What to Do on a Long Layover at O’Hare

As one of the busiest airports in the world for both domestic and international flights, O’Hare International Airport is one place you could often find yourself on a long layover. But don’t fret. O’Hare has the waiting passenger in mind, offering plenty to do throughout the airport — and if you have some extra time, even more in the surrounding area. With so much to do, you may decide to work a stopover at O’Hare into your travel itinerary.

Explore the Terminals

O’Hare is one of the largest airports in the country, featuring three domestic terminals and one international terminal. The terminals themselves provide hours of entertainment thanks to the spectacular decor. As part of Chicago’s Public Art Program, each terminal features sculptures, murals, paintings, and other artwork from local and nationally recognized artists.

While Terminal 2 has an attractive kids’ play area with child-sized planes and a World War II war plane, Terminal 1 has the best sights. On the upper level of Concourse B, a 72-foot Brachiosaurus dinosaur skeleton stands more than four stories high. You should also take a stroll through the 744-foot neon light installation that provides a beautiful glow between Concourse B and Concourse C.

Head to a Hotel

If you have more than enough time and don’t feel like doing anything, it’s OK. The nearby village of Rosemont has plenty of hotel options for you. At your hotel, you can grab a nap, take a shower, and relax before your flight. When you want to get to your destination awake and alert, getting a good night’s sleep is your best option, and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

Do Some Shopping

Built in 2013, the Fashion Outlets of Chicago are one of the newest additions to the area around the airport. A drive to this outlet mall is about 10 minutes, but the mall is easily accessible with a cab or ride-sharing services. The mall is the only two-level outlet shopping center in the Midwest with more than 130 stores ranging from high-end fashion to specialty stores. For a souvenir or last-minute gift, the outlet mall makes an ideal place to shop.

Explore Downtown

Experience the country’s third-largest city by taking the Blue Line of the L train into the city. Most of the major destinations are within a short walk from stops on the L. The famous Navy Pier at the Navy Pier terminal is always a solid choice for tourists and features shops, bars, restaurants, entertainment, and a Ferris wheel. If you can’t get enough shopping, stop off at the Michigan Avenue terminal and take a walk down the Magnificent Mile. This stretch of North Michigan Avenue has dozens of expensive shops, and even if you don’t have $5,000 to spend on a purse, the people watching is more than worth your time.

A one-way ticket into the city on the L is $5, and one on the way back is $3. If you plan on riding the train for a greater length of time, buy a one-day Ventra Card pass for $10.

Don’t worry if you have a layover at O’Hare. With many options to quell your boredom, you may find the layover more exciting than getting to your actual destination.