NYC is a dream for solo female travel for so many reasons, but the most important one, is that unlike many locations around the world, almost everything in New York City is experienced the same whether you are on your own or with others. Visiting museums, eating out, joining tours, exploring parks, seeing attractions, riding the subway, taking in a show.
Not only are all these activities just as fun and safe for a solo traveler as those partaking in group travel, many times there is a huge advantage to being solo in NYC, as you will get to do so much more and oftentimes, for far less money. Having been single in NYC for most of the last 20 years, I’ve done everything on my own and here are some of my favorites.
Dining solo in NYC is the easiest and least intimidating place to do so. Almost every single bar, restaurant and hotel has a bar area where you can grab a drink and/or a meal. NYC bartenders are the absolute best in the world and very experienced with all kinds of single customers.
They will usually chat with you, introduce you to the other patrons (regulars) at the bar – and if you ask them about what to do in NYC, you’re in for a entire night of advice (aka, bragging) because all NYers love to brag about our city. After 10 minutes at a bar, you will not feel like you went out alone. This doesn’t apply to clubs or to a packed bar 4 customers deep on a Friday night, but just about any other time or place, dining solo in NYC is easy as can be.
Still a little nervous? Grab yourself a copy of AM New York, the free daily newspaper at most subway stations and work the crossword puzzle. Nothing is more of a people magnet than a women doing a crossword puzzle at a bar and it’s a super easy conversation starter.
It’s a no brainer to visit a NYC Museum solo. As a matter of fact, most of the New Yorkers I know prefer to go alone as they can spend their time exactly how they please while taking in the culture. I guarantee if you went to a party on a Saturday in NYC and asked 10 New Yorkers what they did that day, at least 1 would tell you they visited a museum or art exhibit on their own. That’s just how we roll.
Unless you are a museum pro, I highly recommend starting with a free Museum tour. The Met offers them all day at least every hour, usually more. The American Museum of Natural History offers multiple free tours throughout the day. MoMA usually requires payment, but they have free audio guides.
Now here is where being solo is a HUGE advantage! When bargain hunting for Broadway tickets, whether online, at TKTS or via the daily lottery, your odds increase dramatically when you just want 1 ticket! You’ll get better seats at lower prices, as well as not have to plan so early. It’s not like having someone there with you makes a difference anyway, sitting in the dark and not speaking. I’ve seen at least a dozen shows this way and it’s the best! I decide that morning I want to go a show, look at the TKTS app to see what’s available and head to the booth to wait in line for tickets. So easy and so much better than that family of 6 in line ahead of me who thinks they have a shot of getting same day tickets to any popular show.
Visit Strand Bookstore in Union Square. Also see which authors are doing book signings – an awesome way to meet celebrities.
Rent a bike and explore the West Side Highway. Grab a frozen margarita at The Boat Basin. Or bike through Central Park and then cocktail at either The Boathouse or Tavern on the Green.
See what’s going on at the 92nd Street Y. There’s dozens of classes, lectures, celebrities there all the time.
Join a Meet Up. Seriously, we have more than any city. There’s like 25 different meetups just for beach volleyball. You are guaranteed to meet locals with whom you have something in common and likely sightsee in the process, the way the locals do.
Use Class Pass. Try Equinox, Barry’s Bootcamp or one of the thousands of yoga choices – try a class on a rooftop!
Try a unique movie theater. Nitehawk in Brooklyn, The Angelika in SoHo or Film Forum in the West Village. You can even get food and drinks delivered to your seat.
Pop in a day spa. You can go to any spa, but the Russian and Turkish Baths in the East Village are a local bargain, Spa Castle in Queens is like the adult version of a water park for pampering and Koreatown is known for their 24 hour specials – it’s where all the Broadway stars go after shows.
Get lost in a museum. Any museum really. But the best lesser known favorites are The Cloisters, The Frick and The Tenement Museum.
Join a running club. There are free running clubs every day of the week. Nike, Jack Rabbit, Paragon. Lululemon. Run over the Brooklyn Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty or through Central Park, while doing your body good and meeting locals.
I have a pretty strong stomach for solo activities, but let me tell you about one of life’s most “I wish I were not here by myself” moments. I went to a Yankees game solo. Normally, not a big deal. But the 5 seats on either side of me were totally empty, so it was clear I was alone. In true Yankees tradition, between the top and bottom of the 6th inning, they play YMCA while the crew cleans up. There I was dancing and singing by myself…and suddenly up on the Jumbo Tron for the entire stadium to see.
Clearly, I was perfectly safe, just extremely embarrassed. The only thing I would recommend not doing solo in NYC is walking off the beaten path at night. You can walk through about 99% of Manhattan alone and be perfectly fine. Anywhere there are hotels, doormen, 24 hour delis and people, there’s no problem. Just be careful in more residential areas where there are less people around.
Melissa is a fourth generation native New Yorker and has published www.nycinsiderguide.com for 10+ years. She loves just about everything in NYC and wants you to make the absolute most of your time in NYC. Enjoy her free maps and guides and feel free to ask any questions about traveling in NYC.
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