Travel

The 14 best US airports for getting into the city during a long layover

Flight delays are as inevitable a part of air travel as crying babies and $2 doubles at the bar. And while we've already told you what to do if you get stuck at one of America’s 10 most delayed airports, sometimes you want to see more of the city than just the Terminal A Cinnabon.

But which city downtowns are easy to reach from the airport? Not all of them, that's for sure. Here are 14 major American cities that -- thanks to a nice, fast, traffic-free train from the airport -- make it easy to spend a long layover taking in the sights.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson

What you’re taking: MARTA ('cause it's smarta) Red Line to North Springs or Gold Line to Doraville
Where it goes: Five Points Station, the hub of the MARTA system, midtown, arts center, Turner Field, Buckhead (Red Line only)
Where to catch it: Buy a ticket outside of baggage claim, then head to the far west end of the main terminal
Average time to downtown: 20 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.50 per ride

Chicago Midway

What you’re taking: CTA Orange Line to Loop
Where it goes: McKinley Park (35th/Archer), Soldier Field (Roosevelt), Union Station (Quincy), Millennium Park (Randolph/Wabash), Grant Park (Adams/Wabash)
Where to catch it: Follow the outdoor, enclosed walkway to the Midway transportation center
Average time to downtown: 20-25 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.25 per ride

Chicago O’Hare

What you’re taking: CTA Blue Line to Forest Park
Where it goes: The Loop (Clark/Lake, Jackson), Rosemont Convention Center (Rosemont), United Center (Illinois Medical Center), Gateway theater (Clark/Lake)
Where to catch it: Go to the lower level of Terminal 2; if you’re not in Terminal 2, it's easily accessible via the Airport Transit System
Average time to downtown: 40-45 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.25 per ride

Cleveland Hopkins International

What you’re taking: RTA Red Line to Louis Stokes/Windermere
Where it goes: Quicken Loans Arena, Progressive Field, Downtown Cleveland (Tower City)
Where to catch it: Take the elevators to the lower level of the terminal
Average time to downtown: 30 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.25 per ride

Dallas-Fort Worth

What you’re taking: DART Orange Line to Parker Road/LBJ Central
Where it goes: University of Dallas, Downtown Dallas (West End, Akard, St. Paul, Pearl/Arts District) Cityplace/Uptown
Where to catch it: Take the walkway from Terminal A to the DART station between International Parkway and the North Service Road.
Average time to downtown: 50-60 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.50 for a two-hour pass. $5 for a day pass.

Miami International

What you’re taking: Metrorail Orange line to Dadeland South
Where it goes: Downtown Miami (Government Center), Brickell, Shops at Merrick Place (Douglas Road), University of Miami, Dadeland Mall
Where to catch it: Take the MIA Mover to the Rental Car Center, follow the signs outside and downstairs to the platform
Average time to downtown: 20 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.25 per ride

Minneapolis-St. Paul

What you’re taking: Metro Blue Line to Target Field
Where it goes: Mall of America, Warehouse District, Target Field
Where to catch it: In the Lindbergh Terminal, take the tram to the transit center. The station is below the transit center between the blue and red parking ramps. In the Humphrey Terminal, go up one level from ticketing to the orange ramp skyway and follow the signs.
Average time to downtown: 30 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.25 per ride

Portland International

What you’re taking: MAX Red line to Beaverton
Where it goes: Rose Quarter, Pioneer Square, Beaverton
Where to catch it: Go to the lower level next to south baggage claim
Average time to downtown: 38 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.50 per ride

Philadelphia International

What you’re taking:SEPTA Airport Line to City Center
Where it goes: 30th Street Station, UPenn (University City), Philadelphia Art Museum (Suburban Station), Reading Terminal Market (Jefferson)
Where to catch it:  Every terminal at PHL has a SEPTA stop
Average time to downtown: 25 minutes
What it’ll cost you: Zone 4 Weekday fare of $8 each way

Phoenix Sky Harbour

What you’re taking:PHX Sky Train to Valley Metro Light Rail
Where it goes: The Sky Train takes you to the 44th and Washington Light Rail station, where you take the Valley Metro Light Rail to Tempe (Mill Ave), Downtown Phoenix (Washington Street and Central Ave)
Where to catch it: The SkyTrain stops at Terminal 4, and in the East Economy parking lot
Average transit time to downtown: 33 minutes
What it’ll cost you: The SkyTrain is free, the light rail is $2

Salt Lake City

What you’re taking: UTA TRAX Green Line to West Valley Central
Where it goes: Utah State Fair (Fairgrounds), EnergySolutions Arena (Arena), Temple Square, City Center, Smith’s Ballpark
Where to catch it: Go to the south end of Terminal 1
Average transit time to downtown: 20 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.50 per ride

San Francisco International

What you’re taking:BART Yellow Line to Pittsburgh/Bay Point
Where it goes: Downtown SF, Mission, Embarcadero, Oakland, Orinda, Walnut Creek
Where to catch it: Take the AirTrain from domestic terminals to the International Terminal
Average transit time to downtown: 30 minutes to downtown SF
What it’ll cost you: Between $8.50 to get to Mission to $10.40 to Walnut Creek 

Seattle-Tacoma International

What you’re taking: Sound Transit Central Link to Westlake Center
Where it goes: Century Link/Safeco Fields (Stadium), Downtown, Pioneer Square, Westlake Center Mall
Where to catch it: Go upstairs from ticketing to the far end of the parking garage and follow the path to the station; the platform is upstairs.
Average transit time to downtown: 35 minutes
What it’ll cost you: $2.50 - $2.75, depending where you’re going

Washington D.C. - Reagan National

What you’re taking:Metrorail Yellow line to Fort Totten or Blue Line to Largo Town Center
Where it goes:Yellow: Pentagon, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives, Howard University. Blue: Pentagon, Metro Center, Smithsonian, L’Enfant Plaza, Capitol.
Where to catch it: In Terminals B and C, walk through the pedestrian bridges to the station. From Terminal A, go outside and take the Airport Shuttle bus to Terminal B/C
Average transit time to downtown: 15 minutes
What it’ll cost you: Between $2.15 (to the Pentagon) and $5.15 (to Largo Town Center)