Free Play Areas
Many airports feature indoor playground or play areas for kids with play structures and games. For a breakdown of the best airports for families (by age), see 10 Best Kid-Friendly Airports.
Free iPads and Wi-Fi
More and more airports are offering free Wi-Fi. But some airports are going the extra mile and offering free use of iPads and touch screens! Many airport restaurants have adopted the iPad way of ordering, which is especially convenient for families since they the touch screens often feature games for kids, too.
Free Library and Book Exchange
Did you know the Schipol Amsterdam Airport offers a library? The multimedia airport library is the first permanent library in an airport in the world. The library, which received a remodel in 2017, offers a large collection on Dutch culture, which is great for those who are looking to gain knowledge before beginning a Dutch vacation. It is more of a reference library so don't expect to take your reading material with you on the plane -- but it offers travelers photo books, videos and music reflecting the Dutch culture and Dutch fiction translated in more than 30 languages.
Not entirely free and more of a discount, the Read and Return Program is available at more than 70 airports in the U.S. and Canada. Travelers can purchase a book from a Paradies shop and return it in good condition at another store airport location and get half your money back. The returned books are then resold at half price. For frequent travelers, that's endless reading material at a discounted rate!
Free Airport Tours
Did you know you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the airport? Check ahead of time if your airport offers such a tour because many require an advance reservation. For example, the San Diego International Airport offers free two-hour tours of the airport and airfield, which includes an endangered species area and artwork, on select Thursday and Friday mornings (reservation required).
Sculptures, art collections, paintings, movie posters and more fill the terminals at many airports. Take the kids on a free stroll through the airport and admire all the art work. Denver International Airport has an expansive public art collection for travelers to admire. Both permanent and temporary exhibits can be found throughout the airport and are mapped out on the airport website. Look for the "America, Why I Love Her" piece in the Jeppesen Terminal. It was inspired by a family road trip! At the Philadelphia International Airport, families will find movie posters of movies that were made in Philly and surrounding areas between terminals A-East and B. The kids will love seeing the Rocky posters before running up the Art Museum steps themselves on a visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
If the family travel stress level is at an all-time high, it may be time to zen out! There is a free yoga room at the San Francisco International Airport. The small room features yoga mats and offers a place to relax, practice yoga and center yourself before continuing on your travels. Children are welcome (or mom and dad can take turns). The yoga room is located past security in Terminal 2.
At the small Fort Wayne International Airport in Indiana, travelers are greeted at arrivals with a free, homemade cookie! Oftentimes, Fort Wayne volunteers will personally hand you the cookie, too! Check small airports for similar perks.
Keep It Moving
We normally tell our kids not to play around on the people movers at airports. But maybe you found an area that isn't overcrowded and happens to have a people mover (those moving sidewalk things) just begging for some creativity. Your teens will love to incorporate social media or some video and perhaps put on a people mover performance like this ballet troupe.
Animal Meet and Greets
While you can't pet the law enforcement dogs at the airport, you can visit with therapy dogs at other airports! At Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, for example, you'll find therapy dogs thanks to the Animal Ambassadors program. And at San Francisco International Airport, you might spot Lilou, the adorable therapy pig who comforts flyers.
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