Thinking of taking a trip by yourself this year? Well, there’s no place like New York City. Whether you’re a veteran traveller or a newbie to solo travel, a city like New York is the perfect destination for solo female travellers.
Solo travel destinations in 2020
If you’re on the lookout for some travel inspiration for 2020, then old New York City might just be for you! I’ve travelled alone to other major U.S. cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and New York City was the easiest one to visit. In my experience, it’s one of the best places to travel solo in the U.S.
The countless cultural events year-round, new and trendy coffee shops popping up all over the city, unique neighbourhoods to suit any taste, and a public transportation system that gets you to the major attractions on a budget all make a solo trip to New York City an easy choice. Want to start planning your trip? Here’s all you need to know.
Things to do in New York as a solo traveller
Explore New York City’s many parks
Why not check out Battery Park, Bryant Park, and of course Central Park on your getaway to the Big Apple? Exploring New York’s major outdoor attractions is free and perfect to wander if you’re on a solo trip. Head to any of these beautiful outdoor spaces during the day as they are ideal for people-watching, and there’s always a concession stand nearby where you can pick up a cheap hot dog or pretzel for a snack. They provide the perfect recluse if you want to slow things down after all the chaos and traffic of the busy city.
Pick a neighbourhood and get to know it
From the Lower East Side, the West Village, the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, DUMBO, and Bushwick (just to name a few!) each New York City neighbourhood is filled with their own exclusive shops, outdoor spaces, cafés, restaurants, and good vibes. All major neighbourhoods are accessible by subway and pedestrian-friendly. Spend a half-day in a few different ones and find your favourite!
Walking is an adventure in itself in New York City, especially in the bustling boroughs like Manhattan and Brooklyn. The borough of Manhattan was actually designed as a grid system, making it pretty simple to navigate. You can easily get from 34th Street down to 22nd Street in ten minutes. I recommend sticking to Manhattan over other boroughs if you’re wandering solo because it’s relatively safer than other boroughs, and even named the safest big city in all of the U.S. Most streets are filled with people at all hours of the day, as this busy borough has approximately 1.6 million residents, but sees up to 4 million people daily with all the commuters coming in and out of the island!
Head to the New York City Library
How can you feel alone amongst an ocean of books? Centrally located just next door to Bryant Park, The New York City Library is free, complete with WiFi, and there are always events happening throughout the year. For more inspiration on free things to do in New York City, check out this guide.
Visit the museums
New York City attractions like the newly-renovated Museum of Modern Art is a must for any arts and culture lover. The Whitney Museum, with its spacious halls and rooftop restaurant and bar (they offer free exhibition tours daily from noon to 3 p.m. daily), is perfect to fill an afternoon of your solo trip to New York. If you’re really into contemporary art, hit up the free Chelsea art galleries where you’re bound to meet some cool people.
New York City nightlife as a solo traveller
Cozy comedy clubs, indoor and outdoor live music shows all over the city, and a new trendy bar opening what seems like every night; you’ll never be without things to do in New York at night. Wait in line at UCB Theater for free tickets to their Sunday night show and you’re bound to make friends with some other comedy nerds like yourself. The best nightly stand-up in New York can be found along MacDougall Street in Greenwich Village. You can spend your entire New York evening here, as there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area.
New York City restaurants for solo travellers
For breakfast and cheap eats
My favourite thing to do for breakfast in New York is to grab a cheap and breakfast bagel and coffee at a food kiosk. You can find one on almost every corner in the city and your breakfast will only set you back $5. The food stand workers are probably some of my favourite people in New York and sometimes I just pick up a coffee for the heck of it! If you’re on a budget and want to spend your hard-earned travelling money on other New York experiences, then I recommend just heading to a Trader Joe’s for some fast eats on-the-go. You can even bring the groceries back to your hostel or hotel and leave them in the fridge for later.
New York pizza and cafés
For lunch in New York City, you can’t go wrong with a slice of pizza. Find some of the best at popular franchises like 2 Bros or Joe’s Pizza. For a sit-down simple meal when you’re exploring solo, Fika Espresso Bar is a trendy coffee shop chain in New York City with free WiFi which is perfect if you need to get some work done or just chill out and update your social media. Other cool coffee shops include Ludlow Coffee Supply (locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn) and Blue Bottle Coffee.
New York dinner spots
If you find yourself in Chinatown, be sure to pay a visit to May Wah Fast Food on Hester Street (vegetarian options available) for some of the best cheap local eats. Some of the best ramen in the city can be found in Hell’s Kitchen (neighbourhood right next to most of the Broadway theatres). Try a bowl at Totto Ramen, E.A.K Ramen (vegan options available!), or at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. For more top New York City eats, check out this local foodie guide.
Where to stay in New York City
If you’re travelling alone in New York City, then I recommend staying at one of the city’s hostels or a simple, homey hotel. Hostels are always great for meeting other travellers and joining their tours and day trips. Some of the top-rated hostels include Hi New York City Hostel, The Local NYC, and NY Moore Hostel which is the favourite option in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg.
More tips for the solo traveller
Start your solo New York City trip by getting a MetroCard to use the NY transit system (subway and bus). The unlimited weekly pass goes for $35, so it’s totally worth it. Download the LYFT app on your phone, because fares are usually cheaper here than on Uber in the U.S. I usually walk or take the subway to get around from morning to evening but if it’s late at night, I’ll splurge and get a LYFT. You can usually get shared rides for less than $20 if you’re heading from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
For solo travellers, Facebook groups are a great resource where you can post about your trip and ask for recommendations. There’s a ton of private female traveller groups where you can meet like-minded people. Who knows, someone might offer to host you, or you can potentially meet up with other solo travellers during your trip!
Ready to explore New York City?
New York City is one of the top destinations for weekend flight deals from cities throughout Canada. You can also check out our flight deals to the U.S. page, updated weekly with the top flight sales of the week. And if you are flexible and want to find a deal to your favourite city, start your search in the box below. 👇🏽