“The journey, not the destination matters . . .”

--T.S. Eliot

Unless that journey involves a pesky layover, right?  No matter who we are or where we’re headed, for all of us who travel by air, there is nothing worse than being left to mindlessly scroll our phones, sip a stale cup o’ joe, peruse the terminal gift shop for a last-minute gift for mom (*Note to self: DON’T forget mom!), or people watch just to pass the time.  But despite this common reality, you should know that not every airport experience has to be a drag.  No siree!  Listen, friends, if you foresee having a layover in the near future, you best be having it at one of Gay Travel’s Top 5 U.S. Airports! These joints are sure to have you floating on air . . . even if you’re not.

#1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, GA

Functioning as the nation’s busiest airport in terms of passengers, this 180-gate facility is the main hub for Delta Airlines and . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . .  some of the best cuisine and shopping an airport could offer! 

Get your munch on at one of the gazillion eateries, including everything from gourmet grab-and-go options to fast food chains to full-blown sit-down restaurants with a variety of delicious artisan offerings.  As for shopping?  Well, the international airport is home to a variety of retailers, including Michael Kors, MAC, and Best Buy.  So, whether you’re in the market for a quick pre flight touch up or forgot your phone charger at the house (Come on, we’ve all been there.), Hartsfield-Jackson’s got you covered.  The thing to remember, however, is that the place is GINORMOUS, and it would be darn near impossible to navigate if it wasn’t for the Plane Train, the airport’s automatic people mover that transport passengers from terminal to terminal at the speed of lightning.

And if that’s not enough, how about checking out the airport’s art museum that features 250 permanent works of art, the 1,000-sq.-ft. dog park, the everyday live music throughout the airport, or checking out one of the airline lounges, where you (for $35 per day) can relax, take care of business, or simply surf the web in peace and quiet?  There’s also Minute Suites at Concourse B, where passengers can catch some zzz’s and shower in fifteen-minute to hourly increments. 

#2 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, TX

Much like #1 on our list, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has a lot to offer, but not only in the realm of food and shopping. 

If you find yourself stuck in D-Town between flights and are in need of a cocktail to ease your frustrations, be sure to find The Club at DFW.  For just a $35 fee, you will be given access to some shhhnazzy amenities including a full bar, access to wifi, televisions, comfortable seating, showers and a secluded smoking section for those of you who are on the verge of throwing a nicotine fit.  At The Club at DFW lounge, you will be treated like a VIP without having to be one. 

But if you’ve already had a long flight and are coming down with a serious case of cabin fever, Dallas/Fort Worth offers perhaps one of the coolest ways to remedy your ailment.  Check out DFW’s Founder’s Plaza, located on the north side of the airport.  There, visitors can relax at picnic tables and spend time at the Observation Area, where they can view the incoming and outgoing aircraft, obtain historical information, and listen to live air traffic broadcasts from the FAA tower.  Truly, Dallas Fort Worth is one of the best, inside AND out.

#3 San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to San Francisco International Airport, where you will have a layover experience dreams—not nightmares—are made of!

When trapped in the City by the Bay, there is no need to distress.  Because at San Fran Intl., there’s ALWAYS something to do!  Aviation nerds, buckle up!  You’re about ready to fall in love this funhouse of an airport for its one-of-a-kind aircraft museum (the very first accredited museum at an air travel facility).  In addition, there are various XpresSpa locations scattered throughout, where you can get a relaxing rubdown, an mani-pedi, facial, or even a back wax! (Okay, so brows are a go; I’ll have to get back with you on that back wax thing.)  With all this— not to mention the live music events, Kids’ Spot play areas to wear out your tots, and the 150-sq.-ft. full-service yoga room, where you can get your Namaste on—there’s no time to be stressed or bored.  And just like the rest of the airports on this Top 5, there are some tantalizing treat stops throughout the facility that are sure to please your palate.

#4 St. Paul International Airport, Minneapolis, MN

Get your hair done. 

Okay, so that is a strange way to sell this wonderful airport, but it’s perhaps the best advice I can give you.  In fact, if you know you are going to be spending time here but may not find yourself in need of a trim, go ahead and let your locks grow and your roots show, baby, because you WILL want to visit the AVEDA salon, where you will be pampered with all-natural, plant-based products, sip organic tea sweetened with licorice root (I swear, it’s the CRAP, people!), and be offered ritual advice on how to ease your travel related stress.  Again, Namaste.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, there really is SO much more to do at Minneapolis-St. Paul Intl. than get your wig did.  Check out some of the other unique things the gateway to the Twin Cities has to offer:

The American Heart Association’s Start! program’s 1.4-mile walking path
Three video arcades
USB movie rental for your flight (expires in 30 days)
Virtual reality golf course (That’s right.)
A variety of retailers and restaurants
Art and cultural exhibits

But really, make time to get your hair done.

#5 McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, NV

If you discover yourself at McCarran International Airport in Sin City but don’t have time to hit the strip between flights, don’t fret so fast!  Try your luck at the machines in one of only two U.S. Airports that permit in-house gambling.  You never know, with a big win you could be flying a little higher than you thought (Ca-ching, ca-ching!).  Then again, liquor may be quicker. 

If you're not so much of a risk taker, that’s okay, too.  McCarran’s got LOADS to do, including at least three full-service bars.  From José Cuervo to craft taps, you’ll be certain to be relaxed to the max.  Also, be sure to take in the facility’s public art exhibits, which include Terminal 1’s ‘Desert Wildlife’ sculptures of Nevada’s native critters.  At McCarran International Airport, you can experience a taste of Vegas without missing your flight.

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