One might argue that waiting at the airport is the worst part of traveling. Sure, it's a necessary step to get you to your final destination, but what if the airport was the whole reason you even made a trip? Believe it or not, some terminals are making this a reality. From yoga classes and IMAX movies to mini golf courses and world-class meals, here are a few of the airports that are becoming must-see destinations themselves.
1. Singapore Changi Airport
The 350 retail outlets are just the beginning of a long list of reasons to visit Singapore Changi Airport. Shop to your heart's content before heading over to the gym or hitting the hairstylist for a fresh coif. And it's not all about pampering. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the nature trails, gym, and swimming pools. There's even a butterfly garden, where you'll be able to spot live creatures.
Our Singapore Hotel Pick:
2. Munich Airport
If the 89 duty-free shops aren't enough, there's plenty of other attractions at Munich Airport to fill an entire vacation itinerary. Score a hole-in-one at the on-site mini golf course or get a good buzz going with German beer at the brewery and beer hall. And thanks to a flight museum in the terminal, you won't have to leave the premises to soak in some education and culture. During the holidays, the space even hosts Christmas markets, an ice rink, and live bands.
Our Munich Hotel Pick:
3. Hong Kong International Airport
Any techie would be thrilled to spend some time inside Hong Kong International Airport. For starters, there's the Aviation Discovery Centre and Dream Come True Education Park, where visitors can get learn about the fascinating world of flight. The airport is also home to an arts and culture exhibition, tea-making workshop, 80 different local food vendors, and the largest IMAX 3D screen in the city, where travelers can catch a variety of flicks.
Our Hong Kong Hotel Pick:
4. Dubai International Airport
Given Dubai's above-and-beyond architecture, the city's over-the-top airport shouldn't come as a surprise. Despite being one of the busiest stopovers in the world, this aviation hot spot is focused on getting travelers away from the hustle and bustle. Along with a 24-hour gym, passengers can also take a walk through the Zen Gardens, dine at a top-notch restaurant, catch up on sleep at a five-star hotel, or visit the spa, which comes with a sauna, swimming pool, and hot tub. If you can't pay top dollar for a catnap, test out one of their SnoozeCubes, a hotel-like room that you can rent by the hour.
Our Dubai Hotel Pick:
5. San Francisco International Airport
While many European and Asian airports get touted as the best in the world, there are a couple in the U.S. that are worthy of a shout-out, too. San Francisco International Airport, for example, has everything you'd expect from the funky northern California city. There's a reflection room, yoga space, local bookstore, and a self-guided art tour. Plus, the foodie haven has plenty of healthy dining options (49 of their 67 restaurants are local).
The American Express Centurion Lounge in terminal three is also known for having some of the best cocktails in the country. A famed New York City bartender created several concoctions alongside notable Napa chef Christopher Kostow's tasty menu. Centurion and Platinum cardholders get in for free, while others have to shell out $50. But once you're in, all the food and drinks are on the house.
Our San Francisco Hotel Pick:
6. Portland International Airport
It might not be as fancy or big as some of the others that made this list, but Portland International Airport is still worth a visit. In fact, travelers should simply make the trip to snap a picture of their feet on the airport's famous carpet. With an entire Instagram account dedicated to it as well as full product lines featuring the iconic pattern, the flooring has become a sensation. In addition, there's plenty of other Portland-centric things to check out. Some of the city's favorites (Powell's Books, Pendleton and Nike) can be found in the terminal. They even boast fantastic food, free filtered water bottle filling stations, live musical performances, and an entire store made of local products.
Our Portland Hotel Pick: