A growing number of people – both male and female, are venturing out to enjoy solo trips. From the thrill of having some quality me-time in a different setting to enjoying the flexibility and freedom of not compromising on trip choices to getting the chance to talk more to the locals – the perks of solo travel are many. In case you are planning a solo trip to the USA for the first time, here are the best ten places that should feature on your travel itinerary.
- Washington DC: You can begin your tour from the national capital by visiting its extensive museum system (a lot of which are free) that offers a lot to see and do for solo travelers. Ideally, you should begin your tour from the National Mall where you’ll get to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the splendid U.S. Capitol Building, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the National Air and Space Museum. Make sure to visit the NMAAHC (National Museum of African American History and Culture) and the Smithsonian Institution Museums. You may use the Capital Bikeshare program to explore the city’s metro DC area at your own pace. Since hotels in Washington are expensive, you can stay in Upper Georgetown at Melrose Georgetown Hotel (and dine at its Jardenea Restaurant), or Avenue Suites.
- San Francisco, California: Many first-time travelers start their solo trips from the Bay Area and you too can do the same. Visit the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, step back in time at the Alcatraz Island, set a date with the Fisherman’s Wharf and sample the fare at The Grotto San Francisco or the Boudin Bakery Cafe, explore Pier 39, take in the beauty of Golden Gate Park, enjoy the nightlife at the Union Square, and head to Chinatown for your dinner. From luxurious Fairmont San Francisco to Lodge at the Presidio offering Golden Gate and bay views to budget hotels like EL Capitan Hotel and Mithila Hotel, you’ll get varied accommodation options in the city.
- New York City: Though many may believe the city to be cold and unfriendly, you can enjoy an incredible solo NY trip by meeting a real New Yorker (via the Big Apple Greeter program), who’ll help you explore the true magic of the city. Cycle around Central Park (and sample the fare at The Loeb Boathouse or Tavern On the Green), take in the mesmerizing view from the top of the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre, visit the Grand Central Terminal, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Public Library, or take the Staten Island ferry to set a date with the Statue of Liberty. Don’t forget to catch the sunset from the High Line. From Luxurious hotels like The Plaza and Four Seasons to no-frills private rooms and dorms at NY Moore Hostel, you’ll get several accommodation options.
- Nashville, Tennessee: If you are a music aficionado, you just can’t miss visiting the mecca for musicians. Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and enjoy a music fest, if you can. Don’t miss the chance of seeing some fabulous musicians play at the Grand Ole Opry. Take a walking/bike/hop-on-hop-off trolley tour to enjoy Nashville’s sights. Don’t forget to enjoy Nashville’s Broadway and sample the fare (and live music) at Ole Red, Whiskey Bent Saloon, Robert’s Western World, The Stage on Broadway, and Nashville Crossroads. From 4-star Renaissance Nashville Hotel to budget accommodation at Motel 6 Nashville – Airport, Drake Motel, Nashville Downtown Hostel, and more, the city offers it all.
- Hawaii: Though you may not think of Hawaii when planning your solo trip, its tropical climate, rich culture and several solo-friendly activities make it an ideal choice for first-time US travelers. Visit Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, historic sites like the Diamond Head Crater and Iolani Palace, set a date with the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, or explore Lanai where you can visit the Hulopoe Beach, which is famous for swimming and snorkeling. Don’t miss visiting the party isle of Maui and savoring the fare at Cool Cat Cafe and The Restaurant at Hotel Wailea. You may even plan a tour of Hawaii’s “Garden Island” – Kauai, or take a road trip along Maui’s Hana Coast.
- Atlanta, Georgia: Fun attractions, great food, and different entertainment options – Atlanta offers you all these and more. Get the Atlanta CityPASS to visit Downtown Atlanta’s major attractions – the CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the World of Coca-Cola museum. Make sure to check out the Atlanta BeltLine, the High Museum of Art, and the historic Fox Theater. Don’t forget to have a memorable and Instagramable meal at one of Chef Ford Fry’s restaurants, or dine at Le Bilboquet, Miller Union, or Restaurant Eugene. From The Glenn Hotel amidst the downtown bustle to the Buckhead district’s Mandarin Oriental Atlanta, or The St. Regis Atlanta, you’ll get several accommodation options.
- New Orleans, Louisiana: If you are looking for a welcoming and fun city that’s easy to navigate solo, New Orleans could be just what you need. You can begin your tour at the French Quarter and visit Faulkner House Books, Jackson Square, and the Cabildo while sampling the fare at Café du Monde, Bayona, Galatoire’s Restaurant, and Commander’s Palace in-between. Don’t forget to take a stroll down the Bourbon Street. You may also opt for a walking tour of the Garden District, or head to the Frenchmen Street, which is a four-block stretch of art galleries, live music, restaurants, bars, and night clubs. Le Pavillon Hotel NOPSI Hotel, Hotel Monteleone, and Windsor Court Hotel are some of the city’s best hotels, from which you can take your pick.
- Las Vegas, Nevada: Though most LA vacations are focused and limited to the Strip, there’s a lot more to do elsewhere too. Once you’ve tried your Lady Luck at the casinos and are ready to leave Las Vegas Boulevard’s glitz and glam behind, take a gondola ride at the Venetian, enjoy a fountain show at the Bellagio, set a date with the Red Rock Canyon, visit the Museum of Neon Art and the Mob Museum, or enjoy downtown LA’s Fremont Street Experience. Don’t miss the Asian-inspired fare at Andrea’s, Italian cuisine from award-winning chef Julian Serrano at Lago, and Kobe beef at The Bazaar by José Andrés. Options to stay include the luxurious ARIA Sky Suites, and SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand, as well as the budget Sin City Hostel, Travelodge Las Vegas and much more.
- Austin, Texas: If you love art, music, and food, Austin won’t disappoint. Enjoy Sixth Street’s bars and live music along with some spicy ribs and savory beef brisket, visit the Blanton Museum of Art, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum, swim in Barton Springs Pool, or take a bike ride in Zilker Metropolitan Park. You may even go bat-watching in the evening at the Congress Avenue Bridge. Remember to taste pizza at Hoboken Pie, American cuisine at Qui, or classic Western fare at Lonesome Dove. The city’s accommodation options include the luxurious Hotel Granduca Austin, and Archer Hotel Austin to budget places like Value Place Austin, Mountain Star Lodge, Super North, and many more.
- Portland, Oregon: Enjoy the almost 650 varieties of roses at the International Rose Test Garden, take a bike tour of the storefronts in the St. Johns neighborhood, and visit Powell’s City of Books. Taste coffee made from locally roasted beans at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, or enjoy a bottle of beer at the dozens of craft breweries. For options to stay, you may check downtown Portland’s Sentinel, Dossier Hotel, or the Heathman Hotel.
If you’re an intentional traveler planning a US solo trip for the first time from one of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) countries, you’ll need an approved ESTA USA. After you submit ESTA, make sure to check the status of your application on the official ESTA website. Unless you get ESTA approval, you won’t be authorized to travel to the US under the VWP.