Enduring a long layover at an airport is never fun, but during summer the feeling of being cooped up on a beautiful day can be pure torture, especially if that day is spent at a boring U.S. airport. But there’s no reason to spend the whole day on the menace of travel. Many airports are located within striking distance of an ocean, or lake, or great shopping and walking districts. Prime beaches can be just a short ride away.
Here are a few of the airports where an easy added beach escape awaits travelers before, after or even in between flights:
San Diego International Airport, California: Mission Beach – There is plenty to keep you busy on a visit to San Diego’s Mission Beach, whether you’re traveling alone, with kids or as a couple. The beach itself offers the chance to swim, play a game of volleyball on the sand or walk along the adjacent boardwalk. Belmont Park amusement park is nearby if you feel like riding a roller coaster, and Mission Beach is also home to many bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as showers in case you need to rinse off before heading to the airport.
- Getting there: The trip from the San Diego airport to Mission Beach takes under 20 minutes, and a taxi is your most convenient option.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Florida: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park – You don’t need to go too far after getting off a plane in Fort Lauderdale to hit the beach. One of your best options is to make your way to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, which has plenty to keep beach-goers of all ages happy. Here you’ll find a long stretch of soft sand, volleyball courts, outdoor grills, picnic tables, outdoor showers and a playground for kids. You’ll also find plenty of cafes and restaurants right across from the beach.
- Getting there: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park is only about 15 minutes from the airport. The quickest option is to take a taxi.
Cancun International Airport, Mexico: Playa Tortugas – Although this beach can get crowded on weekends, the turquoise water and white sand of Cancun make it worth finding your own spot among the throngs of beachgoers. There are lounge chairs here to rent, and the water is clean and shallow making it good for swimming. You can also rent snorkel equipment if you want to check out what’s going on beneath the waves. If you’re feeling really adventurous, brave the on-site bungee tower where jumpers leap into the water below. Restaurants and food vendors abound so there’s plenty to eat and drink, and there are public restrooms nearby. Playa Tortugas is also an access point for the ferry to Isla Mujeres, so you can add in a visit to that charming island, if you have enough time.
- Getting there: Playa Tortugas is less than 30 minutes by car from the airport, so we’d recommend taking a taxi.
Tampa International Airport, Florida: Clearwater Beach – The closest beach to Tampa International for your sunbathing pleasure is Clearwater Beach, one of the prettiest stretches of sand in Florida. Cabanas, chairs and sun umbrellas are available for rent, volleyball nets are set up on the sand, restrooms and showers are located on-site and a plethora of restaurants and bars are close by. If you happen to be at the beach close to sunset, head to Pier 60 for the daily festival Sunsets at Pier 60, celebrating the famous sunsets over Clearwater Beach. There are buskers, live entertainment, craft vendors and live music. The fun takes place from two hours before to two hours after sunset.
- Getting there: Clearwater Beach is roughly a 35-minute taxi ride from Tampa International.
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Isla Verde Beach – Isla Verde Beach is the longest and widest one in San Juan and it’s conveniently close to the airport. The calm and clear water makes this a good snorkeling spot, with equipment for rent at several kiosks on the beach. Being a popular resort area, you also won’t have to search long for a place to eat or grab a drink by the water.
- Getting there: Isla Verde Beach is only about a 10-minute taxi ride from San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport.
Bonus airport escapes:
Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois: Ohio Street Beach
Miami International Airport, Florida: South Beach
Los Angeles International Airport, California: Marina Del Rey
Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay, Jamaica: Doctor’s Cave Beach
Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii: Ala Moana Beach Park
Punta Cana International Airport, Dominican Republic: Playa Bavaro
Barcelona–El Prat Airport, Spain: Barceloneta Beach
Athens International Airport, Greece: Edem Beach
Toronto Pearson Airport, Ontario, Canada: Sunnyside Beach.
Recommendations provided by Cheapflights.com.