Austin Airport

Fresh airport art exhibits

Stuck at the airport? Lucky you! In these and many other airports, you’ll get to see some great art.

STL MUSIC exhibit 1

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport has a new art exhibit featuring wind instruments from the Sheldon Art Galleries through December 13, 2015 in the Lambert Gallery.


On view: beautiful and exotic wind instruments from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, South America, and Central and North America, which are a part of The Sheldon’s Hartenberger 2,500 piece World Music Collection.


At Austin-Berstrom International Airport there’s a new exhibit featuring beadworkd from the Austin Bead Society.

Graphic Explosion by Nancy Vaughn

Graphic Explosion by Nancy Vaughn

 Waters Edge by Robynne Simons Sealy

Waters Edge by Robynne Simons Sealy

And in the Terminal C-D link, Philadelphia International Airport is commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the start of its commercial air service with a new exhibit looking back at the airport’s transformation into a major hub airport.

PHL art history

Kenneth Aston, Philadelphia International Airport.

PHL old

courtesy Philadelphia International Airport


courtesy Philadelphia International Airport

Formula 1 fans race out of Austin – with souvenirs

Austin Formula 1

Austin is hosting the Formula One United States Grand Prix this weekend and thousands of race fans are passing through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Passenger traffic at the airport is expected to be the highest on Sunday night (Nov 2) and on Monday, (Nov 3), as race fans head home. So to help the process go smoothly AUS airport is offering expanded customer services, special post-race live music send-offs and a special website section.

Sunday is Souvenir Sunday at, so we should also mention that the airport shops will be offering official licensed F1 and Circuit of the Americas merchandise, including t-shirts, caps, mugs, lanyards and books.

Live music performances start Sunday afternoon with a performance by the Flying Balalaika Brothers at 4:30 p.m. More live music is scheduled on Monday Nov. 3 from 9 a.m. until 6:30 p.m, with a total of 12 music performances to be held Sunday and Monday.

Tidbits for Travelers: ATL, AUS and presidential places

Cell phone lot at ATL

No matter what type of car you drive, if you travel to or from Atlanta, you’ll be pleased to know that on Thursday, February 16, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (finally!) opens its first cell phone lot for drivers waiting to pick up arriving passengers.

The 160-space lot is along South Terminal Parkway at the east end of the Park-Ride Reserve lot and has no flight monitors, portable toilets or other amenities.

Refrigerators at AUS

At the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, six decorated refrigerator doors are on display in the baggage claim area, at carousels two and four. The doors were used as canvases by high school students as a way to promote the importance of recycling and will be on display through the end of February.

Where to go for Presidents Day

And, if you’ve got Presidents Day off you may be trying to figure out where to go to get in touch with a presidential past. Here are some tools and tidbits that may be helpful.

From Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 20, the Presidents Gallery at Madame Tussauds in Washington, D.C. is offering free admission to anyone who shares a birthday with a U.S. president.

The folks at Roadside America, keen collectors of odd travel destinations, have just released a Roadside Presidents app for the iPhone. They’re charging $2.99 for it – but you can bet that it’s full of all manner of oddball Presidential landmarks and museums.

And, from my post on’s Overhead Bin, here’s a list of some towns and attractions with special Presidents Day events on tap:

Washington, D.C.
In Washington, D.C., Ford’s Theater, the site of the April 14, 1865, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, is hosting a Presidents Day open house on Feb. 20. Among the free activities scheduled are storytelling, Civil War-themed ranger talks and a presentation by costumed actors that includes a reconstruction of Lincoln’s assassination.

Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press, a new exhibit opening at the Newseum Feb. 17, traces the way the media has covered presidential campaigns from “William McKinley’s 1896 front porch campaign to Barack Obama’s 2008 Internet campaign.” In addition to notable TV campaign ads, the exhibit includes campaign artifacts such as handwritten notes taken by John F. Kennedy during a 1960 presidential debate and the “Florida, Florida, Florida” white board used by NBC’s Tim Russert on election night 2000.

Bonus: The Newseum’s exhibit, First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Pets, runs through 2012.

As the birthplace of eight U.S. presidents, Virginia proudly calls itself the “The Mother of Presidents” and has dozens of historic sites paying special Presidents Weekend tribute to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson.

There will be free admission on Feb. 20 at George Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon, where a costumed General Washington will be on hand for activities to include the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Washington’s Tomb, music and military performances and a (shh!) surprise birthday party.

During Presidents Weekend, actors portraying founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison will be visiting Colonial Williamsburg.

Alexandria will be marking the 280th anniversary of George Washington’s birth with a celebration that includes a Birthnight Banquet & Ball (Feb. 18), a Revolutionary War Reenactment (Feb. 19) and the George Washington Birthday Parade (Feb. 20). Historic sites around Alexandria, such as Gatsby’s Tavern Museum, where early patrons included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, will offer free admission on Presidents Day as well.

Bonus: A free, self-guided walking tour of 21 of the 140 sites in Alexandria associated with George Washington is available (PDF).

In Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is celebrating Presidents Day with discounted admission from Feb. 18-26. An activity-filled Family Festival Day on Feb. 21 includes the opportunity to meet actors playing presidents and first ladies such as Thomas Jefferson and Dolley Madison.

Sleep like a president
Presidents Day weekend activities can include sleeping where a past president got some shut-eye.

“Every president from Eisenhower to George W has stayed at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, a historic hotel that still brings in weekend splurgers,” says Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet.

Another option: the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Every American President since Herbert Hoover has stayed in the suite, which is decorated with the personal desk of General Douglas MacArthur, one of John F. Kennedy’s rocking chairs and other presidential artifacts.

Presidential treatment doesn’t come cheap. A weekend night in a two-bedroom executive suite at the Greenbrier is about $900, while nightly rates for the Waldorf Astoria’s Presidential Suite begin at $10,000 – and include a background check.

Where to eat locally when you are stuck at the airport

Brisket sandwich available at Austin-Bergstrom Int'l Airport

Gastronomic guru Anthony Bourdain’s new Travel Channel show, “The Layover,” offers viewers tips on how and where to fill up on local fare if you have just a 48-hour layover in a city.

But what if your layover is much shorter and you’re stuck at the airport looking for a tasty local meal to tide you over?

Not a problem.

It’s getting easier to eat well — and to eat local — at an increasing number of airports where branches of hometown restaurants and gift shops serve signature dishes and locally made foods.

For a story on, I asked around for some tips.

Marcos Martinez, executive director of Entre Hermanos in Seattle, is partial to the breakfast tacos and fish ‘n’ chips served at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport outpost of Anthony’s, a popular chain of local seafood restaurants. Nancy DeWitt, historian at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks, Alaska, says the blackened halibut tacos served at the Sea-Tac Anthony’s are a “don’t miss” for many of her friends and colleagues.

Rick Seaney, co-founder of, looks forward to having crawfish etouffee at Pappadeaux at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (IAH). And recently, Las Vegas resident Chris Jones was pleased to see that the popular local company that operates Pappadeaux at IAH also has outlets at Houston’s Hobby Airport.

“I flew into Hobby in mid-November and was elated to see this company had — by my count — three concessions in Hobby Airport,” said Jones. “I got a milkshake at the burger concept on my way into town and enjoyed some amazing enchiladas and rice and beans before I flew home.”

There’s a branch of New York City’s infamous Grand Central Oyster Bar at Newark Liberty International Airport, and at JFK airport’s Terminal 8, outposts of Bobby Van’s Steakhouse & Grill and Brooklyn National Deli. For many travelers, getting a bowl of Gold Star Chili at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is a sure sign that they’ve been through town.

All the food outlets in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport are branches of popular local restaurants, and the recently opened Central Terminal B at Sacramento International Airport boasts branches of Dos Coyotes, Jacks Urban Eats and other restaurants found in town.

“Airports aren’t just a way station for passengers anymore, but a shopping and dining experience,” said Jean-Pierre Turgot, general manager for Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality services, one of several national companies operating restaurants and shops in many airports. Turgot oversees Chef Allen’s Burger Bar at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where passengers can purchase the local chef’s signature sauces and catch an occasional cooking demonstration.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, “pre-packaged, specially wrapped BBQ brisket from the Salt Lick BBQ is a big seller,” said Terry Mahlum, regional director for Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services. The recipe for the BBQ sauce dates back to the 1800s. “We have regular customers who stop in our airport location just to get a to-go brisket for the holiday meal,” Mahlum said.

And it’s not just locally themed meals that travelers lap up during layovers. At shops throughout Nashville International Airport, Chattanooga-made, marshmallow-filled Moon Pies, in a wide variety of flavors, can be purchased individually or by the box.

Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the business traveler website, is a big fan of eating locally on the road and puts together an annual guide to some of his favorite places to eat in — and nearby — many airports. (This year’s edition, which he says will include new options in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Charlotte airports, will be ready by Christmas.) He’s found, though, that in some airports “the master franchisees at the airport license the name to a local place or pub and then run it … so the local operator known for the great steak or burger at their downtown institution is not actually running the airport branch.”

So while certainly providing travelers more interesting fare than that offered by the standard national franchises found in most airports, Brancatelli warns that a “local” airport eatery may sometimes be local in name only.