Today officially marks one week until my dad and I embark on our annual trip to the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing, NY. With six trips under our belt, we’ve developed a decent system for getting the most out of our two days of tennis watching madness. This is a brief summary of our pre-event decisions, hotels, day-of game plan, and a few extra tips. Although most people we tell about our trip have no interest in tennis (and assume we’re going to see the golf version of the U.S. Open) I’m writing this anyway for the one or two fellow tennis-lovers I know exist out there somewhere!
Deciding When To Attend:
- This tournament is a two week event that usually starts the last week in August. Depending on work schedules and vacation day availability, we either choose the Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. These dates put us right in the middle of the tournament during the third and fourth round matches.
- My preference is usually Friday and Saturday, since there are more matches on the outer courts earlier in the tournament. By Sunday, it’s often necessary to grab good seats early and settle in at Louis Armstrong or the Grandstand for the day. Word of advice, on those days when Louis or the Grandstand are packed to the gills, if you leave the stadium, you will not be able to re-enter until enough people leave and seats become available. The benefit of Sunday matches, though, is that there’s less of a chance of a blowout since we’re deeper into the tournament and higher seeds are now playing each other. Therefore, the days you choose to attend will depend on what type of tennis you want to see.
- The basic ticket is a one-day Grounds Admission that gets you into every stadium and outer court except Arthur Ashe. We’ve found this to be the best value, even though you typically won’t get to see the biggest stars such as Federer, Nadal, etc. Price: $85 (including fees)
- At a slightly higher price point, you can get a reserved seat in Louis Armstrong stadium. This offers all the same benefits as a grounds admission (still excluding Arthur Ashe stadium), with the added bonus of a reserved seat. This is especially useful on days when Louis Armstrong is at capacity, since you’ll still be able to enter the stadium and claim your seat while everyone else waits in line hoping someone will leave. Also, you won’t need to arrive an extra hour early in the morning to snatch up a good seat for the day’s first matches. Price: $178 – $335 (including fees)
- The final ticket option is for Arthur Ashe stadium. The price of different seating tiers in this stadium varies widely, but we’ve always decided the tickets in our price range just aren’t close enough to the court to be worth the money. An Arthur Ashe ticket also gives you the same access to the other stadiums/courts as a grounds admission.
- Though you may not believe this, grounds admissions and Louis Armstrong reserved tickets sell out extremely quickly for the most popular days. We buy tickets the exact moment they go on sale and usually still have some sort of trouble (this may also be caused by the horrendousness that is Ticketmaster’s website). Regardless, we’ve had lots of trouble getting decent reserved seats and usually just end up going for grounds admission.
- The U.S. Open website offers a ticket resale option, but you’ll generally pay significantly more than regular ticket price. As of writing this, the lowest price available for a grounds admission on Saturday, September 5 is $118. http://www.ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com/USTA/us-open-tennis-grounds-admission-tickets/
- For the past few years, we’ve used Marriott points to stay at the Residence Inn in New Rochelle, NY. This hotel is located approximately 25 minutes from the tennis stadium and offers easy access to the highway. We can typically get a one-room suite for 20,000 points per night.
- The schedule of play is always released the night before the next day’s events. We review who’s playing where and when in order to create a game plan for the next day. In some cases, we like one stadium’s lineup enough that we’ll head straight there in the morning and never leave. Other times we pick and choose different courts throughout the day.
- This may seem a bit crazy, but we arrive an hour before the gates open at 10am to ensure we’re one of the first few in line when we want to see matches at Louis Armstrong or the Grandstand stadiums. Without fail, this strategy has allowed us to sit within the first two rows of general admission. In the Grandstand, where all seating is general admission, we end up 5 feet from the players. In Louis, we’re up one level from courtside, but at least get as close as we possibly can.
What to Bring:
- There are restrictions on what can be brought into the park, so please check out this link to the US Open website before arriving: http://usta.usopen.org/US-Open/what_can_you_bring/ (Leave those drones at home this year!)
- If you arrive early to get the best seats (as we do) you may also want to avoid bringing a bag. There is a separate line for guests with no bags and it moves much faster.
- On a typical day, this is what we’ll bring along: Sweatshirt (for the cool evenings), Sunglasses, Hat, Snacks (stuffed into the pockets of shorts and sweatshirts), Phone, and Wallet. It’s much easier to move around and get in and out of seats when you have less items.
- If you have a Chase credit card, you can access the Chase lounge (which is air conditioned!) that supposedly offers drinks, snacks, and a place to relax (sweet– that rhymed!). Online pre-registration is required and it seemed to fill up quickly, so keep an eye out a month or two before the tournament starts. We registered for the first time this year, so we’ll stop by if we have a break in the schedule.
- Water is absurdly expensive so we typically buy one large bottle and refill it throughout the day at the water fountains located in the stadiums and around the grounds.
- If you purchased a grounds pass but are itching to see the big name players, head over to the practice courts throughout the day. All the players use these on their off days for an hour or two at a time. Some also sign autographs on their way in and out if you’re looking for that sort of interaction. It can get a little nuts when a big name walks in, but it’s also pretty fun to be packed in with other people who are just as excited as me to see Rafael Nadal warm up : )
There you have it! This is one of the trips I look forward to most every year and hope our experience can help any first-timers! If you have any other questions about planning a trip to the U.S. Open, leave a comment!