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Updated: March 2023
As a traveler, I frequently mention that NYC is my “Soul City.” I understand that New York is not for everyone. It’s massive, crowded, stressful, expensive, and at times, unfeeling. However, in my opinion, there is truly no other city like New York, and no matter what the future brings, NYC will always have my heart.
Furthermore, New York City is a great place for traveling alone. I mean, obviously. 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 for the immediate future.
While I’m lucky enough to live a mere forty-five minutes away via train, I think NYC is worth flying to visit from abroad or another domestic city.
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.
Since NYC offers so much and means so much to many different people, visiting New York alone might feel overwhelming at times. Where do you even begin to decide what to see and what to do? Where to eat? Where to shop?
This particular post is all about the 10 best reasons to go to NYC alone to inspire you to brainstorm the trip of your dreams.
Solo Travel New York: 10 Best Reasons to Go Alone
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. Booking all the top NYC sightseeing attractions is a piece of cake, thanks to the internet and social media recommendations. And, even if you don’t want to do the “touristy stuff,” the neighborhoods are incredible for wandering.
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!
As a reminder, I write a lot about solo travel, and even compiled a list of solo travel essentials to help you pack for your solo trip to New York City.
New York City is a Shopper’s Paradise
New York City’s shopping options are incredible. Seriously, walk down any street and you’ll find a cool pop-up shop that you’ve never seen in your life. I’ve lost track of how many designers I discovered simply browsing the racks of Saks Fifth Avenue or other NYC department store.
So, if you’re the sort of person who loves rewatching The Devil Wears Prada, then you’re in for an especially 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.
Like I said, lot of cutting edge and new designers attempt to “get their names out” to the public by opening shops in New York, which means you’re able to buy clothing that 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.
NYC Has Great Green Spaces
Need some time for reflection? Or perhaps a break from the hustle and bustle? Or do you just want people watch in Central Park?
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 subway 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!
Of course, Central Park isn’t the only green space worth exploring in New York City.
Bring your Lonely Planet guide to New York to discover smaller and quieter parks to enjoy peace in this massive metropolis.
Broadway is Perfect for Solo Travelers
Broadway. Broadway. 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.
NYC is Actually Safe for Solo Travelers
Believe it or not, New York City is very safe for solo travelers. Sure, this city experienced some hard times during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is still reeling from those challenges. And I won’t say New York City is perfect when it comes to crime. At the end of the day, crime is a multifaceted social and economic issue that I can’t answer as a traveler blogger.
However, I can confidently say that if you use common sense, that you will be safe in New York City.
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. You’re not going to be threatened walking through the Met, for example.
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 against tourists is rather rare. 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 of statistics, your feelings are still important. If you don’t feel comfortable taking the subway, for instance, then don’t and opt for a taxi instead. Spend a little extra money for a hotel on a well-populated street rather than down a quiet alley. And you’re under no obligation to stay out at night if you don’t want to. Do what is best for YOU.
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.
Safe & Fun New York Hostels
- HI New York Hostel: Location, location, location! This hostel is located on the Upper West Side for a wonderful price. Not to mention, it’s one of the most popular hostels in New York, so you’re bound to meet people! (see prices on Expedia.com | Booking.com)
- The Local NYC: If you are open to staying outside Manhattan, this beautiful Long Island City hostel has a rooftop bar and spectacular views of the city skyline. (see prices on Expedia.com | Booking.com)
- NY Moore Hostel: A non-frills yet highly ranked option located in East Williamsburg in Brooklyn (see prices on Expedia.com | Booking.com)
Affordable New York City Hotels
- Hotel 50 Bowery: A youthful and fun hotel located in Chinatown. Although a bit more expensive, you can still find some good deals on rooms here. This is one of my personal favorite hotels in New York. See prices on Expedia.com | Booking.com
- Pod Times Square: This fantastic location places you close to all of Midtown’s main attractions, and is especially awesome if you plan to go to some Broadway shows. The room was surprisingly spacious too! See prices on Expedia.com | Booking.com
What if I Get Sick or Hurt in NYC?
Honestly, even though New York is safe, stuff still randomly happens.
For an extra reassurance, I highly recommending buying travel insurance for your solo trip to New York City. I love World Nomads and have used their insurance on several trips, and never had any issues.
Lastly, I know the thoughts of hospitals are scary, but by buying insurance, you’ll be covered. If a serious medical emergency happens, keep in mind that NYC is home to some of the best hospitals in the entire country. You’ll be in good hands.
New York City’s has Lots of Fantastic Museums
You can get lost in an iconic art museum very fast when you travel alone to New York City. Whether you’re spending 2 days in New York or an entire week, you’ll discover at least one museum that appeals to your personal interests.
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.
My favorite art museums are MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m not even kidding when I say that visiting the Met will change your life and spoil you as far as art museums are concerned.
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.
Do you research ahead of time to plan your days well.
New York is Alive at Night
In amazing New York City, the bars are endless. And open until 4 am. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting in winter or summer, the nightlife is always popping here.
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.
Each Neighborhood is an Adventure
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.
Keep in mind, there are also plenty of local tours of these neighborhoods for you to enjoy. I personally fell in love with the Lower East Side on my Tenements, Tales, and Tastes Tour.
Solo Travel New York: Neighborhood Ideas
Honestly, you cannot go wrong staying anywhere in New York City. Nonetheless, my favorite neighborhoods for traveling to New York alone 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!
- Chelsea, Manhattan: This part of Manhattan is known for it’s wonderful art galleries and the gorgeous High Line park. There are so many things to do in Chelsea that you could easily spend a whole day there.
- 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!
NYC is Easy to Navigate Alone
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.
And, if you have a small pocket guide at your disposal, then you will be fine finding new things to see and do — even if your phone dies!
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.
Not to mention, I’ve even written a guide on how to reach Manhattan from Newark Airport if you’re coming from Jersey.
You’re a Celebrity as in New York. Kind Of.
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.
New York on a Shoestring Budget? Yes, It’s Possible.
Worried about the cost as a solo traveler in New York?
Don’t be. Even in this otherwise pricey city, there is still plenty to see and do for FREE.
Seriously, 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.
Free Attractions in New York
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 Highline: Without a doubt, the Highline in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District is a wonderful free option for going to New York alone. This urban park is home to many great public pieces of art and has great views of Chelsea’s streets.
- 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.
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.