Layover Ideas and Day Trip Guide
Let’s be honest, we have one of the coolest jobs on the plant. We get to fly metal tubes near the speed of sound all over the country. But, when I first started I kept getting to our layovers and then wondering what the heck I was going to do! The purpose of this layover cheat sheet is to help each of us make the most of our layovers. I’m just out to try to make your layovers and trip just a little more fun.
Help Us Build The Layover Guide
Leave comments in the form below. I’ll keep this guide updated with your list of layover or day trip suggestions. If you are willing to do a guest post or review on a restaurant, activity, or city please contact me as well.
I don’t have to say this, but inevitably someone will yell at me if I don’t. So … remember, we are all professional crew and business people. Don’t forget about our regulatory requirements in regard to rest and alcohol as well as your own companies SOP’s and policies. Ok, now that’s out of the way … Here’s your cheat sheet. Layovers are organized alphabetically by state (or province), then by city.
Central City Area
Layover Ideas: Top Golf is 3 blocks from our hotel. You can also reach them at 205-847-5757
Layover Ideas: There isn’t much around the airport by our hotel. But if you have a good crew that wants to go out, visit the US Space and Rocket Center. Apparently, they do give discounts for airline employees so bring your badge.
Little Rock, Arkansas
North Little Rock Area
Suggestions for Food: Gus’s Fried Chicken is just across the river a block in from the South bank of the river near the downtown area.
Layover Ideas: Both Little Rock and North Little Rock are focused around the Arkansas River that runs between them. It is an easy walk across the bridges to trails and parks on both sides. The first few blocs of Little Rock have plenty of restaurants, shopping and good street walking.
Grand Junction, Colorado
I wrote a whole Day Trip Review of Grand Junction here. It’s a very cute city in the heart of Colorado’s wine country. I cover Colorado Monument Park and downtown Grand Junction. If you are willing to get a car, this is a great day trip here.
Suggestions for Food: In the airport area, there are several restaurants that run along Horizon Drive. For Southwestern fare, check out WW Peppers. For Italian, Ristorante Pantuso is good. Both are walking distance from the hotel. Across the freeway, toward downtown, there are more options as well including a retro burger and shake place called Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.
Layover Ideas: If you just want to get out a bit, Grand Junction has a cute downtown on Main Street. You will need to get a ride, but it is worth a visit. If you are more adventurous, Colorado Monument Park is nearby and is an awesome drive. Rent a car, go hiking, see the monuments and visitors center.
A Short Walk From Downtown
Gunnison is literally one of the greatest outdoors destinations in the country with everything from hiking to horseback riding and trophy fishing to downhill skiing. I wrote an article on Gunnison here.
Suggestions for Food: There is no question The Powerstop is the favorite. With great burgers and wings, this converted gas station is an experience to say the least. Downtown, there are some good restaurants too. If you like pizza, don’t miss High Alpine.
Layover Ideas: Downtown Gunnison is worth a walk, but for more adventure, talk to the front desk and get a schedule for the Gunnison Valley RTA. It runs all day and is free to ride. It can bring you to Almont, the Crested Butte Historic District, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Almont is the confluence of the Taylor River with the Gunnison for fly fishing, the Historic District is a beautiful town with lots of street walking, shopping, and food. Mount Crested Butte is the ski resort.
Suggestions for Food: Casual, family-friendly indoor and outdoor dining at Horsefly Brewing Company.
Layover Ideas: You can always walk around downtown on Main Street. Toward the South end, you can find the Montrose County Historical Museum. For the adventurer, check out the Montrose Water Sports Park. There are other things to do such as the Museum of the Moutain West and the Montrose Botanical Gardens as well but you will need to get rides to these.
Bradley (Hartford), Connecticut
Suggestions for Food: Izumi Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar. Tip – You may want to pack heat at night. Other nearby restaurants include Skyline Restaurant and Bear’s Smokehouse.
Moline (Rock Island), Illinois
Rock Island Area
Part of the larger Quad Cities area, Rock Island has a small downtown area with some restaurants and park next to the river. There isn’t much more to do than that.
Layover Ideas: If you feel like trying something new, East Moline has a BMX Speedway. It’s a cheap way to go out and try something new. In the winters, Rock Island Expo hosts the bikes indoors. Otherwise, the park near the hotel is a good place to go to just get outside and it has a long riverside trail that ties into it.
Louisville is a really fun town. There are a few things that stand out about Louisville making it an intriguing city; horses, Hot Browns, Louisville Sluggers, and Bourbon.
Suggestions for Food: Doc Crows is a Southern Smokehouse and raw bar. The pork chops and mashed potatoes come highly recommended. Next to Doc Crows is the Troll Pub Under the Bridge. They literally have a huge troll outside. You can also visit Fourth Street Live for a covered outdoor venue with several good restaurants and live music. If you visit Fourth Street Live I think the Chicken Fried Chicken in Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse is one of the best meals out there. But most famous to Louisville is the Hot Brown, a breakfast turkey dish originating from the haunted, and historic, Brown Hotel. Spinellis Pizza is open late, cheap, and when you walk into their basement, you wonder if you took acid. It’s a good late night food for late arrivals.
Otherwise, walk Main and Market streets along the bourbon and museum district for lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment. For running, there is a great riverside trail that runs along the whole city.
South Portland Gardens Area
The awesome River Visual is just the start to this excellent town. Read my whole article on Portland Maine here. ps. Portland is the lobster capital of the world and I know for a fact you can stick at least 6 lobsters in an eBag cooler.
Layover Ideas: Uber downtown to the cobblestone streets and oceanfront at Old Port. Also, check out the Wharf and watch all the lobster boats come into port. If you are looking for a place to buy fresh lobster or any other seafood, stop at Harbor Fish Market. They can package the lobsters up for shipping. The hotel is well versed in helping us ship it. It is also worth a trip to East End Beach and to visit some of the famous lighthouses.
Great Falls, Montana
West Side of River, Opposite Downtown Area
Suggestions for Food: On the west side of the river is Cowboys Bar and Museum. They have cheap frozen pizza and cowboy culture.
Layover Ideas: See mermaids and adults acting poorly at Sip and Dip Lounge at the O’hare Motor Inn.
Kalispell (Glacier), Montana
Suggestions for Food: Moose’s Saloon Pizza Restaurant and Norms News Burgers and Milkshakes (Norms Soda Fountain) are recommended.
Layover Ideas: Walk around the downtown area. It’s cute and in a wonderful setting.
Day Trip From Kalispell: Glacier National Park is a major tourist attraction in Kalispell.
Buffalo, New York
Suggestions for Food: Adam’s Mark Hotel has a 50% discount for crew and great wings. I think this is still our layover hotel. If you like Buffalo Wild Wings, they started at Anchor Bar on Main street.
Layover Ideas: Besides the obvious downtown area of Buffalo, you can get a little more adventurous with a quick trip to Niagara Falls. I only stayed here one time and I don’t remember what exactly it was, but there is a bus that runs from downtown Buffalo by the hotel to Niagara Falls. It was pretty cheap and looked like a great trip. If someone here knows it, please leave me a comment so I can add it.
Rochester, New York
Central Business District
Suggestions for Food: Funk ‘N Waffles has live music every night and is open late. It is walkable from our hotel.
Syracuse, New York
East Downtown Area
Layover Ideas: Unless you have a car or means of getting out of this area, your best option is to hit the streets and explore. There are some parks and walkable area by the hotel, but the best area would be to go west toward downtown and walk Washington, Fayette, and Fulton streets.
Westchester, New York
White Plains Area
Suggestions for Food: Westchester Burger Company for awesome burgers and drinks.
Tipp City Area
Suggestions for Food: A true hole in the wall, Hinders (yes it’s a butt joke) has great wings … but not legs… go figure.
Byward Market Area
Canada’s capital and home to the NHL’s Senators, Ottawa is just upstream of the Ottawa River from Montreal.
Suggestions for Food: The Byward Market Area is full of restaurants and shopping. Check out Smoke’s Poutinerie for some, you guessed it, Poutine. Also worth going to are Shwarma Palace, and Beaver Tails for some sweets.
Layover Ideas: In the winter, you can rent ice skates on the Rideau Canal for about $50CAD. In summer there are bike, canoe, and kayak rentals and the marketplace gets very busy. You could also visit one of the many museums, Parliment Hill, or the RCMP training facility.
Allentown (Bethlehem), Pennsylvania
This is a very cool city with a lot of history and great architecture. I wrote a full day trip review on it here.
Suggestions for Food: There are few restaurants that are near the hotel on the south side of the river, but if you cross the river and go to the historic district, you will find a lot more. One notable restaurant is Molly’s Irish Grille and Sports Bar.
Layover Ideas: Visit historic Bethlehem, Walk the Greenway in the Arts District, and enjoy the historic industrial colonial district.
There really isn’t much to do around the hotel. But the hotel has a nice pool, offers massages, and has decent food in the lobby. If you want to go out, you need to walk back to the airport and buy a ticket on the 747 shuttle. For $10 you can get downtown or to the Old Town and back. It’s about :30 to :45 minutes drive each way. Both downtown and the Old Town are absolutely fantastic to visit and both have a very European feel.
Suggestions for Food: Montreal Poutine in Old Town for a classic Canadian poutine. Also, Schwartz’s Deli in the Milton Park neighborhood (by Mount Royal) has great smoked meats. Honestly, there are hundreds of boutique restaurants and eateries downtown and in Old Town. These are very easy to find and walk through.
Layover Ideas: There is a gorgeous riverside park that runs through the Old Town riverfront. It’s a great park on a nice day. If you want a spa day, go to Bota Bota Spa at the park and then walk the cobblestone streets through the rest of town.
You can also go to the very metropolitan downtown area with its huge underground mall, catch a hockey game, and enjoy great shopping and street walking.
Greenville, South Carolina
Near our hotel, there are several restaurants but that’s about it. If you are looking for a great time you will need to get an Uber and head downtown. I did a whole day trip review of downtown Greenville that is worth a read before you go.
Suggestions For Food: Up On The Roof at Embassy Suites is a very cool venue by the Reedy River with great views of downtown. Next to the waterfall, Passerelle Bistro offers both great burgers and atmosphere.
Layover Ideas: Downtown Greenville is filled with restaurants, ice cream shops, shopping, performing arts, and street performers. A $10 to $15 Uber will get you right to the heart of this city. Don’t miss the walk to falls park just past the Peace Center and the Liberty Bridge. Check out the day trip review I linked to above for more information.
Dickinson, South Dakota
Prairie Hills Mall Area
“Behind every tree is a beautiful woman” – Oil worker in Dickinson
Crew Suggestions For Food: There are two favorites, Sanford’s Grub and Pub for cheap food and drinks and The Wurst Shop. Both are right next to each other on 14th street and an easy walk from the mall and nearby hotels. Sanfords is known as the restaurant “with the huge menus” because the selection of food is huge, and the menus themselves are literally huge. We did a full article review of the Wurst Shop here. There is also an authentic Mexican restaurant El Paricutin nearby that people recommend as well.
Suggestions for Things To Do: Dickinson is pretty much an oil town. But there are few things to eat up your time here. Especially if you have a car and a longer layover. In town, visit the West River Community Center. They have rock climbing, an indoor waterpark, gyms, indoor tennis, a golf simulator and more. Non-members can use the facilities for a daily fee of $7 (at the time I wrote this).
Day Trip Ideas: Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the City of Medora are nearby if you have a car. If you have a day to kill or our 30-hour layover, this is worth the drive. Read about this day trip here.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls is a surprisingly decent layover. We stay between the downtown area on Phillips Ave and Falls Park. I wrote an article on Sioux Falls here for a full day trip review.
Suggestions for Food: Both JL Beers, MacKenzie River Pizza, and Backyard BBQ are favorites but there are several other good restaurants downtown. For a heart attack on a plate, go to the Phillips Avenue Diner.
Layover Ideas: Withing walking distance, there are only two main things to do, visit Falls Park (see my article on Winter Wonderland in Falls Park) and go downtown. You can wander around either, or have a more organized outing by doing the Sioux Falls Sculpture Walk.
West End of Town (Westgate Mall Area)
I love Texas and Amarillo reminds me why. Big hats, limousines with horns, weird art, Route 66, and natural beauty a short drive away remind us that everything in Texas is bigger and better. You can read my full article on Amarillo here.
Suggestions for Food: If you can down a 64 oz. steak, the Big Texan Steak Ranch will let you get it for free. If you call and have a group of or more, they will come and pick you up in their limo too. If you plan on going, have one of the pilots run over to the FBO and get a coupon for a discount. Don’t worry, we buy our fuel from them (by the thousands of pounds a flight), they are happy to give us a small discount on food.
Layover Ideas: There are a few things within walking distance to the hotel. I think there is a movie theater and a couple chain restaurants. But if you want something a little better than that, Uber or rent a car and visit the Historic 6th Street which is part of the original route 66, visit the Cadillac Ranch, or for the outdoorsman, visit the Palo Duro Canyon; the second largest canyon in the country. At the canyon, you can hike, drive, zipline, or just sightsee.
East Side of Texas Tech Area
Crew Suggestions for Food: There are a lot of chain restaurants here, but some good ones. Check out Torchy’s Taco.
Crew Suggestions for Things to Do: Buddy Holly Museum
Across the street from the hotel is a good Mexican restaurant. There are also two waffle houses next to the hotel. That’s just winning.
Crew Suggestions For Food: Landmark 1850 Inn – A historic setting to relax
Crossroads Park Area
Casper is truly a Western town set in the heart of Wyoming. It very much has an outdoor focus. It’s not a huge tourist town but there are a few things you can do while you are here.
Crew Recommendations for Food: There isn’t a lot in Casper. Your best option is to go downtown.
Crew Recommendations for Things To Do: From the hotel, the easiest and best thing to do is just get out and walk. You have two good options. One is to cross the river and then turn right on Center Street to go downtown. The other option is to walk up the hill toward the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center and then enjoy the trails along the crest of the hill and along the river to the north side of the town. I’ve done this and seen plenty of wildlife. It’s a great walk and is part of some of the historic tails through the region.
Visit Rotary Park on top of the mountain to the south of downtown. The van from the Ramkota will give you a ride for free. When you are there, you can see a waterfall and a cool scenic overlook.
During the winter, you can ski at Hogadon Ski Resort with a $34 half-day pass plus rentals of about $20. Don’t expect to be skiing Vail, but it’s a cheap way to go out and ski for half a day.