10. Nashville International Airport (BNA) –Nashville, Tennessee
Sitting in a faux leather chair at your gate during a layover can be excruciating, so an airport that offers alternate entertainment deserves props. Nashville’s airport offers plenty of the city’s finest outputs—barbecue and music. Not only can you chow down on eats from local favorites Whitt’s Barbecue and Neely’s Bar-B-Que, you can catch a live show at one of the six stages scattered throughout the premises.
9. T.F. Green Airport (PVD) -Warwick, Rhode Island
T.F. Green Airport, located six miles outside of Providence, was where the Rolling Stones were famously arrested in 1972 for assaulting a photographer on their way to a show. These days, the airport is better known for its award-winning on-time performance and clear layout and signage. On the rare instance you are stuck waiting for a flight at PVD, be sure to check out the raw oyster bar on its north concourse.
8. Orlando International Airport (MCO) – Orlando, Florida
A spacious and pleasant main terminal atrium is what earned the Orlando International Airport a spot on our list. If you happen to whisk through Orlando without being able to buy gifts for the folks back home, you can pass the time before your flight in one of its gift shops. Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center are all represented.
7. Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) – Hennepin County, Minnesota
MSP happens to be where Senator Larry Craig was caught toe-tapping in the bathroom, but that’s not what really makes it notable. It’s minutes away from the Mall of America and offers comparable shopping and entertainment sites. You can pass the time in one of its three arcades, on its 1.4-mile indoor walking trail, or in its serene meditation and relaxation area.
6. Indianapolis International Airport (IND) – Indianapolis, Indiana
This airport averages 154 daily commercial flights to only 35 destinations but was named the best among small airports in a 2010 J.D. Power and Associates nationwide survey and the best airport in North America in the Airport Service Quality Awards survey. IND got top marks in all the overall satisfaction, accessibility, check-in, security, terminals and food and retail services.
5. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – Austin, Texas
Austin has crowned itself the “live music capital of the world” so, like Nashville, its airport often showcases local bands on stage in its Barbara Jordan Terminal. You’d be hard-pressed to find a McDonald’s or Starbucks in Austin-Bergstrom, and that’s definitely a good thing. Most of the airport’s concession space is run by local restaurants, which is a benefit to the Austin community as well as its visitors.
4. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) – Houston, Texas
IAH in Houston gets top marks for its unbeatable array of premium airline lounges. Its members-only Continental President’s Club was named North America’s Lounge of the Year in a 2010 survey and can be found strategically placed in five locations throughout the airport. IAH is eager to please with three additional lounges serving business class passengers on a variety of airlines.
3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) – Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport features one of the most breathtaking atmospheres you can come across while traveling. An elaborate light tunnel and walkway runs through the Edward H. McNamara Terminal to connect Concourse A to Concourses B and C, featuring an intricate multi-colored light show behind sculpted glass panels and an original musical score. DTW also delivers outside of aesthetics, with some of the country’s best security, baggage claim and terminal services.
2. Denver International Airport (DEN) – Denver, Colorado
At first glance, the Denver International Airport doesn’t resemble an airport at all. Its entire roof is made of fiberglass and steel cables, crafted to resemble the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. Although DEN is the largest international airport in the US, it has won numerous “Best Airport” awards and features free Wi-Fi and an intricate two-megawatt solar energy system.
1. Portland International Airport (PDX) – Portland, Oregon
When it comes to delay distractions, PDX offers a bit of everything and does it all exceptionally well. Like Austin and Nashville, Portland’s airport focuses heavily on the arts as entertainment, offering live music performances and exhibits from local artists. If you’re into shopping, PDX promises that its “uniquely Oregon” shops and restaurants will always charge the same prices as their off-airport counterparts, with an added bonus—there’s no sales tax! Much like the city in which it’s located, PDX is environmentally friendly and has adopted several green initiatives including the use of solar panels, connection to the MAX Light Rail and recycling of used grease and oil. Whether you have a trip scheduled for business or pleasure, a stop in PDX will be joyful.