The best things to do on your SeaTac layover, from seafood to Sub Pop to mani-pedis
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The best of the terminals
Welcome to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport! Whether you’ve got a tight connection, a one-hour layover, an entire morning, or even an overnight, you can enjoy your time here. To that end, we’ve rounded up the best spots to eat, drink, shop, caffeinate, and listen to music at SeaTac. We’ll lead you from the gooiest mac ‘n’ cheese to the wackiest airport bar to the coolest record shop. Hang on, and enjoy the ride.
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You’ve got a long day of travel ahead, and the only food on the horizon—beyond the jetway—is a tiny bag of oversalted pretzels. Don’t worry: You’ve got options. At celeb chef Kathy Casey’s Dish D’Lish, outside security and in the Central Terminal, you can grab an egg and cheese sandwich, a couscous salad, or “Kathy’s favorite”—a chicken, jam, and sweet onion panini. If you’re craving fish, you can score clam chowder in a bread bowl at the Central Terminal outpost of Ivar’s, a classic seafood joint. Foodies rejoiced when local artisanal cheesemaker Beecher’s opened an outlet in Concourse C, bringing their beloved mac ‘n’ cheese and grilled cheeses to the hangry masses. If you’re set on a sit-down meal, head to the Central Terminal to Anthony’s for halibut tacos, views of departing planes, and killer Bloody Marys.
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Wine & cocktails
Are you starting your vacation? Ending your vacation? Or, simply, enduring an interminable wait between flights? No matter the occasion, you deserve a drink. If your ideal imbibing experience includes exotic décor, check out Concourse A’s Africa Lounge. This jungle-themed bar features leopard prints, a faux elephant head, and suds from New Belgium and Mac & Jack’s, a local craft brewery. For wine, head to the Central Terminal’s Vino Volo, where you can taste a flight before your flight. The wine bar’s ample, ever-changing list tilts heavily toward Oregon and Washington, so be warned—you just might find your new favorite pinot.
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It’s no surprise that—in the city that brought us Starbucks, Tully’s, and Seattle’s Best Coffee—there are sundry airport caffeine options. If you need your fix before hitting security, swing by Diva Espresso, an outpost of a local shop that makes cappuccinos, Americanos, and even specialty drinks like the Generra, a mocha with orange zest. In the Central Terminal and the North Satellite, Dilettante Chocolates & Mocha Café, another local favorite, serves up rich, chocolaty (you guessed it) mochas, while you can grab a Caffé Vita cold brew or cappuccino from Beecher’s—of grilled cheese fame—in Concourse C. Now that’s what we would call a perfect pairing.
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If you’d prefer a hit of relaxation, head to Massage Bar, in Concourse C or the North Satellite, where “single shot” and “double shot” refer to chair massages (15 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively). The massage bar offers foot massages and spa products, as well. If you prefer your relaxation with a side of glam, swing through Concourse C or the North Satellite to Butter London Nail Spa, a Union Jack-sporting nail salon, where you can get a manicure, pedicure, hand massage, or even (gasp!) a French manicure.
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So you’ve been in Seattle for a weekend (or a week): You’ve drank some great wine, visited some beautiful parks, seen some awesome music, and…completely forgotten to buy souvenirs for your friends back home. Luckily, SeaTac has you covered. While you’re snagging a quick bite at Beecher’s, you can also pick up a local foodie treat—a bag of Vita coffee beans, a bar of Theo’s Chocolate, or, of course, a wheel of Beecher’s cheese. Local chocolatier Dilettante Chocolates & Mocha Café stocks biscotti, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and truffles alongside their mochas. And in the Central and Terminal and the North Satellite, Fireworks, an offshoot of a local art gallery, features pieces by Northwest artists, from funky paper lanterns to notebooks depicting Seattle icons.
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Even for those who’ve already bought their souvenirs, the airport offers an array of shopping delights. If clothes make the traveler, the Central Terminal’s Ex-Officio has made many a wanderer. With garments that repel UV rays, insects, and water, the store can prepare you for city, mountains, or jungle. Concourse C’s Planeworks, a local venture founded by a mother-daughter duo, honors Seattle’s love of flight, slinging vintage Pan-Am-inspired totes, aviator jackets, and pillows emblazoned with famed airport codes. And you can listen to new and classic vinyl in the Central Terminal at Sub Pop Records, a storefront for the famed indie label that signed Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney. They also stock designer headphones, Subpop hoodies, and all the Cobain merch you can imagine.
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If a visit to Sub Pop merely whet your appetite for local tunes, you’re in luck: thanks to the Experience the City of Music Program, you’ll find melodies around every corner. Local musicians perform live throughout the terminals, and overhead speakers play songs by Northwest musicians. In Concourse A, you can check out scores of vintage Pearl Jam posters, in an exhibit curated by the Experience Music Project. And, for a full education on the city that gave birth to Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Macklemore, keep an eye out for video clips on Seattle music history on monitors in the terminal and baggage claim.
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We get it. When you’re about to spend five hours on a plane, the idea of riding in any vehicle—car, bus, or light rail—does not sound appealing. But if you’re flying from SeaTac, you can commute to the airport on two wheels. You can follow a combination of bike paths and streets to the airport, then park in one of four bicycle parking areas: in day-use storage, the parking garage, or the arrivals area. If you’re flying with your bike, you can buy a bicycle box at Ken’s Baggage and Frozen Foods, in baggage claim, and disassemble your bike at the bicycle assembly station. If you’re headed on a long trip, the airport offers long-term storage as well.