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The Best U.S. Cities for Solo Travel

SmarterTravel

Solo travel is incredibly enriching, and can afford you the opportunity to experience a destination in a completely new light. And, the best part? You won’t have to tailor your schedule around someone else’s.

So, take some much-needed “me” time by embarking on a solo vacation. Whether you prefer an action-packed city escape or a laid-back desert locale, these are the best solo travel destinations throughout the USA. 

1. Hudson, New York

Aerial view of Hudson, New York
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This eccentric upstate New York town — about two-and-a-half hours from The Big Apple by car — is a haven for art, design, and antique lovers. Warren Street is lined with cool shops like  Arenskjold Antiques Art, Artemesia, Bavier Book Antique Jewelry, Fig & Bella, Cooper and Company, and FACE Stockholm. After spending some time indulging in retail therapy, grab a bite at one of the nearby restaurants. Feast & Floret (a farm-to-table eatery with, you guessed it, plenty of fresh blooms), Rivertown Lodge (which boasts a savory, innovative menu with staples like halibut, beef tongue cavatelli, and duck), and Baba Louie’s (personal pizza) are among our favorites. Craving something on the lighter side? Visit Breadfolks Bakery for freshly baked pastries and coffee or Culture Cream for a scoop (or two!) of sorbet.

Where to Stay: The Wick, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is located in the heart of Hudson. The former candle factory-turned-boutique hotel (hence its name) has 55 guest rooms and suites, some of which feature clawfoot tubs. 

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2. Asheville, North Carolina 

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Asheville offers plenty to see, do, drink, and explore. Mix and mingle with fellow travelers and locals alike at one of the many breweries, including fan-favorite Hi-Wire Brewing, Highland Brewing Company, and Archetype Brewing Tap Lounge + Venue. Next, lace up your hiking shoes and fill up your water bottle: Asheville is home to more than 3,000 miles of free hiking trails. Additionally, the breathtaking, 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, which dates back to the 19th century, is a must-visit. Carve out some time to explore the estate’s manicured gardens, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting (yes, there’s an on-site winery!), embark on a bike ride, or partake in a meditation class.

Where to Stay: The industrial-inspired Foundry Hotel Asheville, which is housed in a former steel mill, now offers 87 contemporary rooms and suites. Additionally, the property pays homage to its past with wooden beams, large windows, and exposed bricks. 

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3. Austin, Texas

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Austin is celebrated for its eccentric culture and seemingly endless attractions, which include bars, restaurants, and shops galore. Downtown Austin is best explored via kayak (see here for more information) or bike (scenic trails, such abound). Then, make your way on foot towards Rainey Street, where you can sip craft cocktails and catch live music at Icenhauer’s. On Sixth Street, pop into Esther’s Follies, where you can enjoy live magic, comedy, and dancing. Come nighttime, the bar-lined strip becomes even more vibrant. South Congress (AKA SoCo) tends to fly a bit more under-the-radar. This neighborhood is home to a treasure-trove of shops, including Limbo Jewelry, Parts & Labour, Allens Boots, Prima Dora, and Odessa. Meanwhile, foodies can DIY their own food crawl by hitting up Austin’s best food trucks (the city is home to dozens of them!). The Peached Tortilla, Baton Creole, Burro Cheese Kitchen, and Kebabalicious are among the most acclaimed. Of course, no trip is complete without a classic Tex Mex meal—and margs!—which are best enjoyed at Enchiladas y Mas or Tamale House East

Where to Stay: The contemporary Austin Proper Hotel boasts a central location and 244 luxury rooms and suites. The expansive property also features four restaurants, a spa, a fitness center, a rooftop pool deck, and complimentary bike rentals. 

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4. Portland, Oregon

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Portland isn’t your typical city. The modern metropolis offers 150 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as 250-plus public parks. It also boasts a booming brewery scene. (FYI: Portland is home to more than 60 breweries — more than any other city in the world.) Visit Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Great Notion Brewing, and Breakside Brewing for some of the best brews in town. Portland is also known as The City of Roses (in 1889, 20 miles of the city streets were planted with roses), so it’s no surprise that the destination is home to a stunning rose garden. Today, the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park is teeming with more than 10,000 rose bushes. The bustling Alberta Arts District is also fun to explore. The Alberta Rose Theatre offers live events and performances, while galleries like Alberta Street Gallery and Antler are well worth visiting. Portland is also home to around 500 food carts and whimsical cocktail bars, the latter of which include the tiki-themed Hale Pele and Bible Club PDX, a sleek speakeasy. 

Where to Stay: With its convenient downtown location putting you within close proximity to some of the city’s most notable attractions, The Nines makes an ideal home base for exploring. Accommodations are design-forward with tufted headboards, blue velvet accents, and crystal lighting. The arty property is even complete with 400-plus pieces of curated artwork. 

5. Boston, Massachusetts

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Beantown fuses centuries-old history with modern design and innovation. Wander around tony Beacon Hill (with its Victorian-era brick homes, chic designer boutiques, and antique shops) and then switch things up with a restful moment in the Public Garden. Meanwhile, the now-bustling Seaport District is teeming with more mainstream features like brand-new skyscrapers, rooftop bars and restaurants, specially curated shops, and art galleries. The historic 2.5-mile Freedom Trail in downtown Boston is an absolute must. After, head to Back Bay and shop along Newbury Street. Then, wander through the North End (Boston’s version of Little Italy) and grab a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry (be prepared to wait in line!). If the weather is nice, rent a kayak and paddle down the Charles River before popping into Tatte, a local chain that serves up fresh pastries, brunch staples, and coffee. 

Where to Stay: The 136-room Envoy Hotel offers hip and modern accommodations in the heart of the Seaport District. Perhaps the hotel’s best amenity is the on-site Lookout Rooftop bar and lounge, where you can enjoy cocktails, wine, and light bites surrounded by excellent views of the surrounding city. 

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6. Chicago, Illinois 

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Chicago is most renowned for its stunning architecture, which is best enjoyed via a guided boat tour. The Windy City is also an art-filled one, with attractions like the Art Institute, Cloud Gate  AKA “The Bean”), and The Museum Of Contemporary Art. Stroll along the waterfront at Navy Pier, where shopping and dining options abound. Or, skip the walking altogether and rent a kayak. When you get hungry, order a slice of deep-dish ‘za at Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s. Top it off with a drink at one of the city’s rooftop bars (Cindy’s at the Chicago Athletic Association hotel is a favorite), where you can raise a glass to a successful solo sojourn.

Where to Stay: Virgin Hotels Chicago puts you within easy walking distance of some of Chicago’s most notable attractions, including Navy Pier and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The sleek property is complete with a cool cocktail bar and lounge, live entertainment, a spa, and an on-site restaurant.

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7. Sedona, Arizona

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Sedona is packed with hundreds of cool shops, restaurants, and art galleries—plus scenic hiking trails and eye-catching red rocks. Jeep tours have become synonymous with Sedona, and they make a fun, action-packed activity. Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock are two of the city’s most famous landmarks, and both offer panoramic vistas that are well worth the hike. At Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village—which is complete with charming fountains and romantic, cobblestone-lined streets—you’ll find beautiful artwork, glassware, jewelry, and other trinkets. Meanwhile, history buffs can visit the Palatki Heritage Site, which dates back to 1150 AD. When it finally comes time to refuel, head straight to Elote Cafe, Shorebird, or Creekside

Where to Stay: The luxe L’Auberge De Sedona seeks inspiration from its tranquil surroundings. It offers spacious accommodations, farm-to-table cuisine, a wellness-centric spa, an artist-in-residence program, and an array of on-site activities that range from yoga to duck feeding. 

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8. Palm Springs, California

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Palm Springs, about a two-hour ride from Los Angeles, is the place to see and be seen. For decades, the desert oasis has attracted countless celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Barack Obama, and the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan. The destination is best known for its tranquil scenery, but still, attractions abound. At the expansive Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, you can admire more than 500 species of fauna and dozens of lush vegetation. Additionally, be sure to visit The Palm Springs Art Museum and the Kaufmann House, the latter of which is celebrated for its classic mid-century modern architecture. Next, spend some time wandering near Palm Canyon Drive, where dozens of stores like Wil Stiles, Candace Held, and Destination PSP are within easy walking distance. Don’t skip town without a trip up The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes you more than 8,500 feet above sea level.

Where to Stay: Parker Palm Springs is a chic boutique hotel with architecturally stunning rooms, suites, and villas designed by Jonathan Adler. The six on-site bars and restaurants were practically made to be Instagrammed, as were the sprawling outdoor pools and lush garden-filled grounds. 

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9. Columbus, Ohio

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Ohio’s capital city may not be on your solo travel bucket list, but it certainly should be. The Short North Arts District is dotted with more than 100 galleries, hip bars, vintage clothing stores, and coffee shops. Most are set on or near High Street, the neighborhood’s main strip. Meanwhile, the waterfront Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus offers 175-plus acres of greenery, along with several parks, biking trails, and walkways. Columbus is also home to more than 50 craft breweries, so you can create your own beer crawl by following along the Columbus Ale Trail. 

Where to Stay: The Moxy Columbus Short North offers a convenient location and stylish accommodations, sleek furnishings, and a lively bar. Plus, the lobby’s open-concept design is ideal for mingling with other solo travelers.  

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10. Washington, D.C. 

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It’s hard to summarize everything to see, do, eat, and explore in our nation’s vibrant capital. The monuments and fascinating museums (which include The Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the International Spy Museum) are all (obvious) must-visits. But think beyond the basics by exploring some of DC’s best neighborhoods. We’d be remiss not to mention Georgetown, which is amongst the city’s most famous—and picturesque—with its boutique-lined cobblestone streets, ample dining options, and lively lounges. Meanwhile, Logan Circle’s main strip, 14th Street, is dotted with restaurants, pubs, and shops. It also boasts stunning Victorian-era architecture. Lastly, the waterfront District Wharf is well worth a visit with varied event programming (think concerts, festivals, etc.) as well as 20-plus bars and eateries. At The Wharf Boathouse, travelers can rent paddle boards and kayaks along the Potomac. 

Where to Stay: Eaton DC’s downtown location, which is close to museums and public transportation,  is incredibly convenient. Rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, Bluetooth-enabled record players, and bespoke furnishings. There’s even an on-site radio station, 50-person theater, and wellness center. 

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