US Open Tennis: Travel Guide for Grand Slam Tennis in The Big Apple

Things You Need to Know When Making a Trip to the US Open in New York City

Rafael Nadal of Spain during his men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on Day Fifteen of the 2013 US Open
••• Rafael Nadal during his men's singles final match against Novak Djokovic on Day 15 of the 2013 US Open. Al Bello/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The US Open has changed over the years, but it still holds its own as the loudest and most energetic Grand Slam tennis tournament. It takes place during the week before and after Labor Day, the first Monday in September. Easily reachable from Manhattan, the US Open brings in a large number of fans from all states and countries to fill the seats and the surrounding grounds. Fans can choose between going early in the tournament to enjoy a day on the side courts enjoying less heralded players, a boisterous night match with one of the tournament's stars pushing forward in the draw, or two of best players in the world challenging each other in the tournament's final few days.

Getting There

Getting to New York is easy, but not necessarily inexpensive. The cheapest way to travel is by car, with New York being less than a two hour drive from Philadelphia, three hours from Baltimore, and less than four hours from Boston and Washington D.C. You can also get there by train with Amtrak from those same four cities very easily. Routes also run down the East Coast and extend as far as Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, and Toronto. Flying into New York is easy because of the three airports in proximity.

United is the primary airline operating into Newark with Delta dominating routes into LaGuardia and JFK, but other airlines offer flights as well. The easiest way to look for flight is with travel aggregators like Kayak and Hipmunk unless you specifically know what airline you want to travel on.

It's also very easy to get to Flushing Meadows, the area of Queens that hosts the US Open. Travelers from Manhattan should take the #7 subway from either Times Square - 42nd Street or Grand Central - 42nd Street, two subway stops easily accessible via bus, subway, or taxi from other areas of Manhattan. The #7 train makes stops in Queens as it rolls on to Flushing Meadow, so you could always hop on in Queens as well. Those coming from the Upper East Side can take the N or Q subway line and connect in Queensboro Plaza, while those near the E, F, M and R can find the #7 at Roosevelt Avenue.

 

The Long Island Railroad runs a train out to Mets-Willets Point Station from Penn Station, the Woodside Station, or anywhere on the Port Washington line. Should you decide to drive, there's more than ample parking between the parking at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center and CitiField, home of the New York Mets, next door. 

Where to Stay

There are plenty of locals who make it to the U.S. Open, but people descend on Flushing Meadows from everywhere. Hotel rooms in New York are as expensive as any city in the world, so don't expect to catch a break on pricing in August. There are numerous brand name hotels in and around Times Square, but you might be best served not staying in such a highly-trafficked location. You're not that bad off as long as you're within a subway ride of the 7 train.‎ Travelocity offer last minute deals if you're scrambling a few days before you attend the event.

Kayak and Hipmunk (travel pricing aggregators) can help you find the best hotel for your needs. Alternatively, you're probably best served with renting an apartment via AirBNB. Many people in Manhattan travel during Labor Day Weekend (the middle US Open weekend) and the days around it. Apartment availability should be as high as at any point during the year.

Tickets

Good tickets for the US Open aren't easy to come by. Ticket prices are really high for the best seats in the house and most of those lower bowl / court-side seats are sold as full packages to businesses. You can buy your own package of tickets to all sessions or a partial plan with the possibility of moving down in future years. The remaining tickets, usually only upper seating in the promenade or general grounds admission, are put on sale a few months before the tournament on Ticketmaster. (The seats up top are less about enjoying the tennis and more about enjoying the experience about being there since you can’t see that much of what’s going on.

It’s like watching an arcade game of Pong.)

You can also acquire tickets through one of the corporate partners like American Express or Starwood with membership rewards points or through a raffle. ‎There's always the secondary market like Stubhub and Ebay or a ticket aggregator (think Kayak for sports tickets) like SeatGeek and ‎TiqIQ

Move on to page two for more information about attending the US Open.

Security Procedures

It’s worth knowing in advance what you’ll have to deal with in terms of security when entering the grounds. The security line to get in, especially during the early rounds, can take at least 15 minutes to get through. Backpacks, hard coolers, and alcohol aren’t allowed among other things. You’re still allowed to bring in a bag of limited food (think sandwiches for everyone, not a buffet dinner for the whole stadium) and plastic bottles, so you can save some money on food and beverage that way. Check out the full list of banned items here.

When at the US Open

When inside, the grounds are your oyster, especially over the course of the first week. Arthur Asche Stadium requires a ticket with a specific seat location in order to view matches inside, but the rest of the courts allow access to anyone. Louis Armstrong Stadium has seats sold in the lower bowl, but it's other seats as well as any seat at other courts are first come, first serve. Most matches in Arthur Asche Stadium aren’t competitive in the first week, so walk around and find good tennis somewhere else.

There will be plenty. You can freely move about the grounds and see as many matches as you want on a given day. Make sure to pick up one of those free American Express radios (if you have an American Express card) that allows you to listen to what’s happening elsewhere or provide play-by-play at the courts you’re at.

Don't forget that the best players may play on Arthur Asche Stadium, but they warm up on the surrounding courts. Catch your favorite player on an off-day or before a match on a smaller court and he may be more willing to give you an autograph, tennis ball, or wrist band. If the crowd is too much for you and you just want to watch players practicing, head up to the top of the seats at Court 4 and watch from there.

You're also allowed to stick it out through the night and catch matches outside of Arthur Asche Stadium at the other courts as well. If you have night tickets, you can enter the grounds as early as 5 p.m and can check matches out on all the courts other than Arthur Asche Stadium.

Food

The lines can get a little long at the better food locations on the grounds, so you’ll be best served to bring your own quality sandwich. If you showed up empty handed, you won’t be spoiled for choice. The best options at the Food Village are Carnegie Deli (featuring their well-known sandwiches with many ounces of meat), Hill Country Barbecue (one of the best barbecue restaurants in New York City), and Pat LaFreida Meat Purveyors (New York City’s #1 meat purveyor). Those with money to throw around can eat at either Aces or Champions Bar & Grill.

They’re both sit down restaurants that take reservations and allow you to take an extended break from the tennis for a more formal dinner. There's also plenty of regular concession stands around the grounds to fill your needs.

 

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