free activities

Chillin’ out at Philadelphia and Seattle International airports

It may not be so bad to get stuck at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) this summer.

The airport has kicked off its summer-long “Just Plane Fun” program, which includes a full-schedule of special events, live entertainment, food and beverage samplings, artist demonstrations and children’s activities.

Coming up next week: instant giveaways, art demonstrations, beauty makeovers, a sushi-making class and more. See the full list on the PHL website.

There are also two locations of the popular “Chillin’ Room” – areas with sofas and tables where travelers can hang out, get work done and wait for their flights.


Look for the Chillin’ Room now in Terminal A-East, across from the Information Counter and in the Terminal D/E Connector, between the Life is Good and Mindworks stores, but keep in mind that plans are for the Chillin’ Room to be moved to various locations around the airport throughout the summer.

You’ll also find a spot where you can chill out – quietly – at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airport has turned an empty gate area – B4 – into an official Quiet Zone where overhead announcements and TV monitors are turned off

Quiet Zone at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

There are signs asking passengers to keep the area as a quiet zone for working, reading and relaxing and soon there may be water features and other amenities added, but for now
“cellphones are not banned,” said SEA spokesperson Perry Cooper, “and we expect a natural self-policing and sense of respect for the area.”

Love the layover: airport adventures on Oahu and the Big Island

Snowstorms, mudslides, rain, more rain, and tornadoes.

Sounds like a good time for a trip to Hawaii.

If you go, or just want to dream a bit about going, be sure to check out the slide-show I put together for – Cheap and Offbeat Oahu – about activities that are free, cheap or bit offbeat.

Included: the tale of the fish auction that takes place 6 days a week, beginning at 5:30 am;

Information about a free exhibit at the Hawaii State Art Museum that’s filled with historical objects and photographic portraits that tell the history of Hula,

(These pot holders are not in the exhibition, but you can buy them at the airport..)

And a reminder to travelers that there are a trio of tranquil cultural gardens – Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian – inside the Honolulu International Airport (HNL)

If you’re going to go to Oahu, you should also pop over to the Big Island.  And if you do, you’ll be able to visit the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Center at the Kona International Airport.  On January 28, 1986, all seven crew members were killed when NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger exploded less than two minutes after launch. One of those crew members, Ellison S. Onizuka, was Hawaii’s first astronaut.

To space center has oodles of fun, hands-on activities as well as exhibits that include a moon rock from the final moon landing of Apollo 17 in 1972, an authentic NASA space suite, and personal items that belonged to Ellison Onizuka.

My favorite items in the collection are the freeze-dried macadamia nuts and the freeze-dried Kona coffee that NASA created especially for Onizuka. Today’s astronauts can still choose these items from the space menu.