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12 of the Most Kid-Friendly Airports Across the U.S.

If I’m being honest, I’m not a fan of flying. Airport bathrooms, walking barefoot through security, stagnant airplane smell, passengers in the row ahead of me urinating in their seat {true story}, any kind of bump while in the air – all things on my overall dislike list. So, you can imagine that I’m a super fun travel companion.

But aside from my own personal issues with airline travel, I think as a collective group of moms that we can all agree the statements below are ones that rank pretty high on your own “ugh!” list:

Hey folks, Captain speaking, our aircraft is 32nd in line on the runway for take-off!

Oh, you’re pregnant? Please step aside for a complete pat down, during which, I will ask personal pregnancy questions in an attempt to make our close proximity less weird.

Flight number {X} has been canceled. Every man for himself to reschedule at the customer service desk!

All super fun things! But as a parent, there is one simple statement that sits far above all other annoying airline travel announcements. It is the simple statement that can make your heart sink and beat faster from panic all at the same time…

YOUR. FLIGHT. IS. DELAYED.

On a recent trip to visit our family, my husband, son, and myself had hustled to the airport, whizzed through security, ate breakfast, and arrived at our gate in an abnormally fast fashion. All seemed well until the airline employee announced those cringe-worthy words: Your flight is delayed because of mechanical issues. {Side note, can the airlines come up with a less anxiety inducing delay explanation? Please, just lie to me and announce the pilot is stuck in traffic. Why do I want to know that there is something wrong with the multi-ton hunk of metal I’m about to board and ascend miles into the sky? Just why?} I digress.

So, it was with that delay announcement that my confidence level plunged and the methodically planned backpack of in-flight entertainment felt useless. During my pre-travel internet searches and polling of fellow moms for in-flight activities, I had not even considered the possibility of a flight delay with a child. I couldn’t “waste” all of my in-flight entertainment goodies just to survive this delay. I also knew my 22-pound ball of non-stop energy wasn’t going to just sit still and binge watch Ruff, Ruff, Tweet, and Dave. No, my husband and I were going to take on Operation Keep Toddler Entertained for an Undefined Period of Time. I’m proud to say we made it through the 2-hour delay without using my in-flight entertainment backpack. Instead, my son found super clean airport items to use as toys.

12 of the Most Kid-Friendly Airports Across the U.S. | Houston Moms Blog

But for you my friends, I bring you Christmas cheer and tidings of great joy in the form of a mom’s guide to kid-friendly airports. No need to play with door stops or water fountains unless absolutely necessary! Should you find yourself delayed, you won’t have to scramble or panic. You’re going to bookmark this page and reference it should you ever need it. I know, I’ve been told I’m bossy.

There are many airports that have built-in kid entertainment. Think indoor playgrounds, unique art, interactive activities, and water displays. All you need to survive is this quick reference guide and lots of hand sanitizer…

12 of the Most Kid-Friendly Airports Across the U.S. | Houston Moms Blog

1.} Chicago O’Hare International {ORD} 

  • Kids on the Fly :: Whether it is playing in an airplane, helicopter, or control tower, kids can let their pilot-in-training loose in this designated space to run around for a bit. {Location :: Terminal 2, past the security checkpoint}
  • Brachiosaurus Dinosaur :: This display is great for the kids who appreciate a good structure of old dinosaur bones. If you are near Terminal 1, be sure to stop by. {Location :: Terminal 1, past security near gate B7 }
  • Airport Art Exhibits :: If you have a little one that is fascinated with all things glowing, moving, tall, or just plain out of the ordinary, take an art walk around the airport to keep busy for quite a while. The entire airport is sprinkled with various murals, paintings, and even a mile-long kinetic light sculpture! The popular “The Sky’s The Limit” light sculpture is in Terminal 1, past security towards downstairs Concourse C. {Location :: Throughout ORD}

2.} San Francisco International Airport {SFO}

  • Kids’ Spot :: Various interactive kid-friendly zones {each with a different feature or theme} are spread throughout the airport. Zones feature everything from interactive weather displays and plasma walls, to a psychedelic Spirogyrate display. Check out the map and hit them all up!
  • Self-Guided Tours & Art Exhibits  :: These tours are all located BEFORE security, so commit to these tours if you have some serious time to kill. And if you don’t have much time, then visit one of the 40 art exhibits.

3.} Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport {ATL}

  • Yangchuanosaurus Display :: Does this dinosaur sound made up? Yes. And I also find that word impossible to pronounce, so I tend to question its validity. However, there is a display in the airport atrium, so I will take the Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s word for it. If traveling through Atlanta, check it out for yourself!
  • Model Train Exhibit :: Take your little conductor over to the entrance of Concourse T to see a museum-quality display.

4.} Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport {DTW}

  • Water Feature :: You might find your kids marveling {and maybe even a bit calmer} while visiting this wishing well filled with 45 “leap frog devices” that shoot streams of water flow. This space gives travelers a place to relax amid their travels. Hopefully, that serenity rubs off on your kids! {Location ::  The center of McNamara Terminal, Concourse A
  • LED Display Tunnel :: This 700-foot tunnel is another good choice for those kids who love all things glowing, moving, and mesmerizing. Lit by 9,000 feet of LED lighting, this attraction is popular and pretty accessible, perfect for checking out with little ones. {Location :: Tunnel connects Concourses B/C with Concourse A and the McNamara Terminal}

5.} Boston Logan International Airport {BOS}

  • Kidport Play Areas :: Located in in all the terminals, these are great aviation-themed kid spaces designed by The Children’s Museum of Boston with playtime structures, designated infant/toddler areas, and parent seating areas. It is close to concessions, and Terminal C has a designated TV viewing area.

6.} Orlando International Airport {MCO}

  • Art Exhibits :: Are you seeing a theme here with all the art exhibits? But the Orlando airport’s collection stands out because … 1} it has many animal-related pieces, and 2} there is a piece in Terminal A called ‘The Traveler,” and let’s just say it took me a second to decipher if it was a real human or art. And for those Seinfeld lovers, to me it also resembles a more hairy George Constanza.
  • Aquarium :: Do you have yourself a fish guru? Well, a 3,000 gallon salt-water aquarium with 90+ different creatures located in the food court may do the trick.
  • An asteroid from Mars :: The NASA store has an asteroid for touching and a life-sized astronaut for photo ops. Mind blown.
  • Power Arcade :: Yes, there is an actual arcade in the airport. So this entertainment would only require some quarters and allow for you to sit back and relax. Totally doable. 

7.} Dallas Fort Worth International Airport {DFW}

  • Aquafina Junior Flyer Clubs :: Clubs have play areas which include foam cars and planes, as well as ample space to run around. Rumor has it that shops to purchase some “mommy juice” {alcohol} have been strategically placed very close-by. {Location :: Terminal A13 and Terminal B12}
  • American Heart Association Airport Walking Path :: If you have energetic, curious kids like myself, then a space to just walk and explore is perfect! The path is seven-tenths of a mile and lined with art floor medallions. {Location :: Between gates D6 and D40}
  • Minute Suites :: If you find yourself really delayed and your kid showing signs of the Grump Monster from exhaustion, overstimulation, and a missed nap, then you may need the opposite of burning energy. You need a quiet, calm space, and these Minute Suites away from the airport hustle and bustle may be your sanctuary. Each suite has a daybed, sound-canceling system, pillows, blankets, and a computer with internet and DIRECTV. {Location :: Terminal D at D23}

8.} Baltimore/Washington International Airport {BWI}

  • The Observation Gallery :: This is such a unique place to check out airplanes with binoculars and see a 28-foot rocket, as well as a Solar Probe Plus spacecraft model. You will also find play equipment and an aviation-themed display case. Do note that this space is prior to security, so watch the time! {Location :: Before security at the B/C checkpoint on the upper level}
  • Cardio Trail :: The trail provides another opportunity to get in some physical activity on one of the two loops {Location :: Terminal Loop or Concourse A/B Loop}

9.} Portland International Airport {PDX}

  • Indoor play areas are before and after security at PDX. If you know ahead of time that you are delayed, check out the jungle gym, slides, and telescope near the checkpoint for Concourses D and E. At Concourse C you will find kid-friendly TV, Lego stations, and bead mazes.

10.} Newark Liberty International Airport {EWR}

  • AirTrain :: While EWR hasn’t exactly jumped on the art walk or kid’s play area bandwagon, they do have the shuttle which runs from Terminal A to C. If you are super desperate, then this is something.

11.} Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport {CVG}

  • Kidspot :: Keep an eye out for two areas specifically for kids in Councourse A by Gate A1, and Councourse B near the Food Court.

12.} Seattle/Tacoma International Airport {SEA}

So there you have it … a little Christmas present for you if you are traveling this holiday season! My hope is that you don’t have to use this as a resource. But remember, if you do, you are one step ahead of my son – whose only option was playing with door stoppers and water fountains {major germ cringe}.

12 of the Most Kid-Friendly Airports Across the U.S. | Houston Moms Blog

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