There are some really bad airports out there. Near the top of my list sits Chicago O’Hare (ORD). There’s no useful tram system, no moving sidewalks, flights are consistently delayed/canceled and the weather seems to increase the problems exponentially in the winter. To add to the misery of delays, there are really no good restaurant options. Chili’s service is atrocious, O’Hare Bar & Grill is just bar food, Wolfgang Puck will push your expense limit and Macaroni Grill seems to always have a super long line.
In spite of all of these issues, O’Hare has finally struck gold and got one right. It’s called the O’Hare Urban Garden, or OUG according to me (pronounced Uhhhhg). It’s situated between Terminals H and G, in a little hidden upstairs area.
The OUG (Uhhhhg) is a hydroponic garden that grows plants indoor with nutrient rich water and no soil. These gardens are handy because the plants grow very quickly and are completely organic. Once mature, the greens and veggies are used in O’Hare’s restaurants. Signs on each pot actually say which restaurant its plant is destined for.
This is all nice and sustainable, but the real beauty of the garden is that O’Hare has turned it into a mini-park in the middle of the airport. It’s surrounded by small tables and chairs, and features a huge floor-to-ceiling window that has a decent view of the tarmac. That view isn’t the best in the world, but it beats watching margarita machines spin at Chili’s.
Another bright benefit of the garden is its lighting (excuse the pun). To aid in the growth of healthy plants, it employs a lighting system that operates on the same wavelength as the sun. This, matched with the greenery, has a positive psychological impact on your mood – which is usually needed at ORD.
So, next time you’re at O’Hare and have 5 minutes…or 5 hours to burn, follow my lead when I travel for Pace and grab an apple downstairs, then find the elevator and head up to the O’Hare Urban Garden. It just might make the difference between a bad travel day and a good one.
Here are some additional photos of the Garden: