1. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a fantastic city to explore on your own. Nestled in the heart of the South, New Orleans embodies Southern hospitality at its finest. New Orleans locals love to talk, they love to brag about their city, and they love to make strangers feel like family. They’ll tell you where you can get the real stuff: like a good roast beef po-boy or a stuffed snowball. New Orleans is also teeming with life all year round, which means there is always something to do. Travelers can wander around the French Quarter and pop into a number of shops and boutiques- many of them local. Astrid suggests taking a jazz cruise up the Mississippi River on a steamboat or riding the streetcar down St. Charles Ave to experience the true energy of the Big Easy. New Orleans is fairly walkable depending on where your hotel is located. Click here for a list of the best places to stay in New Orleans as a solo traveler.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is a wonderful city to visit for an introduction to the Southwest. It is always sunny, which means the risk of bad weather ruining your travel plans is slim.
The art scene in Santa Fe is huge with multiple galleries and frequent exhibitions. It’s walkable and bike friendly, not to mention a great place to ski and hike if you are an adventure seeker. One thing Santa Fe might not be known for but deserves mentioning is its Opera! Next time you’re in Santa Fe, check it out!
4. Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina is one of the most gorgeous North American cities I have ever seen. It is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains whose cool, clean mountain air creates a very upbeat and healthy energy vibe. Asheville’s locals are friendly and accommodating, so the solo traveler can feel comfortable striking up a conversation with almost anyone.
Asheville is ideal for foodies, as it has a huge culinary and craft beer scene. It boasts a wide spectrum of festivals and art exhibitions year round, and is a prime location for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking. It is modern and cool yet simultaneously laid-back and relaxed.
Asheville is a particularly lovely place to visit during the Holiday season, as it’s fairytale- like qualities really come to life under twinkling lights and a blanket of snow. Astrid recommends visiting the Biltmore Estate, which is absolutely stunning all year round, but is especially dreamy around this time of year.
3. Charleston, South Carolina
Like New Orleans, Charleston is another city that lends itself nicely to the solo traveler because of its sweet Southern hospitality. Between petty cabs, carriages and bikes, it is very easy to get around in Charleston. The Historic Downtown area is home to a variety of fabulous restaurants that serve everything from sophisticated, high-end fare to down home, country cuisine. Like most places, there are a number of boutiques, but the real Charleston gems are the ones that specialize in antique furniture and jewelry. Finally, Astrid recommends checking out Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens as well as Magnolia Plantation for a taste of authentic, Southern charm. Keep in mind that Charleston’s main busy season lasts from about March – October, which isn’t normally a problem unless there is a major event scheduled. Be sure to check the city’s event schedule before you decide to plan a trip here.
5. Santa Barbara, California
For starters, the weather in Santa Barbara is absolutely intoxicating and as Astrid puts it, “You simply can’t beat that beautiful California sunshine.” Santa Barbara has a hint of old-world Spanish charm, especially in the historic Old Mission center. Situated in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains, there is plenty of hiking and other outdoor activities to be had here. It is fabulous in terms of walkability, and the solo traveler should have no problem finding a number of high-quality restaurants and shops, funky art galleries, and energetic night life. Santa Barbara also happens to be conveniently close to Los Olivos and Solvang, which are excellent wine tasting regions.
6. Portland, Oregon
Astrid affectionately described Portland as “the land of the free thinkers.” Portland is full of people who dare to live outside the boxes we, as humans, often have drawn around ourselves. Places like Portland stimulate the mind, and encourage alternate ways of thought, something which is undoubtedly healthy for all people. Portland is a diverse and vibrant city with everything from the lively art scene to secret, hidden Japanese Zen gardens. Getting around is incredibly easy, as Portland is a well-planned city with a light rail and street car connecting each little neighborhood. If craft beer is your thing, Portland is your place; with 80+ craft breweries, there is no shortage of options here!
7. New York City
There truly is no other place like The Big Apple. New York City is a melting pot of cultures which means that New York is home to a plethora of unique museums, galleries, theaters, shops and neighborhoods. From Chinatown to the Upper East Side, New York City has something for every personality, or every mood for that matter. While visiting NYC alone can seem like a daunting task when assessed from afar, a closer look shows us that anyone can tackle New York City on their own. The key is focusing on one area, whether it’s the Financial District or The Upper East Side, and taking the time to really enjoy that little slice of New York City. Again, each neighborhood is its own microcosm, so take advantage and see the world reflected in every corner of this magnificent city. Finally, a tip about getting around in NYC: the subway is considered safe, but take a cab or Uber if you’re more comfortable with that option! Wear comfortable shoes (Travel and Leisure has a great list you can find here) and don’t be afraid to get a little lost wandering around.
If any of these cities surprised you, check out some of Astrid’s previous podcast episodes dedicated to many of the destinations listed about. In these Solo Travel Talk podcasts, Astrid goes into detail about what makes each city so special and why each one is suitable for the solo traveler. Just click on the links to listen! In last week’s podcast, Astrid also briefly listed a number of cities which may seem like great cities to visit alone, but might present some unexpected challenges. To hear more, find the full podcast here.
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Author: Astrid Clements
Astrid Solo Travel Advisor CEO and founder, Astrid, has spent over 40 years traveling around the world. She is passionate about embracing the world’s diverse cultures and sharing with others the global need and personal benefit of cultural literacy. Her focus is on affordable luxury travel that is both substantive and fun! To read more about her and each one of our Solo Travel Advisors, head over to theAbout page!