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Planning first time solo female travel is overwhelming even if you feel super excited at the same time. To tell you the truth, I still vividly remember my first solo trip to Scotland. My flight was delayed due to thunderstorms. I already hate flying.
Let me tell you … listening to thunder rumble in the distance did absolutely nothing to soothe my nerves.
As I sat on the tarmac, my heart vibrating against my ribcage, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a huge mistake booking a ticket for one, and if the blog posts that I had read about the gloriousness of solo travel were actually a bunch of exaggerated and commercialized lies.
Obviously, the blog posts weren’t exaggerated or commercialized lies, and I loved solo travel so so so much that I now dedicate an entire site to it (ta da!).
So, whether you live in the United States or are an international visitor, traveling alone for the first time might feel pretty darn scary. I wanted to put together this list of first time solo female travel destinations USA to give you a place to begin your research.
11 First Time Solo Female Travel Destinations USA
Let’s dive into the list!
For these 11 first time solo female travel destinations USA, I tried to pick a combination of places. Massive cities and smaller towns. Popular tourism destinations and hidden gems.
As a writer, I wanted to do my best to appeal to all sorts of travelers, because even if it’s your first time traveling alone, we’re all different in our preferences and wanted to hit everything, haha.
I hope these destinations encourage you to buy that ticket and embark on your first big solo trip to the United States. Have fun reading!
New York City, New York
Obviously I would start off with New York City, haha.
New York City is one of my favorite cities in the world. And solo female travel in New York City will make you feel like you can do and be anything. The “can do!” atmosphere seeps into your very soul.
For a city of its size, New York City is also pretty safe, especially near the big tourist attractions in Manhattan. I’ve never once felt uncomfortable exploring Central Park or walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Furthermore, as a solo traveler in New York, your trip has endless possibilities. You can shop til you drop on Fifth Avenue, do neighborhood specific food tours, see a Broadway play, endlessly explore art museums, and so much more.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is another iconic American city. Unsurprisingly, solo travel in San Francisco is a wonderful option for new travelers, because of the city’s fantastic tourism infrastructure.
For example, San Francisco is home to several local tour companies. You can sign up for walking tours in certain neighborhoods or day trips out in Muir Woods or the wine counties. And you don’t have to worry about planning! The guide does all the hard work for you!
Like New York, it’s not difficult to navigate San Francisco without the headache of a rental car. Rideshares are everywhere, and you can also ride the famous cable cars up and down San Francisco’s beautiful hills. What’s not to love?
Let’s take a break to talk about some smaller cities.
For solo travelers who are already heading to San Francisco and seeking to extend their stay, I recommend taking a couple of days to explore nearby Berkeley. I’m sure all of you are familiar with UC Berkeley, but even though the college campus is fascinating and worthy of a visit, the city of Berkeley has even more activities that solo travelers are able to take part in.
As a solo traveler in Berkeley, I suggest trying local restaurants, poking around unique shops, such as Moe’s Books, taking pictures in the botanical gardens, and hanging out on the marina.You’ll feel right at home! The locals are friendly and interesting, too, so don’t be afraid to chat with a gallery owner or a bartender!
Texas is one of the largest states in the US. Austin, obviously, does not represent all of Texas, especially due to the number of transplants who call this city “home.”
Despite not being the most “authentic” Texan city, Austin is still a wonderful and funky place for solo travelers to explore. For example, Austin is home to plenty of social and fun hostels that won’t make you feel as if you’re traveling alone, but with a bunch of a new friends instead!
Austin is packed with activities perfect for solo travelers, too. For example, go shopping in South Congress and spend tons of money without anyone judging you. Or partake in food truck hopping without needing to share your breakfast tacos or homemade donuts. Chill out on the University of Texas campus, and pretend you’re a college student again, or get lost inside Austin’s endless museums. The options are limitless!
Another major city that offers the perfect blend of nature and urban life is Seattle in Washington State. Solo travel in Seattle means lots of unique museums, such as the Museum of Pop which is one of my favorite museums of all time, and day trips to scenic national parks, such as impressive Mount Rainier.
What I especially liked about the organized day trips is that cell service isn’t very reliable at Mount Rainier, and having a knowledge guide kept me feeling safe and happy!
As a solo traveler, I love Seattle for its moderate weather, especially since I had to do a ton of walking around the city. You won’t sweat buckets climbing the city’s hills. Like Austin, Seattle has a lot of friendly and fun hostels, so it’s easy to make fast friends with other travelers in this city.
Charleston, South Carolina
Are you a major foodie who wants to travel alone for the first time in the USA? Then you absolutely need to visit Charleston in South Carolina. Oh my goodness, I’m totally smitten with Charleston. The food is to die for.
As a solo traveler in Charleston, I recommend reading about all the incredible restaurants ahead of time, and find a couple with comfortable bar seating. Treat yourself to savory Lowcountry cuisine, such as shrimp and grits, and pretend calories don’t exist for the duration of your stay here. You will eat. You will eat a whole lot.
Charleston is also remarkably walkable with a ton of wonderful museums and local historical homes that you can visit without the added headache of renting your own car. Win/win!
Another small city gem with a blossoming food scene is Portland in Maine. Solo travel in Portland Maine will make your stomach very happy, especially if you love fresh seafood from the north Atlantic Ocean. You have plenty of food truck and bar options, so you don’t feel awkward asking for a “table for one.”
Portland’s iconic lighthouses are also all within a quick Uber ride from the downtown core. So, as a solo traveler, it’s easy for you to escape to Maine’s spectacular coastline without too much planning on your part.
Last but not least, I personally felt very safe exploring Portland Maine. Feeling at ease is very important as a first time solo traveler, and I promise in Portland that you won’t have to worry too much about crime, beyond the usual common sense street smarts.
Madison Wisconsin is home to the state’s gorgeous Capitol building and largest university. Madison surprised and delighted me. I think Madison is another perfect solo travel destination because the locals here are just so friendly and welcoming and kind. I struck up many conversations that warmed my heart.
Furthermore, Madison has a wide variety of activities that surround its beautiful and expansive lakes. Watch the sunset from shore, sign up for a lake cruise, or go kayaking. Not to mention, Madison is a thriving cultural hub with multiple museums that a solo traveler is able to spend hours learning about the city.
For new solo travelers, Madison is literally perfect.
Let’s shift back to larger cities for a moment. Any history buff traveling alone should consider Philadelphia for their first ever solo US vacation.
After all, Philadelphia is widely considered one of the birthplaces of our nation. Visit Independence Hall and the Constitution Center to learn all about the founding of the United States. You can even take a nearby day trip to Valley Forge.
Even if you’re not a huge history buff, Philadelphia has plenty of great neighborhoods to explore, tons of local food options (Reading Terminal Market, anyone?), and sporting events all throughout the year! Highly recommend.
Marco Island, Florida
Are you seeking a tropical getaway as your first time solo trip in the US? Then I recommend venturing down to Marco Island in Florida. You might not find the same party scene as Miami, but Marco Island is ideal for travelers who just want to kick back and relax.
Marco Island still has plenty of things to see and do, though. For example, you can learn how to jet ski or learn about wildlife at nearby Everglades National Park. Like the other destinations, Marco Island has a strong tourist infrastructure in place, so book yourself on a tour to connect with other visitors.
However, if you just want to soak up the sun and float in the Gulf of Mexico, I don’t blame you. Relaxation is so important to everyone, and this magical island is certainly the place to do just that.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May girls weekends are super popular, but this Victorian seaside resort town is a delightful place to take a solo trip. If you visit in summer, you’re able to spend hours lounging on the beach with a captivating book, but Cape May is a great spot to visit any time of the year.
In Cape May, you’re able to tour a local brewery, visit small independent museums, learn history on trolley tours, and eat fresh dinners at swanky hotel bars. I highly recommend Cape May for a solo traveler who wants to escape reality for a weekend and pamper herself to the fullest extent.
Is it cheap? Perhaps not, but Cape May is so worth visiting, I promise you!
Essentials for First Time Solo Female Travel in USA
I hope you have some wonderful ideas for your upcoming first time travels to the United States! To wrap things up, I wanted to include a quick list of all the essentials that you ought to bring on your memorable travels here.
- Battery-Power Charger: You don’t want to lose access to phone on your first solo trip, especially if you rely on maps for directions. Have a battery-power charger to keep your phone going all day long. You’ll thank me later.
- Lightweight Day Pack: I love day packs for solo travel. Tumi’s lightweight day pack will allow you to carry everything without feeling like you have a bulky pile of fabric weighing on your shoulders.
- Lonely Planet USA: Lonely Planet writes my favorite guidebooks of all time. So, if you still aren’t sure where to go, then grab a Lonely Planet USA guide to determine the best place for you to travel alone in the USA for the first time!
- Microfiber Towel: As a solo traveler, you might opt to stay in hostels. However, not everyone wants to rent their own towels, so I suggest packing a microfiber towel for your trip. You can also use it for picnics in the park and a trip to the beach!
- Mirrorless Camera: If you want a more power camera than your phones, I absolutely recommend investing in a Sony Mirrorless camera. It’s compact and easy to carry, and takes professional photos that you’ll want to share with friends and family.
- Travel Insurance: As an international traveler, it’s always smart to buy travel insurance ahead of time, especially considering that your home country’s health insurance may not cover you in the United States.
Ultimately, solo travel is a delightful soul-searching experience that I believe ever woman should do at least once. I hope you had fun reading all my first time solo female travel destinations USA recommendations! Feel free to share your own with me!