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.

Tickets/Packages:

Attending a tennis event is usually quite expensive, but the beauty of going to the earlier rounds at the BNP Paribas Open is that tickets are pretty cheap compared to the hours of entertainment you get. Each year I go through the USTA to get my tickets and they cost about $25-$30 for the day session (not including the main stadium court). Daily tickets to the outer courts are considered 'general admission' and seating is first come first serve with no assigned seats. As for the main stadium, if you guy tickets for that you will get an assigned seat that guarantees you a place to sit. You can buy tickets online HERE. Just click on the "tickets/packages" link and follow the directions. In terms of package deals, you can get some hotel and ticket packages on the site as well. Hotels and resorts like the Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Embassy Suites, Indian Wells Resort Hotel, and Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa all work with the tournament to offer accommodations and tickets. We know many people who come to the event for a few days and don't even stay all day. They may watch a match in the morning, go back to their hotel and swim and then return for a night match. With the weather being so good in Palm Desert, you can literally play golf in the morning and then watch tennis all afternoon into the night. For the general admisssion tickets, you could probably walk up to the ticket booth the day of and buy tickets no problem. They say there is a limited # of tickets sold to the outside courts but I haven't seen people turned away yet. If you are going to buy tickets to the main stadium, be sure to see the seating chart/map down below on where you will be sitting.

Hotels:

As we noted above, you can pretty much stay anywhere in the Palm Desert region and have a quick 10 minute drive to the tennis garden. Expedia is a good website to start with in terms of finding availability with rates on hotels in this region. I have stayed at the Fairfield Inn Palm Desert several years in a row and you can find their website online HERE. If you are looking for a touch nicer accommodations then try Embassy Suites HERE. I have found that the Fairfield charges about $150-$200/night while the Embassy Suites hotel charges $200+. For a luxury resort, consider the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa with rooms ranging from $290-$600/night. Of course there are other hotels in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Indio. If you plan on staying more than a few days, look into renting a vacation rental. One and two bedroom condos are prevalent in this area and you can get a pretty good deal if you stay 5 to 7 days. We like using VRBO.com for the best selection of vacation rentals by owner.

TV Coverage:

TV coverage for this event has improved in recent years and now you can find it on the Tennis Channel or ESPN2. Once the tournament gets into it's second week, both day and evening matches will be shown live on television for those of us that aren't able to be there in person. Check your local cable provider for details on this event. You can follow all the matches online with live scoring via a javascripted window which I have done when absolutely desparate to follow the latest.