Tennis aficionados from all over the globe will be flocking once again to our little Daniel Island for nine days starting Saturday for the Family Circle Cup. As most of you know, this professional women's tennis tournament is no small town secret, drawing massive crowds to Charleston since it made the bold move from Hilton Head in 2001. With an attendance of over 94,000 last year, the tournament can get a little overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you navigate the Family Circle Cup like an insider.
First, parking should be a breeze — its free. Patrons with parking passes will be directed to their appropriate lots. Those without a pass will park on Island Park Drive, where they'll find shuttles to the main gate every eight minutes.
You'll want to pack a few essentials ahead of time, though. Comfortable shoes, sunscreen, and bug spray will be key once you enter the stadium's glimmering gates. You might also want to bring water (only one 20 oz. unopened plastic bottle per person) and an umbrella just in case. And unlike Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, you can actually get up close to the players, so be sure to have your Sharpies out and cameras ready (but no flash during play).
For a tournament that serves up more than a week of unbeatable pro tennis, the Family Circle Cup also has an outrageous amount of spectator activities. From shopping and souvenir buying, to kids activities, happy hours, and live music performances, you're likely to get distracted by much more than just tennis. You'll probably want your wallet though, as not everything is free.
Kicking off the cup will be Family Weekend (March 31-April 1), two days jam-packed with interactive activities. There will be face painting, children's yoga, cookie decorating, magicians, jump castles, and more to delight your kids. Tickets are $10 for adults and free for kids under 10.
Also on Sat. March 31 is the Draw Ceremony from 3-4 p.m. on the grand lawn. Free to attend, watch as player names are drawn to determine who will face off first, and you can meet WTA players and pose for a picture with Murphy Jensen. Happy hour will follow in the Racquet Club from 4-6 p.m.
As the matches continue throughout the week, when you're looking to chill and refuel, you'll have an abundance of options. For the "Beeroisser" in you, there will be a Set Point & Round Robin Craft Beer Garden on the stadium's first level. They'll be offering a variety of premium brews, including $15 flights if you'd like to sample four. And you won't have to go far to grab a drink between sets. The Aplus Craft Beer Exchange offers craft beers, wine selections, and a striking view just a quick jaunt from your seat. For more of a social scene, check out The Racquet Club on the cup's grand lawn, with a full bar, TVs ,and live camera feeds.
Each night of the tournament will feature happy hour specials, live music, and a decade-themed party from 1970 to present. Different craft breweries will be onsite promoting and educating about their beers, and happy hour pricing will include a select beer from the featured brewery, an official tournament cocktail, and more. Be sure to don your decade appropriate gear each night. You can also hear live music from Heart and Soul Trio, Soul Fish Duo, the Larry David Project, and Two 3 Ways Trio.
The tournament's last day begins with a bang: an easter egg hunt on the grand lawn, featuring the Easter Bunny himself. You'll have plenty of time to get to your seats before the first ball of the singles final is struck at 1 p.m.
Like we said, it's much more than tennis.