How to Spend Your Layover in O'Hare

The days of eating Panda Express while overhearing couples argue about who forgot to pack the extra charger are over. O’Hare Airport has great restaurants, nail salons, a spa, and beautiful public art work installments.  Enjoy a nice meal, get a manicure, and forget that you are actually in the airport.

Where to Eat & Drink in O’Hare

No one is at their best when they are hungry.  O’Hare offers tons of fast food options (McDonald’s fries are my airport ‘guilty pleasure’), but if you’re looking for a heartier meal try Publican Tavern or Tortas Frontera.  Both restaurants boast great food, strong drinks, and an atmosphere so good that you may forget you’re in the airport...just don’t miss your flight.

Publican Tavern (Terminal 3)

Chicago foodies may know the Publican for their swanky West Loop restaurants, but the beloved Chicago chain has moved into the airport dining space.  I love the Publican Tavern especially when I’m traveling alone. The restaurant offers abundant bar seating that overlooks the terminal which makes it the perfect place to people watch while enjoying a burger and old fashioned. The food & atmosphere are great, the drinks are strong, and the service is fast.

Publican Tavern

Publican Tavern

Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless (Terminals 1,3,5)

Chicago’s own celebrity Chef, Rick Bayless, has a couple restaurants in O’hare.  Tortas Frontera is a great place to enjoy some quality Mexican fare, sip on a Margarita, and wait to board.  Be warned the line can get long so if you are in Terminal 1 or 3 leverage Tortas Frontera’s online ordering option.  

What to Do in O’Hare

Instead of counting down the seconds until boarding & lining up an hour and a half early (God that sounds awful) use your layover to pamper yourself and become a little more cultured.

Terminal Getaway Spa (Terminals 1,3)

In O’Hare there are three Terminal Getaway Spas located in the main terminals.  Unfortunately, they are not accessible to the international terminal (terminal 5). The spas offer a range of services including manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, and waxing. Make sure you call to book your appointment in advance because the spas get busy during peak travel times.  

Art Installations

There are a number of incredible art installations to be found in O’Hare. My favorite is the light installation in Terminal 1 that connects concourses B&C. To check out all of the installations refer to this link.

Light Installation 

Light Installation 

Aeroponic Garden

If you’re flying out of Terminal 3  check out the Aeroponic Garden.  The Garden is used to provide some of the fresh herbs and vegetables to restaurants in the airport.  

Next time you are in O’Hare don’t waste your time pacing at your gate and take advantage of all the amenities the airport has to offer. After all, who said that layovers have to be awful?  

x Smack