Airport delays are all too common and may even turn into downright nightmares when traveling with children begging for entertainment and something to do. Whether it’s one hour or hours of delays, you need to be ready with ideas of airport games for kids so you’re not caught off guard. Fortunately, we’ve got 10 ways to amuse your kids when stranded at the airport.
1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt. Create a list of items that need to be found in the airport, from a plastic fork to rainbow-colored sprinkles at an ice cream stand to a blue teddy bear in a gift shop to a view of the control tower. This airport game for kids can be played collaboratively or not: everyone can go together, or you can split up the kids with the adults and make a competition out of it.
2. Play “car” games. When killing time in the car, you may play “I Spy” as well as search for the alphabet one letter at a time. These same ideas lend themselves equally well to airport games for kids: Walk around and try to find every letter of the alphabet in your terminal, and “spy” items like a red suitcase, a Dora doll, a sleeping baby and a soda bottle. Or, see if one of these other best road trip games for families catches your interest.
3. Play in the airport playground. If you’re lucky, you may be at a kid-friendly airport, complete with a play area for kids. Terminal Two’s “Kids on the Fly” activity center at O’Hare in Chicago, Terminal C’s “Kidport” at Logan in Boston, and San Francisco’s aquarium at Lobby E are our favorites. (See more airports with playgrounds in 10 Best Kid-Friendly Airports.)
4. Enjoy a day at a museum. Many airports feature art galleries, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, where the walkway between the T and A gates feature beautiful stone sculptures from Africa, and San Diego’s Terminal Two West temporary and rotating cultural exhibits. If your young ones are bored by art, make your own museum-themed airport games for kids–whether it’s coming up with funny captions for paintings or posing for photos imitating the statues.
5. Enjoy a progressive dinner. Instead of selecting one restaurant, jump around and sample different restaurants in the airport for a progressive meal. Having appetizers at one, dinner at another, and dessert at yet another will not only kill time, but may prevent kids from getting too antsy during the meal.
6. Take a dip. If your airport is connected to a hotel, you may be able to purchase day passes to the hotel’s swimming pools, such as the Grand Hyatt DFW Airport Hotel’s rooftop saltwater pool.
Related: 20 Family Resorts with Day Passes
7.Download and play new games on your phone. When you’re down to your last straw, screens always provide a reliable way to entertain kids in the airport. Game apps galore exist for iPhone, Droid and other smart phones, including many free games that can be downloaded in seconds. When the kids get tired of Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe, download a new game to occupy their time. Some popular apps include Scribble, Shapes, Bug Squash, Whacker and Hippo Blast.
8. Visit the spa. From chair massages at XpreSpa in Terminal C of Philadelphia Internatinal to manicures and pedicures at Passport Travel Spa near Gate B6 in Indianapolis, spas are popping up across the country. You’ve got time to kill, pamper yourselves!
9. Use Your Energy. Run the kids ragged — and give yourself a workout — with a walk around the airport. Go from terminal to terminal, up and down stairs and escalators and through various gates and you’ll rack up the miles in your walking shoes. Split up and make it a walking race to see who gets back to gate the fastest. (Runners are disqualified!)
10. Watch luckier travelers take off. Maybe you’re stuck for the time being, but you can watch others make their getaway at airport observation decks. Baltimore/Washington’s airport provides rocking chairs to take in the views at the upper level Observation Gallery (between B and C Concourses), and LAX offers an outdoor observation deck on top of the Theme Building.