We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we say “going to the airport” isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list. But just like every destination is different, so is every airport. And just as navigating a new city is challenging in and of itself, so is navigating a new airport. Should I go for Ivar’s chowder or Beecher’s mac & cheese at SeaTac? Do I have time to do yoga at SFO’s Terminal 2? How long will it take to get to ATL’s Concourse E for a cocktail at One Flew South?
If you’re anything like us, then these are the types of questions you have. But never fear, because we have answers to your airport questions with our series of guides to America’s airports. Today, we bring you the TripIt airport guide to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Located just prior to the Pacific Ocean’s crashing waves, Los Angeles International Airport is situated amidst the area’s beach cities, with the South Bay beach cities to the south and Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica to the north. LAX is one of the top-five busiest airports for passenger traffic in the world and is a major gateway for Europe, Latin America, Asia and Oceania. It’s the hub for a number of airlines including United, Delta, American, Alaska and Virgin America, with several others having strong presences, such as Allegiant Air, Air New Zealand, Qantas, Southwest, Spirit and Volaris. It should be noted that public transportation is limited to and from LAX (only bus service), and transit times to and from LAX are often longer than other airports due to heavier traffic. LAX has nine terminals (including Tom Bradley International Terminal), with complimentary Wi-Fi offered throughout (with a time limit). Rental car companies pick up passengers under the “Rental Car Shuttles” sign on the lower arrivals level islands outside baggage claim.
Like many international airports that are the size of LAX, your dining options largely depend on which terminal you’re in. Terminal 2 and 3, two of the smallest terminals, have fewer options, but many of the options they do have are local, such as SLAPFISH (Terminal 2), a modern Southern California seafood shack; La Brea Bakery (Terminal 3); and Gladstone’s (Terminal 3). Terminal 4 and 5 continue with the local trend with Cole’s (Terminal 4), Border Grill (Terminal 4), Farmers Market (Terminal 4), Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza (Terminal 5) and Lemonade (Terminal 5). The most food options, however, can be found in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Here you’ll find a wide variety of popular Los Angeles restaurants, including another Border Grill, James’ Beach, Umami, ink.sack, Marmalade Café and Larder at Tavern. Other great dining options at Los Angeles International Airport include Osteria by Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame (Terminal 6) and B Grill by BOA Steakhouse (Terminal 7).
As rewarding as LAX’s International Terminal is for food, it’s equally rewarding for drinks. Several of its best restaurants double as great watering holes, including James’ Beach, characterized by great classic drinks like a Manhattan and Mojito. One of the newest drink spots is the appropriately-named Drink.LA, which is about the closest thing to an upscale airport bar. Elsewhere, Terminal 4 features long-time Los Angeles bar Cole’s, which makes a mean Bloody Mary and other craft cocktails. In Terminal 5 there’s Rock & Brews, a rock-themed restaurant and bar with an extensive and rotating list of craft beers. Other drink spots include Gladstone’s (Terminal 3), Corona Bar (Terminal 8) and Vino Volo (International Terminal).
One of the most iconic buildings in L.A. is located at the airport itself, the Theme Building (it’s the building that looks like it’s from The Jetsons), featuring an observation deck that’s open daily during regular business hours. Located in the LAX Imperial Terminal is the Flight Path Learning Center & Museum which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. The museum houses a number of exhibits including model airplanes, aviation paraphernalia and artifacts.
Inside LAX itself, you’ll find a large selection of local and designer shops, as well as a couple XpresSpa locations (Terminal 5 and International Terminal) for when you have some time before your flight or when that delay hits. What’s unique about Los Angeles International Airport, however, is its convenience to some of Southern California’s best beaches and beach cities, including Playa del Rey and Manhattan Beach, which you can be to within just a few minutes.
As you may expect from an airport the size of LAX, there are a number of airline lounges, including Virgin America’s first official airport lounge, The Loft, American’s Admirals Club, the United Club and the Alaska Airline Board Room Lounge. One of the nicest new airport lounges in the U.S. can be found in LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal, Oneworld, which is available to frequent flyers with Emerald or Sapphire status, or for anyone traveling in a first or business class cabin on any Oneworld member airline. Additionally, TripIt users can easily access information and whereabouts of LAX’s airport lounges thanks to the new LoungeBuddy feature in the TripIt app.
Note: TripIt Pro’s LoungeBuddy perk will end on April 15, 2019. If you have redeemed your $25 credit, you will need to use it through the LoungeBuddy app. For information about when the credit expires and how to use it, please contact LoungeBuddy customer support.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.