6 Best Things To Do When You're Traveling Solo in NYC

Visiting NYC on your own? Make the most of it with these ideas

USA, New York, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights
••• Alan Copson / Getty Images

Whether you're planning a trip to New York City completely on your own or you just have a few hours (or days) to entertain yourself during your vacation, the city has a lot of fantastic ways to spend time alone.

  • 01 of 06

    Explore An Art Museum

    The Frick Collection courtyard garden.
    ••• Dan Herrick / Getty Images

    New York City is home to some fantastic art museums, and if you're visiting on your own, you can zone in on the pieces that really pull you in, take the place at your own pace and maybe even immerse yourself in a guided tour or audio tour to enhance your experience. Some great choices to consider:

    • The Frick Collection: - Explore the paintings, sculpture and decorative arts pieces inside Henry Clay Frick's Upper East Side mansion which is now home to the museum. Docent talks and the Acoustiguide audio tour are included with the price of admission.
    • MoMA: Modern art lovers will enjoy visiting the MoMA, which is home to many iconic examples of modern art, as well as exciting temporary exhibitions. Museum admission includes guided and audio tours, as well as film screenings and access to PS1 within 30 days of admission (giving you a lot of modern/contemporary art for your museum dollar!).
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art: With more art than you can possible explore in a single visit, the...MORE advantage of hitting the Met on your own is clear -- you won't have to negotiate or agree on what to see and what to skip!
  • 02 of 06

    Eat At The Bar

    Balthazar Restaurant in Little Italy - New York City, New York
    ••• Angus Oborn / Getty Images

    Want to enjoy a great meal without the hassle of securing a difficult reservation? Solo diners can dine at the bar (sometimes with very little wait) at restaurants where reservations are notoriously hard to get. Some restaurants to try:

    • Babbo: It's not easy to score a reservation at Mario Batali's West Village Italian restaurant, but they always hold a certain number of tables and spots at the bar for walk-ins. You won't be lonely at the bar, which is always full of diners happy to have scored a seat for the top-notch food served here.
    • Balthazar: It's always bustling at Balthazar, but if you like people-watching while you eat, you can't beat the delicious French bistro food and fun atmosphere at Balthazar.
    • Gramercy Tavern: Seats in the tavern area (including both tables and the bar) are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The tavern menu is a bit simpler than the dining room one, but you'll still be able to enjoy classic American cuisine inspired by the...MORE season, often using local produce.
    • Locanda Verde: Friendly bartenders make this hard-to-reserve TriBeCa restaurant worth visiting if you're on your own and want to have Italian food.
  • 03 of 06

    Take in a Tour

    USA, Upper New York Bay, Aerial photograph of Ellis Island
    ••• Ellis Island. Westend61 / Getty Images

    If you're looking for a great way to get an overview of New York City, but don't want to brave the streets all by yourself, you're in luck! New York City has many great options for tours that will give you a great introduction to the city, and you'll have plenty of companions. I've always been surprised at how friendly people are who are taking a tour and how easy it is to interact with other visitors, so if you're looking for chatter, this is a great choice, but you'll also be able to keep to yourself if you prefer.

    • Grey Line Double Decker Bus Tour: A classic way to experience New York City, Grey Line's tours allow you to "hop on, hop off" so they can serve not only as a tour, but also as your transportation around the city.
    • Sightseeing Cruise: Want to see New York City from the water? Pick one of these sightseeing cruises (if you're not in a rush, I recommend the three-hour cruise that circumnavigates Manhattan) to get a wonderful sense of...MORE New York City's landscape and layout.
    • Bike The Big Apple: Want a dose of exercise with your exploration? These small group tours feature friendly guides and are tremendously welcoming to solo travelers. A great choice if you want to dig a little deeper into New York City's neighborhoods.
  • 04 of 06

    Go See A Movie

    Movie night at the East River State Park
    ••• Andria Patino / Getty Images

    Going to see a movie by yourself might not be the first idea that comes to mind, but in New York City you'll be in good company if you're at the movie theater on your own. And lucky for you, you can go see whatever movie you want, whether you want to see the latest blockbuster on a big screen, a foreign film or even a new indie movie that hasn't gotten broad release yet. If you're looking for ideas, we've got a great list that emphasizes some of New York City's unique and unusual movie theaters.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Get Lost On The Streets of New York

    USA, New York, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights
    ••• Alan Copson / Getty Images

    Pick a neighborhood, any neighborhood, and get lost wandering and following your instincts of which way to turn. You're sure to see parts of the city that you never would on a tour or even with a friend. Maybe you'll find a spectacular bookstore. Or the perfect cafe. Or enjoy a beautiful sunset. My favorite neighborhoods for this are probably Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights, both of which have beautiful buildings, cobblestone streets and wonderful places to explore and discover.

  • 06 of 06

    People Watch

    Washington Square Park
    ••• Lorenzo Bianchi's photo / Getty Images

    New York City has no shortage of people watching opportunities. If the weather is nice, you can stake out a spot in Bryant Park, Central Park or Washington Square Park. There are also some great pedestrian areas with seating in Herald Square and Times Square. If you're looking for something indoors, many Starbucks have window seating where you can sip your latte and watch the world wander by.