From Home Alone to Hobbits: Unique stays across the world

Don’t let delays and cancellations dampen your travel spirit — kill time with a mini excursion outside the airport. But which cities are worth the jaunt? Lawn Love ranked 128 U.S. cities served by the busiest airports to determine 2023’s Best and Worst Cities for Long Layovers. They looked at each city’s share of delayed and canceled flights and average departure delay time. They also searched for cities that are easy to navigate, especially from the airport, and offer plenty of fun things to see and do without breaking the bank.
New York, New York
New York, NY – courtesy of Florian Wehde on unsplash.com
Big, bustling cities reached high altitudes in the rankings, with New York topping the list. NYC has high delay rates, with the fifth-longest average departure delay. If you’re crunched for time, you might not make it all the way to Times Square from LaGuardia or JFK. But if you’re stuck for hours, it’s not hard to venture into the city for a Big Apple adventure. Stay the night in a former airport terminal at JFK Airport’s TWA Hotel, previously the TWA Flight Center. Admire 1960s-era architecture while enjoying modern amenities like the world’s largest hotel gym, an airplane-turned-cocktail lounge, and a rooftop infinity pool with a view of the runway.
Chicago, Illinois
Chicago – courtesy of Sawyer Bengston on unsplash.com
Chicago has the most delayed departures and the third-highest share of canceled flights. O’Hare’s CTA Blue Line makes it easy to get out of the airport to explore the city. Devour a deep-dish pizza, or catch a comedy show if you have the time. If you’re stuck in the city for the night, you can get some rest at Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel.
Los Angeles, California
Manhattan Beach, California – courtesy of Dez Hester on unsplash.com
You can expect relatively more punctual flights in Los Angeles, but if you end up with a delay, you’ll have plenty of attractions to occupy your time. Keep LA’s notorious traffic in mind if you do decide to explore the city — a delay of at least 12 hours should make the detour worthwhile. Grab your dream and your cardigan, and get out of the airport for some fast food at In-N-Out Burger. If you want to get some sun and sand, Manhattan Beach isn’t far from LAX, and the FlyAway Bus service allows travelers to explore everything Downtown LA has to offer. If getting back to the airport in time isn’t worth the risk, LA has the second-highest number of airport lounges, which are a great option for travelers who need to stick around.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco was ranked the second best city for walking, as well as one of the top when it comes to number of attractions—that combination together makes it one of the best for a spontaneous excursion. Travelers coming through SFO airport can access the city via the BART transit system. Take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, try fresh Dungeness crab at Fisherman’s Wharf, or hop on a cable car. For tourists with a shorter layover, passing extra time at SFO can be just as enjoyable as it has the third most airport lounges out of all cities ranked.
Miami, Florida
Miami Beach, Florida – courtesy of Antonio Cuellar on unsplash.com
Miami tied with Chicago and Washington, DC as the easiest to explore on foot, but perhaps gets the edge over the other two with its exceptionally sunny and warm weather. Tourists can take a bus from the airport or even ride Metrorail’s Orange Line to enjoy a quick trip to Miami Beach. Take in some sun with a walk down South Beach, or head to Little Havana, the center of Cuban culture in the US. No time to leave the airport? No problem—relax Miami International Airport’s on-site spa or in the yoga room in Terminal H.
Boston, Massachusetts
Another easy-to-walk city, the city center of Boston is quickly accessed via a short commute on the T’s Silver Line. Take stroll through the North End to find delicious Italian food and baked goods, go shopping on Newberry Street, or walk the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail which takes visitors through 16 historical sites significant to the founding of America. For travelers with kids, a Boston Duck Tour or trip to the New England Aquarium will keep everyone in the family entertained.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Slot machines in Las Vegas – courtesy of Benoit Dare on unsplash.com
You can hit the slot machines as soon as you land in Las Vegas at Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran International Airport). Stretch your legs with a workout in the fitness center or on the Fly Fit walking paths marked throughout the airport. If you’re traveling with kids, they can get their energy out in the aviation-themed Kids Play Area. You can also see plenty of art or learn about the history of flight in the Aviation Museum.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
When it’s not packed for spring break, you can find a comfortable place to stay overnight in Myrtle Beach which has the most accommodations in Lawn Love’s ranking. If you’re stranded in The Grand Strand, there are also plenty of attractions outside the airport if you don’t feel like lounging. Myrtle Beach State Park is not far from the airport and has a pier and boardwalk where you can stretch your legs and breathe in some ocean air. If you have several hours to spare, head to Broadway at the Beach, where you can shop, eat, catch a show, or get an adrenaline rush at the theme park.
Portland, Maine
You might be more likely to get caught up in a snowstorm in northern cities like Portland, Maine, which had second-highest share of canceled departures. The airport is fairly close to the city center, so if the winter weather isn’t too bad, you can easily take a short drive to check out this charming city. Grab a beer and relax at a local brewery or winery. If you have enough time, take a trolley tour to explore the city, or hop on a ferry and cruise around the coast.
Burlington, Vermont
Downtown Burlington, Vermont – courtesy of langhouse.com
Burlington, Vermont had the highest shares of canceled departures (likely due to the snowy weather that often impacts Portland, Maine). Of all places to be stranded, this town can be a pleasant surprise addition to your travels. Explore Church Street Marketplace, the city’s historic pedestrian mall, which has plenty of options if you’re hungry or itching to shop. If you need to move around after a long flight, you can bike or walk along Lake Champlain on the Burlington Greenway — keep an eye out for Champ, the mysterious lake monster.
— For the full list of rankings, visit LawnLove.com.

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