Top 7 Best Airport Hidden Treasures

Airports today are much more than jumping off points for cheap flights (if you’re lucky); they also offer an amazing range of unusual sights and services that many flyers are unaware of. That’s about to change.

Listen as FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney and editor Anne McDermott get the giggles while chatting about all this weird airport stuff:

Top 7 Best Airport Hidden Treasures

Check these out; then if you like, tell us what’s amazing at your airport.

1. Best of Nature: Singapore (SIN), Amsterdam (AMS)

Singapore’s Changi airport boasts several splendid gardens but they really shine with their live butterfly habitat; enter and enjoy communing with 50 species of native butterflies.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol provides a park-like indoor “haven of tranquility” with trees, wooden picnic tables, chaise lounges and more. They even pipe in the sounds of kids at play and animals, too. Nice respite from the hassle of the security lines.

2. Best Rejuvenating Spa: Calgary (YYC), Detroit (DTW)

There are spas and then there are oxygen spas, like OraOxygen which has outlets at the two airports above; for less than 20 bucks, you can get 15 minutes worth of oxygen. Manicures and massages, too.

3. Best Fun Stuff for Kids: Logan (BOS), Atlanta (ATL), Frankfurt (FRA)

Traveling with children? They have a play area at Boston’s Logan that includes a slide down a baggage chute (don’t worry, you get the kids back afterwards); Atlanta’s Jackson-Hartsfield boasts a 10 foot tall, 31-foot long skeleton of a scary dinosaur called the Yangchuanosaurus; and if you’ve got the time, you can host a children’s birthday party at Germany’s Frankfurt airport.

4. Best Fun Stuff for Adults: Frankfurt (FRA)

Frankfurt airport

Are you hosting that kiddie party at the Frankfurt airport and going crazy? Then slip away to the casino! Play blackjack, roulette or the slot machines and forget about those screaming kids. For more adventurous types, we understand a number of European airports have boutiques that sell exotic lingerie and things of that nature.

5. Best Wild Rumors: Denver (DEN)

For some reason, Denver International has been the subject of wild conspiracy theories ever since it opened back in 1995, including speculation about underground tunnels and world domination. Airport murals supposedly reveal clues about all this, including one particular piece of art called “In Peace and Harmony with Nature”; while the painting does feature some dead animals, raging fires and bodies in coffins, it also includes happier scenes. See it in the South terminal.

6. Best Weird Restaurant: Los Angeles (LAX)

You can’t miss the Encounter Restaurant (see photo, upper right); it’s smack in the middle of LAX, looming over the terminals like a giant space ship. The futuristic dome structure looks like something the creators of the old Jetson cartoons might have designed and the space age theme carries through to the menu which include a Milky Way cocktail (Absolut vodka and Crème de Cacao). UPDATE: Oh, no! The iconic eatery closed in January 2014.

7. Best Airport Nickname: Sioux City, Iowa

The nickname is derived from the airport’s official code designation:  SUX. No, it’s not very flattering, but those clever Iowans have made it work for them, slapping the SUX logo on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs and selling the souvenirs online. Besides, there are far worse official airport code designations, believe me.

More from Rick Seaney:

Best Hidden Surprises at Airports


Published: September 20, 2011