I get it. Some NYC solo travel ideas kind of suck. I mean, no one wants to watch a bunch of couples slobbering all over each other when they’re trying to find fun things to do alone in NYC. Am I right?
Okay, maybe it’s just me. And maybe I’m super bitter but still. Some activities are just better for solo travelers than others. So if you are biting the bullet and going it solo in New York City, then I’ve got some epic solo date ideas in NYC for you!
So, here is a super savvy local’s guide that is filled with expert tips on all of the absolute best things to do alone in NYC. This way, you can get awesome ideas for your next solo date in NYC.
And just so that you’re extra prepared for your New York solo travel experience, I’m going to:
- Answer all your most pressing questions about NYC solo travel
- Talk all about safety when you solo travel NYC
- Introduce you to all of the best things to do alone in New York City
- Tell you how to meet people in NYC
- Give you insider tips on where to eat alone in NYC
- Introduce you to the best hotels for NYC solo travel
- Share expert tips on how to get around while you solo travel NYC.
- And so much more!
So buckle up because it’s gonna be one hella awesome ride (read long) as we swan dive into all things NYC solo travel.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Common Questions About NYC Solo Travel
Is New York Good for Solo Travelers?
Absolutely! The big apple is a vibrant, exciting, and safe city where you can find a ton of amazing things to do alone in NYC. So, if you’re looking for one of the best places to travel alone in the US, then definitely add NYC to your solo travel bucket list!
It’s also a really easy place to navigate and an overall amazing place to revisit since there is always something new to see and do here!
Where do Singles Meet In NYC?
Okay, so if you’re doing a bit of NYC solo travel and are looking for love in all the wrong, I mean right, places, then there are a ton of different ways to meet other NYC singles.
Obviously, you could try dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OKCupid. Just do yourself a solid and be totally clear about what you’re looking for prior to the start of the date.
Because regardless of whether you’re looking to date, hook up, or live out all of your juiciest Sex and the City fantasies, NYC is the place for you.
However, you could always go the more traditional, non-tech route and meet someone at a bar. Because some of the best singles bars in NYC include:
- Salsa Con Fuego, Fordham Mainor, Bronx
- Judy and Punch, Astoria, Queens
- Le Bain at The Standard, Meatpacking District, Manhattan
- The Jane Ballroom, The Jane Hotel, West Village, Manhattan
- The Village Tavern, West Village, Manhattan
- Mr. Purple, Lower East Side, Manhattan
- Pianos, Lower East Side, Manhattan
- House of Yes, Bushwick, Brooklyn (closed right now but should open again soon)
- Union Pool, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- Mood Ring, Bushwick, Brooklyn
- Ginger’s Bar, Park Slope, Brooklyn
How do I Meet People in NYC?
So, if you’re looking to solo travel New York City and want to make friends along the way – or are worried that you might get lonely – then never fear because NYC is here to meet ALL your solo travel needs.
Because there are a ton of interesting and totally unique groups of people in NYC that are just waiting to be friends with someone like you. You just need to know where to go and what to do because trying to make friends with a Wall Street trader at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday is a total no go since we’re (the collective NYC “we”) busy people and generally don’t; have time for small talk while we’re on the go.
But, if you’d like to make friends with someone who is a whole lot less busy than anyone in the financial district, then you might want to try:
- NYC Meetups on Reddit or Meetup.com – Regardless of your interests, there is a group of people in NYC that are meeting up to do something you LOVE. So, if you’re into films, running, clubs, board games, or just want to hang out, there is a meetup for you. FYI, there’s also a super chil, ongoing, Reddit-related meet-up that is held on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm at Peculiar Pub in Greenwich Village.
- Couchsurfing – I’m not a huge fan but I know TONS of people who swear by Couchsurfing. I’ve also heard that the NYC community is pretty active and is happy to give weary travelers free accommodations or host social events where you can meet people who share similar interests.
- Join a Tour – Honestly, I’ve to meet SOO many different people just by joining a group tour. Because 9 times out of 10 people are on vacay, are super happy to meet you, and are even more curious about why you decided to solo travel NYC. Plus, they might be kind of sick of their travel partner and only too happy to connect with someone new.
Is New York Safe?
Hell yeah, New York is safe! I know it kind of gets a bad reputation for being this rough and tough city where everyone’s out to get you but it’s really not (trust me, the NYC of your nightmares – a la the 80s and early 90s – is long gone).
I mean, I’ve traveled to well over thirty different countries, have lived all over the world, have visited countless cities, and still consider NYC to be one of the safest cities in the USA, even today.
That’s why, if you’re considering NYC solo travel then definitely go for it since NYC is a safe place to travel alone.
But if you’re at all worried about traveling alone in NYC, you can check out this NYC safety guide and follow some of my fave safety tips below!
- Use Common Sense – Seriously, staying safe while you NYC solo travel is pretty easy if you do what you would do in any major city. So, always be aware of your surroundings, always keep an eye on your personal belongings, and stay off your phone so that you can actually SEE WTH is going on around you.
- Be Vigilant in Crowds – if there’s a crowded place in NYC, then chances are that pickpockets are there too. Therefore, always be mindful of your belongings (especially on subways, in crowds watching street performers, and in touristy areas) and try to carry a crossbody bag that you carry in front of you and zip closed.
- Don’t Carry All Your Valuables – Again, this is common sense and something you should do in any major city. But, try not to carry all your cash/credit cards around with you. Instead, bring only what you need for the day and then leave everything else back in the safe at your hotel. You also don’t need cash since almost everywhere you might want to go definitely accepts credit cards.
- Be Mindful of Your Drinking – Yup, more common sense info but it’s easy to get more than a little tipsy at Happy Hours and bottomless brunches where you want to drink fast and “get your money’s worth”. But, if you’re traveling alone in NYC and are new to the city, then you definitely don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to predators since your inhibitions are greatly reduced when you’re wasty pants. So, pace yourself and always let your hotel know where you’re going and when to expect you back. This way, if the worst should happen, they’ll know to alert the authorities.
- Watch Out for Ovetly Friendly Strangers – Yeah, most people in NYC are more or less in a constant rush. Therefore, if someone is super friendly and taking time to tell you a really long story then that’s a BIG red flag (danger, danger Will Robinson). Chances are it’s a scam, they’re trying to sell you something, or they want you to give them money. So, feel free to walk away, say you don’t have cash, or tell them you’re in a hurry.
- Walk Fast and Keep Your Eyes Straight Ahead – I’m gonna be real with you, there are a lot of CRAZY people in NYC. So, you’re traveling alone in NYC and see some acting crazy or shouting for no reason, don’t stare. Instead, walk fast and look straight ahead, and act as if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere, even if you’re not.
- Don’t Give Money to Panhandlers – While some of these people are probably in need, most of them are scammers and don’t deserve your money. So, if you want to help the less fortunate, consider making a donation to a reputable organization instead, like the Coalition for the Homeless.
- Keep an Eye Out for the Exit – If there’s an emergency you always want to know how to quickly and easily leave.
Where Can I Stay Alone in NYC?
There are a ton of amazing areas to stay in NYC, so much so that I actually have an entire article about it with expert hotel recs for you to check out.
However, if you’re short on time and are looking for a quick list of the best areas to stay alone in NYC, then you might want to try the East Village, the West Village, Long Island City Queens, the Upper East Side, Park Slope Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side, just to name a few.
Regardless of where you stay though, try to be within a 15-minute walk of the nearest subway station.
This way, you can avoid walking around alone at night for prolonged periods of time (you also might want to consider grabbing an Uber if you’re going back to your hotel late at night while you solo travel NYC).
What are the Best Things to do Alone in NYC?
There are tons of amazing things to do alone in NYC, which is why I have devoted an entire section of this post to his very subject. But, if you’re looking for some cool solo date ideas in NYC, you can try:
- Check out the used books at Strand Bookstore
- Admire the Morgan Library and Museum
- Explore the MET (aka the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
- Do a street food tour of Queens
- Hop on the Staten Island Ferry
- Check out a Broadway Show
- Spend the day at the Spa
- Visit Governors’ Island
- And more!
Big Mistakes to Avoid When You Solo Travel New York
This section is just a giant list of the most common mistakes that tourists make when visiting New York or as they solo travel NYC.
So, avoid doing anything on this list like the plague, and be sure to check out my full list of local NYC travel tips before your next visit the Big Apple.
- Avoid Empty Subway Cars – If there’s a totally empty subway car on a busy, Saturday morning then chances are there is something wrong with it and you should NOT go inside it. It’s usually something mundane like the AC isn’t working but someone also might have gotten sick in there and that is something you absolutely want NO part of.
- Stay in a Place that Makes You Feel Safe – Look, I know hotels in NYC are hella expensive and it might be tempting to stay in a shady neighborhood where rooms are much cheaper, but do what makes you feel comfortable. So, if that means staying in a more expensive hotel in a better area or calling an Uber to get you back to your hotel late at night, do it. Because feeling safe is WAY more important than saving a few dollars.
- Be Respectful of the Fact that New Yorkers are Always in a Rush – Yeah, we’re busy people. So, don’t bombard us with 10,000 questions or ask us for directions while we’re hurriedly walking down the street. Instead, ask someone at a tourist facility who has all the time in the world to answer all of your questions. And if you do need something, keep your question and convo short, sweet, and to the point.
- Don’t Stop in the middle of the Sidewalk – Do this and someone will 110% crash right into you. Instead, pull over to the side and do what you need to do. Also, don’t be a slow walker and walk as quickly as possible while on the streets of New York.
- Have Your Credit Card in Hand and be Ready to Pay – The quickest way to get New Yorkers to HATE you when you solo travel NYC is to get to the cashier and then spend precious time rummaging around in your bag for your wallet. Instead, have your cash and/or credit card in your hand, ready to go. This way, you can quickly pay once you get to the check-out counter. Also, leave as soon as the transaction is complete so that someone else can step up to the counter. Yup, we New Yorkers are always in a huge rush.
- You Don’t NEED to be Nice to Everyone – Look, this is NYC. So, chances are pretty high that someone is gonna make you feel uncomfortable at some point during your trip. If this is the case, you do not need to be kind. You owe them nothing, Just get out of the situation or firmly let someone know that what they’re doing is not OKAY. Because regardless of who this person si, they have no right to make you feel ill at ease.
20+ Amazing Things to do Alone in NYC
Guess what? NYC is commonly referred to as the city that never sleeps for a REASON. Because regardless of the day and time, there are ALWAYS a ton of amazing things to do alone in NYC.
And although I only have time and space to share 20+ of my favorite things to do alone in NYC, this city definitely has a ton more to offer.
So, if you want even more ideas about what to do when you solo travel NYC, then be sure to check out my ultimate NYC bucket list to get even more inspiration.
1. Strand Bookstore
My life motto for the New York solo female traveler? Why talk to people when you can read a book?
Alright, that is a HORRIBLE life motto. Some people are without a doubt, absolutely awesome. I just love walking into Strand and practically frolicking through the endless stacks of used books.
Three Floors of Total Bookish Wonder!
So add this store to your itinerary when planning a solo trip to NYC. Plus, they have killer souvenirs like t-shirts that proclaim, “A well-read woman is a dangerous thing”. I mean really, do shirts get much better than this? The only answer to this question is no, they do not.
I could literally spend an entire day in Strand Bookstore! Just don’t forget to hop on the elevator and make your way to the third floor, where all the super cool and super vintage, rare, first edition books lie. Truly an amazing place to stand in awe of the enduring power of the written word.
Pro Tip: Strand is right near West Tenth street, the Flat Iron Building, and Washington Square Park. So these are just some of the other sites that you can check out while exploring this part of the city.
2. Morgan Library and Museum
Can you tell I have a thing for books? Weird, I know, but this place is even more amazing than Strand.
Just picture the library in Beauty and the Beast and you’ll have an idea of just how magical this vastly underrated library really is.
I mean, how can you not love a place that publicly displays a Guttenberg Bible and an original composition by Mozart? Throw in some stunning, historic architecture and you’ll have an amazing place to visit when you solo travel NYC.
Because while you’re here, you’ll never feel alone because you’re not really supposed to talk in libraries anyway.
Also, admission to the Morgan Library and Museum can be a bit pricey, like $25 pricey. So since you’re alone and don’t have anyone to split the cost of a hotel with, why not visit between 7 pm and 9 pm on a Friday?
Not only is admission free, but you’ll be able to experience a live jazz performance too! Yup, book nerd paradise found.
3. The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Yes, this place really is the proverbial holy grail of Museums in New York City! Plus, between the MET on 5th Avenue and the Cloisters, you could literally spend several days here, taking in all the magnificent artifacts that call the MET home (can I call the MET home? Pretty Please!)
But even if you LOATHE museums, the MET is still totally epic and a must-see! Sure, the MET is a traditional museum, but it is also so much more, in a totally non-cliched way.
Because in addition to the museum itself, they also have a rooftop bar that provides you with gorgeous views of Central Park and well, the entire city.
You can also sit and enjoy some live piano music at the cafe that overlooks the main entrance (basically where the photo below was taken).
Before you leave though, do not miss the Temple of Dendur! This Egyptian period temple (literally a whole temple that was just plopped, boop, into the City) is one of the most photogenic places in New York City.
Just try and beat the crowds by going on a weekday or as early as possible on a weekday or weekend. Also pre-book your tickets now so that you don’t have to spend hours waiting in line (yes, you read that correctly, hours).
Pro Tip: Since the MET is located on the East side of Central Park, definitely visit Central Park, the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim, and Albertine French bookstore while you’re here. Also, just a friendly reminder that the MET is no longer a pay what you wish museum (womp, womp, womp). Only residents of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, who present a valid id, can use the pay what you wish option.
4. The Seaglass Carousel
Feel like being a kid again without schlepping all the way to Coney Island? Then why not catch a ride on the sea glass carousel a magical place that truly stands out amidst the natural flora of Battery Park.
For just $5 you can hop aboard an internally, LED illuminated fish, that swirls and twirls its way around the Nautilus-shaped building, creating a sense of awe and wonder in visitors of all ages.
Why the fish theme? Apparently, Park designers wanted to add something light, bright, and totally fun to the rather drab park interior. They chose fish because the park was the first home of the New York Aquarium (Boom! You can use that nugget of knowledge to win the final round of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire).
What, feeling a little blue because the ride is over? Well, never fear because this carousel is located in the one and only Battery Park.
Therefore, there are all sorts of things to do alone in NYC here. So, hop on the Staten Ferry and catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty, visit Ellis Island, walk over to Wall Street, or explore the nearby Irish Hunger Memorial (a truly moving monument that is well worth a visit).
5. Get Lost on West 10th Street
Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of the Lower West Side, there lies a quaint neighborhood with a charm and character that is almost completely absent from New York City.
A place that you probably won’t find in any solo travel NYC guidebook. A place where charmingly historic and insanely exquisite townhouses dominate the urban landscape.
Buildings that are adorned with a diverse assortment of botanical life; plants that help remind you that New York City really can expertly intertwine the beauty of manmade and natural structures.
Coming here, you will be transported into a bizarre world where the dirt, grime, and total chaos of New York City are almost completely absent.
A true gem of a street that you can use to walk Uptown, towards the Flat Iron building and the Empire State Building, in case you need a little more proverbial spice in your life.
6. Check out some great views and street art in DUMBO
Dumbo was once a heinous beast of a neighborhood!
But times they are a changing”! Now, formerly gross, centers of industry have been transformed into trendy, hipsters hotspots, I’m actually not quite sure I’m hip enough to hang out here but whatevs.
So, between the gorgeous street art that decorates the walls of these cobblestone streets, the stunning views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, and the unique retail stores, you may never want to leave!
Before you leave this neighborhood though, here is the best to-do list ever:
- Grab an ice cream at the fireboat house
- Listen to some music on the historic barge
- Walkthrough Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Ride the historic Jane’s Carousel
- Read a book at Powerhouse Arena
- Grab a slice of pizza at Juliana’s
- Take in a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse.
I know it’s a lot but let’s be real, you’re in the city that never sleeps. So did you actually expect to sleep? Exactly!
Pro Tip: Since you’re here anyway, I suggest taking the 6 to the last stop, City Hall. From here, you can easily access and walk along the Brooklyn Bridge, taking in some of the most enchanting views in the entire city.
7. Visit the Old City Hall Station
Okay, so technically speaking, this activity isn’t entirely, 100% legal so if anyone asks, I never told you to do this.
But as you’ve probably heard, the former City Hall station is insanely gorgeous (so basically totally different from the nasty one we use now. Double yuck for sure).
Anyway, the real question is, how can you sneak a peek at this marvelous, architectural wonder as you solo travel NYC?
Well, you could nab some rather expensive tickets from the Transit Museum, or you can do as the locals do and basically duck down, hide, and stay on the 6 train past the final stop at City Hall.
Why does this work? Well, the train actually has to turn around and pass the old City Hall station, before making its way back Uptown.
Therefore, why not take advantage of this fact and see this historic station for yourself? Glad we agree on this.
8. Check out some Cheesy Goodness at Murray’s
If you don’t like cheese, I don’t think we can be friends.
No really, unless you’re lactose intolerant, I just cannot fathom how any human CANNOT appreciate the salty, rich, and creamy goodness that is cheese.
Okay, I’ll still be your friend but only because I can eat all of your cheese.
Trust me, this is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.
But on a mildly serious note:
This artisanal cheese shop and specialty food retailer is quite literally the holy grail of cheese shops for any and all cheese lovers in New York City.
Not only is their cheese some of the best in the world, but they have more types of cheese than I ever thought possible.
I thought a store that sold Muenster, Swiss, and Cheddar had a great cheese selection. But this store sells so many cheese varieties that you feel like you’ve died and gone to cheese eutopia.
But I promise it’s real and Not some New York City-induced mirage!
So put on your comfy pants and try some fan faves like the truffle brie, Murray’s Cavemaster Reserve Hollander Special Edition, Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor, the Fourmage Gouda, the Bleu Mont dairy bandaged cheddar, and like ten thousand more.
***With locations in Grand Central Terminal and Greenwich Village, it’s pretty easy to make any and all of your cheese fantasies come true.
9. Stand under the stars at Grand Central
I always forget that Grand Central Terminal is actually one of the better NYC attractions! I say this because I have taken the train into and out of Grand Central so many times, that I completely forget about the architectural beauty of this building.
Truly an enchanting place in NYC and one of the many great things to do alone in NYC
Because between the historic architecture, the gorgeous blue ceiling – studded with twinkling constellations – and a stunning array of delicious and relatively cheap food options, Grand Central station is probably one of the best attractions in NYC.
Did I mention that tours are offered too? Yup, just nab an audio guide, between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, seven days a week, from the Tours office in Graybar Passage,
They cost a mere $9 for adults and $7 for kids and are a fantastic way to better understand both the history and architectural nuances of this iconic New York City edifice.
Pro Tip: Now for the important stuff, FOOD! Magnolia Bakery, Shake Shack, the Oyster Bar, Zaro’s, Jacques ice cream and chocolate, and Murray’s Cheese are only some of the amazing food options available in Grand Central. So get your grub on. But you already know that since this is NYC and you’re gonna solo travel New York City like a boss!
10. Grab a Bagel at Ess-A-Bagel
Almost nothing is as New York as a bagel! That’s why failing to eat one as you solo travel NYC is basically like a crime against humanity.
Therefore, to stay in the good graces of the entire city, and probably the world, it’s best that you ingest one of these carborific creations while you’re in town.
But the question remains, where should I go? I mean, there is a bagel place on almost every street corner. And they all seem pretty reasonably priced, so it can be challenging to find a good bagel shop.
Well, let me tell you, I have been eating New York bagels since birth, and the one and only bagel place that I will EVER wait online at is Ess-a-bagel. Not only are their bagels amazing but their specialty sandwiches and cream cheeses are out of this world (I didn’t know chocolate chip cream cheese was a thing until I came here).
So put on a pair of sweatpants, grab $5, and hop in line for a bagel that carb lover dreams are made of (Go at like 2 pm and there won’t be a line).
When I go, I always get a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with chocolate chip cream cheese (I tried it with strawberry cream cheese but the chocolate chip is better). I know it sounds weird but it is honestly one of the best bagels that I have ever had.
Pro Tip: Don’t think you can muster up the energy to eat a whole bagel alone? Or want to try more than one bagel flavor without feeling like a bloated whale? Then head over to Bantum Bagels in Greenwich Village. This bagel place offers an assortment of bite-sized, bagel flavors that are filled with a variety of different cream cheese options. Just grab a Bantum Bagel 6 pack so that you can try a bunch of flavors while you’re on the go. This way, you can expertly avoid awkwardly eating alone.
11. Visit the New York City Public Library
I call this home! Okay, not really since I’m not homeless but you get the idea. This place is practically the book mecca of the WORLD.
True story! Because with a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, and a set of the iconic stuffed animals that inspired the author of Winnie the Pooh, it’s easy to understand why the New York Public Library is one of the great things to do in NYC alone.
But it gets better. Between the gorgeous reading rooms (that are a great place for an Instagram photo op) and the exciting rotating exhibits in the Library Museum, you could definitely spend an entire day here.
Added bonus? Depending on what kind of pop culture maven you are, you might remember this building as the place where Big and Carrie were going to get married in the first, less awful, Sex and the City movie.
Yes Grasshopper, so much to see and so little time. Sorry, I just had to get all Karate Kid up in here.
CUTEST COFFEE EVER!
Not only is there a super Instagramable, neon sign that reads, “sweet moment”, but this Chinatown coffee, tea, and dessert Mecca (think Bingsoo, waffles, cake, ice cream, etc.) are well decorated and spacious too. So no worries, you won’t have to sit on anyone’s lap just to get a seat.
But, if I’m honest, you’re not here for the coffee but for the most adorable tea art that I’ve ever seen!
Huh? Okay, the beverage art aka “cream art” is served as a cold brew, coffee, or black tea that comes in such funky flavors as chocolate, matcha, taro, and red velvet; all served with milk and some whipped cream on top.
My verdict? The drinks are yummy but super sweet. So honestly, the real draw here is that you can take a picture of a latte that looks like the cutest little bear that you ever did see.
But you know what they say? I did it all for the solo travel NYC gram. Oh God, I’m turning into a social media-obsessed, self-involved Millennial! Ahh, the horror! W-T-F? Wait, Brb, I’m totes upset.
12. Go on a Burroughs of the Dead Tour
We all know I’m weird and have some morbid fascination with all things that go bump in the night.
But, you know you’re onto something good when locals make up about 80 – 85% of your clientele. And Boroughs of the Dead is epically good.
Led by expert storytellers, these badass tour guides have thoroughly researched the darkly unusual history of New York City. And the result is amazing. tours that give you a true sense of dread as they reveal a chilling reality that is scarier than fiction.
Depending on the time of year, Boroughs of the Dead offers an exciting assortment of tours in each of the five boroughs, each with a different meeting point and ending location, depending on the borough you are in.
For the borough of Manhattan, tour options include the Ultimate Greenwich Village Ghost Tour, Weird Tales of the West Village, and The Forgotten Dark Histories of Lower Manhattan (Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, with tours running for about two hours).
So go now! Now go! Whatever just get your ass there because it’s super fun and one of the best things to do alone in NYC. No really! Okay, I’ll cease and desist.
13. Grab some coffee at Porto Rico Importing Co.
Throwback! Because this insanely amazing coffee company has been around since 1907!
And it really looks like the store hasn’t changed much since then, besides the use of electricity obviously.
The entire store has this historic feel since they use open old-school potato sacks that are filled to the brim with whole coffee beans. Each bag also comes fully equipped with an enormous metal coffee scoop that you use to stock up on the coffee beans of your choice.
Plus, the staff are insanely helpful and know exactly what they’re talking about when helping you choose the perfect coffee roast for your NYC solo travel life.
But what if you want a coffee to go? No problem! In between the shelves of coffee beans, and other coffee-related paraphernalia lies a small espresso bar in the back of the store.
Here you can procure the perfect cappuccino or other, expresso-related beverage of your choice. They don’t offer to seat though so make sure that coffee is to go.
And did I mention? They also sell super cool, super quirky bags that I almost bought impulsively. You know, bags that I don’t actually need but that say super inspirational things like, “I’m a delicate [email protected]!cking flower!”.
Now you understand why my financial struggle is real!
14. Read a Book in Bryant Park
No one in the world is shocked to see this iconic, New York City park on this list of things to do alone in NYC, but whatever.
Just because this place is one of the most well-known and best attractions in NYC, doesn’t make it any less awesome.
Plus, this fantastic park is centrally located, right near Times Square, the New York Public Library, the Morgan Library, and Grand Central Terminal. So clearly there are a lot of cool things to do in New York, in a rather tiny area.
Therefore, before you leave Midtown, make sure to check out this delightful green space. Because between the ping pong table, the public lending library, and a kiosk that sells Chocolate Babka from Breads Bakery (one of the most amazing places to eat in New York), Bryant Park should be at the top of your list of places to explore in NYC.
Oh, I almost forgot! Bryant Park has a quaint little carousel that truly makes you feel like a kid again. Just do yourself a favor and don’t hoover a delicious waffle from Waffle and Dinges, right before you ride on this piece of childhood nostalgia. Nobody needs nausea in their life. No bueno indeed.
Pro Tip: If you solo travel NYC during the winter, Bryant Park is transformed into a lovely Christmas Market that has a fantastic ice skating rink that is less crowded and more reasonably priced than Rockefeller Center.
15. Grab a cup of coffee at Pietro Nolita
Not only is the coffee at Pietro coffee delicious, but…it is served in a to-go cup that says, “Pink as [email protected]$k.” Yup, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Plus, there is bright pink splattered across every inch of the restaurant.
Therefore, between the kickass to-go cup and the insanely beautiful decor, this place really is an Instagrammer’s paradise. Just be forewarned that they open at around 11 am on Saturdays. So don’t get there super early and skulk around like me.
One more thing! Don’t feel weird walking in and asking for a cool ass, “to go” cup of coffee. Trust me, the staff are nice and know exactly what you want and why.
16. Read under the stars in Albertine
You’re probably wondering what Albertine is. right?
Is it some ritualistic, tourist sacrifice that is held for all those who solo travel NYC? Thankfully no (New Yorkers are nuts but not THAT nuts). It’s actually a French American bookstore on 5th Avenue ( right across the street from the MET). Super exciting right?
Okay, you might be thinking, “Lame, I don’t even speak French! What the hell?”
Well, believe it or not, you’re not actually here for the books, even though they have a great selection \ to choose from. Nope, you’re here because this store is unlike any other bookstore you have ever seen.
I mean, you have to pass through a metal detector just to get into the store, which has an impressive, white marble atrium with gorgeous statues and exquisite column work that all welcome you into this historic space.
It honestly feels more like a royal residence than a bookstore. And once inside, walk upstairs and lookup. Because on the ceiling of the second floor, you’ll find a stunning kaleidoscope of stars and constellations that are set against a vibrant blue ceiling; a scene that is beautifully reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
Plus it’s free so you have literally nothing to lose, except maybe the calorie you burned walking upstairs
17. Walk Along the Highline
Chances are, you’ve heard of the Highline, a former railway track that was turned into a super fab, elevated park that basically everyone descends upon during the weekends in the summer.
Therefore, to avoid feeling like you’re in a herd of cattle, I highly suggest visiting during the week. This way, you can check out the amazing views and beautiful street art of the Highline, without people practically smelling your armpits.
Okay, that was totally gross but you know what I mean. Anyway, besides walking the Highline, you can also play some games at Chelsea Piers, eat your face off at Chelsea Market, enjoy a show at the Highline Ballroom, hang out on the roof of the Whitney Museum of American Art, or get your laugh on at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.
Talk about a lot of tourist attractions in NYC huh? I feel ya. Before I went, I really just thought that all you could do was walk along a former railway track, amidst a herd of mildly annoying people. Glad I was super wrong, per usual.
Pro Tip: The High Line runs from Hudson Yards to Chelsea, so just take the 1 or C train to the 23rd street station and walk up to Tenth Avenue.
18. Visit the Oculus and World Trade Center
As a New Yorker who lived through the turmoil of 9/11, this one is a tough subject for me.
Yeah, visiting the memorial is always emotional, and it took me YEARS to visit the 9/11 Museum – amazing and extremely well done but definitely a difficult place to visit.
Therefore, although I do think visitors should experience both of these places, for me, it’s better for my emotional well-being if I head straight to the Oculus, a subterranean mall that is a true marvel of modern architecture.
FYI, this building is also a transportation hub for trains going into and out of the World Trade Center. Yup, probably one of my favorite buildings to visit and photograph.
I mean, even an incompetent photographer like me can somehow manage to take decent pictures of the Occulus. So head on over and visit this gorgeous building first hand as you solo travel NYC; a poignant combination of beautiful architecture with the sorrow of 9/11.
Pro Tip: As you can imagine, this area can get rather crowded, so the earlier you visit, the better. But this building is huge so even when it’s crowded, you don’t actually start feeling claustrophobic.
19. Go to a Meow Parlour Cat Cafe
So unless you’re living in some sort of alternate universe where you are exposed to absolutely no pop culture trends, then you know that cat cafes are totally a “thing”.
As a result, I hopped aboard the pop culture bandwagon since I’m a wannabe “social media influencer”. Actually, as much as I loathe conforming to the masses, It was a pretty fun experience. I got to pet a ton of kitties and act like I was some sort of wannabe, Dr. Dolittle, in the process.
Plus, all the kitties are up for adoption so this café actually helps these kitties find some loving homes (Insert coos of approval here).
But how does it work? Just go online and make a reservation for a 30-minute time slot. And when you arrive just check in at the front desk, sign a waiver, take your shoes/coat off, go over the rules, and sanitize your hands.
Next step? Say hello to kitty paradise. Chill out, order some food, pet some cats, and live the dream for about a half-hour while you enjoy some of the best things to do alone in NYC. Just keep track of the time because they won’t remind you when your half an hour is up. And if you go over your time limit, you’ll be charged another $10.
But, It’s for a good cause and a unique way to enjoy the eclectic cafe culture of NYC.
20. Enjoy A Ride On Staten Island Ferry
There are loads of amazing things to do alone in NYC. If you do get tired of wandering around the city and looking at countless highrises, taking a ride on the Staten Island ferry is a must. For one, it gives you a lovely vantage point to see NYC from afar. Plus it is the perfect opportunity to get some great photographs of the NYC skyline.
The ferry to Staten Island is pretty peaceful and should take you about 30 minutes to make it across. Did you know that there is no need to buy tickets? Yup! The Staten Island ferry is a service that is provided by the city of New York absolutely free of cost. So if you are looking for budget things to do alone in NYC, this definitely should make your list! I mean it is free after all!
Pro Tip: Once you get to Staten island you will probably be hungry. All that bobbing on the ferry will do that to you! Head to Enoteca Maria which is an epic Italian restaurant. The highlight of this is all the Nonnas. For those of you who don’t know what that means, nonna is the Italian word for grandmother. Enoteca Maria is special because the food is cooked by Italian grandmothers.
21. See a Broadway Show
I am a HUGE theater lover and truly feel that you cannot solo travel NYC without seeing at least one Broadway or off-Broadway show.
Because even if you’re not into musicals in the traditional sense, I pinkie promise that there is still a Broadway show out there that will eb perfect for you (Umm…can you say The Book of Mormon?).
And while I know you may think that Broadway shows are expensive, but they’re really not. Just use the TodayTix app to quickly and easily get 50% or more off your next purchase.
Also, if you’re not 100% sure what to see, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Wicked, and Chicago are also classics that pretty much everyone will love (Aladdin is also great for kids).
Other iconic shows are Dear Evan Hansen (a poignant production about difficult topics. A really beautiful and thought provoking show. Also not for kids), Come From Away (moving and really uplifting about people who were stranded after 9/11), and Tina (empowering and amazing show about Tina Turner).
Pro Tip: If you’re strapped for cash, try seeing an off-Broadway show instead of a Broadway show. The shows are just as good as Broadway shows but cheaper because they are off-Broadway and are therefore in smaller theaters. You can also check out these insider tips on how to score cheap Broadway tickets right now!
22. Go Nuts At The Color Factory
Let’s face it. One of the biggest disadvantages of solo travel is that there is no one to take your photograph. That’s why visiting the Color factory is one of the epic things to do alone in NYC. With numerous interactive installations designed by some of the best artists in the city, the Color factory is a treat to the eyes.
The best part is that they have photo booths where you can pose and have your photograph taken. Trust me the colors in the background provide some serious insta worthy material. Oh and wondering how much they charge? Well nothing! They send the photographs to your email address for no cost at all. How cool is that?
Pro Tip: Wear some nice neutral colors so that you stand out against the myriad of colors in the background!
Other Fun Things to do Alone in NYC
Because there are so many fun things to do alone in NYC and just so little time when creating the perfect solo travel NYC itinerary. So, here are even more fun things to do up in NYC!
- Stroll through Central Park – Stop for a photo op at Bethesda Fountain, take a walk through the Ramble, check out the views from atop Belvedere Castle, visit Strawberry Fields, and have a picnic in Sheep’s Meadow. You can also rent a Citibike and do a low-key ride through the park too. FYI, some other great parks in NYC are Prospect Park and Riverside Park.
- Check out the Awesome Street Art at the Bushwick Collective – Yes, the Bushwick Collective is ALL the way out in Brooklyn. But, there is amazing street art literally everywhere. Plus, you can stop for a slice of Artichoke Basile pizza while you’re here so it’s DEFFO worth the trip.
- See a Show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem – This iconic theater in NYC routinely holds amateur nights where you can see amazing performances for under $30! So yeah, definitely stop by and soak up some of the magic of this place as you solo travel NYC.
- Head to a Local Bar and Join a Watch Party – Because lots of people don’t have cable, many New Yorkers head out to their favorite watering hole to check out the latest and greatest episodes of whatever they’re currently binge-watching. So, join the masses, meet the locals, and watch a show in a bar with fifty of your closest friends – you just haven’t met them yet.
- Visit Chinatown in Flushing, Queens – I know everything thinks of Manhattan’s Chinatown first but I personally like the one in Flushing better. It’s also a lot better and home to iconic eateries like Nurlan (I like the Chicken Salat and the Pearl Noodle), Meat Me BBQ (great Korean BBQ place), and White Bear (get a #6 and the wontons). If you want, you could also leave it to the professionals and do a guided food tour of the area.
- Stop by Governors’ Island – This place has become a lot more popular recently because of Gov Ball. But, even if you don’t attend this iconic concert, you can still grab the ferry to Governors Island (FYI it only runs during the summer) in Southern Manhattan. Once on the island, you can check out some abandoned buildings, hike to the top of Outlook Hill (the view is epic), slide down slide hill (it’s fifty-seven feet long), go glamping with Collective Retreats, or marvel at the many public art displays here.
- Eat all the Feels at Eataly – Part Italian grocery store, part restaurant, this place is the beautiful brainchild of Mario Batali and now has locations all throughout the city. So, swing by today and eat some authentic pasta, enjoy a glass of Nero d’Avola, savor a scoop of fresh gelato, and order a shot of espresso to go. I also love the Flat Iron and World Trade Center locations.
- Visit One of NYC’s Cool Museums – NYC is home to some of the most famous museums in the world. However, there are a ton of super rad, hidden gems here too. So, be sure to check out the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, the Brooklyn Museum, the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side, the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, and more! For a full list though, see this guide to 22 of the coolest museums in NYC.
- Meet New People at Daybreaker – If you feel like getting up early, then why not check out daybreaker? It’s basically this totally weird, super cool, sober dance party that takes place early in the morning, during the week, right before work. Trust me, it’s one of the best things to do alone in NYC since the people there are super nice and will make you feel really welcome.
- Go on a Food Tour – There are a ton of different food tours that take place in every neighborhood of the city and that introduce you to every type of cuisine imaginable. So, for a full list, check out my guide to the best food tours in NYC – although, I am definitely partial to Greenwich Village food tours and the Arthur Avenue Italian food tour through da Bronx.
- Check out Smorgasburg – Open April through October, this awesome weekend market was once only in Brooklyn. However, it’s become so popular that it’s now in Manhattan too and operates, rain or shine. So, if you want to try some wonderfully weird foods like deep-fried cookie dough and spaghetti doughnuts, then definitely add Smorgasburg to your list of things to do as you solo travel NYC.
- Relax the Day Away at the Spa – Get your hair did, your nails done, and your back massaged at one of the best spas in NYC. And if you have the cash to spare, check out Aire Ancient Baths in Tribecca (it’s basically a chic AF Roman bath, and expect to spend $300 for two hours). Otherwise, try K-Town Sauna for a cheap but totally relaxing experience in Manhattan, You can also hit up their dining area for Korean treats while you’re there (Spa Castle in Queens is amazing too).
- Visit the Botanical Garden – Whether you visit the one in the Bronx, Queens, or Brooklyn, they are all amazing and provide you with some much-needed natural serenity as you solo travel NYC.
- See Sleep No More – This modern, highly interactive theatrical experience in the fancy Af McKittrick Hotel is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s also one of the best things to do alone in NYC since you wear a mask and are supposed to be fully immersed in the show.
- Hit up The House of Yes – This is an awesome place to meet people in Brooklyn and is known for hosting some of the weirdest raves and concerts in NYC. It’s famous though so if you want to get a bit more off the well-beaten path then check out Resident Advisor for some info on wonderfully weird events and concerts in NYC.
Where to Eat Alone in NYC
Unlike many other cities in the world, it is totally, 110% normal to eat alone in NYC. Yup, people here really do dine solo all the time. So, if you ask for a table for a party of one, nobody will bat an eyelash.
However, if you feel at all weird about eating alone while you solo travel NYC then you could always try eating in a cafe or sitting at the bar. Both are great options for anyone who is new to eating alone and feels a little awkward about it.
I also prefer quiet, low-key places when I dine alone so that I can actually hear myself think, embrace the solitude, and fully appreciate the experience I’m having.
Therefore, here are some of my fave places to eat alone in NYC:
- 108 Food Dried Hot Pot (Upper West Side) – This is an awesome Sichuan hot pot place where you’ll feel totally at ease dining alone among all the Columbia students. So, choose from over forty-eight different ingredients and build a delicious hotpot filled with chilis, peppercorns, and herbs.
- Jg Melon (Upper East Side) – This iconic burger joint has been around since 1975 and is a great place to go for a classic burger. It’s also a hotspot among various celebrities so you know it must be good.
- The Meatball Shop (Hell’s Kitchen) – This is a great place to go either before or after a Broadway show. You can basically make your own meatball by choosing a meatball base, a sauce, and then whether you want to add a grain to make it a plate. Plus, they have options for vegans and vegetarians too, and are pretty dang affordable. I usually go for the mac and cheese while friends like to order the meatball sampler so they can try three different meatballs.
- Guantanamera (Midtown West) – A fantastic Cuban restaurant that is super low-key and just a great place to meet people. Try the s vaca frita, shredded skirt steak tossed with mojo, cubano sandwiches, and Cuba Libres as a drink.
- Nami Nori (West Village) – This cute little spot in the West Village is perfect for solo diners and a great place to try delicious sushi rolls at a reasonable price – they start at just $6 per roll and are really good ( I like the Vegan Set but the Signature Set is great and just $28).
- Superiority Burger (Ukrainian Village area) – This vegetarian restaurant is a great, informal place to go for a veggie burger that actually tastes good. Everything on the menu is also typically under $10 so you can actually eat here without going broke. Get the classic Superiority Burger with Muenster cheese and various other toppings for the ultimate foodie experience.
- Uncle Boons Sister (Nolita) – This cheap, Michelin-starred Thai place is a great place to go for khao soi noodles and sai oua sausage with sticky rice. Just a great place to enjoy some traditional Thai cuisine in a chill atmosphere.
- Trapizzino (Lower East Side) – This place is known for the iconic Roman street food of the same name which is basically like pizza except that the crust is on the outside and the toppings are on the inside, thereby creating this portable, pizza-like sandwich that you can eat on the go. Get the Parmigiana di Melanzane and you will not regret it.
- Cocoron (Nolita) – This. is another great Japanese restaurant that is known for its hand made soba noodles with sesame broth and chicken. They also have great Goemon Japanese Curry and Shabushabu Macoron that is served to you at communal tables. So yeah. you definitely won’t feel weird about dining alone.
- Joe’s Pizza (Greenwich Village) – Great place to grab a cheap and delicious slice of NY pizza. You also eat while standing at a table so you won’t feel awkward being there alone.
- Cervo’s (Lower East Side) – Epic tapas joint where you can eat at the bar and enjoy great seafood dishes. Must-try faves include Manila clams in vinho verde (small plate) and Spanish mackerel for an entree.
- Ho Foods (East Village) – This low-key place is tiny and has about ten seats or so. That’s why, if you can actually manage to snag a seat, you’ll love the reasonable prices and the delicious, totally authentic, Taiwanese beef noodle soup that they serve up here.
Best Hotels for People Who Want to Solo Travel NYC
When looking for a hotel while planning to solo travel NYC, there are a couple of things you want to look for. You want to make sure that the place is:
- Reasonably Priced – You won’t be splitting the bill with anyone and NYC hotels are notoriously expensive, to begin with.
- Well-located – You want to make sure the hotel is in a safe neighborhood and has a central location so that you can see everything you want to see.
- Safe – I think this is probably the number one concern for anyone traveling to NYC alone. So, you want to make sure that your hotel is in a nice neighborhood and that they have all necessary safety measures in place (locks on doors, safes in rooms, attentive staff, cameras, etc.).
However, before you choose the perfect hotel for you, we should probably go over some of the best and worst areas to stay in NYC.
Best Areas to Stay in NYC for Solo Travelers – West Village (beautiful brownstones, safe, and central), Chelsea Flatiron District, SoHo, East Village/Lower East Side (good for vibrant nightlife, Upper East Side/West Side (quieter, on the park, and more refined), Williamsburg Brooklyn (also a nightlife hot spot), Harlem (Nice and cheap although a bit out of the way. Do steer clear of east Harlem but 110th and 120th near Frederick Douglas is great), Midtown (fine bit not much character), Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill (cool Brooklyn neighborhoods and easy to get to Manhattan), Williamsburg (hipster central), Long Island City/Astoria (Queens areas with great food and easy to get to from Manhattan),
Areas to Avoid in NYC for Solo Travelers – Manhattan 1st/York Ave and 11th-13th Ave (they’re just far from the subway), East Harlem (not great at night), Brownsville/East York in Brooklyn, Jersey City/Staten island/Hoboken (they’re safe but just hard to get to and so you’ll waste a lot of time and money during your commute), and the Bronx (Parts of the Bronx are really nice but the Bronx as a whole is just really far away from everything).
So, keeping all this in mind, here are my fave places to stay for anyone planning to solo travel NYC.
- The Leo House (Chelsea) – While the hotel itself doesn’t have any religious affiliations, The Leo House is actually run by the Catholic Sisters of St. Agnes. Rooms here are also incredibly cheap (like $105 a night for a room with a shared shower cheap) and are centrally located since, well, you’re in Chelsea. Don’t expect anything posh though since quiet accommodations here are simple, but comfortable, and include in-room safes, access to a 24-hour front desk, cable TV, use of a beautiful on-site garden, and the option to enjoy a $9 breakfast buffet (the fresh baked goods are amazing).
- The Jane (West Village) – Dating back to 1908, this sailor’s overnight spot is now a chic, boutique hotel in the West Village that is within walking distance of the Highline and the Witney Museum. Expect to find small, reasonably priced, nautical-themed rooms that include free WIFI, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, iPod docks, shared bathrooms (upgraded rooms have private bathrooms), and some bunk beds. You also have access to free bike rentals and can have a drink in their Victorian-style bar or try some French-Moroccan fare at their on-site restaurant.
- The Library Hotel (Midtown East) – Booklovers who want to solo travel NYC rejoice because this is the hotel for you! Not only does each room have a different theme that revolves around the Dewey Decimal system (excuse me while I swoon), but this bookish boutique hotel is just a hop, skip, and jump away from the NY Public Library, Grand Central, and Times Square. So while it’s not the cheapest hotel on this list, rooms are well-appointed with book decor and premium amenities that make for a comfy stay. They also have an amazing rooftop lounge and offer guests free breakfast, complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings, and all-day refreshments in the reading rooms.
- The Ace Hotel (Nomad) – There are soo many amazing hotels for solo travelers in NYC, but this one is probably my favorite. I mean, not only is the location amazing, but it’s just 2-minutes from the subway and super safe since you need a key to access the elevator. Rooms also have a vintage style about them, and include minibars, Wifi, flat-screen TVs, and more. There’s also a Stumptown Coffee in the lobby (so good) and a bar with wine on tap, making this an ideal place to stay.
- HI NYC Hostel (Upper West Side)- Honestly, I’m not super into hostels but if I had to stay in an NYC hostel, I’d pick this one. It’s pretty dang lovely, is safely located on the Upper West Side, and is a short 10-minute walk from Central Park. It also sits inside a gorgeous, Victorian-style house that features a light and airy dorm rooms with clean bathrooms and free Wifi. Guests can also access an amazing patio (with garden), use a full kitchen, enjoy a game room/tv room, can participate in nightly happy hours, can join organized nights out, or rent bikes right from the hostel.
Wait, can I Couchsurf in NYC? Umm, heck yeah you can. NYC is just a popular destination so you’ll want to book WAY in advance.
I also don’t personally do Couchsurfing but have heard that before you stay with a host, be sure to check that they’re verified and have lots of solid reviews.
And while I wouldn’t recommend that single women stay with single men, if you do, definitely check their hosting history. Because is this dude seems to only host women, then that probably means that he’s using Couchsurfing as a hookup service.
You’ll also want to note that while Airbnb isn’t totally illegal, you are not allowed to rent out an entire apartment (so stay without the host) if you plan to stay in the city for 30 days or under. Over 30 days and you can rent an entire apartment without the host actually staying with you.
That being said, the Airbnb police aren’t gonna go out and arrest you if you rent an entire apartment on Airbnb and stay for less than 30 days. Just keep it on the DL since the NYPD might if they catch you.
Honestly, though, I would abide by this rule as you plan to NYC solo travel since it is designed to protect locals from potential housing shortages and increases in rent as a result of Airbnb. I would also only stay with a host when doing an Airbnb rental in NYC.
How to Solo Travel NYC and Get Around Safely
So, you’re doing a bit of NYC solo travel and want to get around safely, am I right? Of course, I am! Because safety is a HUGE concern to most solo travelers.
So, if you want to navigate your way through NYC like a real local, then the subway is the way to go. It’s $2.75 per ride and you can pay either with a MetroCard or any card you have that is a tap and pay card (you can also get a weekly pass for $32 or a monthly pass for $120).
Pro Tip: Always check what direction your train is going in since some stations only go in one direction – uptown or downtown. Also, look up your route with Google maps BEFORE you enter the subway. Cell service can be spotty in the subway and you might not be able to access directions once you’re inside the station.
Not only is it super convenient – taking you literally anywhere you want to go – but it’s cheap, you don’t have to worry about traffic jams, and it runs twenty-four hours a day.
And while I’ve heard it’s safe any time of day, I personally try not to take the subway late at night – like any time after midnight.
You can take the bus for $2.75 per ride but I’m not a huge fan. They get stuck in traffic and just take forever in general. But, they are helpful for going crosstown or to certain areas that aren’t well-connected to the subway.
In terms of cabs, I rarely take them because they are just so damn expensive, And if I do take a car of some sort, It’s usually an Uber or Lyft. Again, they’re not super convenient because they’re not dirt cheap and routinely get stuck in traffic.
However, they are handy if you’re coming home late at night or have a ton of luggage that you don’t want to schlepp around the subway with you.
And when all else fails, just walk it. Now, will you be able to walk everywhere you want while you NYC solo travel? No, not a chance. NYC is just too damn big. But, NYC is a very walkable city and a great way to get a feel for the pulse of different neighborhoods in the city.
Solo Travel NYC: Staying Safe
So, before I attempt to FINALLY wrap up this insanely long post about traveling solo in NYC, I just wanted to share a few extra safety tips with you.
I mean, I think it’s safe to say that safety is probably THE most important thing to solo travelers who are headed to NYC for the first time.
That’s why I want to share my top local tips for how to stay safe n the city that never sleeps as you solo travel New York.
1. Catcalls and Sexual Assault – I don’t want to alarm you but if you’re a woman in NYC, you’ll probably get cat-called (Just ignore it since it’s annoying more than anything.
They’ll stop when they get zero reaction) and receive unwanted male attention. You’ll also want to keep your guard up since sexual assault is a HUGE problem in this city.
Usually, these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows but it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings.
Also, try to stick to well-populated areas (especially at night) and avoid wearing your headphones in the evening so no one can sneak up on you.
2. What to do if Someone Follows You – This happened to me in Athens. I knew some guy was following me so I ducked into a local store and was about to call the police/cab out of there if he persisted.
Thankfully, he walked away but if this happens to you (note, it probably won’t) just duck into basically any store and use your cell phone or a phone in the store to call for help.
If you explain what’s going on to whoever is there, 99.9% of people will be only too happy to help get you out of harm’s way.
3. Always Let Someone Know Where You’re Going and When You’ll Be Back – I practice this tip regardless of where I travel. So, even if I’m traveling alone,
I always let someone at the front desk know where I’m going and when to expect me back. This way, if something does happen, they’ll know to call the police and come looking for me.
4. Don’t Leave Drinks Unattended and Limit Drinking – Again, this is something I practice regardless of where I am in the world. I never leave my drink unattended,
I always watch how much I drink so that I’m not more vulnerable, and if someone makes me uncomfortable, I pretend someone is waiting for me and leave.
5. If Something Makes You Uncomfortable, Leave! – Honestly, never worry about someone else and hurting their feelings. Because if they make you feel uneasy, your number one priority is to take care of yourself and get the hell out of there.
No one has the right to make you uncomfortable, even if it’s unintentonal. You also don’t EVER have to do anything you don’t want to. You don’t owe anyone any damn thing.
6. Always Carry an Extra Debit Card – Again, this is just a really good general travel safety tip but I’m throwing it in this New York solo travel guide because I think it’s super important. ALWAYS carry an extra debit card with you.
This way, if your wallet and primary debit card are stolen, you still have a way to access cash. And if you’re not sure where to get a second debit card, try Wise.
Not only can they set you up with a debit card, but they are international and facilitate cheap money transfers between countries (way cheaper than PayPal).
So, if you’re a digital nomad and receive payments from clients all around the globe, then they are an ideal choice too.
7. Always Get Travel Insurance – Look, no one wants to think about bad things happening while they’re on vacation. But guess what? Travel often enough and they can and will happen.
And while you’re not in any great danger as you NYC solo travel, it’s always good to be prepared with a travel insurance policy (even if you’re traveling domestically).
I personally use and love World Nomads since they provide great coverage/customer service and are just an all-around great company. But for the full deets, you can read all about them (and the other budget travel insurance companies I use) in this in-depth budget travel insurance review.
8. Use the BEST Travel Safety Gear – Most of the items on your NYC packing list will be pretty standard. And if you want to look like a REAL New Yorker as you NYC solo travel, just wear lots of black. But, here are some of fave items that will help keep you super safe as you solo travel New York City.
- Comfortable Shoes – This is not a safety thing but more of a general comfort thing since you’ll be walking a lot and need comfy/stylish shoes. I personally refuse to wear traditional sneakers and opt for stylish, slip-on sneakers like these STQ Women’s Loafers with memory foam insoles. They’re also mad cheap and less than $40.00 per pair. I also LOVE these zip-up boots from Dream Pairs since they are comfy, cute, and come with a hidden pocket where you can put an extra debit card.
- Crossbody Anti-theft Purse – I try and use a crossbody bag since I can see it at all times and that helps keep my stuff safe. I also love this antitheft Travelon bag since it’s sleek and stylish and just an all-around great bag. the one downside though is that it’s kind of small. So, if you need something a little bigger, you can try this bag here. It’s not the cutest bag on planet Earth but it is practical.
- Travel Scarf with Hidden Pockets – This is my FAVE travel scarf of ALL time. It’s cheap, comes with a hidden pocket where you can keep all your valuables, and is SUPER cute too.
- Portable Safe – While I personally have never had anyone steal my belongings out of my in-room safe, I’ve heard horror stories from friends. That’s why I always bring a Pacsafe Portable Safe with me wherever I go. Not only does it come in three different sizes (3, 5, and 12 liters) but it’s embedded with stainless steel to keep your valuables extra safe. It’s also fairly large (much bigger than most in-room safes) and can be affixed to any stationery item.
Additional NYC Travel Resources You’ll Love
- 20 Best Places to Shop in NYC on a Budget
- 4 Perfect Days in NYC
- One Day in NYC
- 22 Romantic Getaways in Upstate New York
- 21 Fun NYC Brunch Spots
- 17 Fun Things to do in NYC on Your Birthday
- 18 Tips for Backpacking NYC on a Budget
This concludes my not so brief guide to NYC solo travel and 20+ amazing things to do in NYC alone.
I hope you found this guide super helpful and can now use it to solo travel New York like a total boss.
And if you found this post helpful, don’t forget to join our email list and pin this post now so that you can read it again later!
Sunday 5th of December 2021
My first solo trip from Texas to New York and I appreciate the safety information from a female's perspective. In Texas we smile and say "Hi y'all" to everyone. I've been twice before with family but this trip I'm going alone and I'm a bit weary of staying at Hilton in Newark, NJ. I was trying to stay under $250 a day for a hotel in New York but I see that is impossible. I'm definitely excited to do a lot of what is on your list! Thanks again.
Tuesday 7th of December 2021
Have an amazing trip and thanks so much for reading! I really appreciate it!
Saturday 28th of March 2020
Thanks for what you have shared about the post here. This is one of the great information for me today. Have a nice day
Sunday 29th of March 2020
Thanks for reading and same to you!
Wednesday 18th of December 2019
I'm hoping to go on my first ever solo trip/first ever trip to NYC for my 30th next year and your list got me even more excited! I'm a mega introvert with social anxiety so I'm really looking forward to going outside my comfort zone.
Thanks for the tips!
Wednesday 18th of December 2019
Thank you so much for reading and I am so glad that you found my post useful. Have an amazing time! NYC is such a fun place to be!
Saturday 30th of November 2019
I'm making a very spontaneous FIRST trip to NY and will have a good bit of solo time between functions with friends. I'm so glad to find your list! I've gone from a bit bummed about the solo experiences to pumped.
Sunday 1st of December 2019
OMG you are gonna have SOOO much fun! NYC is such a great city for solo travelers! If you need anything else just let me know! I am REALLY excited for you and so happy that I could get you excited for your trip too!
Tuesday 3rd of September 2019
Best NYC solo Travel so helpful Blog!
Wednesday 4th of September 2019
Oh, I am so happy to hear that!