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This is a guest post by Soha Yamin, who operates Travels with Soha, that offers luxury tennis excursions.
The U.S. Open is one of the world’s most exciting sporting events. Both casual tennis fans and true devotees of the sport can enjoy attending this annual event. Although tennis championships have been held in the U.S. since 1881, the U.S. Open began in its modern form in 1968, when the tournament was held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York. In 1978, the event was moved to the National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, which has since been renamed Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
If you are flying into New York to see the U.S. Open, both JFK and LaGuardia airports are quite close to Flushing Meadow Park, where the tournament takes place. While you’re in town, there is plenty to see and explore aside from the tennis matches. Let’s look at some of the possibilities.
Flushing Meadow Park
As long as you’re going to be at the park to watch the games, you may as well explore some of the park’s many other attractions. Prior to becoming the home of the U.S. Open, Flushing Meadow Park was best known for being the location of the 1939 and 1964-1965 World’s Fairs. The famous Unisphere globe sculpture, which was built in honor of the more recent fair, is still standing. The park also contains other well-known sculptures, such as Freedom of the Human Spirit and Free Form. Other attractions at Flushing Meadow Park include the Queens Theatre in the Park, where a variety of performances can be seen, and the Flushing Meadows Carousel.
Queens Museum of Art
Also on the grounds of Flushing Meadow Park is one of New York’s most interesting museums. The Queens Museum of Art is most famous for The Panorama, an impressively detailed diorama of New York City. The Panorama was built in 1964 for the World’s Fair, but has been refurbished several times. The museum also has many World’s Fair related exhibits, as well as a variety of art from all over the world.
The New Chinatown
While New York’s best known Chinatown is in downtown Manhattan, the Chinatown in Flushing is actually larger. This neighborhood now has one of the world’s largest Asian populations outside of China. Here you can find a wide selection of shops and restaurants. In addition to eating a delicious Asian meal, you can find traditional Chinese herbs and exotic souvenirs.
Astoria is one of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods, and is located in the borough of Queens, not very far from Flushing and the U.S. Open. Astoria is fun to explore on foot or in a car, with its many Greek and other ethnic restaurants. It’s also the home of Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, where you can relax on a hot summer day with a pitcher of beer. There is often live folk music as well.
A Short Trip to Manhattan
The U.S. Open is held in Flushing, Queens, but you are not very far from Manhattan and its incomparable attractions. These include Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building and shopping on Fifth Avenue, to name just a few. The #7 subway train goes directly from Flushing to Manhattan. You can drive or take a taxi and get to Manhattan in about 30 minutes.
The U.S. Open is Close to Many Attractions
Visitors to the U.S. Open can find lots to do and see after watching a few exciting matches. Whether you explore nearby neighborhoods such as Flushing and Astoria, or venture into Manhattan, you are never far from everything that New York City has to offer.
This year’s US Open tennis tournament will take place from August 26th to September 9th. New York is gearing up to offer plenty of festivities, inviting celebrities, international food vendors, and live musicians to perform on the grounds. Of course, all of tennis’ top pros will be there, too. If you’re looking to join the fun, you need to be prepared. NYC is an enormous city, so you need to come with a plan. Check out this guide to get yourself ready for courtside action!
How to Get There
For a large event like the US Open, it’s generally advisable to take public transit. The No. 7 subway line has a stop at Willets Point/Shea Stadium, which is located in the northern part of the park. You can also take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), which stops at Shea Station at the same place as the subway. Please note that this train only stops here for the US Open, so don’t schedule any other plans around it.
It’s also possible to drive to Shea Stadium, and there is quite a lot of parking nearby. Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, and the Long Island Expressway all have exits near the stadium.
Where to Stay
New York is a city of options, and as such there are lots of choices for good places to stay. Flushing Meadows is close to La Guardia airport, so any “airport” hotel is conveniently located near the US Open tournament grounds, which is great for people who are flying in to town for the event. The Mariott. Holiday Inn, and Howard Johnson at La Guardia are both good choices for local lodgings. If you’d like to stay at somewhere more upscale, look into the Hotel de Pointe Flushing or the Marco LaGuardia Hotel by Lexington. On the other hand, if you’ve spent all your money on US Open tickets, you can also look into staying at the YMCA in Flushing, which does offer accommodations.
Attending the US Open
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to buy your tickets as soon as possible because they are going fast. You can buy tickets for the whole series, or select rounds, and they also offer group packages. If you get tickets at the event, a grounds pass for the day costs $45 and grants access to all but the matches in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
When you get to the stadium, you need to go through the security line to have your bag checked. However, if you don’t bring a bag, you can take the express security line and skip the excruciatingly long wait. The express line is a god send during the busiest sessions.
During the first rounds of the tournament, there are matches happening all over the place all day, so it can be tricky to figure out where to be. Soak everything in by spending the first couple days learning where everything is, so when a match comes up that you are really interested in, you’ll know right where to go.
Other Things to do in New York
While you’re in New York, why not do something non-tennis related as well (as if you can have enough tennis in your life)? Flushing is home to an exciting China town that has everything from dim sum to comic books, and there it has something to interest everyone. Corona Park has lots of cool attractions like the Unisphere and is also home to the Queens Museum of Art, which houses a unique collection of New York-related artwork. Queens also has a fantastic botanical garden that spans 39 acres. Originally created for the World’s Fair, its Rose Garden and Fragrance Walk are not to be missed.
John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping tennis lovers save money with financial tips on everything from travel tips to info on prepaid tuition and college savings plans.