Though it’s great to travel with friends, family members, and loved ones, there’s a romance associated with going it alone. Your itineraries are suited to you and your needs only. You can go full throttle or take things at a leisurely pace and choose to make new acquaintances or not. Whether you are a seasoned pro or this is your debut lone adventure, here are the best cities in the U.S. for solo travelers.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston's mix of true-blue Southern hospitality, captivating history, and proximity to the ocean makes it a wonderful destination for those going solo. A guided walking tour of Charleston’s colorful colonial homes, or even the famous Ghosts and Graveyards tour, is a great way to meet fellow travelers and gain some background knowledge of the city. Fuel up for your explorations with Carolinian grub like she-crab soup, fried green tomatoes, or the ever-famous shrimp and grits. The Camellia Bar at Hotel Bennett makes for the perfect spot to take yourself out on a solo date in the Holy City, whether it be afternoon tea or a fancy cocktail. Nature lovers are taken care of, too. Kiowah Island has some of the best beaches in town and the nearby Cypress Gardens provide miles of trails and waterways for a day in the great outdoors. If you want to turn your solo wanderings into a mini road trip, the beautiful city of Savannah is just a two-hour drive away.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Looking for an outdoorsy solo trip with the cozy vibes to match? Bar Harbor’s charming coastal spirit, mixed with its status as the gateway to Acadia National Park, is the perfect combination. Spend misty mornings huddled by the fireplace in a waterfront cafe and evenings rewarding your hiking efforts with bowls of steaming clam chowder. Quirky independent shops and bookstores make a worthwhile wander around town while the entrance to the national park is just a five-minute drive away. Plan to watch America’s first sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain. You might even make a friend or two on your way to the top.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe has been drawing in artists and creators for hundreds of years. Use your alone time to peruse Santa Fe’s myriad shops and art galleries uninterrupted or simply wander through countless incredible museums, like the Museum of International Folk Art. If you’re looking for an interactive experience to break up the solo trip, sign up for an art class. Whether you’d like to partake in an edgy craft, like glass blowing, or dapple in fine arts with a painting course, there are dozens of programs on offer. Even if you’re not an art aficionado, Santa Fe has something for outdoorsy folks, foodies, and history buffs. From hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to following the Margarita Trail, you could easily spend weeks in the City Different with a new itinerary each day.
A Midwest city known for its friendly locals, cheese curds, and breweries sounds like the perfect solo trip. With loads of interactive museums and a seriously delicious food scene, it’s no wonder why Milwaukee is making a name for itself in the travel world. Make a pitstop at Lakefront Brewery which offers sweeping views of Lake Michigan. After all, Brew City wouldn’t be Brew City without its distinctive craft beers. The Milwaukee Public Market dishes up dozens of different eateries and you can’t go wrong with a taste of America’s favorite pastime at a Milwaukee Brewer’s game. Its electric energy might just be the perfect balm if you start to feel a bit lonely.
Saint Augustine, Florida
As the oldest settlement in the contiguous United States, Saint Augustine remains delightfully off the beaten path while still packing a punch with interesting historic sites and sunny, seaside weather. Hop aboard the Old Town Trolley tour to get your bearings and a quick debrief on Saint Augustine’s incredible past. Saint Augustine also delivers when it comes to food. Embrace the city's Caribbean heritage while digging into a Cuban sandwich at Columbia Restaurant or splurge on fresh seafood and other Southern specialties at St. Augustine Fish Camp. Of course, no trip to Florida would be complete without a little sunbathing session. The best beach to kick back on is in Anastasia State Park, located just a few minutes away and offering up miles of sand without the crowds. But if you like your beaches with plenty of people watching, Vilano Beach back in town makes for a fun afternoon.
Asheville, North Carolina
A flourishing arts scene and lovable bohemian charm make this city at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains perfect for visiting alone. Spend your days browsing the boutiques, galleries, and jewelers of the River Arts District and Downtown Asheville, where street side buskers entertain passersby. You’ll always find someone to chat with at the craft breweries in South Slope and can head into the Blue Ridge Mountains to hike to waterfalls alongside likeminded nature lovers.
There’s few easier ways to strike a chord with a stranger than a mutual love of music. Make your way to the many live music venues in Austin and try your best not to make friends while tapping your feet to honky-tonk at The Little Longhorn Saloon and belting out a Johnny Cash classic at Ego’s karaoke bar. Get your culture fix at the Austin Nature and Science Center and the Museum of the Weird. Then get back to socializing at the hip bars and food trucks of East Austin and eclectic eateries on South Congress Avenue.
If your plan is to slow things down by getting away from the grind, then Carmel-by-the-Sea is for you. The soft golden sands of Carmel Beach are impossibly instagrammable and invite you to take long walks and dip your toes into the Pacific. Meanwhile downtown, cute cafés and independent shops line Ocean Avenue and its intersecting streets. Art lovers will rejoice over 100 galleries showcasing local and international art. Plan a day amid beautiful nature and traverse the woodland and riverside trails of Garland Ranch Regional Park.
Las Vegas, Nevada
With eye-catching neon lights and overstimulating scenery everywhere you look, you don’t need friends to get the most out of Las Vegas. Jump into the heart of the action on The Strip and let your feet guide you to whatever grabs your attention. Maybe it's the varied retail options at the Downtown Container Park, the old-Vegas vibe of Fremont Street, or the adrenaline-inducing SlotZilla Zip Line.
Artists fled to this quiet Texan desert city in the 1970s and today there’s far more to see than the Prada store made iconic by Beyoncé's Instagram account. Minimalist masterpieces by Donald Judd are on display at the Chinati Foundation and that's just one of a host of wonderful galleries. Budding artisans can play at designing their own jewelry at Moonlight Gemstones. You’ll want to follow the crowds to the teepees, vintage trailers, and yurts of El Cosmico caravan park for a good night’s rest.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Everyone is in a good mood in the Big Easy, so meeting people is never an issue. Find out at the bars of Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street, which are always alive with the sounds of Dixieland and jazz. Enjoy walking the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and finding a secluded corner to rest at in City Park or order a slice of cake at The Station coffeeshop and catch up on some reading. Of course, there’s more round-the-clock fun during Mardi Gras and other annual festivals.
New York City, New York
Yes, it’s packed with tourists and giddy honeymooners, but New York is just as much a welcoming destination for solo travelers as it is for the rest. Plan your days according to the neighborhoods that you intend to visit. In Manhattan, you’ll find world-famous shopping avenues, iconic landmarks, and Broadway theaters that lure you with star-studded musicals. Or perhaps you prefer the international eateries, galleries, and vintage stores of Brooklyn. Getting out of the city is also easy, with several accessible day trips that make for a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
If beer, books, and coffee are your thing then the hipster capital of the Pacific Northwest is the place to be. Bookworms will love getting lost in thousands of tomes at Powell’s City of Books and other charming secondhand bookstores. Grab a cup of your favorite brew or a pint of craft ale at bars set in the old warehouses of the Pearl District. Casual dining and soul food are king at food truck parks such as Cartopia and Hawthorne Asylum. Be a proper Portland hipster by getting around via almost 400 miles of bikeways.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Waterfront Portsmouth is picturesque, walkable, and home to one of the largest ratios of restaurants per capita. Journey back to the city’s 17th-century roots at the open-air Strawberry Banke Museum or come in winter for ice-skating fun on the Puddle Duck Pond. Oysters feature high on the menu and you’ll find dozens of bars serving them fresh alongside other mouthwatering seafood dishes. The Franklin is among the best. With Sagamore Creek Highlands on the doorstep, the tranquility of nature is never far away.