Anyone for a little Tennis…in the Winter? That’s right, it’s the official start of Grand Slam Season and January down under can only mean one thing. AUSTRALIAN. OPEN. With the hard court tournament in full swing (sorry, I had to) this feels like the perfect time to compile a list of tennis tournaments with just as much cache, happening significantly closer to home. All four, BNP Paribas Open, Miami Open, Western & Southern Open, and US Open, were in TicketCity’s top 30 bestselling events for 2018 – and we can’t wait to see where they go this year.
March 9th-22nd, Indian Wells, CA – Indian Wells Tennis Garden
- About the Town: Beautiful Indian Wells, located about 15 miles southeast of Palm Springs, is a premier vacation destination in Southern California. Home to luxurious resorts, world-renowned golf courses and the BNP Paribas Open, the city of Indian Wells has become a mecca for tennis fans from far and wide. Like many western towns, Indian Wells has an exciting history full of Native Americans, cowboys, gold-rushers, explorers and pioneers, all eager to settle the land that surrounded a hand-built well in the Southern California desert. Now, over a century later, Indian Wells has gained the distinct reputation of offering residents and visitors a year-round resort culture and ample opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.
- About the Open: The BNP Paribas Open is the largest two-week combined event outside of the four Grand Slams and the most-attended WTA Premier Mandatory and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament in the world. In 2017 Indian Wells Tennis Garden debuted an impressive renovation, highlighted by the addition of more than 20 new dining options on site, including Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, a full-service 100-seat restaurant that overlooks the court on Stadium 1. The BNP Paribas Open offers equal prize money for men and women. For each tour the singles draw size is 128, made up of 96 main draw singles and 48 qualifying singles. The doubles draw size for each tour is 32.
- Things to Do: Indian Wells and the surrounding Coachella Valley has a little something for everyone. Tee off at the award-winning Indian Wells Golf Resort, strap on your hiking boots and explore the area’s stunning trails and natural beauty, take in the aerial view on a hot air balloon ride or experience the ultimate relaxation at one of the area spas.
- Author’s recommendations: A few of my favorite things to see and do in Indian Wells/Palm Springs:
- Joshua Tree National Park – located just one hour north of the Coachella Valley in Twentynine Palms, the National Park covers 794,000 acres of the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. Joshua Tree was designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2017, an honor bestowed upon parks that possess, “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” JTNP is obviously an incredible place for star-gazing, with equally amazing sights during the day!
- The Living Desert – This unique zoo and botanical garden specializes in deserts of the World. You’ll find giraffes, mountain lions, zebras, cheetahs and many more exotic animals from Africa and North America. The gardens boast geographical replicas of areas as diverse as Baja California’s Viscaino Desert and the plains of Madagascar. The Living Desert’s mission is conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation. With guided tours available for all ages, this is a family friendly attraction sure to be a hit.
- Vicky’s of Santa Fe – This spacious adobe-style restaurant features generous portions, an active bar scene, and a great jazz series while in season.
- The Nest Restaurant & Nightclub – An Indian Wells Landmark since 1966, The Nest’s friendly atmosphere, great food, and lively piano bar which continues to draw locals and visitors alike! Hit the bar between 4-6 PM for Happy Hour specials, including the Chevapcici which is a delicious secret family recipe.
March 23rd-April 5th, Miami, FL – Hard Rock Stadium
- About the Town: Miami, Florida is the cultural, economic and financial center of South Florida. The Greater Miami area and beaches are known worldwide for their amazing attractions, stunning architecture, and unique feel. With endless sunshine and miles of pristine waterfront property, the stunning coastline seamlessly blends vibrant resort, urban, and agricultural communities. Travelers are rewarded with diverse multicultural neighborhoods beckoning to be explored.
- Things to Do: Miami is one of Florida’s – and the World’s – most popular vacation spots, with enticements and attractions for everyone! Whether you like the trendy nightlife of South Beach, the bustle of Calle Ocho, the energy of Little Havana, the plush hotels of Miami Beach, or the historic hideaways of Coral Gables, you’ll be welcomed by the friendly Floridians. With endless shopping opportunities in modern, sprawling malls as well as small family owned boutiques on every corner, your wardrobe will thank you. While glorious weather and palm fringed beaches are definitely an attraction, Miami also offers a variety of unique experience for all ages, from fascinating museums and historic sites, to family-friendly attractions. For adventure travelers and sports enthusiasts, the options are endless whether by land, sea, or air.
- About the Open: One of the premier tennis events of the year, the Miami Open features the best players from around the world, and is now hosted (as of 2019) in the iconic Hard Rock Stadium. The new location offers an elevated fan experience to what is already a great event with efficient access to expedited parking, a 14,000 seat center court within Hard Rock Stadium designed for intimacy and luxury, with a state-of-the-art in-stadium shade canopy. A beautiful and comfortable spectator oasis showcasing the culture, food, art and entertainment of South Florida is located just under the largest video board in the tennis world, so fans can always catch the action even while chowing down.
- Author’s Recommendations: A few of my favorite things to see and do while in Miami:
- Ultra Music Festival – March 29th-31st Party people from around the world escape rainy, gray springtime and descend on sunny Miami in late March for the annual Ultra Music Festival, a three-day electronic dance music (EDM) party. Attracting over 70,000 music-lovers, the festival started two decades ago as a small one-day party on South Beach to cap off the Winter Music Conference.
- Miami City Ballet – A Midsummer Nights Dream – March 29th-31st The 2018/19 season closes with the first return of one of Miami City Ballet’s most extraordinary productions, the reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, George Balanchine’s cherished full-length ballet based on William Shakespeare’s timeless tale of love and magic, reality and illusion.
- The Lido Bayside Grill at The Standard: Fresh Mediterranean fare, bright yellow umbrellas, a beautiful crowd and sweeping views of Biscayne Bay make The Lido Bayside Grill at The Standard the stunning waterfront destination that it is. The menu features a variety of small plates and entrees—some with a healthy bent, some with a Latin flair—and creative cocktails, to match. Opt for the chicken empanadas, Providence-style crispy calamari or the roasted veggie Buddha bowl made with tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, cucumber, quinoa and tahini dressing. Frosé (aka, frozen rosé wine) is the latest cocktail craze. Come for the sunset and enjoy happy hour pricing until 7 p.m.
- Monty’s Raw Bar – A laidback, al fresco tiki bar and restaurant situated on Coconut Grove’s Dinner Key Marina. It’s especially popular amongst boaters returning to shore in search of a casual bite and a strong drink. Expect live music, a crowded bar and large groups of friends at picnic tables soaking up the sun. There’s even a swimming pool if you can’t take the heat. Order a grouper sandwich or nachos and pair it with a tiki-inspired cocktail or cold beer. There’s a sister location in South Beach at the Miami Beach Marina.
August 15th-23rd, Cincinnati, OH – Lindner Tennis Center
- About the Town: The Cincinnati region is a vibrant destination that connects cultures, backgrounds, experiences – and states! The dynamic river region offers unique adventures that are unmistakably Cincinnati, whether you are planning a romantic getaway for two or bringing the family. Enjoy the blend of Southern charm and urban energy when you connect with the experiences and people who make this unique river region glitter and flow with a vibe all their own.
- Things to Do: Explore the revitalized riverfront and discover the destination’s heritage, history, and innovation with cultural entertainment for all experience seekers. Check out the B-Line, a new area of town comprised of Northern Kentucky distilleries, bars, sellers, and restaurants dedicated to giving the best craft bourbon experience. Delve into a variety of rich arts and cultural attractions in the Greater Cincinnati area including the Cincinnati Ballet, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, and the newly renovated Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
- About the Open: The Western & Southern Open is the Nation’s oldest professional tennis tournament played in its city of origin. First played in 1899 on the site of current day Xavier University, The Open has been a fixture in the Queen City for more than a century. The Champions list reads like a who’s who of tennis greats, with more than 100 International Tennis Hall of Famers having played in Cincinnati over the years. While delivering great tennis to the world is the main product, the Western & Southern Open’s primary mission for decades has been to use the event as a force for good. Over the past 5 decades, the tournament has given more than $10 million directly to key community beneficiaries.
- Author’s Recommendations: A few of my favorite things to see and do while in Cincinnati:
- Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal: The Cincinnati Museum Center is housed in Union Terminal, a National Historic Landmark. The building recently underwent a $224 million, two and a half year long major renovation (including a full structural restoration) in order to save it for future generations, and visitors are now welcome back into this historic venue! Museum Center’s major offerings at Union Terminal include the Cincinnati History Museum, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and the Robert D. Lindner Family Theater. Museum Center’s collection encompass more than 1.8 million artifacts, art works and archives and is incorporated into the exhibition, research and education programs.
- Cincinnati Reds – Catch a Cincinnati Reds game while in town for the W&S Open. Games in August are usually fairly warm, around 85 degrees and typically start around 7 PM. Beer, Baseball, and a Queen City Brat – sounds like a great evening!
- The B-Line – An experience centered around three Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® Distilleries: New Riff Distilling, Boone County Distilling Co., and The Old Pogue Distillery. Add five bourbon-centric bars, all with a culture of their own, and four amazing restaurants cultivating the freshest tastes in bourbon culinary delights and you’re on the The B-Line. On the very edge and beginning of the “Bourbon State,” Kentucky, and the very epicenter of Bourbon Culture & History after crossing the true Bourbon Line, the Ohio River. Visitors can complete their own bourbon experience by visiting at least two of the distilleries, two of the restaurants, and two of The B-Line bars and having their B-Line passport stamped, which allows the holder to receive cool bourbon swag.
- Taglio – Taglio has been working on its version of Detroit-style pizza for over a year and a half, and its research has paid off. The pizza is remarkable in that the buttery, crunchy crust itself is the shining star here and like no other pizza in town. It’s so good, it almost doesn’t need any toppings, but if you must, the simpler the combination of toppings, the better: Cincinnati locals recommend a combination of ricotta, bacon and tomato, and crushed tomato sauce. With the recent expansion to the space next door, full bar and official launch of Detroit-style pizza, Taglio has arrived.
August 24th – September 6th, New York, NY – Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
- About the Town: Oh New York, the city that never sleeps. What else needs to be said?
- Things to Do: Everywhere you turn during the Summer in New York City, something exciting is happening. There are free outdoor concerts and movies all around the five boroughs, and Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Food trucks and festivals pop up on every corner. It’s a great time to catch a ball game, walk the High Line in short sleeves, head up to the Bronx Zoo to spot animals or head down to Coney Island for a ride on the wooden tracks of the Cyclone roller coaster—still thrilling after all these years.
- About the Open: The US Open, by far the nation’s biggest tennis tournament, returns to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center August 27 through September 8. Free Fan Week activities, including the qualifying tournament, begin on August 21. August 22 brings the official dedication of the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, featuring a performance by Wynton Marsalis and a “US Open Legends Match” with John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Michael Chang and James Blake. The Grand Slam event brings together the world’s best players along with great food, kids’ activities and musical performances, and draws fans from around the globe. Click here for a list of things you need to know about the US Open and some tips for getting around.
- Author’s Recommendations: A few of my favorite things to see and do in NYC:
- See a Show, specifically The Ferryman – I traveled to NYC over Thanksgiving and was lucky enough to see The Ferryman. This drama is set in 1981 and centered around the family of a former IRA activist living in their farmhouse in rural Northern Ireland. The New York Times calls it, “A thrilling new play…a glorious feast.” I wont say much more because I don’t want to give anything away but, I will say, this is the best show I’ve seen in years, maybe ever!
- SummerStage in Central Park: CityParks SummerStage is New York’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival from May-October each summer. SummerStage brings the best music from around the world to New York’s many and varied communities, using local neighborhood parks as gathering spaces in which to experience world class culture. From iconic performers to the latest up-and-coming artist, SummerStage presents acts from indie to Afrobeat, Latin trap to soul, reggae to contemporary dance, fado to EDM, and everything in between.
- Hudson Clearwater – A forever favorite for my family, Hudson Clearwater serves New American Fare and creative cocktails near the Hudson River. With a rotating menu (for each season) every meal at HC is fabulous. Be aware, though, dinner and brunch are always busy times so reservations are recommended for this hot spot. An excellent wine list, and the best cheesecake I’ve (accidentally) ever had make this a firm go-to on my NYC list.
- Clinton Hall Williamsburg – Clinton Hall’s Newest location and Rooftop gourmet spin on traditional beer hall cuisine features an extensive menu, draft beers, and cocktails. Specialty games such as giant Jenga, connect four, cornhole & more, the 3 pillars of Clinton Hall’s DNA (Craft Beer, Great Food, Fun) are sure to be met no matter which location you choose. Try the Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Shandy during the hot summer for a refreshing take on a Hefeweizen with notes of grapefruit.