The United States Open Tennis Championship is held each year at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York. The U.S. Open always takes place starting on the last Monday in August and lasts two weeks into September. The middle of the tournament coinciding with Labor Day weekend. The 2019 dates are August 26 to September 8.
Going to the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows is a tennis lover's dream, but knowing the inside skinny on how to get there, what to take, what to wear, and where to eat makes your day a winner no matter who ends up holding the championship trophy.
Whether you're just visiting New York City for the tournament or live in one of the five boroughs (or Long Island) and just want to make a day-trip to catch some of the action, here's all you need to know in order to have a great day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Take the Subway or the Long Island Rail Road
Driving to the U.S. Open can be a major headache—and rather costly if taking a cab—so you're better off taking either the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) or the New York City Metro Transit Authority (MTA) subway to Flushing Meadows instead.
The number 7 subway is the cheapest option. Take the Queens-bound 7 train from Midtown Manhattan and get off at the Mets - Willet Point stop. From there, it's a short walk to the National Tennis Center just across from Citi Field. Express trains run doing busy hours, making it an even easier option.
Alternatively you can take the LIRR from Penn Station in Manhattan. Although more expensive, comfier seats, a set schedule, and faster travel time make the LIRR a good option if you like to maintain a strict itinerary on your trip. The LIRR will stop at Mets-Willets Point every 30 minutes during the qualifying rounds, Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament.
If you want to be close to the action but don't want to break the bank to do so, you can wait until the day of the tournament to buy your ticket at the gate and possibly score what's known as "Grounds Admission" passes.
These passes let you see matches at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand, and all field courts. Although the tickets are only available for the first eight days of the tournament, these passes provide a great way to see some of the action close up. It's also fun to discover up-and-coming players on the side courts. A limited number of general admission tickets are also available online.
Don't Bring a Bag
If you want to cut down on the amount of time you have to wait in line to get into the sports complex, leave your bag, purse, and even sack lunches at home. The security lines for people with bags are much longer than the lines for those without. If you don't bring a bag, then you can get in a separate line that moves a lot faster.
If you must bring one, there is a limit to one bag per person, and some size limitations apply. Amongst other prohibited items, backpacks, laptops, food, and selfie sticks are not permitted.
While you may have to walk a little bit further to get in, the amount of time you can save by going to the South Gate of the sports complex will be more than worth the effort.
The morning lines at the East Gate, which is right off the subway, are the longest and slowest for entry. Instead, walk around the crowd to the South Gate, which is directly in front of the Unisphere of Flushing Meadows Park.
The sports complex is largely an open-air facility, so you'll want to make sure you bring sunscreen and wear UV-protective sunglasses to avoid any damage from the sun, especially if you plan to spend the whole day at the U.S. Open.
Although there are a variety of sunglasses—including name-brand and designer shades—for sale at the shopping kiosks around the complex, these are often more costly than you'd find at the mall or sunglass store. Visitors are advised to bring their own pair of sunglasses and a hat to keep the sun at bay.
There are numerous restaurants and bars for your dining pleasure inside the sports complex, including some cult NYC favorites like Neapolitan Express, Angry Taco, and Korilla BBQ. There are even Glatt Kosher options.
However, these can be rather expensive, so if you want to save money on your trip to the U.S. Open, it's best to head outside the park (after getting your hand stamped) for a late lunch in Flushing Meadows Park or at one of the nearby restaurants in Flushing, Queens.
If you just want a light snack, you can stop at a hot dog cart in the park immediately outside the East Gate of the sports complex, or head further into the park toward the soccer fields where you'll find a couple of Ecuadorean and Peruvian snack carts.
The U.S. Open is played over two weeks from the end of August to the second week of September. It's summer, which is hot and humid in New York City. As a result, you'll want to wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and loose clothing to fight the sun and heat. If the weather report says anything about possible thunderstorms, pack an umbrella for these short monsoons.
You might catch some shade at Arthur Ashe Stadium (except on the north side) and the newly designed Louis Armstrong Stadium. But everywhere else is outside. As a result, you'll see a lot of attendees in wide-brimmed hats and holding small umbrellas—just be sure to be respectful of people around you if you do. At night it'll cool down, but not too much, so you won't likely need a jacket.
If you're too worn out to enjoy some of the biggest tourist attractions in New York after a day of watching tennis, you can take a seven-minute walk to the Queens Museum to see a full scale-model replica of the city. Free to the public during the U.S. Open, the New York City Room at the Queens Museum offers a panorama view of the entire city.