Here are a few guidelines, and a how-to.
First, almost all tournaments in US are open tournaments, which means you can play in any of them as long as you are not above the maximum rating limit of the section. For example, if you are 1200, you can play in U1400, U1700, U2000, U2200, even open section, but you can't play in U1100. A K-12 student can play in both scholastic tournaments and adult tournaments, but an adult can't play in scholastic tournaments. So students have more choices.
Second, most tournaments are publicly announced in TLA. You can find it on USCF website, or if you have paper subscription to Chess Life or Chess Life for Kids, you can find TLA in magazines. If the organizer choose to not publish in TLA, you have to find the tournaments on their websites, or contact them directly. But this is a very small part.
To view TLA on USCF website, you following the steps below:
- Go to: http://uschess.org/
- Click "Clubs & Tournaments" on the left side menu
- Choose "Upcoming Tournaments"
- Select your state, such as "New Jersey"
- Now you see all tournaments in your state, and some major tournaments in surround states.
Third, you are not limited to your state. You can play in any open tournaments in any state. You can play in national tournaments, even foreign tournaments (which are not listed on USCF).
A few states, such as NY, NJ, PA, CA, TX, have many tournaments, often several on every weekend. So you have many choices.