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Airport play areas for your next long layover

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Giving kids time blow off some steam before boarding the plane is key to a successful flight—especially if it's a long-haul journey. Here are five airport playgrounds that make the task easy (and loads of fun).

Playgrounds at Singapore's Changi Airport

Everything else pales in comparison to the offerings for kids at Singapore’s Changi Airport (pictured above). There are seven playgrounds (some outside the security area), each designed to accommodate kids ages 1 to 12. Look for multilevel climbing structures, long slides, tunnels, tubes, art stations, and more. When your kids finally tire of that, there’s a butterfly garden and even free kids cartoons.

Spaceport at Calgary International Airport

Dreaming of the future of travel? At Spaceport, kids can learn about space with activities that range in age from a toddler play area to video game stations and exhibits for older kids in a 6,000-square-foot space. The main attraction, though is a space-capsule simulator ride in which up to eight people are surrounded by realistic digital images as they journey through one of seven ride films. (Note that Spaceport is outside of security, so allow enough time to re-enter before your flight.)

Kids' Spot at San Francisco International Airport

In a city where foggy weather can sometimes mean you’ll spend a little longer at the airport than you had planned, a weather-focused play area seems like just the thing. And don't worry that this exhibit created by San Francisco’s Exploratorium will be too cerebral. True to the Exploratorium’s character, there are places to run, crawl, and jump while you learn.

“Kids on the Fly” Exhibit at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

This flight-themed exhibit, created by the Chicago Children’s museum, allows kids to use their imagination and get their jiggles out before stepping on a plane. Kids get to be the airplane pilots, air traffic controllers, and helicopter pilots in the play area’s pint-sized airport. Look for other kid friendly exhibits throughout the airport, including the 744-foot-long kinetic neon sculpture located in the underground walkway between Concourses B and C in Terminal 1.

A Treehouse Play Area at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport

Schiphol's playground goes well above the kid-sized soft foam airplane that many airports secret away in a dark corner. Instead, there’s a wooden treehouse, slides, and a climbing structure. It’s a lovely way to reconnect with the natural world during a travel day filled with steel and plastic.

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