· Find the awesome airport-themed kids play area
If you're traveling with family in tow, there's nothing better than O'Hare's "Kids on the Fly" play area, snuggled just inside of security in Terminal 2. It's got play houses shaped like an airplane, a helicopter, a control tower and more, plus an excellent view outside to the actual boarding airplanes. Terminal 5 also has a kids "Play It Safe" area, just in case you aren't lucky enough to be in Terminal 2.
· Indulge your inner Chocoholic
When Vosges (pronounced voge) expanded beyond their few Chicago and New York boutiques to include an outlet inside of Terminal 1 at O'Hare, we knew our healthy attitude toward airport eating was about to go by the wayside. Vosges specializes in impeccably packaged, exotic chocolates. They typically have samples on hand, or you can try buying single truffles. We recommend the Red Fire or the Woolloomooloo, or go for the bacon chocolate pancake mix for a quick gift for someone on the other end of your travels.
· Hop a free hotel shuttle
Only do this if you've got 4-5 hours or more of solid layover time, since it involves actually leaving the airport property. Airport hotel shuttles aren't just there to take guests to check-in for the night; they're there to bring other flyers over to the hotel restaurants or bars, too. An upscale option is to hop onto the free Intercontinental Hotel shuttle for a meal at their Capital Grill or McCormick & Schmick's restaurants. More affordable, casual options include the Mirage Restaurant at the Sheraton Four Points or the WXYZ bar in the funky lobby of the Aloft Hotel, both with free airport shuttles.
· Do a little planespotting
We don't need to tell you how huge O'Hare is, and since it's one of the busiest airports in the country, you can imagine how much great plane spotting a bored traveler can do in even an hour. Sadly, there are no outdoor viewing areas, but taking a walk around your terminal and settling down next to the window of a quiet seating area should pass the time pretty quickly. We always love the US Airways gates because those planes pull right up to the windows and the pilots aren't too shy to wave back.
[Photos: caribb, Jaunted]