The Best Hidden Surprises at Airports

Best Conspiracy Art: Denver International (DEN)

I'm at a loss to explain all the conspiracy theories surrounding the Denver; maybe it's that distinctive, pointy fa├žade? They've been cropping up ever since the facility opened in 1995; some of the weirder ideas have to do with underground tunnels and world domination, but the airport art has been called into question too. Sure, Leo Tanguma's mural titled, "In Peace and Harmony with Nature" is a bit different; if you look closely, you'll see dead animals, raging fires and people in coffins. In fairness, another panel of the mural depicts a happier vision though sites devoted to conspiracy theories don't seem to care.

Airport authorities are aware of the speculation; as the website notes, "A few fanciful conspiracy theories have been generated by this artwork, none of which were intended by the artist". See for yourself in the South Terminal.

Best Sci-fi Restaurant: Los Angeles International (LAX)

As you drive around the loop that is LA's airport, you can't miss the Jetsonian-like structure in the center; that, my friends, is the Encounter Restaurant, sometimes known enigmatically as "the theme building". Opened in 1961, it helped give the airport a snazzy, space-age look; I've read that the brother of one of one design team member was art director for the 1954 film, "War of the Worlds." Today it just looks retro, but I'm told the food is terrific and the bar offers an assortment of cocktails that include the Blue Moon Margarita and the Black Hole (Absolut vodka with a splash of Chambord). If you've tried it, I'd love to hear a review.

Best Souvenirs: Sioux City Airport (SUX)

When Sioux City's airport was given the wacky but official code designation of SUX, the mayor screamed, "An embarrassment!" Then a broader-minded airport board member had a brainstorm and SUX souvenirs were born. City officials now slap the code on everything from t-shirts to luggage tags; there's even a "BiSUXual" coffee mug, attractively priced at $9.95, but what do you say we don't go there?

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