For two weeks starting on the last Monday of August each year, the U.S. Open Tennis Championship takes over Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York. The 14-day event takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, whose main stadium—Arthur Ashe Stadium—is the largest tennis stadium in the world. Every summer, lovers of the sport fill it to the brim. An estimated 22,000 spectators typically turn up for the event, but in 2020, there will be none.
Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed in June that the U.S. Open will go on as planned August 31 to September 13, the matches will be played in front of empty seats. The 2020 U.S. Open will be fan-free due to public health and safety concerns. Instead, spectators can watch the games on ESPN or livestreamed on USOpen.org.
Take the Subway or the Long Island Rail Road
Driving to the U.S. Open can be a major headache—and rather costly if you plan to arrive by cab—so you're better off taking 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, with a one-way trip costing $2.75. You can 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 during busy hours, making the subway an even more attractive option.
Alternatively, you can take the LIRR from Penn Station in Manhattan. Although more expensive (generally $9 for a single ticket during peak hours), comfier seats, a set schedule, and faster travel time make the LIRR another good option for traveling to the U.S. Open. The LIRR will stop at Mets-Willets Point every 30 minutes during the event.
Save on Ground Admission Passes
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 and buy your ticket at the gate to possibly score what's known as a Grounds Admission pass, which lets 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 offer prospective spectators the opportunity 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
You can often cut down on wait time in line by leaving your bag at home. The security lines for people with bags are much longer than the lines for those without. If you must carry a purse, however, keep in mind that you may only bring one per person and it must meet the event's size guidelines. Amongst other prohibited items, backpacks, laptops, food, and selfie sticks are not permitted.
Enter by the South Gate
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, because it's right off the subway, are the longest and slowest for entry. So, walk around the crowd to the South Gate, located directly in front of the Unisphere of Flushing Meadows Park, instead.
Leave the U.S. Open for Lunch
The U.S. Open does not allow attendees to bring food into the stadium, but 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, food vendors inside the venue 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 for lunch in Flushing Meadows Park or at one of the nearby restaurants in Flushing. 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.
Dress for the Weather
The U.S. Open is played over two weeks from the end of August to the second week of September. It's summer, which means heat and humidity for New York City. As a result, you'll want to wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and loose clothing. If the weather report says anything about possible thunderstorms, pack an umbrella. 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 open-air. As a result, you'll see a lot of attendees in wide-brimmed hats and small shade umbrellas.
See All of New York City at a Glance
If you still have energy to spare after visiting the U.S. Open, then the nearby Queens Museum provides some relief from the heat. What's more, the New York City Room—a full-scale model replica of the city—is free to the public during the U.S. Open and it's a seven-minute walk from the stadium. Also inside the museum are rotating art exhibitions and educational programs for all ages.