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 Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Located 10 miles southeast of downtown Orlando, MCO Airport is one of the top-15 busiest airports in America, serving as a focus airport for Frontier, JetBlue, and Southwest. The Orlando airport has one main airport terminal, split into two, and consisting of four airside concourses, of which Airside 1 and Airside 4 are the main international concourses. One of the airport’s most unique features is the Hyatt Regency, which is actually located inside the airport. MCO is served by local buses and your typical forms of airport transportation (hotel shuttles, shuttle vans, and taxis), but is also accessible by SunRail (via bus link), which is Orlando’s commuter rail system. Interestingly enough, Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world, with many of the major rental car agencies located in Terminal A and B. Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport free of charge. CLEAR lanes are also available at the Orlando airport for members.
A majority of your dining options at Orlando International Airport are chains, such as Ruby Tuesday and Wendy's (Airside 3) and Outback Steakhouse and Burger King (Airside 4). More of your unique options are going to be in Airside 3 and Airside 1, such as Urban Crave (Airside 1), which is a new airport dining concept featuring a modern take on street food, including burgers, gourmet hot dogs, a variety of tacos and other items. Also in Airside 1 is On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, where you can get your full Mexican fix with a selection of tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more. You do get a little local and regional flavor in Airside 3 with ZaZa Cuban Coffee, where your best choice is likely the pressed Cuban sandwich. Other restaurant options in Airside 3 include Manchu Wok, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Camden Food Co. Dining options in Airside 2 largely consists of coffee shops, like Starbucks, though you also have Johnny River's Grill & Market.
Where to drink at Orlando International Airport first begins in Airside 1 at Le Grand Comptoir, a French wine bar that features more than 100 wines from around the world (and many vintages), as well as a selection of craft cocktails and beer. Considered one of the best new airport restaurant and bar concepts, it also has a small food menu. Otherwise, most of your best options for a drink at MCO are at many of the restaurants mentioned above, such as On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, where you have your choice of several different margaritas, as well as bottled and draft beer and wine by the glass or bottle. For more of your token airport bar, Johnny River's Grill & Market has a full bar, including their Bloody Mary, loaded with celery and olives.
Like many international airports, MCO has a collection of permanent and temporary art exhibits that are located both inside the airport and outside in some of its green spaces. You can also take your own self-guided art tour of Terminal A and B. If you have some time before your flight, there are spa services in each concourse, including XpresSpa locations in Airside 1, 3 and 4, and a Terminal Gateway Spa in Airside 2. Otherwise, Orlando International Airport has many of your standard airport shops such as InMotion Entertainment, Sunglass Hut and Life is Good. If you have a few hours before your flight, there are some parks and green spaces near the airport, such as Airport Lakes Park, which is just a couple miles from MCO.
Frequent flyers will find a couple airline lounges at Orlando International Airport, including United Club and Delta Sky Club, both of which are located in Terminal B. MCO also just recently opened up an independent lounge in Airside 4, The Club, which is accessible for a $35 day pass.
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.