Ahh, the art of traveling solo. It’s empowering; it’s enlightening; it’s peaceful! Traveling alone gives you time to explore, both within your surroundings and within yourself. Whether you’re traveling to the other side of the world or just a few states over – there’s always something to be gained.
If you’ve never gone on a solo road trip before, I strongly urge you to. It’s a great experience. Plus, you get to listen to whatever music you want, without someone asking to change it! If you’re trying to pinpoint destinations, look no further. I’ve rounded up some of the best places to go solo in the U.S.
Seattle is a vibrant, bustling, city perfect for the young-at-heart. You’ll find trendy neighborhoods, numerous coffee shops and eateries, and spectacular nightlife. Seattle has a huge population of single people, so no one will bat an eyelash if you’re out to dinner solo. The Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s jewels. This massive marketplace is more than 100 years old and features local farmer’s markets, crafts markets, and foods from all over the world. Foodies take note: Seattle should be number one on your list if you’re planning a road trip!
Another city for the young and the restless, Austin is the place to go for music and festivals. The area gets an average of 300 days of sunshine, so you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities. Austin’s cool vibe is unmatchable; head down to Sixth Street, where you’ll find tattoo parlors, art galleries, and hip music venues. If you’re into festival culture, check out Austin City Limits Music Festival (October) or South by Southwest (March). Austin is a college town, so prepare for rowdy nightlife. If that’s not your thing, there’s plenty of rock-climbing, scuba diving, and hiking nearby.
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, VIRGINIA – NORTH CAROLINA
While not a fixed destination per se, The Blue Ridge Parkway is certainly something you shouldn’t miss. It’s arguably the most beautiful road in the United States. This winding, 469-mile stretch of road meanders through the Appalachian Mountains, from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Shenandoah Valley. Along the route, there’s plenty of activities for nature lovers, whether you’re snapping photographs of fall foliage, hiking, fishing, or something else. If you own an RV or rented one from a site like RVshare, the Parkway offers handfuls of scenic campsites along the route.
Home to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville is the heart and soul of country music. Its downtown district is packed with things to do, like checking out one of the many honky-tonk bars or touring the area on a pedal tavern. For a change of scenery, head over to East Nashville, where you can mingle, shop, and eat with the local hipsters. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., Nashville is a melting pot of American culture. Plus, it’s one of the friendliest cities, so you don’t have to worry about feeling lonely.
Portland is the perfect blend of natural beauty and urban culture. To say Portland is eclectic is an understatement; if you’re into all things quirky and unique, you’ll love it here. From the World’s Smallest Park (it’s 452 square inches) to the World’s Largest Independent Bookstore (it takes up an entire block), there are no shortage of oddities. If you get hungry, East Portland has a plethora of renowned eateries, like Afuri, known for its ramen and sushi. If you want to take a break and smell the flowers – literally – visit the International Rose Test Garden, where you can see and smell 550 different types of rose.
CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS
Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a great place to travel solo – it’s safe, and it’s full of charm and history. Of course, there are plenty of beaches on which to unwind and relax with a good book. But there’s also a ton of more active things to do. The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a tour of the Cape’s natural ecosystems. For history lovers, Sandwich, MA is the oldest town on the Cape and is home to the Sandwich Glass factory and dozens of historic houses. Provincetown, on the outer cape, is an artsy seaport where you can visit one of the many galleries or set off on a whale watch. Oh, and you can’t go to the Cape without eating seafood – there are tons of local crab shacks and waterfront restaurants where you can eat some of the best seafood in the country.
Boulder is a wonderful place to visit any time of year; winter is perfect for skiers and snowboarders, and summertime brings beautiful weather for exploring the city. Be sure to check out the famous Pearl Street Mall, an outdoor promenade where you’ll find street performers and places to shop. After dark, Pearl Street has a buzzing nightlife, with plenty of places to grab a bite and a microbrew. There’s also a one-of-a-kind teahouse, an ornate structure that was shipped piecemeal from Dushanbe, Tajikistan and rebuilt by hand. Depending on the season, Boulder offers a wealth of outdoor activities, like horseback riding, kayaking, mountain biking, and much more.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
San Francisco is consistently ranked as one of the best places to travel solo, perhaps because of its dense population, easy transportation, and a never-ending list of things to do and see. Some of its main attractions include the cable car network and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s lots of art and culture here, so don’t forget to visit the museums at Fisherman’s Wharf or check out the street murals at Clarion Alley. If you want to dive into the weirder side of things, Fisherman’s Wharf is also home to one of the world-famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museums. If you get hungry, there are handfuls of food trucks throughout the city, offering cuisine from all over the world.
THE ROUND UP
Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. In fact, traveling alone is better in many ways; you get to spend time doing what you want to do, and you get the mental clarity to soak in your experiences. No matter where you go (whether it’s on this list or not), you’ll have an unforgettable journey that’s all your own.
Have you traveled solo to any of the spots I mentioned? Share your thoughts, tips and your favorite places with our readers in the comments below!