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Things to Do During a Layover at O'Hare International Airport

Even one or two of these suggestions will make time go by faster on a long layover.

Like any airport, sometimes there can be delays at O'Hare, leaving travelers to roam while waiting for the next flight. Take advantage of that downtime and use this guide to explore some of the best things to do in O'Hare International Airport.

Tortas Fronteras restaurant, Chicago O'Hare Airport
(Courtesy Tortas Frontera)

Eat Like a Local

O'Hare is home to the best airport restaurant in America, according to Bon Appétit.

If you want a square meal, Tortas Frontera (Terminal 1, 3 and 5) is that No. 1 restaurant. Belly up to the table for warm tortas, molletes or take a guac-salsa combo to go if you're in a hurry. 

Wolfgang Puck Cafe (Terminal 5) is the spot for American classics paired with a glass of vino, but if you're in the mood for Mediterranean, La Tapenade (Terminal 1, 2 and 3) will do the trick. If Asian food is more up your alley, Wow Bao (Terminal 5) offers Asian-inspired steamed buns. 

Making a meal out of popcorn is kind of Chicago's thing. If it's your thing as well, the Chicago mix—caramel and cheese popcorn paired together—at Garrett's (Terminal 2, 3) can't be beat. Having sold this popular concoction for over 50 years, Garrett's is expectedly addicting.

Or maybe you'd like to while away the time knocking back a local IPA at Goose Island's airport bar (Terminal 2, 3), indulging in a laid-back drink at Beaudevin Wine Bar (Terminal 1) or sipping the suds at Billy Goat Tavern & Grill (Terminal 1).

Shop Luxury Brands

All international flights are routed through Terminal 5 at O'Hare. Along with international travel comes demand for international shopping. Browse Armani, Michael Kors and Swatch as you wait for your next flight in Terminal 5. Use friends, family or an upcoming meeting as an excuse to stock up on chocolate confections from Vosges Haut-Chocolat. No one will blame you. 

O'Hare International Airport, Chicago
(Courtesy Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA))

Fit in a Workout

If your weekly workout includes a yoga mat and breathing exercises, you're in luck. O'Hare airport's yoga room (Terminal 3) is open more than 12 hours a day and serves as a perfect place to unfurl your mat and meditate. 

Gym enthusiasts who need more equipment can take advantage of the fitness center at Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel, tucked into O'Hare airport's domestic terminals (Terminal 1, 2 and 3). The fitness center offers day passes for access to the pool, steam room, sauna and workout area.

Chicago O'Hare Airport aeroponic garden
O'Hare's vertical, aeroponic garden yields vegetables and herbs used by the airport's restaurants. (Courtesy Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA))

Visit O'Hare's Garden

O'Hare was the first airport in the world to install an aeroponic garden (Terminal 3). The plants are misted daily with nutrient-dense water that makes up for the lack of soil. Several restaurants, including Tortas Frontera and Tuscany Cafe, actually use the fresh produce from the garden in their meals. There are more than 1,000 planting spots among the 26 suspended columns which include crops of more than a dozen varieties of leafy greens and herbs. 

There are approximately 30 pieces of art at O'Hare. (Courtesy Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA))

Find the Public Artwork

Among the concourses, Chicago's art scene is booming. Find approximately 30 works ranging from sculptures to paintings to murals throughout the airport as part of O'Hare's public art collection. One of the most famous works includes "The Sky's the Limit," a mile-long neon light sculpture—connecting concourses B and C in Terminal 1—created by Michael Hayden. Dinosaurs, painted glass sculptures and giant beacons are also among the public art lineup at O'Hare International Airport.