Updated: May 29, 2015
BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament:Each year when the weather gets too wet in the Pacific Northwest I head down to the desert in California and enjoy a few days of professional tennis at the BNP ParibasOpen in Indian Wells. My dad and I have been doing this for years and it's a great place to visit for the sun and tennis. The event is held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden which is a huge complex (80 acres) and the 16,000 seat stadium is where the biggest matches take place. The main reason I attend this event each year is because it gives you the best chance to see professional tennis players up close without paying too much. The outer courts are where the diehard tennis fans sit during the first 5 or 6 days watching the guys ranked 10 to 50 in the world battling it out. The main stadium court is reserved for top ranked Americans or the top players in the world. I have been to the US Open in New York and this tournament is very much like that one, except there is less hype surrounding this event. If you enjoy being courtside and watching top players compete against each other, then you need to consider coming to this event at least once in your life.
Getting to the tournament site is easy once you get into the Palm Desert region. Driving from Los Angeles will take you about 2 1/2 hours or if you fly into Palm Springs airport you are only about 30 minutes from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden (Iwtg.net). I usually fly into Ontario airport since it's much cheaper than going straight into Palm Springs and then I drive the 1 1/2 hours on I-10 out to Indian Wells. A good map of the Palm Springs area is down below for you to see how the various cities are layed out from west to east.
No matter if you stay in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, or Palm Desert, it's only a minutes drive to the tennis center every day. If you need to Google map it or use Yahoo for driving directions, the actual address is Indian Wells Tennis Garden 78200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA 92210. There is parking all around the facility that costs about $5 to $10 day and then you walk into the tennis garden. The event lasts almost 2 weeks with the first few days being the most exciting with tennis matches going on all over the facility. You can literally watch tennis from 10 or 11 AM in the morning all the way until 10 PM if you want. There are lots of outside courts that allow good visibility and if you want you can venture into the huge stadium to watch the higher ranked players but it's not easy to follow the shots when you are way up high. Most people prefer the intimate settings of the outer courts where you are practically sitting on top of the court itself. The tournament draws players from all over the world and both men and women are here during the 2 weeks making it a special event. If you only have a few days to go, try going on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday that leads from the first week into the 2nd week of play. This way you will get some competitive matches that are played on the outer courts. The weather can be hot during the month of March in Palm Springs so make sure you bring a hat, some sunblock and light clothing. On the flip side, I have been out there at the same time of year and the weather is cold and windy. Expect the temperatures to fall fast once the sun drops from the sky so having a sweatshirt or pair of pants in your car is a good idea if you plan on staying for the evening session. What I do is walk back out to my car and get my night gear once the sun goes down. The official website of the tournament is HERE. Find out about the draws, pre-qualifying tournament, and players. You can also print out a 'daily schedule' from the site as it becomes available during the tournament.