Six Airports With Outdoor Escapes

Airports with Outdoor Escapes

Catch a breath of fresh air at these travel lounges.

We know that humans need nature. A growing body of scientific research is validating what most of us probably suspected all along: Spending time outside makes us calmer, happier, less frazzled. That’s exactly the kind of mood adjustment that travelers crave during airline trips, and at these six airports, you can enjoy outdoor therapy without exiting through baggage claim.

All six allow airline passengers to gaze up at open sky, and several include natural elements underfoot as well: Flooring materials such as sand and wood feel more earthy than airports’ typical tile and carpet (yet present no maneuverability challenges for Eagle Creek’s equipped-for-anything wheeled bags).

So next time you’re traveling through one of these six global crossroads, head for their open-air outdoor lounges and measure nature’s effects for yourself. 


Barcelona El Prat Airport

Within Terminal 1, a roofless Outdoor Terrace provides smokers with a place to light up (this is Europe, after all) but it’s large enough to allow for plenty of breathing room, and it links several appealing restaurants with outdoor seating. The ubiquitous Starbucks is popular with more than just Americans, while the adjacent Piscolabis eatery serves breakfast pastries and egg sandwiches or later in the day, tapas (Iberian ham, anyone?) with beer and wine. The restaurant includes a small indoor dining room, but most seats are situated on the outdoor deck.


John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City

JetBlue’s T5 Terminal at JFK includes a quiet, verdant oasis: Located opposite Gate 28, this “Rooftop and Wooftop Lounge” surrounds astroturf lawns with benches, tables and chairs that facilitate plein-air basking. Pets frolic on the greens, people savor songbirds’ soundtrack, and because there’s no food or drink service (BYO) this space offer the kind of tranquility that’s rarely available in bright, bustling airports.


Frankfurt Airport, Germany

This airport clearly understands travelers’ need for R&R. Abundant lounge chairs let passengers recline with their feet up, La-Z Boy style. Four Green Oases (two in Terminal 1, two in Terminal 2) use artificial trees and plants to buffer people on these benches from the surrounding chaos. And a rooftop deck (in Terminal 1 above Gate B42) with benches placed in the open air lets travelers peer across the airport’s gates (there’s even a telescope affording up-close views of the planes).


Key West International Airport, Florida

Sink your toes in the sand at Last Call Beach Bar, a watering hole located within EYW’s departures lounge that bills itself as the world’s only airport beach. The open-air seating area includes umbrella tables placed on sandy ground, and there’s even a boardwalk down the center of the space. Not for amateurs, the Bloody Marys here are famously strong.


Long Beach Airport, California

LGB’s 2012 reconstruction bet big on outdoor space: The 4,200 square-foot courtyard is ringed with favorite Long Beach eateries, and there’s even a wine bar (4th Street Vine) with an open-air fire pit and cushioned lounge chairs. You can stroll among drought-tolerant grasses or charge your smartphone while lounging beneath palm trees that flutter in the breeze.


Denver International Airport

Admittedly, DEN’s outdoor spaces aren’t located beyond security: They’re outside the main terminal (the famously tented one made Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric) but they’re cool enough to merit mention here.

In winter (typically from Thanksgiving till New Year’s) the plaza linking the Jeppesen Terminal to the Westin Denver International Airport features an open-air ice rink with free loaner skates. Come summer, swaths of synthetic turf transform this zone into the Park on the Plaza with a free miniature golf course, cornhole games, flowerpots and wooden benches for lounging. There’s even live music periodically from June through August. That’s extra incentive to get to the airport well in advance of your flight.

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Author: Kelly Bastone