Last month I spent a long weekend in New York City pretty much by myself. Traveling as a solo traveler vs with somebody else or in a group is such a different experience; but with some planning (and lots of flexibility), it can be an amazing time. A couple years ago I talked about how I spent my 22 Hour layover in Amsterdam, For both of these trips, I was a solo female traveler, but since there is so much to do in the area, I never felt lonely.
A bit of a backstory, I was in NYC for a blog conference and then had the weekend to explore the city before heading back to work. I’m sharing some tips for how to make the most of your time, and enjoy traveling by yourself.
A Long Weekend in NYC As A Solo Female Traveler
When I first started to think through what I wanted to do in NYC over the weekend I started making a list and figuring out how these items could group together (mostly location wise). The engineer in me still needed to have some sort of plan even though I wanted my weekend to be flexible. I wanted to either walk or take the subway as much as possible so I used Google maps to figure out transit options to get where I was going. I picked up a Metro Card when I landed at JFK and it was super easy to jump around town using the subway.
If your list of activities for the weekend put you in one area a lot, try to get a hotel in that area. I ended up hanging around the Times Square area more than I planned, but that was because my hotel was just a couple blocks away (and I had multiple Broadway shows planned). I also ended up being in the SoHo and Chinatown area a lot (mostly for food that I wanted to try). Jumping between these two areas was so easy with the subway.
I knew that I was going to be walking a lot and didn’t want extra weight with me, I purchased a Sony A6000 Mirrorless camera to have for upcoming travels. It was so easy to throw in my bag as I left the hotel and it was so much lighter than carrying around my DSLR.
Since I was often walking through tourist areas I saw a lot of people taking photos of groups; if I wasn’t rushing to make it somewhere I would often stop and offer to take the photo. I know that I would want a family or group photo where everybody is included if it was my vacation and it generally only took 30 seconds out of my day.
One of the things that I had on my list of things to do was see a Broadway show or two. Going into the weekend I wanted to keep my options open so I didn’t book my seats ahead of time. Since I was only looking for a single seat there were good options, the only issue was sticking to a budget. Now that I’ve experienced good seats it will be hard to go back to cheap seats. I was able to get Wicked tickets for same day and The Lion King tickets for the following day. If you aren’t set on seeing a specific show, TKTS is a great option; the line looks daunting but it actually moves pretty fast.
There were a couple restaurants where being a single person was beneficial as well. Since they could seat me at the bar, I was able to skip ahead of larger groups who needed tables. Sitting at the bar also allows you to strike up conversations with the bartender or other guests to get ideas of other things to check out in the area. If chatting up strangers isn’t your thing, meals are a great time to decompress from the hustle and bustle of the city; enjoy your meal and make a game plan for the next few hours of the day.
I often found myself out late at night, but I always felt safe walking around the city. I stuck to main streets where other tourists were walking around, and made sure to be aware of my surroundings. I also found that RBF and trying to look and act like a local helped me avoid the bus tour salespeople.
If this is your first trip to New York City, don’t rule out some of the “touristy” things. Activities like Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building are always busy, but you can’t beat the view and I loved analyzing all the different buildings that I saw. Both of these places offer Day & Night passes which allow you to visit twice within a 24 hour period – once during the day, and once at night. For Top of the Rock, I bought a ticket that would put me up there during golden hour. I also then had a nice spot to watch the city transform from day to night as the sun sets and the lights turn on.
NYC is constantly changing, there will always be new foods to try and activities to experience. I will definitely be back and would absolutely consider touring the city by myself again (although I would always consider visiting the city with friends & family as well).
Have you visited New York City? What was your favorite activity?