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Photograph: Courtesy Daybreaker

The best things to do alone in NYC

Feeling lonely tonight? Don’t be—there are a ton of fun things to do alone without feeling like a loser.

By Time Out New York contributors

During the days when you’re flying solo, our list of things to do alone will help you realize that spending time by yourself is pretty awesome. Think about it: When you turn up to some of the top New York attractions, including all the glorious NYC parks, you’ll have no one to distract you from appreciating their beauty. And there’s certainly no shame in going to one of the best restaurants in NYC to enjoy a quiet meal while people watching. Still don’t believe us? Here are 20 reasons why being alone rules.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best things to do in NYC

Best things to do alone in NYC

Photograph courtesy Daybreaker

20. Rave before work

So you can’t convince your roommate to wake up and join you for a 7am dance party? Who cares! Put on your Wednesday best (as in, super comfy clothes you can get sweaty as hell) and twirl around with other early birds at Daybreaker, a once-a-month weekday morning rave complete with booming beats, strobe lights and, if you need it, coffee.

19. Have a messy meal

Restaurants Japanese Long Island City

Slurping ramen and splashing broth everywhere is best enjoyed in blissful, unashamed anonymity, specifically at Mu Ramen. The even greater perk of flying solo at the LIC sensation: You have a much better chance of skirting the typical two-hour wait if you slip in as a single at the bar to enjoy its silky, delicate ramen.


18. Jazz it up

Music West Village

Catching a live gig can be awesome. But waiting around with no one to talk with between sets? Less awesome. Enter Smalls, a cramped but classy basement bar in the West Village where bands jam for up to three hours at a time—meaning you won’t have to pretend to feverishly text while another outfit sets up.

Interiors of Personnel of New York
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

17. Get Machiavellian at a sample sale

Shopping Sample sales

Crowded and competitive, sample sales are where friends become frenemies, so preserve your relationship—and your focus—by going alone. Nobody needs to play the “does this make my knees look fat?” game when you should be making a beeline for that last Alexander Wang bag. Tell your friend you have other plans, and take all the spoils for yourself

Last minute Broadway tickets
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/alan-light

16. See a last-minute Broadway show


Shopping for a single ticket ups your odds of scoring a seat at current big-deal productions, not to mention landing closer to the stage. Try the TKTS booths in Manhattan and Brooklyn, where employees search a savvy database and hook you up with tickets that are up to 50 percent off. Also some shows offer discounted rush tickets for same-day performances when box offices open.

Bold and Naked yoga
Photograph: Courtesy Bold and Naked

15. Get Naked

The shtick at Chelsea studio Bold & Naked Yoga, which recently started hosting coed classes, is that doing yoga sans clothes gives you a stronger connection to your body. Or so people who love being in the buff like to tell us...

Pioneer Works
Photograph: Liz Clayman

14. Get smart(er)

Art Arts centers Red Hook

Red Hook arts center Pioneer Works hosts plenty of esoteric one-off classes, from organic indigo dyeing to traditional European leatherwork. Odds are your pals may not be as psyched about suminagashi, the ancient Japanese art of paper marbling, as you are, and who needs ’em! Friendly students and teachers make not having a study buddy a breeze.

Human Head Records
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

13. Sift through records and books

Shopping Music and entertainment East Williamsburg

Riffle at your own speed through the 5,000 records at Bushwick’s new Human Head (the mannequin heads in cages are only a little creepy), which carries everything from collectors vinyl to two-dollar steals. Bookworms should try out Cobble Hill’s BookCourt, which takes up two storefronts with genres galore, including graphic novels and children’s books.


12. Get a caffeine buzz, followed by a real buzz

Restaurants Coffee shops Long Island City

Tables, couches and barstools amid reclaimed wood and vintage decor offer cozy reading nooks for lone laptop users and book toters at Sweetleaf’s Center Boulevard location. The only thing better than the pour-over coffee is the fact that the spot goes happy at 5pm, so you can start boozing sans the guilt of hitting a bar.

Tibet House

11. Get centered at a cultural institution

The Tibet House’s meditation class is the perfect place to shut off the outside world and focus on your number one priority, yourself. Every Tuesday night the cultural institution holds their guided “Introduction to Meditation” group drop-in class at 7pm ($10), or come at 6 and find peace without an instructor.


10. Go stargazing

Museums Science and technology Upper West Side

Dinosaur bones and giant blue whales are cool and all, but the state-of-the-art Hayden Planetarium gives visitors of the American Natural History Museum a look lightyears beyond Earth. The moment those lights go off and the “hyperrealisic” projections of the last frontier begin you’ll feel solitude as you’re reminded that you are a speck of dust in a vast universe.

Shakespeare Garden

9. Stop and smell the roses

When exploring Central Park alone avoid the crowded picnic Meccas like Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn and head straight to the Shakespeare Garden. The poet and playwright is honored with this sequestered 4 acres which only has plants mentioned in the bard’s works like primrose, wormwood, and cowslip.


8. Have a laugh

Comedy Stand-up Hell's Kitchen

Since 1999 UCB has been leading the way when it comes to improv and up and coming stand up—the stars and writers from SNL, Broad City, and late night talk shows make regular appearances. Many nights there are up to 5 different shows to choose from, and most are either free or less than $8 with a no-drink minimum. So you can take yourself out without hurting the wallet.

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

7. Take a trip back in time

Museums Art and design Washington Heights

There is perhaps no place on Manhattan that feels less like being in the city than the Cloisters. Secluded from the rest of the bustling island in Inwood’s Fort Tyron Park, this offshoot of the Met was built to look like a medieval European monastery with stone walls, arches, stained glass windows and lush courtyards. Go on a weekday, and the bustling crowds of midtown will feel like a dream.


6. Eat dinner while watching a movie

Movie theaters Independent East Williamsburg

Thanks to invention of dine-in movie theaters like Syndicated, you never have to feel bad about eating alone. Instead, you get to munch on savory bites like fish and chips, fried chicken or grilled cheese while watching flicks in a room full of strangers! Better yet, you save money as most of the films at Syndicated are $3 a seat.

5. Get inside the brain of your favorite author

Shopping Bookstores East Village

You probably don’t want anyone to see how nerdy you can be, which is why the book talks and lecture series at the beloved bookstore Strand is a great activity to do on your own. After peeking at all the great reads, head to the shop’s rare books room to see which guest speaker, author or Insta-famous pup is available for a meetup. Make sure to check Strand’s event schedule to keep track of your favorites and snag tickets. (Events are usually free with book purchase or $15 Strand gift card.)


4. Up your sex knowledge

Shopping Sex shops Soho

If you’re shy in public, but a freak in the sheets, it’s totally justified to attend a crash-course sex class by yourself. New York mainstay Babelandoffers funny, entertaining and super informative workshops (free–$30) on such topics as “Beyond the Blow Job” and “The Art of Great Sex,” and you can choose from one of three locations.

Unicycle Festival
Photograph: Virginia Rollison

3. Juggle in Bryant Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Midtown West

Want to have some outdoor fun while learning a new skill? Bryant Park offers a ton of free classes on activities like juggling! All the equipment and tools you need are provided. You might even make a new friend or two while you’re there.

Momfuku Milk Bar
Photograph Courtesy of Momofuku

2. Bake a bangin’ cake

Restaurants Bakeries Williamsburg

“Naked cakes” may be everywhere now, but it was pastry wizard Christina Tosi who first introduced them at Milk Bar. With her bakery’s Bake the Book classes, master the original multi-tiered confection or try your hand at cake truffles and gooey crack pie. Bonus: You’ll even get to wear your own headscarf, just like the professional bakers at Milk Bar do.

Haven Spa
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli

1. Take a spa day

Health and beauty Spas Greenwich Village

Take a little “me” time at one of the best spas in NYC. Haven Spa is a recently remodeled pamper spot in Greenwich Village, which is known for its, er, uniquely named massages (like the Bitch massage, which is said to alleviate menstrual cramps). But don’t let that scare you off—it’s a totally Zen environment, where you can find peace and rejuvenation.

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