Originally posted in 2009. Updated in July 2023.
I’ve been going to the US Open tennis tournament in Queens’ Flushing Meadows every year for the past 30 years. It is, hands down, one of the best annual sporting events in NYC. It became more complicated for me to attend when my son was born so, for a while, I was not planning to attend.
Then, as luck would have it, a ticket “fell into my hands” for a Friday afternoon session. I was not going to pass up the opportunity. Unable to secure a babysitter, my son was joining me for his first professional sporting event. (I know, I am a bad dad because we have not even been to a baseball game yet).
US Open Tennis is kid-friendly
Overall, I found the vast US Open tennis grounds, known as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, to be extremely baby- and child-friendly. It has only gotten more so in recent years:
- Diaper bags are allowed. However, the limit is one bag per person and it cannot be larger than 12-inches wide by 12-inches high by 16-inches long. (Single-compartment drawstring bags are OK but backpacks are not allowed.) There is no bag storage on the grounds, but you can leave them in a locker outside the East Gate or South Gate. Cost: $5 per locker.
- Baby changing stations in every public restroom!
- Nursing/lactation stations are located at the first aid stations at the Grandstand and Louis Armstrong Stadium.
- Strollers are permitted. The grounds are quite stroller-friendly, however, definitely opt for a lightweight, foldable umbrella model. Big and bulky are not optimal for cruising through the crowds and narrower walkways between the side courts.
- Reusable water bottles, metal or plastic, are allowed as long as they are 25 ounces or less.
The US Open is a pretty pricey place to bring a kid, though. Children age 2 and older require a full-price adult ticket to enter. There are plenty of food options and sweet treats on the US Open tennis grounds. However, bring a full wallet or a credit/debit card because you will pay a premium price.
But sometimes you get lucky. As we entered the event, they were handing out free cups of Stony Field Farms’ new organic yogurt. It made for a tasty lunch for my son! The cafe where we chowed down our lunch even provided a high chair for him.
I will admit – the amount of tennis I got to watch this year was an all-time low. My son did not have the patience to watch more than a few games at any one particular match. Therefore, we bounced around and watched a few games of several different matches.
A few other negatives: The late summer sun was intense and the crowds were thick. Despite the crowds, you can still get extremely close to the action if you avoid the main stadiums and spend time on the exterior (numbered) courts. We found that Court #7, had top seeds playing, was not too crowded, and provided some shade. You really feel close to the action by walking around the grounds. We even got to meet tennis great Brad Gilbert (pictured above).
Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, Fan Week
After being canceled for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day returned to the US Open tennis tournament in 2022.
This free event celebrates the life and legacy of tennis and cultural icon Arthur Ashe, on Saturday, August 26, 2023. Tickets are not required, admission is free.
The day offers interactive games, music and tennis activities for all ages and abilities to promote the many health benefits of tennis. Tennis legends and current superstars always show up to meet and greet. It will also feature a free concert with exciting up-and-coming talent. In years past, superstars like Rafael Nadel, the Williams sister, Coco Gauff, Ariana Grande, Flo Rida and Demi Lovato have appeared/performed.
Kids’ Day is part of the also free pre-tourney US Open Fan Week, scheduled for August 22-27, 2023. This is a great, inexpensive alternative to attending the main tournament. Every day is filled with tennis-centric activities for the whole family and special events.
The tennis center grounds are open, free of admission charges, to the public during Fan Week. You can watch the tourney qualifying matches, superstars of the game practicing up close and even a Legends of the Game match.