tennisballAround the country, Americans flock to state fairs. In New York City, we head to the Open. The Open, for those not in the know, refers to the US Open, one of the four grand slam tennis tournaments annually (just as ‘the city’ means NYC, ‘the open’ refers to this event, not the golf tournament.

offers free boat trips to the Open, or you can take the exciting above ground subway, (?) the #7. Or the Long Island Rail Road.

As if no New Yorkers were on the train, our conductor announced on the first stop of the 7 that we should take the train to the second to the last stop for the Open. And she reminded us, again and again. Policemen helpfully used bullhorns to direct traffic to the wooden walkway, as if the signs and lights of the stadium weren’t hint enough. We felt like tourists in our own city.

The Open midway offers a food upgrade from the usual state fair fare. No deep-fried Oreos here – we have $13 signature cocktails, the Honey Deuce, a beguiling blend of vodka, Chambord, honeydew melon and lemonade.

You can eat sushi, Glatt kosher hot dogs, lobster rolls, samosas, or Moon`N Doggie, a shrimp hot dog with Asian slaw. These are all from food stands, which also have pizza, southern BBQ and Ben & Jerry’s. Then there are sit down restaurants.

Sadly, the organic Stonyfield Farm stand salads both had meat in them. But there are plenty of vegetarian choices.

State Fairs have agricultural displays, the Open has a Panasonic 3-D kiosk where you can watch 3-D television and watch your tennis swing in 3-D. Instead of winning a blue ribbon, you can enter to win a home theater.

There is no rigged basketball arcade, but SmashZone, for kids 10 and under, lets young children try tennis on a short court, with a small racquet.

All this and then, of course, there’s the tennis. Ticket prices are a wee bit higher than state fair admissions, but, hey, you are in the city.

And like a state fair, in a few days, it is all gone. In this case, the fleeting Open ends September 12. But it will be back next year.