As flying has gotten more complicated – more security measures, fewer nonstop flights and more restrictions on what passengers can take into the cabin – the layover airport has played a bigger role in long trips. Now two travel companies have examined what airports in layover cities have to offer. Forbes Travel Guide tells us about five U.S. airports where getting into the city center on a long layover is quick and easy. And CheapFlights.com tells us about 10 airports around the world that have unusual amenities for R&R.
Among those airport amenities: an art museum in Amsterdam, aquariums in San Francisco and Vancouver, golf courses in South Korea and Hong Kong, a beer garden in Munich, and a butterfly garden with 20-foot waterfall in Singapore. Click here to read the full story.
The domestic airports with easy city access, according to Forbes, are Boston, Washington D.C. (Reagan), Las Vegas, Chicago (O’Hare) and Miami. Keep reading for the Forbes' rundown.
Logan Airport, Boston
Accessible via a 10-minute cab or subway ride, Boston tops our list as one of the most convenient cities for layover touring. Visitors taking the “T”—Boston’s subway—can catch an airport shuttle to the Blue Line and ride four stops to Government Center in the middle of downtown’s historic political district. A walk along the Freedom Trail (a painted strip marking Paul Revere’s famed ride through the city) will take you through the foods stalls of red-bricked Quincy Market on your way to the cobbled streets of the North End, where the city’s best Italian restaurants share space with independent retailers, historic churches and the home of Paul Revere. Stop in at Neptune Oyster on Salem Street for a lobster roll or a simple plate of fresh, local oysters.
For great shopping, Newbury Street is your best bet. It offers shops from Valentino to second-hand stores housed within tightly packed brownstones, and just a few streets over, tree-lined Commonwealth Avenue is a strolling boulevard that leads to Boston Public Gardens, home of the famous Swan Boats. Visit Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant No. 9 Park, which overlooks Boston Common and features a wine list that just earned a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program.
Reagan National Airport, Washington, D.C.
Located just a few miles from downtown Washington, D.C., this urban airport offers views of the Potomac River and Washington Monument to landing planes. After taxiing to the gate, it’s just a 15-minute cab ride to the museum-lined National Mall and its historic attractions, including the White House, Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial. Subway riders can also hop the Metro’s Blue Line or Yellow Line and get off at a number of stops near the National Mall. Shopaholics should head a couple of miles further north to make quick work of Georgetown’s shopping district along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Nestled among historic row houses, the stores are an eclectic mix of specialty boutiques and large retailers (Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus outlet Cusp and H&M). While you’re in the neighborhood, drop by the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bourbon Steak from chef Michael Mina—the lively bar is the perfect spot for a pre-flight pick-me-up. The lounge is inside the flagship Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel in Georgetown.
McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas
Get an up-close look at the golden pyramids and miniature Parisian cityscape of Las Vegas’ casinos as your plane lands at McCarran, four miles from the center of the Strip. Grab a cab (airport shuttles cost about the same for a trip into town), and in 10 minutes you could be gambling away your vacation budget or watching a water show outside the Forbes Travel Guide Four-StarBellagio. Head inside the hotel for a tour of the manicured Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens or a visit to Monet exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. For eye candy you can take home, shop the high-end Via Bellagio, with boutiques from Fendi, Prada, Gucci and Tiffany & Co. To soak up some desert sun, buy a day pass to the pools at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The five-acre pool deck includes three pools (including a foot-deep soaking pool), a hot tub and the poolside Riva Restaurant by Wolfgang Puck, which offers light meals and specialty cocktails.
O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
This hub has a bad reputation from its frequent weather delays, but stuck travelers should consider exploring the Second City. The Blue Line “L,” as the train is called, gets passengers into downtown within 40 minutes. Hop off at Washington and walk two blocks east to Millennium Park, a central green space that features the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion (home of free outdoor concerts), gardens and the much-photographed Cloud Gate sculpture (nicknamed “the Bean”). Take a walk through The Art Institute of Chicago, just across the street from Millennium Park, or head north across the Chicago River to catch views of the city’s best architecture—by stars such as Mies van der Rohe and recent MacArthur Foundation “genius” Jeanne Gang—from the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Shoppers should keep walking north to the Magnificent Mile, where you’ll find boutiques from Burberry to Topshop, plus all kinds of retail in between. Finish your trip with cocktails and Asian-inspired small plates at The Terrace, the intimate rooftop bar atop Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Peninsula Chicago.
Miami International Airport
Located a mere five miles from downtown Miami, the airport is a 10-minute cab ride from the city center, but if you want to hit the sand on flashy Miami Beach, tack an extra 10 minutes to your ride. Once there, you can get a bit of a tan before heading back to the airport, but there’s also plenty to see. A relaxed stroll is perfect for checking out the pastel-painted Art Deco buildings clustered on South Beach’s Ocean Drive. The historic buildings, built from the 1920s through the 1940s, have been restored and transformed into hip nightclubs, galleries and restaurants. Shoppers should head one block inland to The Webster on Collins Avenue, a 20,000-square-foot retail haven with mini-boutiques from over 60 brands, including Alexander Wang, Dries Van Noten and Marc Jacobs. Refresh with a specialty cocktail from the poolside Nautilus Bar & Grill at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Loews Miami Beach Hotel, which has a prime beachfront location in the Art Deco District.