Since my boyfriend recently moved to Dana Point, CA, I’ve been visiting the John Wayne Airport (airport IATA code SNA) in Orange County more than normal. I’m starting to get the hang of this small, upgraded, easy to navigate, not crowded regional airport, and wanted to share my #layovertips and airport hacks with our tripchi airport app readers. The John Wayne Airport website leaves a little to be desired as far as design goes, but they at least have done a good job organizing the data, and you can easily navigate to Airport Maps, Shopping, and Dining to check out the up to date passenger service offerings. The concessions at the John Wayne Airport are managed by JWA Concessions, a smaller outfit in airport retail and localized to that airport only.
Noteworthy dining at John Wayne Airport
- Hobie’s. On this trip to Dana Point, I discovered Hobie’s – one of the original OC surf shops. At John Wayne Airport, delightfully, there’s a Hobie’s beach bar and grill, with the same OC surf themes as the store. My boyfriend at there a few weeks ago on his way to SFO< and he swore the fish tacos were awesome. This restaurant recreates the Hobie Surfboard Co. and its image of surfboards, catamarans and water sports. The Hobie Sand Bar is a nice place to run aground featuring a fresh menu that offers travelers a taste of California. Departure level, Gate 12.
- Anaheim Ducks Breakaway. I actually ate here since it was very near my Frontier gate, and I was not disappointed. I was able to grab a seat by the floor to ceiling windows right on the runway, that any #avgeek would drool over. I had these fab lettuce wraps with quinoa, grapes, sunflower seeds, and chickpeas that were a lot better than they sound. This Bar & Grill offers travelers a broad selection of items, from spicy wings appetizers or a charcuterie plate, to flatbread pizzas made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh herbs to the Baby Romaine Caesar Salad or the Tossed California Cobb. Travelers will also find a number of hand-crafted signature cocktails, including the 10-Minute Misconduct that features 10 Cane, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, pineapple and Sprite. Departures level, Gate 18.
- Carl’s Jr. Southern California original pays homage to the locale that created criss-cut fries and the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. A Southern California native, Carl’s Jr. is known throughout the Western U.S. as the place to go for premium quality burgers, in particular its 100% Angus beef Six Dollar Burger line. Departures level, Gate 16.
- Vino Volo. If you don’t want a SoCal favorite, how about a national favorite? And anyways, who doesn’t love some wine, cheese, and tapas? Plus they have a great loyalty program and wine of the day. Vino Volo is a wine lounge that offers various wines from around the world by the glass, in tasting flights, and by the bottle. Customers can purchase bottles of wine to take with them or have them shipped. Appetizers and entrees are available for dine-in and carry-out. Departures level, Gate 9.
- Food court and Pinkberry. If you want some cheaper/faster options, you’ll find them in the food court. And, if you want some delicious and not-so-fattening fro-yo, try Pinkberry. This restaurant brings travelers a high quality and unique frozen yogurt experience. Select from a variety of flavors, including a seasonal flavor. Travelers can personalize their experience with any combination of delicious toppings including Grade-A fresh fruit, organic gummy bears, all natural honey almond granola, or rich, premium Belgian chocolate shavings, just to name a few. Departures level, between Gate 13/14.
Javi’s. While I didn’t get to try it this time, the “Award-Winning” sign of the front of the restaurant drew my eye in. It looked like upscale Mexican food, and after browsing the menu, the prices and entrees proved that this was so. This is the place to go at John Wayne Airport if you’re looking to impress. Javi’s offers authentic cuisine from different regions of Mexico all made with the finest ingredients available. The menu features seafood plates with Latin flair, like the Seafood Enchiladas stuffed with shrimp & Dungeness Crab. You’ll also find gourmet Mexican food such as earthy mole poblano and baby spinach enchiladas in an emerald green pasilla cream sauce, or familiar faire such as nachos, quesadillas and taquitos. Javi’s also offers a variety of specialty margaritas such as cucumber, jalapeno and tamarindo. Departures level, between Gate 13/14.
And as for shopping at John Wayne Airport?
Well, maybe skip the shopping. There really aren’t any good options here other than the run of the mill newspaper and snacks stands. The only OC related store was Rip Curl, and you can stop here for surf related apparel.
John Wayne Airport Art
My recommendation would be grab a bite, skip the shopping, and browse the John Wayne Airport art and memorabilia collection.
- Flight of Ideas. They have an exhibit right in between the two security areas, and above baggage claim in Terminal C called “Flight of Ideas”. The sculpture is composed of 21 aluminum birds with wing spans ranging in size from three feet to 14 feet suspended on an “S” shaped structure 100 feet long. Created from aluminum and polycarbonate Plexiglas, the wings of the birds display enlarged portions of multi-colored aeronautical charts. John Wayne Airport commissioned the artist Beth Nybeck of Kansas City, Missouri to create this art work for the new Terminal C.
- Angels memorability. To commemorate the 56th season of Angels Baseball, John Wayne Airport is featuring the Calling All Angels exhibit in the Vi Smith Concourse Gallery. A range of baseball memorabilia from the early years to the present is on display through July 2016. I saw it at the Departures level, Gates 18-21 in Terminal C, but there’s another exhibit catty corned from Gates 2 through 5 in Terminal A, and a free-standing case at Gate 14.
All in all, this airport gets a B+ in my book. Drop-off was a breeze. I flew through security. Great gnam-gnam post-security, and while shopping was lacking, the art exhibit and pleasant atmosphere made up for it. If you’re headed to LA, skip LAX and go to John Wayne Airport in Orange County instead. It will be worth it.