My (Wonderful) Solo Travel New York Guide
New York City is a great place for traveling alone. In fact, the Big Apple is one of my favorite places on earth. Despite its crowds, New York City’s energy rejuvenates me and inspires me even when I don’t have any cool solo trips planned.
And I’m lucky enough to live a mere forty-five minutes away via train. Seriously, I adore New York.
This American city, located on the east coast, is iconic in so many ways that it would be impossible to count them all – especially in a single blog post.
Yellow taxis. Subway stations. The Empire State Building. Fifth Avenue. Broadway. Central Park.
All amazing, all popular images of New York.
Solo Travel New York: Your Gateway to the World
Let’s face it: We’ve all seen movies set in New York City, so unsurprisingly, it’s a very popular destination with tourists. You don’t need me to tell you so.
But what if you’re headed on a solo trip to New York City? Is a massive city like New York suited for your needs or is this metro too overwhelming for someone who wants to travel alone?
What if you’re a woman who wants to travel New York alone? Is it safe?
Well I got great news for you. As a woman who loves to travel alone, I promise a solo trip to New York is a brilliant option for you. So start planning your “Solo Travel New York Adventure” now.
While writing this post, I came up with ten reasons why you should not only travel New York alone, but also why you’ll fall deeply in love with the city on your independent adventure. I even thought of a bonus reason – which is a surprise at the end!
1. Shopping on Your Solo Trip to New York
New York City’s shopping options are incredible.
Do you love to shop? If so, you’re in for a wonderful treat on your solo trip in New York.
New York City is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best place to shop in the United States.
A lot of cutting edge and new designers attempt to “get their names out” to the public by opening shops in New York. Meaning you’re able to buy clothing no one else in your social circle owns. Time to stand out, my friends.
You also want to spend your time wandering around SoHo, which is a shopper’s dream come true. You’ll discover so many unique and trendy boutiques.
When you travel alone to New York, you have permission to spend as much time as you want for exploring stores and boutiques. No one rushing you and no compromising on the stores to visit. Um. Yes, please?
Tight on cash? Make sure to do a web search for “end of the season” sales. You can save big bucks if you’re lucky.
Don’t want to spend money at all? Not a problem! But still ogle at all the wonderful window displays, especially if your solo trip coincides with the holiday season.
As a literary nerd, I personally like the Strand Bookstore in the Lower Eastside, haha.
2. Solo Travel New York & Central Park
People watching in Central Park? Sold!
Central Park is an amazing place to explore alone. This beautiful and famous urban park is located between the Upper East and West Side neighborhoods, and is connected to many different metro stations.
Central Park has many free events throughout the year, so do your research ahead of time if there’s something special you want to see.
However, you can come to Central Park with no plans in mind. Bring some local produce and enjoy a relaxing picnic at your leisure. Another option is to plan a self-guided Central Park walking tour. The choice is yours!
Of course, if you’re obsessed with books like me, then you need to see the Mall and Literary Walk. You’ll love it!
3. See A Show on Your Solo New York Trip
Broadway. Need I say more?
Broadway is one of the main reasons I love New York City, and advocate that solo travelers come visit here.
Depending on the show and time, seeing a performance may be expensive. For example, you’ll pay through the nose if you want to see Hamilton on a Saturday night. Fortunately you have a lot of other options to choose from. Yay!
So are you tight on money? Try your luck and enter a lottery for multiple shows. I haven’t won (yet), but you may have much better luck than me! Entering the lottery is free so you’ve nothing to lose.
If you don’t win the lottery, aim for a Sunday afternoon performance. These tickets are much cheaper than those sold for the prime Friday and Saturday evening shows.
4. How to Stay Safe in NYC
Believe it or not, New York City is very safe for solo travelers.
So is it safe to go to New York City alone? Yes, yes, and another yes! Three yeses!
Now, okay, I get it. New York is sometimes depicted as a bed of violence in popular culture. However, I promise this isn’t the case for the areas you want to go to on your solo trip.
I completely understand safety is a priority for solo female travelers.
The good news is traveling to New York alone is actually pretty safe. Violent crime is very rare especially against tourists. I’ve visited the city many times by myself and never encountered a dangerous situation.
Why is that?
Mainly, New York City “never sleeps.” I believe the busyness contributes to safety. It’s unlikely someone will want to commit a crime with hundreds of other people, including NYPD officers, on the streets.
Regardless your feelings are important. So, if you would feel more comfortable meeting a travel buddy, then consider staying at one of New York City’s hostels or booking a walking tour on your first day in the city.
5. New York City’s Fantastic Museums
You can get lost in an iconic art museum.
I rave about going to art museums alone. Actually, I think art museums are best experienced alone, so as a solo traveler in New York, you’re in for lots of luck!
Not only are museums peaceful, but I think it’s easier to appreciate the paintings and sculptures without other people’s commentary jarring your thoughts.
And New York City? Has a few of the greatest art museums in the world. So be prepared to stretch and open your mind, as you gaze at some incredible pieces of work.
Both places are very popular, so you may want to book your tickets online ahead of your visit to avoid standing in lines. And, if you’re not interested in art museums, New York has plenty of other options.
For example, I loved going to the top of the Empire State Building and seeing New York from the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center.
6. Things to Do in New York at Night
In amazing New York City, the bars are endless. And open until 4 am.
Oh man. I don’t have much to say about New York City’s nightlife other than it’s awesome. In particular, go to the East Village neighborhood for all the trendiness bars and clubs.
Don’t want to go to a bar alone? No problem. New York has plenty of pub crawls that will allow you to meet other travelers and enjoy the city’s amazing nightlife with nothing to fear.
7. Solo Travel New York & Where to Stay
You have countless cool neighborhoods to explore.
As a solo traveler, you ought to select a specific neighborhood and spend an afternoon savoring its atmosphere.
New York City has so many options that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re visiting for the first time. Heck, I still need to explore all the neighborhoods especially outside of Manhattan.
Nonetheless, my favorite neighborhoods include:
- Astoria, Queens: Located right across East River, Astoria is affordable and packed with lots of great Greek restaurants. Check out my guide to Astoria Queens and book your stay!
- DUMBO, Brooklyn: The neighborhood right across the Brooklyn Bridge. Go to Washington Street between Front and Water Streets for the most instagrammed spot in all of Brooklyn.
- East Village: Manhattan: A youthful neighborhood known for it’s trendy nightlife. Stay here if you want to experience New York after the sun goes down.
- Greenwich Village, Manhattan: This was the center of the counterculture movement in the 1960s. This neighborhood is home to NYU and Washington Square Park.
- Midtown, Manhattan: A place where tourists will spend much of their time. Midtown is home to some of New York City’s most iconic sites such as Rockefeller Center, Grand Central, Times Square, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
- SoHo, Manhattan: I love the cobblestone streets and pretty buildings in this area. Also, if designer boutiques are up your alley, then definitely give this neighborhood more than one visit.
- Theatre District, Manhattan: This area of Midtown in Manhattan is where all the Broadway Theaters are located. Go see a show. I promise you’ll love the experience and sing show tunes til the next month, haha.
- Upper East Side, Manhattan: Such a super ritzy area! I love it! If you have the money (or just wanna window shop), go to Madison Avenue and ogle at the designer merchandise. Furthermore, not only can you explore Central Park, but visit some of New York’s best museums such as Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and El Museo del Barrio.
- Upper West Side, Manhattan: This neighborhood is where the American Museum of Natural History is located. I like the Upper West Side’s relative quietness, as well as the incredible brownstones which are decorated nicely for Halloween and the holiday season.
- Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Another cool Brooklyn neighborhood worthy of your time. Like beer? Definitely come and visit the Brooklyn Brewery to sample a variety of brews. Also if the Brooklyn Bridge is too crowded for you, take a leisurely walk across the Williamsburg Bridge.
Of course, these aren’t all the neighborhoods available to travelers! So do your research and pick the best place for your needs!
Important Thing to Remember: The subway runs 24/7.
New York’s extensive subway system runs twenty-four hours unlike many other cities. Which is perfect because it means you’re mobile as a solo traveler.
Simply purchase a metro card at any of the kiosks and you’re good to go. Just be aware of the difference between local (stops at every station) and express (stops only at certain stations) trains. You don’t want to have to walk six blocks for no reason.
All subway stations have accessible maps so don’t worry about getting lost. If I can navigate the New York City subway, anyone can.
Finally the subway also benefits you if you’re only planning a solo day trip in New York rather than an extended stay since jumping between long distances is only a train car away. I’ve even written a guide on how to reach Manhattan from Newark Airport if you’re coming from Jersey.
9. You’re a Star as a Solo Traveler in New York
In New York City, you will feel like you’re starring in a popular TV show.
A lot of people visit New York City due to its presence in popular culture. Shows such as Seinfeld, Sex and the City, and Friends all take place in New York City.
Not gonna lie, even walking around New York City makes me feel like an actress or model, especially if I throw on a pair of oversized designer sunglasses, haha.
You can even take tours about these shows and go to the exact spots the most memorable scenes were filmed! Pretty cool.
10. New York on a Shoestring Budget
There is plenty to do for FREE.
You don’t have to spend every last cent in your bank account to enjoy New York City. Cheap attractions exist. So do, gasp, plenty of free things to do in New York City. You’re in lucky.
Like I said, enjoying a solo trip in New York when you’re on a strict budget can be done, but you need to demonstrate self-control since temptations are literally on every corner.
For example, New York has a lot of lavish hotels, which are enticing places reminding me of The Great Gatsby. Yet there are many equally great budget options too. You can even find low cost hotels near Times Square!
So don’t be surprised that budget and New York can go hand-in-hand.
My favorite free attractions include these places:
- Central Park: Central Park is filled with activities year round so make sure you plan ahead of your visit.
- Bryant Park: Another famous public park that’s known for its free activities. If you visit during the holiday season, you must experience Bank of America Winter Village. You’ll feel like you’re the star of a Christmas movie.
- The New York City Public Library: The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, with its iconic lions out front, is absolutely beautiful and speaks to the importance of public libraries. Entrance is free for all. However, respect the patrons of the library who are reading or studying. You can visit The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at 476 Fifth Avenue.
- The 9/11 Memorial: However, keep in mind this is a place where many people horribly died. Be respectful. Near the Memorial, you may also pay money to visit the 9/11 Museum.
- The Brooklyn Bridge: One of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States. Take a scenic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into DUMBO. You’ll see some gorgeous waterfront views of Manhattan.
- The Brooklyn Book Festival: Are you visiting in September? You might be in town on time for the Brooklyn Book Festival – which is NYC’s biggest free literary event! Don’t skip it!
- Grand Central Station: Not only a major transportation hub, but experience a variety of events and go shopping at Grand Central Station. You can enjoy a delicious lunch inside Grand Central Station, too. There are over 35 places to eat including the famous Magnolia Bakery. You can visit Grand Central Station at 89 E. 42nd Street.
- Staten Island Ferry: Want gorgeous views of Lady Liberty (aka the Statue of Liberty) for free? Then hop on the Staten Island Ferry! Check the schedules and enjoy the ride.
11. See the World on Your New York Solo Trip!
Yes, a bonus! You can travel the world without leaving New York.
New York is a truly special city. Visiting New York alone opens a door to a much larger world.
There are so many ethnic micro neighborhoods across the five boroughs, and not just Little Italy and Chinatown!
Craving Polish food? Go to Little Poland in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Ukrainian? Check out Little Odessa in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Korean? You can find Koreatown in Manhattan.
New York embodies everything international and awesome. A “Solo Travel New York Adventure” will change your life forever. So go on a “round the world” trip here in the Big Apple. You won’t regret it.
Solo Travel New York = awesome experience. So how about you? Do you want to go traveling alone to New York? Do you plan to visit the city in the near future? Share all your thoughts.
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