Best Places to Solo Travel in the US
Solo travel is rewarding, challenging and liberating. You conquer your fears and meet yourself while discovering a new place. Although it goes without saying that the US is massive, there are standout destinations worthy of a solo trip. Whether you want to check out a big city, get some R&R, or stake out on your next big adventure, these are the best places to solo travel in the US.
These destinations were picked based on location, number any types of activities for solo-travelers, and scalability for different budgets. Read below for the list of best places to solo travel in the US.
- Los Angeles, California
- Chicago, Illinois
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Whidbey Island, Washington
- Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Anchorage, Alaska
Big City Vibes:
Los Angeles, CA:
Am I being biased here by claiming my hometown as first for top solo trip destinations for a solo trip? Maybe… but only a tiny bit. Do I happen to have an entire article that details why LA is worth the trip? Definitely. Los Angeles is totally worth a solo trip because it offers something for everyone. Moreover, California alone boasts TONS of adventures for solo trips.
Centrally located in Southern California, LA is the best because there are ample outdoor activities to choose from. Try a surfing lesson on the iconic Venice beach, head up to Big Bear to ski the mountains, or drive down to Palm Springs for some desert hikes. It’s not impossible to do all three in a (very long, but rewarding) day!
Nightlife in the city can be found in Hollywood or Koreatown, and includes classic venues like the Troubadour and the Wiltern theaters. If you’re interested in “the business,” try visiting the Grammy Museum or the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Or, you can always take the Universal Studios tour to learn all about movie magic. If you like street art and culture, walk Miracle Mile on Melrose or Abbot Kinney in Venice for a tour of shops and galleries. And, did I mention we have Disneyland?
LA has a great food scene too, and it’s easy to try authentic diverse cuisines everywhere. The neighborhoods of Little Tokyo in Downtown, Thai Town in Hollywood and Little Ethiopia in Mid-City each offer dozens of restaurants for meals you won’t soon forget. If you’re looking for the best taste of real LA, consider Grand Central Market in downtown. Situated directly across the famous Los Angeles Flight, the marketplace stalls have offered all kinds of cuisine and treats since 1917!
As if you need more reasons to visit the City of Angels, see the article, “Is LA Worth Visiting,” for more recommendations. And be sure to check out my travel guides for Wander With Wren itineraries.
Chicago has enough to keep you entertained forever. The Windy City boasts storied history, beautiful architecture, amazing nightlife, museums and so many restaurants. And getting around the city is easy, thanks to their well connected neighborhoods and train system (a novelty for this native Angeleno).
The best part of Chicago is the energy: A proud bunch, Chicagoans LOVE their city. It’s easy to see why – there are countless events and activities going on all the time. Even during the notoriously frigid winters, people are out and about making the most of each season.
Spend the day at Stony Island Arts Bank, a perfect blend of museum, library, art gallery and community center. The space offers free exhibits and a beautiful gallery and library space. For a cozy and impactful afternoon, head downtown to the American Writer’s Museum. The exhibits are well considered and curated. The interactive exhibits allow you to explore literature and American authors in novel ways! ( I had to do it😆)
Catch a comedy show at Second City, where many famous comedians like Tina Fey and Steve Carrell got their start. Weather permitting, make sure to go on an architecture boat tour to see the city skyline from a new angle. Cap off your day in West Loop’s Restaurant Row, which offers entire city blocks of seemingly endless eateries and bars.
Rest and Relaxation
Santa Fe, NM:
Be transported to the old west in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although it isn’t an obvious choice for a solo trip, Santa Fe offers visitors great food, gorgeous desert landscapes, indigenous culture, mineral spas and art. If you’re looking for a place to get rest and be truly inspired, Santa Fe is it.
Stroll down Museum Hill and choose from a dozen galleries and museums to spend a few hours. Long renowned for its iconic history and storied art scene (we’re talking the hometown of Georgia O’Keefe, people), Santa Fe does not disappoint.
Treat yourself to a spa day at one of the many thermal pools and spas. Though the spas can be pricey, the resorts are truly worth the trip. Try the different packages at Nidah Spa or Wo’ P’in Spa that incorporate Indigenous medicine and wellness therapies into the treatments.
Solo travelers will not be disappointed when it comes to food and drink. New Mexico is known for their chiles, and foodies will be pleased to know that most regional dishes offer the famous green and hatch Chile accompaniments. My personal favorite dish was the green chile cheeseburger; self-descriptive but SO good. Try ordering your dish “Christmas Style,” with red AND green salsas, if you’re feeling brave. And if you need to tame the spice, tour the local breweries, including New Mexico’s most established Santa Fe brewing.
Whidbey Island, WA
If you’re hoping to reenact the plot of a Hallmark movie where the out-of-towner meets a gorgeous but brooding lumberjack/fisherman in an adorable seaside town (charming lighthouse included), then this is the place for you. While Whidbey Island is definitely off-the-beaten path, it is so worth the visit.
Whidbey Island is perfect for a laid-back solo vacation. Although the island is stunning in every season, you can expect a foggy and moody setting of the Pacific Northwest in the fall and winter months. Take a relaxing stroll along the sound or in the forest and then return to one of the many beautiful bed and breakfasts for a cozy night in. Whidbey has just enough of what you need – a couple of restaurants, a whale conservation museum (obviously), a movie theater (one film at a time, of course) and a lovely bookstore that miraculously has all of the bestsellers.
Outdoor lovers will also be glad they came, as Whidbey has parks and landmarks are all over the island. Explore the tide pools at the Double Bluff Beach, or take advantage of miles of bike trails at the Fort Ebey State Park. Last but not least, don’t miss the rugged coastline at the photographable Deception Pass State Park. If you’re lucky and plan your trip between October through July, you may be able to view pods of Orcas as they breach in the sound.
For a real splurge, check out the Inn at Langley. This luxurious and beautiful resort along the water offers tranquility and comfort. Get ready for one of the best breakfasts you’ve ever had – their onsite restaurant serves inspired and fresh meals. When you’re ready to be pampered check into the spa for massage treatments and the sauna, as well.
Las Cruces, NM:
Las Cruces is the best adventure that you’ve never heard of. Don’t let the remote location fool you: the city of the crosses is home to plenty of outdoor adventure and good food! You’ll find the city right at the edge of the Chihuahuan desert – about 45 minutes from El Paso, Texas.
If solo travel is about pushing you outside your comfort zone, then Las Cruces shows you how to embrace the rugged. The first place you’ll want to see is White Sands National Park. The landscape is stark and ethereal – miles of bleach-white sand dunes stretch along with the larger mountains looming in the distance. Rent a sled and ride the sandy waves, and make sure to stay until dusk. The hues of the sunset reflect off of the sand creating an impressive and unforgettable natural display.
If you’ve got enough energy, venture to the Tortugas or the Organ Mountains. Both parks offer rugged hikes through desert and rocky peaks. Stop by the Dripping Springs Natural Area to find some mineral rock springs. If you’re still looking for more adventure (and don’t mind a day drive), head over to the Carlsbad Caverns National park, where you can tour the ancient and underground limestone caverns. The formations are otherworldly and the experience is at least a bit unnerving.
Save your appetite for the various eateries and wineries in Las Cruces and the neighboring town of Mesilla. In true New Mexican form, expect to see a menu chock full of chiles. Try out the Bosque Brewing Company for some tasty local brews, and be sure to Chala’s Wood Fire Grill for their Green Chile enchiladas.
Is it any wonder why Alaska would make the list of the best solo travel trips? With its combination of breathtaking natural beauty and a bustling city center, Anchorage is the ultimate destination for adventure seeking solo travelers.
This dream destination is one of the few with far more outdoor activities than one can check off in one visit. Among the numerous natural spaces surrounding the city (including the local Chugach State Park), there are two standout national parks nearby. You can opt to scout for the Alaskan Big Five (bear, moose, sheep, caribou and wolves) at Denali National Park, or you can try paddle-boarding among the glaciers at Kenai Fjords National Park. Either way, you’re in for a legendary experience.
Once you’ve thawed from outdoor adventures, it’s time to take in the city and its attractions. A celebration of Indigenous cultures, both the Anchorage Museum and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center offer exhibits that highlight the first nations and their homelands.
Anchorage has a surprisingly diverse restaurant scene that includes a variety of cuisines and dining options for all budgets. Stay warm (or keep up your liquid courage) by sampling the flights at the 49th State Brewing Co or Glacier Brewhouse.
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