We love this time of year in New York! Summer is drawing to a close, fall is almost here, and the US Open tennis tournament is on. Our local correspondent has curated a list of 7 crucial insider tips and what you need to know about how to have the best experience watching or attending the US Open this year.
Expert tips on attending and watching the US Open
One of the perks of living in Long Island City, Queens is our proximity to the US Open. For a little over a decade, our tennis-loving family has been attending the tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park every year.
Unlike Wimbledon, you don’t need to enter a special lottery for the rarefied opportunity to see a match. It’s easy to be a part of the action with two weeks of matches from Monday, August 28th to Sunday, September 10th. With day and night sessions and the option to buy affordable grounds passes, there’s no excuse not to check out the last of the Grand Slams at least once. If you do, we’re sure you’ll be going back a few times like we do every year to close out the summer.
This year, I spoke to Caitlin Thompson, co-founder of Racquet, a media company that promotes the culture of tennis through a quarterly magazine, podcast, and events. She had a lot of great tips to ensure a meaningful experience – even if you don’t manage to catch an Alcaraz or Swiatek match.
Expert tips on attending and watching the US Open this year
1. When to go
Think of the difference between seeing theater from the first few rows of the orchestra versus the rear of the balcony. Caitlin strongly recommends going early in the tournament where you can catch every pro practicing from the outer courts. With just a grounds pass, you can get up close and witness the sheer athleticism and speed of these incredible tennis players. Hot tip: Look out for the players’ practice schedules on the US Open website starting August 21st. One year, our daughter got an autograph from Naomi Osaka after watching her practice during the day session!
2. What kind of tickets to buy
If you just want to experience the event and can’t tell the difference between Alcaraz or Djokovic, buy a grounds pass which enables you to see any of the matches taking place on the outdoor courts. You might catch a future star in the making! However, if there’s a chance of rain, a day session ticket in Arthur Ashe or Louis Armstrong is not much more money and gets you a place to sit inside to weather the storm. Note that these tickets are only sold in the first week of the tournament.
If you have your heart set on seeing a certain player, check the schedule 24 hrs in advance and see if they’re playing in the day or night session and plan accordingly. Your seat largely depends on how much you’re willing to spend but for very popular matches, sometimes the nosebleed section is inevitable. We actually think it’s a little more fun up there because you can talk and cheer a bit more boisterously.
3. How to get there
We feel passionate about taking the 7 train all the way out to the Mets-Willets Point stop. Not only is it the most efficient way to go with a boardwalk that leads directly to the grounds, but the ride is such a quintessential NYC experience.
It’s great for people watching where crowds tend to be a little dressier than if they were attending a baseball game. Everyone’s going to the same place and it’s fun to strike up conversations with fellow tennis fans. We’ve even scored extra tickets from people in the past!
4. Luxury perks
Even if you’re not in a luxury corporate box, there are still some perks you may be entitled to. If you have a Chase card, be sure to reserve a spot in the Chase lounge for some AC, snacks and branded merch. With an Amex card, you may be able to get a free radio to hear all the juicy TV commentary.
More on the Food Village later but if you want a proper sit-down restaurant, check out Alex Guarnaschelli’s Fare, US Open Club or chef David Burke’s Mojito.
5. Food and beverages
One of our favorite things to do at the US Open is eat! This is a truly NYC-based food court with lots of iconic local fare and gourmet ethnic options. We haven’t had a bad meal yet but here are a few of our faves. Korilla BBQ features Korean-inspired rice bowls served with caramelized kimchi, beansprouts, fire-roasted corn, garlic spinach and bulgogi. At Fish Shack, chef David Burke delivers the ultimate beach favorite lobster roll on toasted and buttery buns. Glatt Kosher has salty, sky-high pastrami sandwiches. Eating healthy? Harlem chef and James Beard award-winner, JJ Johnson makes delicious grain salads and rice bowls at Field Trip. But whatever you do, do not miss the waffle fries!
Wash everything down with the US Open’s signature drink — the Honey Deuce. There are Grey Goose Bars throughout the grounds serving this refreshing concoction of vodka, lemonade, raspberry liqueur, topped off with frozen honeydew melon balls.
6. Under the radar events
Caitlin is a huge fan of reserving time to watch the junior championships (especially if you have little ones) and the wheelchair games. From Tuesday, August 22 through Sunday, August 27, the grounds are free and open to the public with fun, tennis-centric events and activities for the whole family.
If you need to walk off all the food or stretch your legs between matches, you might enjoy shopping at the Ralph Lauren boutiques which always have a US Open limited edition capsule collection. This year there are over 90 pieces of men’s, women’s and children’s tennis-inspired apparel and accessories — including the ball crew uniform. With tenniscore still going strong, we know we won’t be able to resist.
Expert tips on attending or watching the US Open
Go out there and enjoy the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments. We’re so lucky to have it in our own backyard!