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The traffic on I-70 to Peña Boulevard was actually moving; you sailed through airport security; and now you’re at your gate early when you get the news: Your flight has been postponed. Delays and outright cancellations have become the norm this year as the airline industry deals with staffing shortages, and that’s not likely to improve during the busy holiday travel season. Thankfully, Denver International Airport (DIA) offers myriad options for whiling away your newfound free time, no matter how many unaccounted-for hours you suddenly find on your itinerary.
If you have 1 hour:
Take in some art.
Location: Ansbacher Hall A Bridge Security
Denverite Ed Dwight’s life-size (and bigger) bronze statues depicting Black culture can be found in city halls, town squares, and the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection. DIA’s Ed Dwight: Soaring on the Wings of a Dream exhibit—which runs through February 2023—features 18 of Dwight’s sculptures while recounting his achievements as a pilot, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, and a real estate developer.
If you have 2 hours:
Break a sweat.
Location: Concourses A, B, C & DEN Plaza
DIA doesn’t have a fitness center, but there are plenty of ways to feel the burn. For a cardio kick, power-walk the 4,244 feet of Concourse B, DIA’s longest terminal. Aspiring yogis can find a quiet spot to flow through sun salutations in the far reaches and relative serenity near gates A60 through A99 of Concourse A. Did you learn your plane is late before fighting through security? If so, make like Nathan Chen and hit the DEN Plaza seasonal ice rink, located between Jeppesen Terminal and the Westin DIA, which is open through New Year’s Day.
If you have 3 hours:
Start your holiday shopping.
Location: Concourses A & B
Save yourself a trip to the mall while supporting local businesses by picking up a jar of the sweet stuff from Björn’s Colorado Honey in Concourse A. In Concourse B, grab Colorado author Erika T. Wurth’s debut horror novel, White Horse, at Tattered Cover Book Store or a backpack (the small-but-still-roomy 10-L Rover Pack Mini is appropriate for kids ages five-ish to 92) from Denver-based Topo Designs.
If you have 4+ hours:
Enjoy a tasting tour.
Location: Concourses A, B, C
Begin in Concourse C with the beet and goat cheese salad from Root Down paired with the Beet Down (a gin, Aperol, and beet shrub cocktail) because, hey, you’re not flying the plane. Then hop the train to Concourse A, where James Beard Award–winning chef Alex Seidel opened an outpost of his farm-to-table Union Station staple, Mercantile Dining & Provision, in August. For dessert, finish with the delightful Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, peanut butter, and Oreo) from Voodoo Doughnuts’ new location in Concourse B.