Sports

U.S. Open Insider Tips

How to arrive in style, get in fast, and make the most of your U.S. Open time.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

We’ve been there and done that (and we’re doing it again!). The U.S. Open is a quintessential NYC event and an annual highlight for us, so we’ve learned a thing or two about how to make the experience an easy, relaxed one. Here’s how you can stay focused on the tennis—and that beer and lobster roll (everyone’s gotta eat).

What to Bring

It’s best not to bring much of anything, actually! The entrance lines for ticket holders without bags is much shorter and goes much faster than the others. If you need to bring a bag, make sure it’s not a backpack or cooler (neither is allowed) and is smaller than the size limit of 12″W x 12″H x 16″L. Besides packing your personal necessities, we suggest:

-Stick or lotion sunscreen
-A light rain jacket or umbrella (pop-up showers are common at the Open)
-A light sweater or sweatshirt for evening matches
-A plastic water bottle (glass and metal are not permitted)
-Binoculars
-A Sharpie marker (you never know when you’re going to run into your favorite players and want them to sign your hat!)
-A very small, light blanket or scarf (if you’re wearing shorts, you can drape it over your legs during matches in which the sun is directly overhead)
-Your American Express card, if you have one (for freebies and unique photo ops)

Surprising items that aren’t allowed: Selfie sticks, spray sunscreen (all aerosol cans will be confiscated), and…tennis racquets.

Getting There

Parking at the U.S. Open is a notorious nightmare, especially if you’re going the same day as a Mets game (you can check the team’s schedule here). And if you plan to enjoy a cocktail at the Open, it’s not a good idea to drive, of course. Hire a car service instead or use public transportation, instead. Take the 7 train from Grand Central or anywhere along its route to Mets-Willets Point. Or hop the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station (a 19-minute ride!) or Woodside, Queens (a five-minute ride!).

Upon arrival, we recommend entering through the South Gate, where lines are typically much shorter than at the East Gate.

Once You’re There

If you’re an American Express member, look for one of its kiosks throughout the grounds to get an in-ear radio for live play-by-play commentary and match updates from ESPN. These are a crowd favorite!

If there’s a match you definitely want to see on one of the field courts (where there is no reserved seating), get there at least 30 minutes before it starts for the first-come, first-serve seats.

If there’s a match you definitely want to see in Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand and you don’t have a reserved seat, you’ll need to get in line even earlier for a first-come, first-serve spot. If it’s a popular match between two high-ranked players, count on getting there three hours ahead of time (take turns waiting with a friend!).

Print out the daily schedule at home before you leave so you can easily plan your day and pick the matches you want to see (and get in line in time to see them). That way, you can save your smartphone battery for photos and line-waiting games of Candy Crush.

Get there early and head to the practice courts for 30 minutes or so. Your favorite players might be warming up!

On the very off chance that you catch a fly tennis ball, the etiquette here is to throw it back. Tennis fans are so polite!

Ever wonder what the ball boys are thinking? On condition of anonymity, one of them told us!