Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What To Do During A Long Layover At IAD


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Gabrielle Sacco




Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is a bustling hub for domestic and international travelers, serving as a gateway to the nation’s capital and the surrounding metropolitan area. As one of the busiest airports in the United States, IAD offers a wide range of amenities and activities to keep passengers occupied during long layovers. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a first-time visitor, making the most of your time at IAD can turn a seemingly tedious layover into a memorable part of your journey.


During a long layover at IAD, you have the opportunity to explore the airport’s diverse offerings, relax and unwind, savor a delicious meal, catch up on work or study, squeeze in some exercise, or even take a rejuvenating nap. Additionally, the airport’s convenient location provides easy access to nearby attractions, allowing you to venture outside and discover the beauty and culture of the Washington, D.C. area.


This guide is designed to help you make the most of your time at IAD, offering a variety of engaging activities and tips to ensure that your layover is both enjoyable and productive. Whether you have a few hours to spare or an extended layover, there are plenty of ways to stay entertained and comfortable at Washington Dulles International Airport.


Explore the Airport

Explore the Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is a sprawling and modern facility, providing ample opportunities for exploration and discovery. Take advantage of your layover to wander through the airport and uncover its many attractions and amenities.


Begin your exploration by strolling through the concourses, where you’ll find a diverse array of shops, ranging from designer boutiques to souvenir stores. Whether you’re in the mood for retail therapy or simply want to browse the latest trends, IAD’s retail spaces offer something for every traveler. Additionally, the airport features art installations and exhibits that showcase the work of local and international artists, adding a touch of culture and creativity to your layover experience.


For aviation enthusiasts, a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a must. Located adjacent to the airport, this remarkable museum houses an extensive collection of aircraft and spacecraft, including the space shuttle Discovery and the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. The museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of flight and space exploration, making it a captivating destination for visitors of all ages.


As you explore the airport, keep an eye out for comfortable seating areas and quiet corners where you can relax and people-watch. Many of these spaces offer panoramic views of the tarmac, allowing you to observe the comings and goings of aircraft while basking in the excitement of air travel.


Whether you’re drawn to shopping, art, aviation history, or simply soaking in the airport ambiance, exploring Washington Dulles International Airport is an engaging way to pass the time during your layover.


Relax and Unwind

Relax and Unwind

Amidst the hustle and bustle of travel, finding moments of tranquility and relaxation can make a significant difference during a layover. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) offers various opportunities for passengers to unwind and recharge before their next flight.


One of the airport’s standout features is the “Yoga Room,” a serene space designed for yoga and meditation. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, this dedicated area allows you to stretch, practice mindfulness, and find inner calm amid your travels.


For those in need of pampering, IAD provides access to massage services, allowing you to indulge in a revitalizing massage to ease tension and rejuvenate your body. These services are often conveniently located within the airport, making it easy to schedule a relaxing treatment without straying too far from your gate.


In addition to specialized relaxation spaces, the airport offers comfortable seating areas where you can unwind with a good book, listen to music, or simply close your eyes and enjoy a few moments of quiet contemplation. Consider finding a cozy spot near a window to bask in natural light and take in the captivating views of the airfield.


Furthermore, if you’re traveling with children, the airport features play areas designed to keep young travelers entertained and engaged. These designated spaces allow kids to release energy and have fun, making the layover experience more enjoyable for the entire family.


Whether you’re seeking a moment of mindfulness, a soothing massage, or a peaceful spot to unwind, Washington Dulles International Airport offers a range of options to help you relax and rejuvenate during your layover.


Enjoy a Meal or Snack

Enjoy a Meal or Snack

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) boasts a diverse culinary scene, providing an array of dining options to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re craving a hearty meal, a quick snack, or a specialty beverage, the airport’s restaurants and eateries offer a delightful culinary journey to enhance your layover experience.


For those seeking a full dining experience, IAD features a selection of restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, from international fare to classic American dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for a gourmet burger, fresh sushi, or a comforting bowl of pasta, the airport’s dining establishments cater to a wide range of tastes, ensuring that you can indulge in a satisfying meal before continuing your journey.


If time is of the essence or you prefer a lighter option, the airport also houses numerous cafes and grab-and-go outlets where you can pick up a quick snack, a freshly brewed cup of coffee, or a refreshing beverage. These convenient spots are perfect for grabbing a bite on the go or simply taking a moment to recharge before your next flight.


Additionally, for those with dietary restrictions or specific culinary preferences, IAD offers a variety of options to accommodate different needs, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-friendly choices. This ensures that every traveler can find a delicious and suitable meal or snack to enjoy during their layover.


Furthermore, the airport’s dining venues provide diverse atmospheres, ranging from casual and relaxed to upscale and elegant, allowing you to tailor your dining experience to suit your mood and preferences. Whether you’re dining solo, with family, or with colleagues, IAD’s eateries offer inviting spaces to savor a memorable meal or snack.


With its rich culinary offerings and inviting dining spaces, Washington Dulles International Airport invites you to embark on a flavorful culinary journey during your layover, ensuring that your time at the airport is as satisfying for your taste buds as it is for your travel itinerary.


Work or Study

Work or Study

For travelers with pressing work obligations or those looking to catch up on study materials, Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) provides an array of conducive environments to focus and be productive during a layover.


Throughout the airport, you’ll find designated workspaces equipped with charging stations, high-speed Wi-Fi, and comfortable seating, allowing you to set up a temporary office and attend to professional tasks. Whether you need to respond to emails, participate in virtual meetings, or finalize a presentation, these work-friendly areas offer the necessary amenities to help you stay connected and productive while on the move.


Furthermore, if you’re a student or academic traveler, IAD’s conducive atmosphere provides an ideal setting to delve into your studies, review course materials, or work on research projects. The airport’s quiet corners and business lounges offer the tranquility and focus needed to immerse yourself in academic pursuits, ensuring that you can make the most of your layover time.


In addition to designated workspaces, the airport’s business lounges provide an oasis for business travelers, offering a range of amenities such as private work areas, complimentary refreshments, and access to business services. These exclusive lounges provide a comfortable and professional setting to conduct business, network with fellow travelers, or simply unwind in a refined environment.


Moreover, for those in need of last-minute office supplies, printing services, or essential tech accessories, IAD’s business centers and retail outlets offer convenient solutions to cater to your professional needs, ensuring that you have access to essential resources during your layover.


Whether you’re focused on work-related tasks or academic pursuits, Washington Dulles International Airport provides the infrastructure and resources to support your productivity, making it a conducive environment for tackling professional and educational endeavors during your layover.


Exercise and Stretch

Exercise and Stretch

Staying active and maintaining a sense of well-being during a layover is essential, and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) offers various opportunities for passengers to engage in physical activity and rejuvenating movements.


One of the notable features of IAD is its dedicated fitness facilities, where travelers can engage in invigorating workouts to combat the effects of prolonged sitting and promote overall wellness. These fitness areas often include exercise equipment, yoga mats, and designated spaces for stretching, allowing you to engage in a rejuvenating workout session to boost your energy levels and enhance your travel experience.


For those seeking a more low-impact form of exercise, the airport provides ample walking paths throughout its terminals, encouraging passengers to take leisurely strolls to stretch their legs and increase circulation. Walking is an excellent way to stay active during a layover, offering both physical and mental rejuvenation as you explore the airport’s amenities and attractions.


Additionally, IAD’s expansive terminals provide open areas where travelers can engage in simple stretches and yoga poses to alleviate muscle tension and promote relaxation. Taking a few minutes to stretch and move your body can help combat the discomfort of extended travel and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated for the next leg of your journey.


Furthermore, if you prefer a more structured approach to staying active, the airport may offer fitness classes or wellness programs, providing an opportunity to participate in group activities led by experienced instructors. These sessions can range from yoga and meditation classes to brief workout sessions, offering a communal and energizing experience for travelers seeking to maintain their fitness routines while on the go.


By embracing the opportunities for physical activity and rejuvenation at Washington Dulles International Airport, you can elevate your layover experience and arrive at your final destination feeling revitalized and ready for the adventures that lie ahead.


Take a Nap

Take a Nap

Amidst the whirlwind of travel, finding time for rest and rejuvenation is crucial, and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) offers various options for passengers to unwind and enjoy a peaceful nap during their layovers.


One of the airport’s standout amenities is its dedicated sleep pods or relaxation areas, providing travelers with private and tranquil spaces to catch up on much-needed rest. These pods are equipped with comfortable seating or sleeping arrangements, creating a serene environment where you can retreat for a refreshing nap, allowing you to recharge before your next flight.


Additionally, IAD’s business lounges often offer quiet and comfortable areas where travelers can recline and unwind in a peaceful setting. Whether you’re a frequent flyer with lounge access or looking to purchase a day pass, these exclusive spaces provide a haven for relaxation, allowing you to enjoy a restful nap away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminals.


For those who prefer a more traditional approach to napping, the airport’s seating areas and quiet corners offer suitable spots to curl up and enjoy a brief snooze. Finding a cozy nook with ample seating or a comfortable bench can provide the perfect setting for a quick nap, allowing you to rest and rejuvenate before continuing your journey.


Furthermore, if you prefer a more immersive rest experience, IAD may feature on-site hotels or sleep-friendly lounges within close proximity to the airport, providing the option to book a day room or overnight stay to enjoy a full-fledged nap and additional amenities for relaxation.


By taking advantage of the nap-friendly options at Washington Dulles International Airport, you can ensure that your layover becomes a restorative interlude, allowing you to arrive at your destination feeling revitalized and ready to embark on the next leg of your travel journey.


Explore Nearby Attractions

Explore Nearby Attractions

While Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) offers a myriad of amenities and activities within its terminals, travelers with extended layovers have the opportunity to venture beyond the airport and explore the captivating attractions in the surrounding area.


For those seeking a dose of history and culture, the nearby Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center presents an extraordinary opportunity to delve into the world of aviation and space exploration. Home to an impressive collection of aircraft, spacecraft, and aviation artifacts, this renowned museum offers a captivating journey through the milestones of flight, making it an enriching destination for visitors of all ages.


Furthermore, the vibrant and culturally rich city of Washington, D.C. is within reach, offering a wealth of iconic landmarks, museums, and historical sites to explore. From the awe-inspiring monuments on the National Mall to the enriching exhibits at the Smithsonian museums, the nation’s capital provides a myriad of opportunities for immersive sightseeing and cultural experiences.


Travelers can also embark on culinary adventures by discovering the diverse dining scene in the neighboring communities. Whether you’re in the mood for regional specialties, international cuisine, or innovative culinary creations, the area surrounding the airport is teeming with restaurants, cafes, and eateries, inviting you to savor the flavors of the region.


Additionally, nature enthusiasts can take advantage of the picturesque parks and outdoor spaces in the vicinity, providing serene settings for leisurely walks, picnics, and moments of relaxation amidst lush greenery and scenic landscapes.


For those keen on maximizing their layover with a dose of retail therapy, the nearby shopping centers and boutiques offer the perfect opportunity to indulge in some retail exploration, whether you’re in search of unique souvenirs, fashion finds, or specialty goods.


By venturing beyond the airport and exploring the nearby attractions, travelers can transform their layover into a memorable excursion, immersing themselves in the diverse offerings and experiences that the Washington, D.C. area has to offer.




Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is not just a transit point but a destination in itself, offering a wealth of opportunities for travelers to make the most of their layovers. Whether you’re in search of relaxation, productivity, exploration, or simply a moment of respite, the airport’s diverse amenities and nearby attractions cater to a wide range of interests and preferences.


From indulging in a culinary journey at the airport’s diverse dining venues to immersing yourself in the history of aviation at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, IAD invites travelers to embark on a multifaceted layover experience. The airport’s dedication to providing serene spaces for relaxation, opportunities for physical activity, and conducive environments for work and study ensures that passengers can tailor their layover to suit their individual needs and preferences.


Furthermore, the proximity of Washington, D.C. and its wealth of cultural, historical, and culinary attractions offers an enticing extension to the layover experience, allowing travelers to venture beyond the airport and immerse themselves in the captivating offerings of the nation’s capital.


Whether you choose to explore the airport’s art installations, indulge in a rejuvenating nap, or venture outside to discover nearby attractions, Washington Dulles International Airport presents a myriad of possibilities to transform your layover into a memorable and fulfilling part of your travel journey.


By embracing the array of activities and amenities available at IAD, travelers can turn their layovers into opportunities for enrichment, relaxation, and exploration, ensuring that their time at the airport becomes an integral and enjoyable chapter of their travel adventures.