The Top American Cities for Solo Travelers

Austin | © Earl McGehee/Flickr
Elizabeth Nicholas

Traveling with friends and family has its place, but every experienced traveler knows the joys of going it alone, such as making itineraries fit exactly to your interests, playing it as low-key or amped up as you feel, and meeting interesting locals and fellow travelers along the way. So if you’re craving a trip alone, here are eight cities in America that are excellent for the solo traveler.

Santa Fe

Founded by the Spanish in the early 1600s, Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in America, and one of the most unique and charming. Constructed entirely in the city center of low-slung adobe buildings, many trimmed in bright turquoise, Santa Fe is visually stunning, and it would be easy for a solo traveler to wander its streets for hours, in thrall of its architecture. Beautiful courtyard gardens sprawl behind many adobe walls, perfect for an al fresco glass of wine with a book (perhaps Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, which is set in New Mexico.) Santa Fe also has serious artistic lineage and credibility, and the artistically-inclined traveler can lose themselves for days in the top-notch galleries on nearby Canyon Road and at museums dedicated to local artists, like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. And the 10,000 Waves Spa nestled in the mountains above the hills is the ideal way to cap off a trip to Santa Fe by yourself, wrapped in a robe sipping a chai tea after a massage on a pinewood terrace, gazing out at the canyons below.

Santa Fe


Famously friendly, Nashville is a booming Southern city with enough to explore to keep a traveler busy and engaged. Take yourself to a concert at the bluegrass-centric Station Inn, where Alison Krause, Reba McEntire, and Dolly Parton have all played, among other notable names. And make sure to treat yourself to a special meal or two while in the city, since Nashville is growing ever-more famous for its culinary scene. Of particular note is the Catbird Seat, which offers a prix fixe menu of wildly inventive New American dishes. Reservations are usually tough to come by, but you just may have better luck in search of a seat for one.


New York

Of New York, the writer E.B. White once said: “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York can bestow the gift of loneliness, and the gift of privacy.” And it’s true – New York is one of the best places in the world to be alone. With such an abundance of museums, cafes, restaurants, concerts, parks, plays, and more, being alone in New York allows you to create an itinerary tailored precisely to your passions. Hotel bars are great places to grab a drink or even dinner as a party of one, and New York has plenty of them. The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in midtown is a particularly classic choice – it’s where the Bloody Mary was invented, and the Maxfield Parish mural behind the bar allegedly contains a great secret that the bartender might tell you if you ask nicely.

New York

Washington, D.C

The big draw in visiting Washington, D.C. alone is that you have one of the highest concentrations of fascinating museums anywhere on earth to explore on your own, just as you please. And whatever your interests, there is likely a museum or five you’ll want to stay at all afternoon. To name a few: the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, and the new Smithsonian Museum of African-American History, all of which have received rave reviews from critics and museumgoers. After a long day at the museums, head to one of several restaurants helmed by beloved local Jose Andres – Oyamel is a favorite of the Obamas.

Washington, D.C.

Austin, Texas

Austin is an eclectic and dynamic city, full of places to explore and friendly people who will invite you to join them for a meal or a concert (people are big on food and big on music in Austin.) Stay on South Congress Avenue, Austin’s vibrant ground zero and a mecca for hipster-cowboy-cool shops, restaurants, and concert venues. Allen’s boots is a must-stop for a pair of cowboy boots, to signal to the locals that you’re up for a dance, and to remind everyone once you’re back home that you’ve been to Texas. Next up, dinner at the adventurously-named Ms. P’s Electric Cock, where the chicken and waffles and truffle mac and cheese are second to none. End up at Ego’s, a karaoke bar with an unbeatable selection of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, and just try not to make some friends.


Savannah, Georgia

Beautiful, Southern gothic Savannah is an endlessly intriguing city, which also has a reputation for being one of the friendliest in the U.S. You may start out alone to explore Savannah’s scenic Spanish moss-covered historic squares, but don’t be surprised if the first group of locals you come across makes conversation, and then invites you to join them on various activities for the rest of your stay. Before you go, read John Berendt’s best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, inspired by the real-life killing of a Savannah antique dealer’s assistant by his boss. You’ll arrive ready to hit the ground running in search of the Mercer Williams House, Forsyth Park, and the Clary Café, and to meet the colorful characters the book portrays as the heart and soul of this magical Southern city.


Marfa, Texas

You may travel to Marfa alone, but you’ll be hard-pressed to spend most of your time in the tiny, quirky, art-centric city in the middle of the Texas desert. The best place to stay is El Cosmico, an 18-acre campground for trailers, teepees, yurts, and tents, where you are sure to meet other intrepid art-loving souls to go see the famous Prada Marfa “store”, the Donald Judd masterpieces at the Chinati Foundation, and get the world’s best grilled cheese at the Museum of Electronic Wonders and Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour.

Prada Marfa I

Carmel, California

When you just need to get away from it all for a few days, there maybe no better place to go in America than sunny Carmel, California. However you get there, you’ll end up on scenic coastal roads that signal you are about to switch into another lane of life for the next few days. Take in a hike in Garland Ranch Regional Park – there are sweeping vistas throughout the park that will afford you views straight off the front of a postcard – and reward yourself afterwards at one of the many wineries in the region. Stay at the Vagabond’s House Inn, a low-key yet elegant English Tudor-style inn with an impeccable spa.

Carmel, California I

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