Take a Trip Around Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3

Ethan MillmanApril 2019
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Photography by Angelina Aragon

Catching a flight at Sky Harbor? Bypass Starbucks in favor of local goodies at the airport’s evolving Terminal 3.

In January, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport unveiled a new, 15-gate concourse in Terminal 3, the latest phase in a planned $590 million upgrade for the aging terminal. Packed with local restaurants, shops, art installations and flyer-friendly amenities like a children’s playground, the concourse brings Terminal 3 – renamed John S. McCain III Terminal 3 by airport officials – in line with the popular improvements made in neighboring Terminal 4.

If your summer travel plans include Delta Airlines or one of the four other carriers operating in the terminal, here’s your navigation guide.

SanTan Brewing Company

An institution in Phoenix’s brew scene, SanTan has its fleet of IPAs and ales – including Juicy Jack and Devil’s Ale – on tap. The brewpub has one of the more spacious storefronts in Terminal 3 and is filled with TVs, making it a great place to watch a game before a flight.

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Aviators

It’s hard to miss sculptor Donald Lipski’s massive reflective aviator sunglasses installation toward Terminal 3’s exit. Chilling in front of a vibrant painting of a lightly cloudy sky, the glasses make for a cool photo op before you leave.

Playground

A growing trend at airports, the playground at Terminal 3 provides a place for kiddos to play while awaiting their flights.

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WHERE TO EAT

The Tavern

Legendary Valley restaurateur and wine connoisseur Mark Tarbell’s outpost of his Arcadia eatery offers the most sophisticated noshes in Terminal 3: avocado toast and poached eggs for breakfast and steak and salmon for dinner. Specialty cocktails are on tap as well.

Original ChopShop

Looking for something on the healthier side? Original ChopShop is your best bet. It offers fresh pressed juices, protein bowls and sandwiches.

The Parlor

Everyone loves pizza, and The Parlor is one of the best pizzerias in the Valley. An offshoot of its Biltmore area flagship, the Sky Harbor location offers an eclectic menu that includes breakfast pizzas, salads, bruschetta and creative pizzas.

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Indigenous

Indigenous sources its art – from horsehair pottery to incense to dolls – from Native American tribes, with the art of the Navajo Nation currently on prominent display.

Cranes, Trains and Airplanes

No part of Terminal 3 underscores its evolution quite like this museum exhibit, on display through September 1. Complete with pictures of Terminal 3 over the decades, the exhibit is available to passengers on level four of the terminal.

“Light. Love. Life.”

Valley artist Teresa Villegas turned a walkway into a work of art with her Terrazzo floor design on the Terminal 3 bridge walkway. Festooned with colorful birds and plants, Villegas’ work has a uniquely Southwestern feel.

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Giant Coffee

There’s no shortage of coffee options in Terminal 3, which offers two different Starbucks locations, but travelers looking for a local sip should stop by Giant Coffee, an offshoot of Matt and Ernie Pool’s (of Matt’s Big Breakfast fame) Downtown Phoenix flagship.

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PHOENIX magazine’s Best of the Valley market

After more than a decade of planning, PHOENIX’s Best of the Valley Market opened in January. The shop is filled to the brim with locally sourced Arizona trinkets and snacks, many of which have been featured in the pages of the magazine.

The store is a reflection of what Lachele Mangum says is a shift in what people expect from airports. “It’s like you’re going to a mall,” she says. Mangum is CEO of LAM Holdings, which owns the space in a partnership with Stellar Group.

The market stocks books and magazines, including its namesake publication. Showcase products include Phoenix-based Cactus Candy, which sells prickly pear gummies, jellies and marmalade. There’s also the aptly if cheekily named Nut Sacks, nutty snack mixes out of Cave Creek, and Tempe’s Rango Honey, a family-owned operation that offers unique honeys including alfalfa and mesquite.

Susan Fuller, general manager of Stellar Airport Stores at Sky Harbor, which manages Best of the Valley Market, aims to give travelers an idea of what Phoenix is like.

“The thing about these stores, especially Best of the Valley, is that we made a real effort to feature local products and show we’re a part of the community,” Fuller says. “When someone is coming on vacation, they can take a piece of Arizona with them. We’re really proud of that.” The diversity of local products has been a game-changer.

“Arizona gets a bit of a bad rap that it’s all desert and dead things,” Fuller says. “But there’s so much that’s great about Arizona, from the local artists to the local food, and the cacti and spring training. What we’re trying to do is show them more than just a desert.”

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