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Ground Control

Airport play places provide fun for little ones, and a well-earned break for big ones.

Photography COURTESY OF CAAS, CHICAGO DEPT. OF AVIATION

Connections

TRAVELING WITH KIDS IS A HIGH-WIRE ACT, no matter how many bags of Goldfish you pack. After an overnight flight with an energetic preschooler, there’s nothing better than discovering a children’s play area next to the world’s slowest car rental counter. And, lucky for weary parents, airports are increasingly providing designated spots for kids to let loose so mom and dad can wind down. Take Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where a 1,400-square-foot play area is filled with aviation-themed foam toys, including a baggage cart that will prepare young ones for a lifetime of navigating airport terminals (Tel: 800-544-1965; portseattle.org/seatac). If you find yourself with time to kill at San Francisco International Airport, take a nine- minute ride on the terminal-circling AirTrain Red Line — always good for a thrill — visit the Aviation Library and Museum, and stop by the Kids’ Spot, which features interactive weather-related exhibits (more exciting than they sound) from San Francisco’s famed Exploratorium (Tel: 800-435-9736; flysfo.com). Relaxing is easy at Singapore’s Changi International Airport, where youngsters can take a dip in the Bali-themed rooftop pool while parents watch planes take off from a poolside perch, much-needed drink in hand (Tel: 65-6542- 1122; changiairport.com). Kinderland, with its ball pit and giant LEGOs, is the main attraction at the Munich Airport (Tel: 49-89-975-00; munich-airport.de), where tykes can be left, free of charge, in capable hands while parents take in the airport’s brewery (Airbräu), or a beach volleyball tournament. The only thing better than a children’s playground, after all, is one for adults. — Alexandra Zissu

Kids’ Stuff

It’s seldom easy to arrive at the airport early — especially when traveling with children — but next time you’re flying out of Chicago’s O’Hare, make a point of it. Designed by the Chicago Children’s Museum, the “Kids on the Fly” exhibit in Terminal 2 features a mini-helicopter, cargo plane and a luggage station (cartoon suitcases only). Meanwhile, over in Terminal 5, the Museum and the Chicago Fire Department have teamed up to create “Play it Safe,” an interactive exhibit dedicated to teaching children about safety. Be sure to stop by the upper level of Terminal 1, on the B Concourse, where a four-story, 72-foot- long brachiosaurus skeleton will amaze tiny travelers (Tel: 800-832-6352; www.ohare.com).

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