9 Best Things to Do at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during Christmas.

 Adam Hester / Getty Images 

If you live in the Seattle area, chances are you fly in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport several times a year. But Sea-Tac, the airport's nickname, is also a major hub for West Coast and international travel, resulting in layovers for many connecting flights.

The good news is, whether you're a local or a visitor passing through en route to your final destination, there are plenty of amenities to keep you occupied. From perusing artwork and sampling local fare to shopping at high-end boutiques and indulging in a relaxing chair massage, your layover at Sea-Tac can be almost as much of a vacation experience as the vacation itself. And if you're looking to park near the airport, never fear — there are all kinds of conveniently located parking lots nearby.

01 of 09

Enjoy a Delicious Meal

Capitol Hill at Seattle Tacoma Airport

Seattle Tacoma International Airport

While you can expect to find familiar airport spots like McDonald's, QDOBA, and plenty of Starbucks outposts, Seattle-Tacoma's dining options include everything from African and American food at Africa Lounge to tasty Vietnamese classics at Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen & Bar.

Other popular options include foodie favorite Capitol Hill Food Hall and Seattle staple Beecher's Handmade Cheese. Head to Hachi-ko or Koi Shi Sushi Bistro if you're craving Japanese food, La Pisa Cafe for Italian, LouLou Market and Bar for French-inspired Pacific Northwestern cuisine, and Poke to the Max if you're in the mood for the Hawaiian specialty. Burger lovers should try the Rel'Lish Burger Lounge, while beer enthusiasts can sip some suds at Tap and Pour, Trail Head BBQ Bar, or Ballard Brew Hall. Wine fans, meanwhile can raise a glass at Le Grand Comptoir or the Vyne Washington Tasting Room.

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388
02 of 09

Hang Out in Central Terminal

Travelers Waiting in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388

Sea-Tac Airport’s Central Terminal received major upgrades in the mid-2000s, adding to both the airport's aesthetic and comfort appeal. The layout is open and bright, with a wall of windows along one side, making it a great place to watch the planes take off and land, especially for kids.

Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the terminal if you need to get some work done or research your final destination. If you just want to unplug and relax, pull up a rocking chair alongside the wall of windows and sneak in a quick nap.

03 of 09

Get Some Retail Therapy

Seatac Airport

halbergman / Getty Images

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388

The upgrade to Sea-Tac's Central Terminal also made it a great place to shop. Unique standalone stores are interspersed among typical airport bookshops and duty-free venues.

Fireworks, situated in the main terminal, offers artistic jewelry, gifts, decor, and other novelties, many of which are made by local artists. Outdoorsmen and women will love Ex Officio as a one-stop-shop for travel clothing and accessories. Other airport shops include a high-end MAC makeup boutique, Planewear, which houses everything aviation, and Sub Pop, named after its corresponding Seattle-based record label.

04 of 09

Admire the Artwork

Seatac International Airport

Dana Neely/Getty Images

Art lovers will enjoy Central Terminal's huge hanging mobile, created by artists Ralph Helmick and Stuart Schechter. Look closely and you’ll see that each element of the mobile is a tiny figure of its own—step away from the ceiling's decoration to reveal a bird landing on the water.

While glass, sculptures, photography, and paintings line almost every terminal, Concourse B has some of the coolest artwork of all and it's right below your feet. Within the terminal's floor are bronze fish embedded in terrazzo, created by artists Judith Caldwell and Daniel Caldwell. Many people rush past this site without giving it a second look, so pay attention to your surroundings and take it all in.

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Get to Know Seattle

The Seattle skyline from Elliott Bay.

TripSavvy / Kristin Kendle

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388

If you're just passing through and won't get a chance to experience downtown Seattle, Sea-Tac actually offers a sampling of the city's best local businesses so you won't miss out.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, makers of flagship cheeses that contain locally-sourced ingredients, has a sandwich shop in Concourse C. If you haven’t sampled Beecher’s cheeses in its Seattle or New York City shops, a two-hour layover makes this the perfect time to do so. Alki Bakery in Central Terminal offers a host of local wines, while the airport's Made in Washington store sells locally-made artisan gifts alongside Pacific Northwest smoked salmon and other specialty food items. And, of course, around every corner sits a Starbucks or a Seattle’s Best coffee joint.

06 of 09

Take a Walk

Airport silhouette

bywriter / Getty Images

Sure, some people walk the mall for exercise, but when you find yourself with a long layover, strolling around the airport can be even better. All the terminals at Sea-Tac are connected, and if you get there early before the crowds, terminal exploring is a great way to sneak in some exercise.

Concourses A, B, C, and D all branch off Central Terminal, while the South and North Satellites connect via a short underground train ride. Get the feel for the old airport in Concourse B, an area with fewer restaurants, then compare it to the newer amenities offered in Concourses A and C.

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388
07 of 09

Get a Massage

Airport Massage Chairs

sung ming whang / Flickr 

In typical Seattle style, massage chairs are stationed throughout the airport, ready to give you a quick dose of relaxation. If you're looking for something a little more personal, Massage Bar, located in the North Satellite, provides seated massages, using petrissage, compression, and deep tissue techniques. The spa also provides heat therapy treatments that incorporate warm flax-seed wraps placed on the neck and shoulders to relax tired muscles. And if you're in a hurry, order a quick foot massage instead.

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388
08 of 09

Catch a Live Concert

Sea Tac International Airport Central Terminal

july7th / Getty Images

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388

Live music at an airport? Only in Seattle. With live performances scheduled seven days a week throughout the terminal, Sea-Tac has a way of treating passengers right. Check the schedule to see what time and in what location local acts are playing, then wander on by before you board your plane.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Relax in the Lounge

Delta Sky Club at Seattle Tacoma Airport

Delta News Hub / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Frequent flyers can always spend time in their favorite carrier's airport lounge during a long layover at Sea-Tac, while those without specific airline privileges can typically purchase a day pass to enjoy the perks of Delta's Sky Club, the Alaska Lounge, the United Club, or the Club at SEA.

Once inside, you'll have access to high-speed Wi-Fi, large flat-screen TVs, great cell phone reception, all-you-can-eat gourmet snacks, an open bar, and on-hand airline staff for reservations assistance. Guests and family members can tag along, too. Just make sure to abide by the house rules, as lounges are meant to be peaceful and luxurious.

Address
17801 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98158, USA
Phone +1 206-787-5388
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Best Things to Do at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport