BNP Paribas Open
So close you can see the fur fly on the tennis balls, the top-tier competition at this two-week-long event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden gets you rivetingly close to the world’s best players as they duke it out under the desert sun. Every spring, the world’s best players—Federer, Sharapova, Williams, Nadal, Djokovic etc.—all flock to this spectacular, state-of-the-art facility in the oasis-like town of Indian Wells, just south of Palm Springs.
With a backdrop of the blush coloured Santa Rosa Mountains to the west and comfortably warm spring temperatures all around, this even makes an enticing destination based on the setting alone. But the luxury tennis complex, much improved over the last few years by owner Larry Ellison of Oracle fame, has become a must-see event for the simple reason that you get so startlingly close to amazing athletes in action. That is because, in addition to two large, stadium-style courts, there are more than half a dozen smaller, more intimate courts, plus a fleet of open-to-viewers practice courts, where seats are so close you can spy what colour Powerade your favourite player is drinking, not to mention hear the occasional angry mutterings when a linesman makes a questionable call.
Other niceties at this top-tier facility include a branch of the iconic Nobu restaurant chain with window seats on the action in Stadium 2, so you can eat classy Asian fusion fare while you watch players battle. During the tennis tournament, special autograph signings and events also let fans, especially children, connect with the athletes.