8 Best Airports for Holiday Shopping
The holiday season is full of good cheer and fun, but it’s also when many people spend both a lot more time shopping and a lot more time in airports. But there’s good news: now it’s easier than ever to seamlessly combine the two. No longer just rows of cheap souvenirs, many airports today offer spectacular shopping options, including tax-free luxury goods, tasty treats, and even the world’s best travel clothes.
Here are eight of the best airports for picking up memorable, unique gifts for everyone on your list.
1. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
The Seattle area is home to the makers of great music, great coffee, great food, and, in our humble opinion, great travel wear. All of these things happen to make for perfect holiday gifts, and the best part? They can be purchased at Sea-Tac.
The Sub Pop Records store sells CDs, LPs, posters, and other cool paraphernalia from some of the label’s bands, which include Nirvana, Fleet Foxes, The Postal Service, and The Shins. Bring home some of the Pacific Northwest’s most prized foods and coffee from Made in Washington, including locally roasted coffee, smoked salmon, and chocolates. The handblown glass candles from Glassybaby make it easy to give something beautiful to a loved one while giving to people and animals in need (10 percent of all sales are donated to charities). Last but not least, the airport’s ExOfficio store is the perfect place get something for the traveler in your life, featuring clothes and gear that will help him or her stay stylish and comfortable as they find themselves swinging through the world’s airports.
2. Denver International Airport (DEN)
Underneath Denver International Airport’s famous roof—designed to resemble the snowcapped peaks of the Rockies—is plenty of room for some great shops. The offerings are particularly good when it comes to classic gifts such as cosmetics and electronics. Stop by one of the Bose shops to pick up a pair of the brand's famous headphones, or choose from the array of gadgets on sale at Brookstone for your tech-loving friends. A bottle of delicious-smelling lotion from The Body Shop or Kiehl's could be just the thing to bring to your white elephant exchange. Or, if you're looking for something special for a wildlife lover check out the Mangelsen Images of Nature collection, a gallery that showcases the work of renowned nature photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.
3. Miami International Airport (MIA)
From Sunglass Hut to TUMI, the Miami International Airport has many of the national chains that you might hope to see in a U.S. airport. But MIA's shopping really stands out for one big reason: the country's first in-airport mini-department store, called the Shoppes at Ocean Drive. This two-story space was born out of a partnership between the airport's retail brand and the city's Ocean Drive Magazine. In the eight shops within, you'll likely be able to find something for everyone, including fun toys for tots, treats for foodies, and designer labels for fashionistas.
4. Dallas International Airport (DFW)
Dallas recently caught up with modern expectations that international airports should offer luxury duty-free shopping when it's 20,000-square-foot duty-free shopping area opened in January 2017. But the airport has long tapped into another perk of airport shopping: the chance to buy quality gifts that have unquestionable local flair.
DFW is home to several stores with Western-inspired goods that can only be found in the great state of Texas, making it the perfect place to shop for your aspiring cowboy or cowgirl. Some highlights include the Lone Star Emporium, Lone Star Attitude, and Ropin' & Ridin' Western Shop.
5. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)
Every section of this airport is filled with decent shopping options, which means no matter which airline you are flying, you’ll be able to find that perfect gift. With everything from boutique shops like Lather (they only have a few standalone shops in the entire country) to luxury mens brands like Ermenegildo Zegna, there are plenty of options to peruse on your layover.
The Atlanta airport is also home to the newest ExOfficio retail store, so stop in and pick up one of these stocking stuffers. Don’t worry, we won’t judge if you end up picking up something for yourself, too!
6. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Another mega hub, the main airport in Hong Kong has everything you could want from a duty-free retailer, be it perfume, liquor, or electronics. But in the years ahead, the shopping options here are about to truly explode. In early October, Airport Authority Hong Kong announced they building SKYCITY, a combined shopping, dining, and entertainment facility that will be located right next to the airport. They say it will "transform Hong Kong International Airport from a city’s airport to an airport city," which will mean a ton of options for holiday shopping.
7. Zurich Airport (ZRH)
Figuring out the best gift to give someone can be tricky, but luckily there is one thing that's a fairly safe bet for almost everyone: chocolate. In a country that is most famous for the dessert, you'll find no better chocolate selection than at the airports in Switzerland. The Zurich airport, in particular, is a great place to load up on cacao and the airport has even been known to host chocolate festivals. The airport hosts shops that carry a variety of Swiss chocolatiers, including Lädereach and the world-famous Lindt, which was founded more than 170 years ago right in Zurich.
8. Dubai International Airport (DBX)
With an internal grocery store, five-star hotel, and even a spa and swimming pool, you could easily mistake the Dubai International Airport for a futuristic indoor city. The airport is the world’s busiest by international passenger traffic - Terminal 3 alone constitutes the world’s second largest building by floor space.
DBX’s size and glitz also translate to luxury shopping opportunities. The airport hosts one of the biggest duty-free retailers, making it an obvious place to pick up pricier gifts, such as high-quality booze, perfumes, watches, and jewelry. Feeling lucky? Try your hand at the Dubai Duty-Free raffle, in which you could take home presents too big to even put under the tree, like a brand new car. Those looking for some local flavor can find dates galore, which make for a healthy holiday treat.
While these airports are certainly some of the best when it comes to holiday shopping, loads of other airports (big and small!) are also full of ready-to-wrap treasures. With so many great options, you just might even start to notice a shift in mentality. You’ll be looking forward to long layovers—and, who knows, maybe even flight delays—because it will mean more time to find the perfect item for your special someone.
Originally written by RootsRated for ExOfficio.