5 Most Kid-Friendly Airports for Family Travel (Plus Some Advice for Parents!)

Family vacations can be a fabulous way to bond with those closest to you. Yet, especially for parents of young children, they can be some of the most trying times. Confusing terminal navigation and overstimulation can add to children’s existing anxiety.

And, parents who are already responsible for parking, luggage, and trip plans have extra little people to contend with. Traveling by plane and making your way to the final destination with a toddler or multiple children is hard work. So, you need to prepare with kids in mind.

Even if you have no scheduled layovers and no matter what airline you fly, air travel is known to come with unexpected delays. And, kids aren’t usually patient to this fact.

There are 5,087 public airports in the United States last documented by the Bureau of Transportation. Unfortunately, not all of them do everything possible to facilitate a comfortable experience for travelers with small children. But, some of them do.

So, explore this list of kid-friendly airports in the US. When possible, try to plan your vacations and other trips with this in mind. And, find out the best places to dine, play, shop, and rest at each facility.

First, Why is Family Travel Important?
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.
  • Compel otherwise decreasing time set aside for family bonding.
  • Improve communication within relationships.
  • Decrease the probability of divorce.
  • Strengthen lifetime familial bonds.
  • Improve well-being for all aged travelers.
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.

But, How Can You Enjoy Your Family Trip and Relax on Vacation with Kids?
Ultimately, traveling with children takes some courage. Your kids keep you on your toes at home, so they’re sure to do the same in an unfamiliar place. Luckily, there are 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 US 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.
  1. Over-prepare and expect everything imaginable to go wrong.
  2. Try to arrive early for each event on your itinerary.
  3. Prior to travel, communicate with your children about what to expect.
  4. Request any special in-flight meals at the time of your reservation.
  5. If possible, only use carry-ons.
  6. Don’t check your stroller(s) with baggage.
  7. Pack plenty of snacks.
  8. Remember to ask for family and child discounts.
  9. Keep your contact information on a card in your child’s pocket.
  10. Store essential medicines in your carry-on.
  11. Buy NEW toys, books, puzzles, and/ or games to maximize novelty.
  12. Bring any comfort items like special stuffed animals or blankets.
  13. Use earplugs, gum, bottles, and/ or pacifiers for ear-popping on the plane.
  14. Take advantage of your airline’s child-friendly airport lounges.
  15. 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 dash of luck, you’re sure to have an exciting vacation with young children.

Now, Which Are the Most Child-Friendly US Airports?

Now that you’ve got the advice under your belt to prep for travel with small kids, let’s look at the airports most likely to keep them entertained while you wait for your flight.

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
Smashburger & Bar is open from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm daily at DEN. 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 8:00 am to 8:00 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 of the building.

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, Concourses B & E
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 login to your own Playstation account to play. Pay from $10.99 to $44.99 per person depending on how long you want to play.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at DFW: Geppetto’s Toy Store, Concourse A
Geppetto’s Toy Store has branched out from its original store in San Diego and started serving airports. DFW has, fortunately, been graced with their opening. And, your kids will love the array of toys and hobby items should you get the change to take them.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at DFW: Rest Zones, Concourses B, 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: Friendly’s, Concourse A
Friendly’s is open from 4:30 am to 30 minutes after the last flight, so you can typically eat here at any time.  They have a kid’s menu and offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert for the entire family.
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 Chairs
If 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)
The only west coast airport on the list, if you plan to travel this way with kids, see if you can make your stop at PDX. Here’s what you can do with the family while here.

Best Place to Eat with Kids at PDX: Cafe Yumm, Concourse C
You’ll want to check this place out while you’re here, especially since the only place you’ll find the Cafe Yumm menu (including Yumm Kids) is in the Pacific Northwest. They serve children in a bigger bowl to help avoid spills. Plus the food options are some of the healthiest in the airport.
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. The toddler’s dream play area is airport-themed and can keep kids entertained for awhile.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at PDX: Northwest Travel Mart, Concourses B, C, & D
Northwest Travel Mart at PDX airport is a branch of Paradise’s Shops, specialized in airport shopping experience. You can find something for the entire family here, including food, last-minute travel necessities, and souvenirs. The shops are open from 4:30 to midnight.
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. Plus, the establishment 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 F3F-4 fighter plane from WWII. The plane has been fully restored. This provides parents with a great teaching opportunity. Plus, it’s a fabulous place to take pictures.
Best Place to Shop with Kids at ORD: Kids Works, Concourse B
Kids Works is open from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm daily and 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. If your child likes to browse, they’ll love this store.
Best Place to Rest with Kids at ORD: The Mother’s Room, Concourse C
The Mother’s Room is designated for nursing mothers traveling through the O’Hare airport. For a serene area to breastfeed your infant and relax while you wait for your next flight, check it out. There is a yoga room next door if you think your kids will allow that sort of thing.

Bonus: US Airport Playground FAQs
Travel in the US 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 US airports.

Q. Does LAX have a playground?
A. Yes, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has a playground. The play area is beach-themed and located inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Q. Does Atlanta airport have a kids’ play area?
A. No, Atlanta International Airport (ATL) does not have a designated children’s playground.

Q. Does Charlotte airport have a play area?
A. No, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) does not have a designated playground inside the airport. For a special, kid-friendly activity, you will have to leave the airport.

Q. Does Orlando airport have a play area?
A. 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.

Q. Does San Diego airport have a playground?
A. No, San Diego International Airport (SAN) does not have a designated play area.

Q. Does Houston airport have a play area?
A. No, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) does not have a designated playground for children.

Q. Does Salt Lake City airport have a kid play area?
A. Yes, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has three designated play areas for children. They are located in concourses A, B, and E.

Q. Does Phoenix airport have a playground?
A. Yes, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) has two designated play areas located on each side of terminal 3.

Q. Does LaGuardia airport have a play area?
A. Yes, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) has a designated play area for kids, located in concourse A.

Final Thoughts
Now that you know what you 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.


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