The US Open is one of those iconic sporting events that even non-tennis fans have on their bucket list–and if you don’t, you should! Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s something that fans of all ages can enjoy. Starting Monday, August 28th, the oldest tennis tournament in the world will kick off at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. Before you hop online and grab some tickets, here are a few kid-friendly tips I’ve picked up along the way:
US Open With Kids
- Skip Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. I know I sound like a party pooper, but if you’re going to go to the US Open, you need to go to the actual US Open. Sure Kids’ Day is a ton of fun and features music, games and tennis superstars floating around, but there isn’t much, well…tennis. Instead go on the first day of the tournament. You’ll be guaranteed to see tons of big name players as well as the up-and-comers. And nothing beats the Day 1 energy!
- Splurge for day tickets to Arthur Ashe. It’s even possible to find nosebleed seats for the same or less than grounds passes. Don’t get me wrong–grounds passes are great and allow you to see endless tennis matches. You get full access to the new Grandstand and practices courts, which are beautiful, and you can get into Louis Armstrong (a temporary site is up this year while the new Armstrong is being built). But going to the US Open and not going into Arthur Ashe is like going to Disney World and skipping the Magic Kingdom. Plus, with the newly installed retractable roof, you’ll not only ensure you get to see the biggest stars, but you’ll get to see them rain or shine. The night session isn’t included in the day tickets, but you can hear the opening ceremony concert from Louis Armstrong or any of the courts. This year’s performer is Shania Twain.
- You know the AmEx tagline: “Don’t Leave Home Without It”? Well, don’t. Bring your AmEx and stop by one of the many kiosks scattered around the US Open grounds and pick up “ear things” as my kids called them. These one-eared headphones hang on lanyards and are radios that broadcast ESPN play-by-play coverage of the Open. You can listen to the broadcast of ANY of the matches. It’s great for monitoring when a match on another court heads into its second set or keeping track of when your favorite player is about to get on the court. Kids LOVE them–just be warned, they don’t work outside the US Open grounds so prepare them in advance for the disconnect!
- Get the US Open app. Another great way to keep up with everything going on around you is with the US Open app. Download it before you leave so you have a handy map of the grounds, live score updates and all the food and drink info you could need. And check out the online Event Guide before you go.
- Autograph seekers? Hang out by the highly-underrated practice courts. Look up match times and try to get there an hour before your favorite players. The new raised bleachers make it a bit harder to access the players, but not impossible. Your kids will want an iconic oversized tennis ball for the players to sign. JUST SAY NO. They are a beast to carry and the chances of getting more than a few autographs are pretty slim. Instead stick to a regular size ball or buy a program. And of course BYOS–bring your own Sharpie. You can also check out the Fan Fare section of the US Open daily draw sheet to find out where big-name players are holding autograph sessions at sponsor booths.
- Last but not least–all the basics. Get there early. Bring sunscreen and a hat. Wear comfy shoes. Don’t bring backpacks or large bags–if you can manage to not bring any bag you can speed through the bag-free lines. Bring a charger if you’re afraid of your phone dying–there are several charging stations around. And eat off times to avoid crowds.
Fun Fact: the US Open was originally held in what is now the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI–site of my latest blog…check it out.