Traveling more is on everyone’s list of goals, right? Since you’ll (hopefully) be hitting the airport more this year, you should totally consider making a date out of your next visit. There are so many unique things to do at the Orlando International Airport that you’ve probably never noticed while rushing to catch your flight. Nobody likes rushing, so we’re proposing another way to travel: arrive early, relaxed and ready to explore.
From unexpected dining experiences to loads of artwork, we’re confident you’ll find the perfect thing to do during your airport date. We’re lucky that MCO is so pretty—complete with loads of natural lighting and greenery—so make some time to take it all in before making your way to your next destination with a sendoff from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Soak Up the Sun Poolside
If you’re a sucker for rooftop pools, you won’t want to miss the pool at the airport’s Hyatt Regency. It’s got runway views for days. Grab your favorite beverage and sunbathe while plane spotting. You can take advantage of the pool—and all hotel amenities—when you book a day-use room (available between 10am and 6pm). We’re crossing our fingers for pool day-pass availability in the future! But, this is a great option if you’re prepping for a long-haul flight or have a long layover.
Opt for an Elevated Dining Experience
Hemisphere is a hidden GEM at the airport serving neo-contemporary world cuisine. Set on the airport’s 9th floor, the restaurant boasts exceptional runway views through its panoramic floor-to-ceiling dining room windows. Rumor has it you can see rocket launches from Cape Canaveral right from the dining room! Tip: Make sure you request a window table when making your reservation.
Favorites dishes include grilled octopus, seared scallops (over Trevi squid ink pasta) and the lamb chop. Hemisphere is open every day for breakfast and Monday-Saturday for dinner.
Another local favorite you can enjoy at the MCO is Cask & Larder, which has been repeatedly recognized as one of USA Today 10Best’s top airport local/regional dining spots. It was also recently featured as one of Thrillist’s Best Airport Restaurants in America’s 40 Biggest Airports. The Southern-inspired “farm-to-terminal” restaurant is open every day from 5am to 11pm and you can enjoy delicious seasonal dishes, fresh-shucked oysters and a healthy sampling of local brews. Note: Cask & Larder is located in Airside 2 (Terminal A, Gates 100-129).
Selfie ’Til You Can’t No More
Working on your selfie scrapbook? Run down to the airport’s attraction stores (Disney, Universal, Kennedy Space Center and SeaWorld) and get creative in front of the unique “selfie walls.”
Design Your Own Art Crawl
There’s artwork practically everywhere you look at MCO. From the infamous Traveler to the beautiful floor wayfinder “gardens,” you’ll surely find some intriguing pieces when you slow down and take the time to look instead of rushing to your gate. Peruse the terminal making a list of your favorites and compare lists with your partner.
• Explore the initial (and quiet) phase of the new South Terminal
• Get pampered before your flight at XpresSpa
• Go people watching at the Hyatt Regency’s Lobby Bar or City PUB
• Spot your favorite fish in the food court’s 3,000-gallon fish tank
• Get wired with Cuban coffee, quesitos and more at Zaza Cuban Diner located in Airsides 1 (Gates 10-19) & 3 (Gates 30-39).
All photos by Whitney Gonzalez unless otherwise noted; feature image credit: Cask & Larder