Traveling is all fun and games until you hit your port of embarkation. Jam-packed with travelers and families fretting over every detail of their itinerary, airports aren’t always the easiest place to navigate or enjoy. Luckily, whether you’re headed on a vacation across the globe or just a weekend getaway, a number of venues are bucking trends, and offering travelers great places to dine and play. Following, you’ll find a guide to many of the nation’s top venues – and best places to grab a flight from to parts unknown.
Denver International Airport (Denver, CO) – The largest airport in the United States (by total land area at 33,531 acres) Denver International Airport, also known as DIA, is also one of the most easily accessible ports of call. With over 10 kiosks at every airline check-in stand, checking into a flight has never been so painless. They also have helpful staff by the kiosks to make sure things are running as efficiently as possible. Once checked in, the security line (for the most part) moves fast due to the multiple different security stands they have. After security, underground subways take travel-goers on a quick trip to their terminal. Each terminal has a great variety of restaurants to choose from all over the concourse. Each gate is spacious and has enough room for all passengers to wait to board their flight. DIA might be big, but it is one of the easiest airports to get around!
John Wayne Airport (Orange County, CA) – Orange County’s only commercial service airport, John Wayne is convenient to OC natives as well as travelers alike. Located less than 10 miles away from Newport Beach and 35 miles south of Los Angeles, it is the best airport for California travelers to get in and out of. Named after the movie star who resided in Orange Country for part of his life, John Wayne Airport is as classy as its name entails. There are only 22 gates, which ensures a quick check-in process and bag pick up. With a select few restaurants, this airport keeps in mind that quality is better than quantity. For those traveling to California, this airport is recommended for quick and easy access.
Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (Charlottesville, VA) – Located only 7 miles north of the bustling college town of Charlottesville, this airport is extremely easy to navigate and accessible. Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, CHO, flies directly into 6 major commuter airports: Charlotte, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York (La Guardia) and Washington D.C. (Dulles). With links to these major hubs, flying in and out of this quaint airport is not a hassle. This airport has select dining options, but the food is great! If you are going to surrounding cities in Virginia, this airport is a great one to fly in and out of.
San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco, CA) – Situated just 13 miles south of downtown San Francisco, this airport is great for international travelers. It’s a major hub for travelers going to Europe and Asia and connects myriad national flights across the country. SFO offers local San Fran native foods right inside the airport so travelers can connect with food right from the city. This airport is complete with spas and lounge areas and even has art exhibits in the terminals. In addition, it also has occasional giveaways—all you have to do is enter online for a chance to win 1 of 3 great prizes. If you are a frequent flyer, SFO is a great place to kill some layover time in.
Palm Beach International Airport (West Palm Beach, FL) – Located in West Palm Beach, this airport is crucial for Florida travelers as well as Florida natives. It is one of the major airports that serve the areas of the South Florida metropolitan areas due to its location and size. In 1988, a state-of-the-art terminal was dedicated to the airport, making it a wonderful example of a comfortable yet efficient airport for all travelers. This airport has received a lot of positive feedback from the public and has won over 30 awards in its history that range from ranking the 5th “best medium airport” in the 2017 J.D. Power North American Airport Satisfaction Study as well as the 6th Best Airport in the U.S. by Trip Advisor. Palm Beach International Airports offers a wide variety of nice shops and fine dining options in all 3 terminals. If you are flying and have the option to fly into PBI, take it and enjoy this superb airport!
Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (Hennepin County, MN) –MSP Airport, found within 10 miles of both Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis is one of the most organized and orderly airports in the U.S. It has security wait times online that give an estimated time for how long a traveler will stand in the security time, giving them an idea on how much time they need to allocate for the process. In addition, the parking lot availability for both parking lots in Terminal 1 and 2 is also online. It shows what percent full the parking lot is so travelers know if they have a good chance of finding parking prior to getting to the airport. Its efficient and up-to-date websites help travelers plan their trip the best of their ability. The rest is up in the air!
Portland International Airport (Portland, OR) – The largest airport in the state of Oregon, PDX is extremely traveler-friendly and easy to navigate. Although it is a large airport, getting to the different terminals is fast and simple due to the transportation that runs inside of the airport. This airport also offers nonstop flights to some of the most traveled to international countries. Flights go directly from Oregon to London, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Toronto, and Amsterdam, to name a few. There is a diversity of food options at the airport, giving each different traveler a taste of what they want. PDX has been noted for being very “user-friendly” due to the frustration-free TSA process and assortment of different shops and entertainment options. Head to Portland International Airport to experience some of the best traveling pit stops!
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (Bozeman, MT) – A very cozy airport, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport comes complete with crackling fireplaces and comfortable lounges for travelers and visitors alike. The destination is also small and easy to get through—usually it only takes about 20 minutes from when you walk into the airport to get through security and to your gate! The souvenir shop is stocked with huckleberry products homemade from local Montana stores and handmade postcards from a Montana artist. BZN has floor to ceiling windows with views of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in perfect sight. If you are looking for a comfortable airport, head here and get cozy before your departure!
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (Dallas, TX) – The first carbon neutral airport in the United States, DFW Airport is doing everything it can to reduce its environmental impact. This airport has taken a balanced approach to this problem by switching to renewable energy and putting in programs that use less energy than previous programs that were in place. It has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and hopes to continue doing so. In addition to its environmental friendliness, DFW Airport is a clean and enjoyable airport for travelers. It offers a prepaid parking option online to reduce the stress that comes with parking in big airport lots and gives travelers updated information about their flight right at their fingertips. In March 2019, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is offering nonstop flights to Paris, so get a ticket before they sell out!
John Glenn Columbus International Airport (Columbus, OH) – Found in the nation’s 14th largest city, John Glenn Columbus International Airport is a busy and important airport for domestic Ohio travelers. In 2016, they modernized the terminal and re-named the airport in honor of John Glenn, one of the United State’s most accomplished aviators and pilots. This revamped airport has new ticket counters, a diversity of restaurants and art exhibits in the terminal. According to the airport itself, “our bright and airy gateway isn’t just about new skylights and shin terrazzo flooring, however. It’s a reflection of the growing prestige and prosperity of Columbus itself, our home base.” Be sure to check out Ohio’s leading airport and while you’re at it, take some time to embrace the developing and ever-changing city of Columbus, Ohio.
Lauren Harano is a sun-kissed Californian living in New York City. The Editorial and Marketing Assistant for VINAZINE, she's also written for Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines. In her free time, she enjoys finding the best Mexican restaurants in the city and reading in Central Park. Most importantly, she believes that every day is a good day to have a good day.