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20 Awesome Things To Do Alone In NYC- New York For Solo Travelers

20 Awesome Things To Do Alone In NYC- New York For Solo Travelers

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The Big Apple or the City that never sleeps is a mecca for millions of tourists and one of the most visited cities in the world. Interesting experiences and hidden gems lurk around behind every corner waiting to be discovered. And if you’re a solo traveler, you’ll be happy to hear that NYC is actually one of the best destinations for solo travelers. There are many interesting things to do alone in NYC and in this post, we’ll cover some of my personal highlights. 

Is New York a good choice for solo travelers?

new york time square

The short answer is absolutely yes! Locals aren’t actually as unfriendly as you might think and in fact, many of them are actually friendly. There are many amazing places to visit in NYC as a solo traveler but also a lot of interesting bars and restaurants where you can meet other people or solo travelers, and transportation is a breeze. All this makes New York City one of the best places to travel alone in the US but if you need more proof of why that’s the case, keep reading here are some of the most amazing things to do alone in NYC!

Start your day at Shakespeare Garden

Shakespear garden nyc
by Epicgenius CC by SA 4.0

No trip to NYC is complete without visiting Central Park but one thing I personally didn’t like about it is that it’s too crowded. Fortunately, there are still some places within the park where you can get some peace and quiet but more on this later. We start off this list of the best things to do alone in NYC with Shakespeare Garden. Technically, the garden is a part of Central Park but I think it deserves a special mention on this list because it’s one of the most peaceful places in NYC.

The garden is located in the western part of Central Park near the American Museum of Natural History and is one of the park’s eight quiet zones, making it perfect for solo travelers looking for a great place to read a book or just soak in the atmosphere of one of the most peaceful corners of New York.

How to get there?

The two nearest bus stops to Shakespear Garden are E 79 St/5AV and E 79 Transverse Rd & Central Park W while the two nearest subway stations are on 81st Street and 86th Street.

Entry: Free

Walk along the Highline

high line things to do alone in nyc
by Acroterion CC by SA 4.0

The Highline is a former railway track that has become a cute, elevated park that visitors descend upon, especially during weekends. Hence, my advice is to visit during a weekday (unless you want to feel like you’re in a herd of cattle). In addition to walking the Highline, you can also sample some local food at Chelsea Market, visit the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art, catch a show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, or if you like sports, maybe try to indulge in some fun activities at Chelsea Piers. Overall, the area is perfect for solo travelers looking to socialize with locals and travelers alike.

How to get there? 

The two nearest subway stations to the Highline are at 23rd Street and 34 St – Hudson Yards. Alternatively, the two nearest bus stop is at West 23 Street & 10 Avenue. If you don’t like exploring alone and want to join a group tour, you can check out this nice tour that combines the Highline and the Vessel.

Hours: 9 AM- 9 PM

Entry: Free

Read a book at the Strand

strand library nyc

If you’re a person that likes enjoying a good book and discovering great reading spots while traveling, you’ll probably enjoy the Strand. With three floors and a collection of hundreds of used books from all genres, the Strand is one of the largest independent bookstores in America. If you choose to visit, make sure you check out the third floor where you can find some of the coolest, vintage, first edition books in the library.

While you’re in the area, you can also check out the Flat Iron Building and Washington Square Park which are located only a few minutes away.

How to get there? 

The two nearest bus stops are Park Row & Spruce and the one between Broadway & Murray St. while the nearest subway station is the City Hall Station.

Hours:  9 AM- 10:30 PM

Entry: Free

Ride the SeaGlass Carousel

seaglass carousel
by Tdorante10 CC by SA 4.0

If you like activities that feed your inner child, you’ll absolutely love the SeaGlass Carousel. For only $5, you can jump on a giant, illuminated fish that swirls its way around the Nautilus-shaped building, amusing people of all ages in the process. The creators of the ride chose the fish design because of the fact that Battery Park (where the SeaGlass Carousel is located) was home to the first aquarium in NYC.

While you’re in the area, you can also visit Elis Island, catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, or check out the Irish Hunger Memorial.

How to get there? 

You can get to the SeaGlass Carousel by bus (M20 and M55) or subway (1, 5, R). The nearest subway stations are the South Ferry Station and Whitehall Street (South Ferry) while the nearest bus stations are South Ferry/Terminal and Staten Island.

Hours:  11 AM- 9 PM

Entry: $5

Explore the Dumbo Neighborhood

dumbo things to do alone in nyc

 Once upon a time, Dumbo was one of the most industrious neighborhoods in NYC but times sure have changed. Today, Dumbo is an artsy district filled with former industrial capacities that have been turned into hipster hotspots. Another thing that decorates the once-industrial hub of Brooklyn is the fabulous street art that can be found all around. While in Dumbo, you should also check out the historic Jane’s Carousel, see a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, relax at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and try the ice cream at the fireboat house. Last but not least, if you’re an avid street art lover, you may also want to check out this tour that covers the best of Brooklyn’s street art.

How to get there? 

If you’re taking the bus, look for buses that head to the York St/Jay St. stop or the Water St/Main St. stop. Alternatively, you can also get to Dumbo by Subway. The nearest subway stations are York Station and High Street.

Hours:  N/A

Entry: Free

Climb the highest point of NYC

one world observatory

If you’re looking for a great viewpoint of NYC, it doesn’t get much better than the top of the One World Observatory. It’s located on the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower and when you experience the amazing view, you’ll understand why this is one of the most amazing things to do alone in NYC. At the top, you can get a 360-degree view of the city and have some time with your thoughts while enjoying a birds-eye view of the Big Apple. Just note that the queue can for getting to the tower can be long (depending on when you visit) and it might not be a good idea to pre-book a skip-the-line ticket.

While you’re there, you should also visit the 9/11 Museum and the Occulus Mall, one of the finest samples of modern architecture in NYC. Note that if you’re planning to visit, try to do so as early as possible because, during peak hours, this is one of the most crowded places in New York.

How to get there? 

The nearest subway station is the World Trade Center Station while the nearest bus stop is the Murray St/Greenwich St.

Hours:  1 PM- 9 PM for the observation deck and 10 AM- 5 PM for the museum.

Entry: $32 ($30 for seniors and $26 for kids) for the observation deck and $26 for the museum.

Walk Along Brooklyn Bridge

brooklyn bridge

I know you might think this is a cliché but walking along Brooklyn Bridge deserves a mention on our list of the best things to do alone in NYC. Brooklyn Bridge is not only one of the most iconic places in New York but it’s also a historical landmark; it’s the first bridge in the world to use steel for its cable wires. It’s a good exercise and there are many things about the bridge worth admiring.

How to get there? 

The nearest subway station is Fulton Street (on the Manhattan side) and High Street (on the Brooklyn side) while the nearest bus stop is the South St & Peck Slip (on the Manhattan side) and the Old Fulton St/Elizabeth Pl stop (on the Brooklyn side).

Hours:  Open all the time

Entry: Free

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Check out the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

statue of liberty sunset

The Statue of Liberty is probably NYC’s most iconic landmark but in my opinion, the Lady Liberty can be better experienced when visiting alone. You can take your time in admiring one of the greatest statues of the world and you can learn more about the history of the early settlers and walk in the same hallways they did when reaching the USA hundreds of years ago at Ellis Island. 

How to get there?

Since Liberty Island and Ellis Island are technically islands, the only way to reach them is by hopping on a ferry. If you want to save some money, you can also hop on this cruise that covers both destinations + ferry ride to and from Pier 36 for only $30. 

Admission fee: Free (for both, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island)

Hours: 8:30 AM- 4:00 pm (Statue of Liberty), 9:30 AM- 5 PM (Ellis Island)

Have a bagel at Ess-a Bagel

ess a bagel new york

No trip to NYC is complete without trying some of the best bagels the city has to offer. Granted, there are bagel places on almost every corner in NYC but personally, I think there’s no place like Ess-a-Bagel. You might have to wait in line for a while before placing your order but it’s worth it. Their bagels are amazing and they also have some delicious sandwiches and one of the best cream cheese varieties in the entire NYC area. Pro tip: avoid wearing tight pants when visiting this place because most of their bagels are quite large.

How to get there?

The nearest subway station is on 51st St. while the nearest bus stop is at 3rd Avenue & East 50 St.

Admission fee: N/A

Hours: 6 AM- 5 PM

Grab a coffee at a century-old coffee shop

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After that huge bagel, you might feel heavy and in need of a fine, strong cup of coffee. Fortunately, for you, there’s an amazing coffee shop just 1.5 miles away from Ess a Bagel. Porto Rico Importing Company has been around since 1907 and judging by the café’s interior, not a lot has changed throughout the years, except for maybe the use of electrical energy. All of the coffee is stored in old-school potato sacks and there are big metal scoops for stocking up coffee beans of your choice. You can, of course, get some freshly roasted coffee but you can also get a coffee-to-go (unfortunately, there isn’t a sitting area).

How to get there?

The shop is located at 201 Bleecker St with the nearest subway station being at Metropolitan Avenue while the nearest bus stop being Grand Station at Driggs Avenue right next to the shop. 

Admission fee: N/A

Hours: 10 AM- 5 PM

Explore the hidden corners of Central Park

central park things to do alone in nyc

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Central Park is one of the most visited attractions of NYC but fortunately, the park is so huge that there are still some hidden gems that most visitors don’t know about. Some of my personal hidden gems include

The Ravine and Loch; a scenic stream running from the Pool to the Harlem Meer.

Ramble Cave; a hidden cave located near The Lake with a slightly dark history.

Hallett Nature Sanctuary; a peaceful green oasis in the south-eastern corner of the park.

Harlem Meer; a picturesque lake at the north-western corner of the park.

Bank Rock Bay; a hidden small inlet at the very northern tip of the Lake.

Alternatively, if you’re not necessarily looking for hidden gems, there are always a lot of events and activities you can indulge in and mingle with other visitors. If you’re looking to do some exploring in the park, I suggest you hire a bicycle because the park is just too big to cover its entirety on foot.

How to get there?

There are many subway and bus lines that pass nearby or right next to the park (in fact, there are too many to mention them all) but it all depends on which side you’ll be accessing the park from. Alternatively, if your accommodation is not far away, I suggest you hire a bicycle and cycle your way through and around Central Park. 

Admission fee: Free

Hours: 6 AM – 1 AM

Climb the Vessel

vessel nyc

Located in the newly regenerated neighborhood of Hudson Yards, The Vessel is one of the most impressive architectural landmarks in the area. The building has an elaborate honeycomb-like structure stretching across 16 stories, 80 landings, and more than 2,400 stairs for visitors to climb over. So, if you like modern architecture and walking, climbing the vessel is one of the best things to do alone in NYC.

How to get there?

The Vessel 10-minutes (walking) away from Times Square, so if you’re in the area, you can reach it by walking. Alternatively, the nearest subway station is Hudson Yards at 34th St. and the nearest bus stop is located between 11th Avenue and 34 St. 

Admission fee: $10

Hours: 10 AM – 8 PM

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Tour the Met

metropolitan museum of art

Visiting the Met is on most people’s list when visiting New York and there’s a good reason for that. The museum has one of the world’s most impressive collections of art. In fact, there are so many things to do that oftentimes, one day is too little to thoroughly explore the Met’s collection. Therefore, if you’re a fan of art you’ll definitely appreciate some time alone with your thoughts while embracing new perspectives from some of the magnificent creations you can find at the Met.

How to get there?

The Met actually has three locations. The main one is at Fifth Avenue but there are additional exhibits at the Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters. The three nearest metro stations to the main venue are located on 86th St. 77th St. and 81st St. perspectively while the nearest bus stop is located between 5th Avenue and 81st St. If you’re on a tight schedule, you may also want to check out The Best of Met in 2 Hours– you’ll be getting a guided tour+ skip-the-line ticket for only $50.

Admission fee: $25 for adults $12 for children and students, $17 for seniors

Hours: 10 AM – 5:30 PM (Mon-Thu), 10 AM- 9 PM (Fri-Sat)

Catch a Broadway show

broadway things to do alone in nyc

Speaking of things to do alone in NYC, catching a Broadway show is always a good idea. Broadway is the place to be if you’re an avid theater fanatic or even if you just want to try something new. The best part about Broadway shows is that you only have to pay for one ticket but with that ticket, you might be able to see a few shows during your solo trip in NYC. Just make sure to check the New York Theater Guide to see which shows are playing when you’re in town. Also, if you want to explore the area with a knowledgeable local, you can join the Broadway Theater District Tour.

How to get there?

The nearest subway station to Broadway is at 50th St. while the nearest bus stop is located between Warren & Murray St.

Admission fee: Generally ranges between $20 and $175, depending on your seat.

Hours: Varies by show but typical hours are from 10 AM to 8:30 PM

Join a food tour

new york food tour

Like most other big cities, New York often impresses tourists with its rich and diverse culinary scene. There are a lot of amazing restaurants representing different cultures from practically every corner of the globe and this can be overwhelming, especially if you’re visiting for the first time and want to try as many new things as possible. But don’t worry; there are many food tours in NYC that give you the opportunity to taste as many things as possible. It might be a good idea to take a few different tours based in different parts of NYC (perhaps starting from the area that’s nearest to your hotel).

You can check out the West Village Food Tour, the Lower East Side Food Tour, the Greenwich Village Food Tour. Alternatively, you can also go for tours that cover wider areas but include some of the best eateries in NYC. For example, one such tour is the Best of NYC Food Tour and I also really liked the Lonely Travel Experiences Food Tour. And last but not least, if you have the sweet tooth, you can check out the Underground Donut Tour, the Ultimate NYC Dessert Tasting Tour, and the Ultimate NYC Chocolate Tasting Tour.

Take a stroll around Madison Square Park

madison square park
by Ingfbruno CC by SA 3.0

If you’re a nature lover and like spending your time surrounded by greenery, Madison Square Park is another great place for solo travelers in New York City. The park is easy to get to, there are a lot of impressive horticultural sights, as well as a lot of interesting landmarks and more than 30 art installation pieces. In addition to this, the park also hosts a lot of interesting public events or if you want something more intimate, it’s also one of the best bird-watching destinations in NYC. And last but not least, let’s not forget that the park is also home to one of the largest multi-purpose indoor arenas in America- the iconic Madison Square Garden.

How to get there?

The nearest subway station to Madison Square Park is at 23rd St. while the nearest bus stop is located between Madison Avenue and 25 St.

Admission fee: Free

Hours: 6 AM- 11 PM

If you’re looking for some more nature spots near New York, you may also want to check out our list of hidden gems in New Jersey or our list of unique things to do in Niagara Falls.

Take a photo at Times Square

times square

Times Square might be one of the busiest parts of New York. Many people say that if you went to NYC and didn’t click a photo of Times Square, it’s almost like you never visited. And even though I think this is BS, there’s something special about this place. Times Square is a bustling place that highlights the authentic spirit of New York. And personally, every time I visit such a place, I like to just stop for a moment, absorb the atmosphere of the area, and take a photo that will capture the moment forever…

How to get there?

The nearest subway station to Times Square is located at 42nd St. while the nearest bus stop is located between 7th Avenue & 41st St.

Admission fee: N/A

Hours: 24/7

Go Thrift Shopping

nyc thrift store

In case you didn’t know, in NYC, thrift shopping is a time-honored tradition but also a great way to do some exploring while getting some killer bargains in the process. Whether you want to buy some clothes or just find a memorable souvenir, thrift shopping can be a surprisingly rewarding experience and there are a lot of spots for cheap shopping in NYC. The best area for thrift shopping in New York is probably Williamsburg, Brooklyn but there are a handful of thrift stores in Manhattan too. Some of my personal favorite ones are Antoinette, Monk Vintage, Arbor Vitae Vintage Clothing, and The Consistency Project in Brooklyn, and Designer Revival, L Train Vintage, and AuH20 in Manhattan.

Go for a solo bar tour

new york bar

When speaking of fun things to do alone in NYC, we can’t forget about New York’s vibrant nightlife. New York is home to hundreds of bars and there are many different types of bars that cater to different types of customers. Of course, many of them welcome solo travelers and even though we could write an entire post about the best bars in NYC for solo travelers, we’ll try to briefly highlight our personal favorite choices.

Despite its name, Double Windsor with its laidback vibe and friendly staff is a great place for a drink, quick snack, or even dinner. Ode To Babel is a great place for solo travelers who like cocktails, froth-topped coffee, and grilled cheese and is beloved by digital nomads. DTUT also has a great selection of coffees for during the day and some amazing draught beers and cocktails for the night. 

Attaboy is one of the best cocktail destinations in New York while the Library Bar is a great place for solo travelers who like reading with their morning coffee. Last but not least, if you want to meet some people, you can also check out Sweetwater Social, a bar famous for its wide section of bar games, ranging from foosball to board games.

Lastly, if you’re feeling like doing something different, you may consider joining this New York Speakeasy Cocktail Tour.

Helpful Resources For Visiting New York

Flying to New York? Don’t forget to use Qatar Airways’ special program to save as much as 20% on your flight.

Do you want to cover New York’s biggest tourist destinations but your time is limited? You can always join a Big Bus tour and get 15%off by using our link.

For some great deals on accommodation in NYC, use this Booking offer to get up to 20% off on all bookings in town.

If you want to get your US visa online, you can do so here. I-Visa can help you get a visa for pretty much any destination in the world. The process is very easy, the customer support is great, and their team does all the work for you!

When visiting the US, it’s always a good idea to use points.com to get more rewards with less points and miles.

Last but not least, don’t forget about travel insurance. I always use World Nomads. Their packages might be slightly more expensive than other operators but their plans cover literally anything that can happen to you on the road. Travel insurance isn’t something you should save money on, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Last but not least, check out this list of things I wish I knew before visiting the US.

Some More US Travel Inspiration

Hidden gems in Los Angeles

Hidden gems in USA

Hidden gems in Minnesota

Weird things to do in Portland

Hidden gems in San Francisco

Unique things to do in Williamsburg

Unusual things to do in Orlando

Did you like this list of things to do alone in NYC? Which are some of your favorites? Do you think we forgot to mention some other memorable things to do for solo travelers in New York? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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20 Things to do in NEW YORK as a Solo Travelers
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