5 Most Kid-Friendly Airports for Family Travel (Plus Some Advice for Parents!)
Family vacations are a great opportunity to bond with your kids and instill a love of travel at an early age. That said, we all know how many obstacles parents face when they’re trying to pull off a family trip. Parents are already in charge of parking, luggage, and trip plans — keeping children entertained during travel adds to their long list of responsibilities.
Even if you have no scheduled layovers and no matter what airline you fly, air travel is known to come with unexpected delays. Fortunately, as more and more parents choose to fly with their kids, airports continue to adapt in order to facilitate a comfortable experience for travelers with small children.
There are 5,080 public airports in the United States, as last documented by the Bureau of Transportation. You’ll encounter a wide array of “kid-friendliness” at these airports — some are more kid-friendly than others. We narrowed down the top 5 most-friendly airports so you can plan your next family vacation with greater ease.
Read on to understand the importance of family travel and tips for parents traveling with young children. Plus, find out the best places to dine, play, shop, and rest at the 5 most kid-friendly airports.
Top 5 Most Child-Friendly US Airports
1. Denver International Airport (DEN)
Here’s what you can do during a layover or while waiting on a departure flight with kids in Denver.
Best Place to Eat with Kids at DEN: Smashburger & Bar, Concourse C and BSmashburger & Bar is open from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm daily at DEN, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy family friendly dining in a relaxing spot, or order takeout to carry back to the airport lounge or your terminal.
Best Place to Play with Kids at DEN: Underground Train (AGTS)
While the Denver airport has several kid-friendly areas to play, one of the most exciting activities for kids to do here is to take a ride on the Automatic Guideway Terminal System. The subway is intended to get travelers from their arrival terminal to departure location, but you can hop on for free anytime.
Does the Denver airport have a children’s play area? Yes. There is a designated kid space on the mezzanine level of Concourse B inside the airport.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at DEN: Kazoo & Company Toy Store, Concourse B
Kazoo & Company Toy Store is open daily from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm at the Denver International airport. This is an ideal shop for families with kids to visit or to purchase gifts. They offer a broad variety of educational toys, games, plush animals, and more.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at DEN: Airport Lounges, Concourse A, East & West Wings
Depending on your membership, you may be able to access one of the airport’s lounges. For a one-time fee, you can access American Airlines Admirals Club in Concourse A or United Club located in the east wing and the west wing (temporarily closed) of the building.
For more information about DEN’s family-friendly amenities, visit their website. We recommend the following helpful hints:
- Search for more kid-friendly restaurants using the “Family Friendly” filter in the “Dine” section.
- Print out DEN-themed bingo cards for the whole family in the “Play” section.
2. Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
If you’ll be leaving the Dallas/ Fort Worth area or you have to choose a layover spot with kids, consider DFW. Here’s where you can go for kid activities while you wait.
Best Place to Eat with Kids at DFW: McDonald’s, Concourse D
Let your little ones play off some of their energy between bites at McDonald’s DFW kid area. There are several McDonald’s at this airport, but if your children are interested in a foam-soft play area and you want to sit comfortably while you charge your phone, make your way between terminals D and D8 to find this spot.
Best Place to Play with Kids at DFW: Gameway, Concourse B
Gameway is a revolutionary gaming lounge created to keep all ages entertained while waiting for their next flight at the Dallas/ Fort Worth Airport. Enjoy snacks and drinks then, log into your own Playstation account to play. Prices range from $10.99 to $44.99 per person, depending on how long you want to play. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on the time so you don’t miss your flight!
Best Place to Shop with Kids at DFW: Natalie’s Candy Jar, Concourse A, B, & C
If you or your children have sweet tooths, you’ll love this sugar-filled paradise. You won’t be able to miss it — with multiple locations in three terminals, Its neon lighting and bright decorations will draw you in immediately.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at DFW: Rest Zones, Concourses B, D, C, & E
At the Dallas/ Fort Worth airport, you will find designated rest zones. These are located near B, C, and E terminals. They’re easy to spot since they look cozy. Take small children along to relax when they’re wound down. Earplugs and headphones can come in handy for the kiddos to block out nearby noises.
3. Boston Logan International Airport, Massport (BOS)
Can you plan a stop in Boston while traveling via air in the US? If so, you’ll love the kid-friendly airport amenities at Logan Airport.
Best Place to Eat with Kids at BOS: Wahlburgers, Concourse C
Your kids can enjoy a “Smahlburger” at this kid-friendly establishment, or anything else from their thorough kid’s menu. Run by the Boston-born Wahlberg brothers, you’ll get a taste of Boston here, even if you’re just stopping over for a layover.
Best Place to Play with Kids at BOS: Kidport, Concourses A, B, and C
Kidport offers families a safe, fun-filled spot to decompress before or after a flight. These play areas were designed by the Boston Children’s Museum and are a hit for families traveling from anywhere in the world. There are three locations inside the airport.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at BOS: BookLink, Concourse A
BookLink is fun for readers of all ages with an impressive selection of books near Terminal A. If your little ones enjoy libraries and exploring age-appropriate literature, be sure to take them here and let them pick out a gift for themselves while you’re at the Boston airport.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at BOS: Designated Rest Zone Rocking ChairsIf you need to rest, try to locate one of the airport’s rocking chairs in a designated rest zone. These areas are located in multiple concourses and are perfect for infants who like to be lulled to sleep with a rocking motion. Be sure to bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to block out disrupting sounds.
4. Portland International Airport (PDX)
Travel & Leisure Magazine ranked PDX as Best U.S. Airport for seven straight years, and for good reason — kids and adults alike will love this west coast gem. Here’s what you can do with the family there.
Best Place to Eat with Kids at PDX: Cafe Yumm, Concourse C
Based in the pacific northwest, Cafe Yumm offers some of the healthiest (and yumm-iest) food options in the airport. They serve children in a bigger bowl to help avoid spills. Check out the Yumm! Kids menu for a list of kid-friendly meals.
Best Place to Play with Kids at PDX: Play Area, Concourse C
The PDX airport post-security play area includes Legos, a slide, multiple toys, and even a flat-screen tv. This toddler’s dream play area is airport-themed and will keep your kids busy until boarding time.
If time allows, you can check out the Hollywood Theatre, a mini version of Portland’s treasured, historic movie theater. Family friendly short films play consecutively on a one-hour loop, so you can pop in and out any time.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at PDX: Northwest Travel Mart, Concourses E, C, & D
Northwest Travel Mart at PDX airport is a branch of the French company Paradies, specializing in the airport shopping experience. You can find something for the entire family here, including food, last-minute travel necessities, and souvenirs. Bonus: PDX is one of the only airports where street pricing is reflected, so you won’t be shelling out as much cash as you usually do at an airport shop.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at PDX: Airport Lounges, Concourses C & E
If you need to rest, PDX airport has two pay-per-use airport lounges, Alaska Lounge and United Club. Or, if you’re an elite member of another airline, check out what they have to offer. Also, check your credit cards for possible rewards and exclusive access.
5. O’Hare International Airport, Chicago (ORD)
Will you be making a pitstop in Chicago? If you weren’t before, you might want to change your travel plans once you read this.
Best Place to Eat with Kids at ORD: Smoothie King, The Grove, Concourse B
The Grove offers high-quality and healthy smoothies from Smoothie King to families who make their way through O’Hare International Airport. This spot is as kid-friendly as they come with a diverse smoothie and juice menu that includes something for everyone.
Best Place to Play with Kids at ORD: Fighter Plane, Terminal 2
If you have time, be sure to take the kiddo(s) to check out the F4F Wildcat fighter plane from WWII. The plane has been fully restored, and honors WWII fighter pilot “Butch” O’Hare, after whom the airport is named.
Bonus: Check out the Family Lounge, located in Terminal 2 just past security. Decked out with funhouse mirrors and climbing structures, you can keep your kids occupied until it’s time to board the plane.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at ORD: Kids Works, Concourse B
Kids Works is located in the Central Market near Concourse B. The shop stocks a complete line of brand-name toys, clothing, books, and activities for all aged kids.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at ORD: The Mother’s Room, Concourse C
Located in every terminal, visit a Mother’s Room for a serene area to breastfeed your infant and relax while you wait for your next flight. The rooms feature comfortable seating, sinks, and wash areas.
Bonus: U.S. Airport Playground FAQs
Travel in the U.S. with kids doesn’t always allow for your family to enjoy one of the top kid-friendly airports listed above. So, here are the answers to some of parents’ most frequently asked questions about play areas at U.S. airports.
Does LAX have a playground?
Does Atlanta airport have a kids’ play area?
Does Charlotte airport have a play area?
Does Orlando airport have a play area?
No, Orlando International Airport (NCO) does not have a designated playground. However, they do have a 3,000-gallon aquarium in the food court for kids to enjoy.
Does San Diego airport have a playground?
Does Houston airport have a play area?
Does Salt Lake City airport have a kid play area?
Does Phoenix airport have a playground?
Does LaGuardia airport have a play area?
Yes, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has a designated play area for kids, located in Terminal B, Eastern Concourse.
The Importance of Family Travel
A family traveling the world (or even their home state) makes memories that last a lifetime. They learn about other cultures, have the opportunity to solve new problems, and bond in a way that’s beyond a weekly board game night. If you travel the world or the country with kids, it opens them to experiences they could never have at home.
According to the Journal of Travel Research, traveling with family is proven to have the following benefits.
- Increase otherwise dwindling time set aside for family bonding.
- Improve communication within relationships.
- Decrease the probability of divorce.
- Strengthen lifetime familial bonds.
- Improve well-being for travelers of all ages.
If nothing else, the chance to create a lifelong memory is enough for most parents. So, even though a child crying on a plane is never fun, the chance to vacation in a new, exciting place is on most people’s bucket list.
How Can You Enjoy Your Family Trip and Relax on Vacation with Kids?
Ultimately, traveling with children takes fortitude. Your kids keep you on your toes at home, so they’re sure to do the same in an unfamiliar place. Luckily, we’ve compiled the following tried and tested pointers to make any air trip with your family more enjoyable.
15 Quick Family Travel Tips for a Fun Air Journey with Little Ones
First of all, if you plan to travel with an infant, understand that all major airports in the U.S. are required to designate a breastfeeding area for nursing mothers. So if this is a concern of yours, no need to worry.
Now, here are 15 quick and easy pieces of advice for parents traveling with babies and toddlers.
- Anticipate hiccups. Overpreparation will help. Bring coloring books, games, and small toys to entertain your child whenever possible.
- Buy and bring along NEW toys, books, puzzles, and/ or games to maximize novelty.
- Bring any comfort items like special stuffed animals or blankets.
- Try to arrive early for each event on your itinerary.
- Prior to travel, communicate with your children about what to expect.
- Request any special in-flight meals at the time of your reservation.
- If possible, only use carry-ons.
- Don’t check your stroller(s) with baggage. Strollers often prove helpful while navigating the airport.
- Pack plenty of snacks.
- Remember to ask for family and child discounts.
- Keep your contact information on a card in your child’s pocket.
- Store essential medicines in your carry-on.
- Use earplugs, gum, bottles, and/ or pacifiers for ear-popping on the plane.
- Take advantage of your airline’s child-friendly airport lounges.
- Plan departures, stops, layovers, and arrivals at airports with family-centered amenities when it’s practical to do so.
With these tips, the right amount of caffeine, and just a bit of luck, you’re sure to have an enjoyable vacation with young children.
Now that you have everything you need to know, you’re ready for air travel with young kids. And, if you need a place to park before you depart on the ultimate family vacation, reserve your parking spot today.