Quick question: when was the last time you were completely and utterly selfish? If the answer is ‘it’s been a while,’ or gasp ‘never,’ it’s time to start planning some “me” time and what better way than to spend a few days in the city that never sleeps? Whether you have some extra time on a business trip, your significant other has fewer vacation days than you, or you just need some time away from the kids, the dogs, the significant other, (no judgment here, we’ve all been there), New York City was made for solo travelers. Here’s the ultimate solo traveler’s guide to NYC.
The Details of Traveling Solo in NYC
Getting the boring, yet important details out of the way first.
There’s really no bad time to visit NYC. It’s charming in the winter with the holiday decorations, magical in the fall when the leaves change in Central Park, has a lovely awakening energy in the spring when the flowers pop and is hot but less crowded in the summer when many of the locals leave. Still, I’d recommend October through December and April through June as the prime times to visit.
Leave the car at home. Between the subways, cabs, and car service apps, you’ll be able to explore the city without a car and between the three major airports (Newark, Laguardia, JFK), Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal getting to NYC in the first place is easy.
Where to Stay Solo in NYC
Located near Grand Central Terminal, The Tuscany—a St Giles Signature Hotel is an ideal base for exploring the city. You’re steps away from major attractions (New York Public Library, Saturday Night Live, the Chrysler Building) and within a couple of blocks of major subway lines for seeing other parts of the five boroughs. Granted once you’re in one of the spacious hotel rooms with their comfortable beds and plush robes it can be hard to not want to binge on TV instead of seeing the sights. Fight that instinct. There’s lots to do.
What to Do Solo in NYC
Take a Tour: If you’re brand new to NYC, as touristy as it sounds, you should think of signing up for a tour. From walking food tours to the hop-and-off bus tours, the city has a tour to meet your interests and if you take one early in your stay it will help orientate you to NYC.
Wander Through Central Park or The High Line: NYC has some amazing green space but the must-visits are Central Park and the High Line. Take the 4, 5, or 6 subway to East 86th Street and walk to Central Park. Wander around inside or simply bring some reading to catch up on. Or head downtown to Chelsea, take the 7 to 34 Street-Hudson Yards and walk The High Line, an elevated park developed on the site of an old train line.
Museums: Home to as many as 83 museums, NYC is the ideal place to nerd out for an afternoon. If you headed up to East 86th to wander through Central Park you’re close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with more art than you could ever see in a day. Also on the Upper East Side is one of my favorites, the Frick Collection home to paintings, sculptures and more, set inside an old mansion where the building itself is basically a work of art. For even more museums check out this list from NYC’s tourism website.
See a Show: Whether it’s on Broadway or off, seeing a show is a NYC rite of passage. As a solo traveler, it’s actually easier to snag a seat, at a decent price to a show. Use apps like Groupon, TodayTix or line up at TKTs at Broadway and 47th Street for last-minute tickets.
Shop: When you shop solo there’s no having to wait for anyone else or compromising over what shops to go to. Meander around 5th Avenue window browsing at the top brands or head downtown to Greenwich Village and/or SoHo for more boutique shopping.
See more of our favorite things to do in: 5 Things You Must Do on your Solo Trip to NYC
Where to Eat and Drink Solo in NYC
Campbell Apartment: A NYC institution, the Campbell Apartment is a must-visit for at least one drink if not some light bites. Once the private office and reception hall of jazz age financier John William Campbell, stepping into the historic bar feels like stepping into a 1920s-era party. Bonus: From either of the St Giles hotels the Campbell Apartment is within walking distance.
Black Tap Craft Burger & Beer: Sometimes you just need a burger, and when in NYC that means heading to one of Black Tap’s locations in the city. These aren’t your grandfather’s burgers, think bison burgers with mozzarella and pesto, steak au poivre burgers with blue cheese and peppercorn, even a pizza style burger. There are also some delicious, Instagram-worthy milkshakes, and the causal set-up of the places means you won’t feel awkward eating as a solo diner.
Marta: Speaking of pizza, no visit to NYC is complete without pizza and Marta’s in Midtown East is ideal for solo diners. While not sold by the slice the pizza is so thin it’s hard to not eat all of it. If however, you manage to have leftovers, take them back to your room as a midnight snack.
See more of our favorite places to dine alone in NYC in A Foodie’s Guide to NYC – Where to Dine Solo.
Bridget Shirvell is a NY-based freelance writer covering food, travel and sustainability. Her work has appeared in VICE, Civil Eats, PBS NewsHour and more.When she isn’t busy working, Bridget and her husband are often trying to tire out their golden retriever with long walks in the Bronx and along the Connecticut shoreline.