'S PLAY AREA IN PHILADELPHIA

Another airport that hasn't forgotten that kids need to unwind while traveling too, the Philadelphia International Airport has play space in Terminal A-East. The educational space includes a jumbo jet, control tower and more. There's even radios in the jet and tower, allowing them to transmit to each other.

Cultural Gardens at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
Photo credit: Courtesy of airports.hawaii.gov

WANDER THE CULTURAL GARDENS IN HONOLULU

One of the best ways to pass time at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is to explore the various sculptured gardens. Designed to display the influence of the Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese heritage upon island living, the gardens surround the airport's main terminal lobby and Y Concourse. Connected by pathways, bridges and stepping stones, there's also waterways flowing among the gardens. Some also include sculptures.

Founders Plaza in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
Photo credit: Joel W./yelp.com

UNWIND IN FOUNDERS PLAZA IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH

If neither yoga nor sculpture interests you, Dallas-Fort Worth offers yet another option for weary travelers -- Founders Plaza. The outdoor space has become a favorite of families, aviation fans and airport employees. There's an observation area that offers views of the aircraft as they take off and land, picnic tables, telescopes and historic information.

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