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How to Make the Most of Your Layover in Chicago

You’ve got the most amazing vacation planned: lots of fun things to do, places to eat, and sights to see. The only thing that’s standing between you and your week of pure bliss is…a layover in Chicago. The seconds feel like they’re dragging by as you’re sitting at the gate, just waiting to board that plane. Instead of distracting yourself with social media or games on your phone, use these tips to make your layover fly (pun intended) by!

Quick Bites

No matter what you’re craving, O’Hare has it. Each terminal has mouth-watering places to grab a quick meal. Check out Tortas Frontera (Terminals 1, 3 & 5), owned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless, for some delicious Mexican. It’s Bon Appetit’s “best airport restaurant,” and the reason that a Chicago Tribune writer wants to get delayed at O’Hare. Another amazing option is the Wolfgang Puck Cafe (Terminal 5), owned by the celebrity chef, for pizza and sandwiches. There’s also La Tapenade (Terminals 1, 2 & 3), which features flavors from the Mediterranean, and Wow Bao (Terminal 5), known for its “hot Asian buns.” And, of course, a trip to Chicago (even if you never leave the airport) wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Garrett’s. Get the world-famous popcorn as a souvenir for someone or as a treat for yourself.

Sit Back & Relax

“Relaxation” may sound like the exact opposite of hanging out in an airport, so you might be surprised by all the amenities O’Hare has to offer. There’s a yoga room located just past security in Terminal 3. Mats are provided and monitors show popular yoga positions, so whether you’ve never done yoga before or you’re a professional, this is the perfect place to get away from the bustle of the airport. There are also spas if you’re in the mood for a less active type of relaxation. The Terminal Gateway Spa is in Terminals 1 & 3, and for a quicker service, the XpressSpa is in Terminal 5. If shopping for relaxation is more your style, there are amazing stores all over the airport.

Yoga Class

For the Kids

If you’ve got the kiddos with you, don’t worry. There are plenty of cool things to keep their attention during your layover. The Kids on the Fly play area is located in Terminal 2, featuring interactive airplane and helicopter models. Kids can also check out a model control tower. There is also a Brachiosaurus skeleton replica on the upper level of Terminal 1. The dinosaur stands over 40 feet tall, and is an amazing sight for both kids and adults.


Unique Things

Chicago’s Public Art Program has decorated the airport with pieces from local and national artists, making a stroll around the terminals feel like a museum. One of the most popular pieces is the Sky’s the Limit neon light installation. This instagram-worthy spot is on the ceiling of the underground walkway between concourses B and C in Terminal 1. If you’re looking for something a little more active, check out the Hilton Athletic Club. There are day passes available for this gym that’s located in the hotel attached to the airport. Underground walkways are connected to Terminals 1, 2 & 3. After your workout, check out the aeroponic garden in Terminal 3. This type of gardening uses a nutrient solution to keep plants growing instead of soil. This specific garden not only grows produce that the airport restaurants use, it also doubles as a perfect spot to lounge before your flight.

underground walkway

We all know that a long layover is the worst, but with these tips, you can make the most of your time in the Chicago O’Hare airport. Got any more tips? We’d love to hear them!