From eating oysters on a sailboat to playing pickleball in Central Park, here are the best things to do between tennis matches
Brooklyn Bridge Park has unrivaled views of Manhattan — Photo courtesy of sborisov / Getty Images
New York City might be better known for arts and culture than racket sports, but it’s been home to the U.S. Open Tennis Championships since 1978. So while you may think that exploring the MoMa or hitting a Broadway show are some of the city’s ultimate experiences, attending a tennis match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens, is something locals look forward to all year. After all, it’s where you can rub elbows with A-list celebs while eating meals from gourmet spots like Fuku and Eataly and sipping cocktails like the signature Honey Deuce — all while watching some of the world’s leading athletes face off.
While you could be happy as a clam never setting foot outside of the tournament (which takes place from August 28 to September 10 this year), there’s so much to see and do in “the city that never sleeps” that you probably should venture out, even if just for a little bit between games.
Here are a few points of interest — many of which have claimed 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.
Walk around the city
Central Park’s stunning 843 acres makes it one of the biggest parks in the world — Photo courtesy of Ingus Kruklitis / Getty Images
Surprising no one, New York City was voted one of Most Walkable Cities in the US in 2023, according to the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Truly, nothing beats walking around the five boroughs. Stroll around the many incredible restaurants and boutiques of SoHo and the West Village or meander across Central Park’s 843 acres, which include famous landmarks like Bow Bridge and Bethesda Fountain. While you’re in Central Park (also among the Best Free Attractions for 2023), why not hit your own balls at one of the park’s many tennis and pickleball courts?
The High Line makes for another excellent walk. A 1.45-mile-long elevated park built on what was formerly a railroad, the High Line — which goes from the Meatpacking District to Chelsea — is filled with amazing art, architecture, and flora and serves up unrivaled views of the Hudson and Jersey City, New Jersey.
Docked in Brooklyn Heights, Pilot is an outdoor, seasonal oyster bar on a sailboat — Photo courtesy of Crew NY / Pilot
If it’s incredible views you’re after, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and spend some time hanging out in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Take in stunning views of Manhattan’s famous skyline and enjoy art installations and activities like a vintage wood carousel, waterfront sports courts, and even kayaking. If you time it right (or check this site) you could even catch outdoor movies or concerts. Feeling fancy? Grab cocktails at Pilot, a seafood bar aboard a wooden sailboat that’s docked at the park’s Pier 6.
Xi’an Famous Foods has locations all around New York City — Photo courtesy of Simi Vijay / Xi’an Famous Foods
As mentioned earlier, the U.S. Open serves up a plethora of incredible eats. However, the area around the venue is home to a world-famous Chinatown. There, you’ll find Xi’an Famous Foods, beloved by Anthony Bourdain for their cold skin noodles, and the bi-level Chong Qing Lao Zao, an ever-popular hot pot spot. There’s also late-night karaoke, rice roll takeout windows, Hong Kong-style milk teas, dim sum, and more.
NYC bagels go heavy on the cream cheese — Photo courtesy of MinJeong Kang / Getty Images
Of course, no trip to New York City would be complete without a heavy dose of carbs. They say there’s something in the city’s water that makes its dough extra tasty — and since it’s world-famous for its bagels, pizza, and pretzels, we can’t rule it out. Hit up some of the city’s best spots by eating your way around local faves like Joe’s Pizza, Scarr’s Pizza, Prince Street Pizza, Ess-a-Bagel, and Murray’s Bagels. Overwhelmed by the many excellent choices? Consider finding a guided food tour around places like Little Italy, Chinatown, Flushing, Harlem, and Astoria.
For dessert, grab the city’s most famous cookie — the handmade, 6-ounce monsters at Levain — or check out Seven Grams Caffe, which 10Best readers voted one of their top cookie shops in the country in 2023.
Soak up some culture
New York City is currently home to 41 Broadway theaters — Photo courtesy of aluxum / Getty Images
There’s no shortage of arts and culture in The Big Apple. The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology was voted among the best free museums in the country by 10Best readers over the past couple of years, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art frequently ranks among the country’s best art museums, according to our readers.
Culture doesn’t have to mean art, though: New York is bar none when it comes to entertainment. Catch one of the many award-winning shows and musicals — on Broadway and off-Broadway — or check out the city’s famous comedy at places like Comedy Cellar, Gotham Comedy Club, and Comic Strip Live. Feeling ambitious? Try and get tickets for one of the many late-night shows filmed around town, like “Saturday Night Live,” which has been recorded at Rockefeller Center since 1975.
Hit the beach
Sun and surf is only a subway ride away — Photo courtesy of Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
Yes, you read that right. It may not be among 10Best’s Best Beaches in the Northeast, but Rockaway Beach is one of 10Best’s Best Summer Travel Destinations in 2023. Easily accessible by subway — just hop on the A train to Beach 90th Street — it also has incredible food options to boot.
Once there, you can laze on sandy shores or challenge yourself with a surf lesson before grabbing incredible dishes like burritos at Super Burrito, fish tacos at Rockaway Beach Surf Club, acai bowls at Rockaway Roastery, and homemade ice cream at Coastal Market.