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The best solo trips in the US

Embark on one of the best solo trips in the US for adventure and alone time

Written by
Tolly Wright
&
Sarah Medina
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Heading out on a road trip with your best bud or taking a couples vacation with your special someone are amazing ways to see the U.S. But sometimes you just feel like taking an adventure by yourself. The best solo trips in the US will take you to cities with plenty to do and explore, and you won’t feel like a weirdo for going at it alone.

When you take a solo trip—be it a day trip or a longer vacation—you can shop, eat and play without worrying about someone else's whims (and no one to get on your nerves). You can get some much-needed alone time while discovering new places. Whether you’re looking for some options for serious soul searching (opt for a place like San Diego with both beaches and great hikes nearby), a bit of history with your travels (pick an older city like Boston or Chicago) or non-stop stimulation through food, activities and entertainment (destinations like Nashville and Portland are foodie heavens with a wealth of live music and other events), these cities and towns have plenty to offer. There are even options for the artsy traveler or the just-wanna-relax type.

Whatever your reason for heading out on your own, these destinations make it easier for a solo traveler to have a great time.

RECOMMENDED: The best cities to visit in the U.S.

Best solo trips in the US

Hiking boots are a must if you’re visiting Boulder. While skiers and snowboarders take over the city in the winter, in warmer weather visitors flock Eldorado Canyon State Park, Flagstaff Mountain, Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons. While in town, visit Pearl Street Mall for some excellent shopping and learn how the local drink of choice is made when touring Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory (TEMPORARILY CLOSED), the makers of Sleepytime tea.

Discover the best things to do in Boulder

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, this western Carolina city is a favorite among artists and outdoor lovers alike. The cool, tranquil waters of the French Broad River, located within the city limits, are perfect for a kayak trip, while the nearby mountains offer plenty of great hikes and look out spots for photographers and nature enthusiasts. If you’re looking for a more refined experience, check out the castle-esque Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in America. A fan of beer? You’re in luck: Asheville has more breweries per capita than any other city in America. Cheers!

Discover the best things to do in Asheville

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Make sure to pack a comfy pair of shoes when visiting the city’s top attractions, including the Space Needle, Pike Street Market, Fremont and Pioneer Square. Grab a cup of the world-famous coffee from a local café (we recommend Elm Coffee Roasters) and hop on one of the Puget Sound ferries to really appreciate the scenic landscape, including the skyline, waterfront and, in the hazy distance, Mount Rainer.

Discover the best things to do in Seattle 

While Boston might loom large in American history (it is the oldest city in New England, after all), you’ll be able to walk the narrow winding streets and explore the relatively small city in a day. The nearly 400-year-old town is full of hidden treasures that can be discovered while on one of the many walking tours. Tired of walking? Try one of the trolley tours—the guides are top notch and you might just make some friends while aboard the bright vehicles.  

Discover the best things to do in Boston 

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With top-notch museums and parks and a public transportation system that rivals any other across the country, Chicago is a winning bet for a vacationer still unsure about the pros of solo traveling. For some much needed me-time, go shopping along the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Avenue) or visit an amazing spa. Looking for company? Check out the city’s top comedy clubs, including Second City and the Laugh Factory.

Discover the best things to do in Chicago

San Diego is all about the beach, surf and California burritos. The 1,200-acre Balboa Park deserves a full day (or two) of your attention. Here, you’ll find gardens, hiking trails, museums, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. All that amazing culture will be perfect fodder for your conversation on the boat to your scuba diving expedition.  

Discover the best things to do in San Diego

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Florida Keys, FL
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7. Florida Keys, FL

If it’s sunny days, warm temperatures and turquoise water you’re after, this laid-back destination is ideal. Rent a bike and take a leisurely ride around the Keys, stopping at cafés and shops along the way. In the afternoons, head for the beach with a book and get ready to meet fellow travelers with a colorful cocktail in hand at the beach-side bars. If looking for ultimate peace, stay in the Lower Keys and Middle Keys.

Discover the best things to do in Florida

Let your love of music—and hearty Southern cooking—guide your trip through Nashville. For a toe-tapping good time, head to the Basement and possibly catch a “secret” show from a national headliner in an intimate setting. Before the music, fill up with some finger-licking good Tennessee pork shoulder at Jack’s Bar-B-Cue, where you’ll make friends while waiting in long lines (totally worth it) or test your limit for spicy food at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack or Hattie B’s.

Discover the best things to do in Nashville

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Marfa, TX
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9. Marfa, TX

Independent travelers with an artistic side need to visit Marfa, which has quickly become a top destination for artists of all kinds looking for a productive retreat. Miles away from any other city and hours from the nearest airport, this teeny-tiny small town (population: less than 2,000) in the desert boasts large-scale art installations, the Chinati Foundation art museum, and a historic army fort.

Discover the best things to do in Texas

Portland's laid back vibes and numerous attractions make it ideal for a solo trip. Join fellow foodies as you sample your way through SE Division Street, including a savory breakfast at Pine State Biscuits and a creamy milkshake from Fifty Licks. Get in some me-time (and burn off all those calories) while hiking through Forest Park or among the thousands of flowers in the International Rose Test Garden. Looking to make new friends? Try hitting up a concert at local favorite Mississippi Studios or grab a beer at the city's best bars.

Discover the best things to do in Portland

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The young-at-heart solo traveler will find Austin’s lively spirit infectious. The city attracts creative types, many of which regularly flock to local music venues—visit the Continental Club for fun-filled nights—take stand-up paddle board tours of Lady Bird Lake and eat the perfect taco at Veracruz All Natural. Join them.

Discover the best things to do in Austin 

Whether you’re a history buff looking to delve into our nation’s past or want to eat your way through vacation or simply need some time by yourself: Philadelphia is the place for you. Stay near Center City and the whole city will be easily accessible: Gorgeous Rittenhouse Square—and the surrounding shopping area—is an easy stroll away, as well as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Art lovers should visit the magnificent Barnes Foundation in its new location on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the sprawling galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Discover the best things to do in Philadelphia

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While being alone in a city as densely populated as the Big Apple might seem lonely, we guarantee it’ll start feeling quite freeing in no time. Get in a New York state of mind while heading to the city’s fabulous museums such as MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, gorgeous public spaces, and while checking out phenomenal performances on Broadway or at the Metropolitan Opera. Don’t forget to get a taste of the world-renowned Brooklyn food scene by gorging at the weekly epicurean extravaganza Smorgasburg and never fear going to a restaurant or bar to dine solo—in New York, that’s standard fare.

Discover the best things to do in New York City

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Visiting DC solo might actually give you the chance to explore the entire city at your own pace and according to your own cultural preferences. Many of the city’s museums are completely free and deserve an entire day of exploring— like the National Gallery of Art (TEMPORARILY CLOSED), Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (TEMPORARILY CLOSED) and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (TEMPORARILY CLOSED). In the evening, take in a transformative performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts or enjoy a play with a side of history at the Ford's Theater, where President Lincoln was shot. Prefer to shop and eat your way through vacation? Make sure to visit Dupont Circle and Georgetown. 

Discover the best things to do in Washington, DC 

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