What to do on a layover in Boston for fun and relaxation
Unfortunately, Boston’s Logan airport ranks 16th out of 19 airports in terms of size but among the worst in terms of traveler satisfaction, according to a 2018 J.D. Power survey. That’s not to say things have not improved because they have. We’ve been flying in and out of Logan on and off for a number of years now and can verify the food and retail options have dramatically improved since 2016. But, unless you have access to or wish to hang out in an airport lounge, it’s still not easy to find places to relax or things to do. We are here to help.
In the airport – layover up to 3 hours
If your layover in Boston is less than three hours, we’d recommend staying in the airport. It is relatively easy to get between any of the airport terminals in Boston’s Logan airport by either walking or taking the shuttle bus, which is free. There is complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the airport that is, well, as good as any public Wi-Fi – be sure you use a VPN.
Eating – If you are hungry, there are an increasing number of good places to eat. Here are several of the standouts, from my own experience, and those of fellow travelers. You cannot go wrong with any of the locations for Boston’s famous Legal Sea Foods restaurants – one each in terminals A, B and C. There is also celebrity chef Todd English’s Bonfire, which features international fare and is located just past security in terminal B, or Stephanie’s, which offers classic pub fare and a full bar in terminals B and E. And then there is the airport chain wine bar, Vino Volo, located in terminal A, where you can order wine by the flight, glass or bottle as well as small plates which are quite delicious – and usually offers a calmer, comfier place to hang out.
9/11 memorial – Take the time to visit the 9/11 outdoor memorial, located just outside of Logan International Airport. It is a moving glass sculpture that honors the passengers and crews from American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 that departed from Boston that day. The memorial has been open to all 24 hours a day, seven days a week since its dedication on Sept. 9, 2008.
Art exhibits – Wander past the public art exhibits throughout the airport. There are permanent installations as well as rotating exhibits. Use the airport’s interactive map to decide what you want to see when you are next spending time in Logan. Simply click on the terminal you are in or going to, and then select Art Exhibits from the drop-down menu.
Entertaining children – If you’re traveling with children, you will likely need a place where they can burn off some energy before the next leg of your journey. No better place than a playground. At Logan airport, you will find Kidport playgrounds in terminals A, B and C.
Pamper yourself – Boston’s Logan airport has several Be Relax locations where, even if you only have 30 minutes, you can take a shower, get a focused massage on the shoulders or feet, or even take a quick steam. Ahhhh…
Leaving the airport – layover 3+ hours
One of the best things about Boston’s Logan airport is that it is so very close to downtown Boston. In fact, it is possible (traffic conditions vary so always check) to get from the airport to downtown in less than 15 minutes by car, or approximately 20 minutes or so using public transportation. The MBTA provides Blue Line Subway service and Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit into Boston.
If you have luggage to deal with and want to go into downtown Boston, then I’d recommend opting for the Rowes Wharf Water Transport which operates a water taxi service and a free shuttle from any terminal (shuttle bus 66) to the dock. The company offers luggage storage while you are touring Boston included in the airport package price.
Staying close to the airport – If you simply want something good to eat and a short walk, and want to stay close to the airport, Logan’s proximity to East Boston also puts it within 10 to 15 minutes by Uber or taxi of a number of great restaurants outside of the airport.
Couple of my favorites:
- Santarpio’s Pizza – Just two miles from the airport, this classic pizza joint has been serving pies since 1930. An insider tip: Even though this is a pizza place, try the grilled lamb skewer. It’s delicious.
- KO Pies at the Shipyard – (only open Wednesday to Sunday) KO offers Australian-inspired food with grilled seafood, meat and veggie pies and, if you are into Aussie food, some favorite local items for sale in its grocery. Spring, summer and fall are the best times as there is a lovely outside patio overlooking the Boston harbor and skyline. If you fancy a short walk, it’s also near Piers Park which offers what is arguably one of the best views of Boston – bring your camera.
Things to do in downtown Boston – If you have around four hours or more for your layover in Boston, then heading into downtown is a good choice. Using the water taxi that drops you off at Rowes Wharf, it is a short 5- to 15-minute walk to any of the following:
- Faneuil Hall Marketplace – Simply a fun, albeit very touristy, shopping and eating destination. There are three historic halls – North Market, Quincy Market and South Market.
- New England Aquarium – As far as aquariums go, this is a top one. There’s the expected giant tank that houses sharks, of course, and a Caribbean coral reef, and you can’t go wrong with penguins. Who can ever get enough penguin watching? Exactly.
- Walk to Christopher Columbus Park – A short walk along the waterfront from Faneuil Hall so if you are inclined to enjoy a picnic (and the weather is cooperating), grab some sandwiches to go and then head to the park. If you have children, there is a wonderful playground here.
- If you have plenty of time, explore the North End – Often referred to as Little Italy, this area encompasses much of the famous Freedom Trail, which you could also walk part of depending on your time. If you are a history buff, you will be in heaven – think Paul Revere and much more.