If you’re a frequent traveler or even a periodic vacationer, spending long hours in airports is not unfamiliar to you.  Sure you can sit and read a book, watch the planes take off or belly up to the airport lounge (and pay $10 for a drink), but did you know that many of America’s airports offer free things to do while you wait for your connecting flight? Below is just a sampling:

1.  Free WiFi. Although there are still plenty of airports that charge $10 and up for wireless Internet access, there is an increasing number of facilities that offer free WiFi. Among these are Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Denver International Airport, Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood (FL) International Airport, Indianapolis International Airport, Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans and Logan International Airport in Boston. For a complete listing of US airport that offer free WiFi, visit wififreespot.com.

2. Free children’s play areas. Traveling with kids? Many US airports offer free children’s play areas. Your kids will be stuck long enough playing with the books and toys you brought with you, let them explore something different while they wait. US airports with free play areas include Chicago’s O’Hare Airport with its 2000-square foot “Kids on the Fly” exhibit, Boston’s Logan Airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, Cincinnati International Airport and Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport (with seven play areas.)

3. Free museums. Airports all over the US make use of their airport facilities to host art galleries and displays of planes and other aviation memorabilia. Among these are the Phoenix Airport Museum at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, the San Francisco Airport Museum at San Francisco International Airport and the best of all, the Udvar/Hazy Museum, adjacent to Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport. This one has a 50 cent fee for the bus to get there, but the exhibits at this Smithsonian museum include the space shuttle Enterprise and the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

4. Free airport tours. If you happen to be at the San Diego Airport on the right day, be sure to take advantage of the free, behind-the-scenes tour the airport hosts. John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California also offers free tours. Do you know of any others?

5. Free iPads. If you find yourself waiting for a flight in New York Kennedy Airport’s Terminal 3 or the Delta terminal of the city’s LaGuardia Airport, Delta Airlines has installed banks of iPads near the terminal’s restaurants that travelers can use for free. They are set up to order food, but you can also use them to surf the Web or check your email.

Free Things at Overseas Airport

If you are traveling overseas this year, airports around the globe also offer free things to see and do. Among these are free hot chocolate and coffee in Munich, a free train ticket to anywhere in Geneva at the Geneva (Switzerland) airport, free movies and video games at Singapore’s Changi Airport and a full library with free iPads in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

What other free things have you found to do in airports around the US and abroad?

 Break the Boredom: Free Things to Do at Airports