Tour of Airports: “C” is for California (all 8 of them!)

Whether you travel just once a year, once a month or even more, airports can quickly start to look the same. There are, however a lot of unique and interesting airport features out there, and we’re going to take you state-by-state to find the must-see attractions at each major airport so you can scope out your stop ahead of time and be sure to check it out for yourself.

Here’s the second installment of our Tour of Airports feature. There are three “C” states to cover, but since California wins the award for the most large airports (that would be 8!) it gets its own edition:

  • Burbank: Bob Hope Airport (BUR)
    Bob Hope Airport was the primary airport in LA until the end of World War II. Since then the area has grown a lot, and now the airport is modest in comparison to others nearby. The primary attraction is the proximity to downtown and the convenience the location and smaller size afford. Plus the name is more entertaining that most. 

    Photo credit: www.burbankairport.com

  • Los Angeles: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
    Well, since the Theme Building of LAX is such an iconic landmark, it makes sense that a meal at the Encounter Restaurant (online reservations available) would be a must-do when you’re there. Just be sure to allow for time to get back in since it is located outside of security. After being closed post-September 11th, the observation deck is now open on Saturdays and Sundays for a full view of the LAX area. 

    Photo credit: www.encounterlax.com

    Runner-up LAX activity for those of us without one at home is to jet over to the nearby In-N-Out Burger; it’s adjacent to a small park popular with plane spotters. Take the free shuttle to Economy Lot C and cross the street at 96th St. and Sepulveda Blvd.

  • Oakland: Oakland International Airport (OAK)
    Oakland’s Terminal 2 actually installed art that is pleasant to look at! As part of its renovation in 2006, the piece, titled “Going Away, Coming Home” by Hung Liu is made of 160 feet of glass panels of  red-crowned cranes, which are a symbol of blessings and safe travel. Nice! 

    Photo credit: www.flyoakland.com

  • Sacramento: Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
    Sacramento’s piece, entitled “Samson,” is a fun diversion while awaiting the arrival of your bag in the baggage claim area of Terminal A. It consists of 1,400 pieces of luggage in two 23-foot stacks. 

    Photo credit: Stuck at the Airport blog

  • San Diego: San Diego International Airport (SAN)
    Ahhh, what a great idea. San Diego’s Terminal 2 has these rocking chairs set up (near a Starbucks, please note!) for a simple yet pleasant (and seemingly forgotten about) past-time: watching the planes. Love it. 

    Photo credit: jaunted.com

  • San Francisco: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
    SFO wins the award for convenience with their “hydration station.” You can bring an empty bottle through security and then fill up on the other side at their water bottle refilling area. We can only hope this is a popular trend! 

    Photo credit: jaunted.com

    Those traveling with youngsters (and their fellow travelers!) will be pleased to see the “Kids’ Spot”  in Terminal 3. Children can “let off steam” at this weather-themed area before getting on the plane.

    Photo credit: www.flysfo.com

  • San Jose: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
    Of course Silicon Valley’s airport would have art installations with the theme “Art+Technology,” like this one located in Terminal B. Entitled “Space Observer,” it is interactive with moving parts and an “eye” that displays images from embedded cameras. 

    Photo credit: www.flysanjose.com

  • Santa Ana: John Wayne Airport – Orange County (SNA)
    Sorry, SNA. The John Wayne Airport doesn’t have anything on DISNEYLAND. It’s only 14 miles away and it is the happiest place on earth. So if there are a few hours to kill, why not?!? 

    Cheesy Photo Credit: http://pirates.wikia.com/wiki/Disneyland

Next up: the remaining “C” states! Stay tuned, and in the meantime please let us know if you have a tip for an airport you frequent.

Previous: “A” is for Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, and Arkansas

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