Top 11 Spots for Solo Travel USA
So you’re looking to scratch that travel bug on a solo trip? Drooling over the best solo travelers quotes with an outdoorsy photo in the background? The classic “If you are waiting for someone to travel with you, you may end up waiting a lifetime.” Or maybe an Explorer Chick favorite, “table for one, food for two, please.” Same, girl. Same.
If we’re speaking your language here, then we’ve got good news for you: there are SO MANY amazing places to travel alone right here in the USA! Seriously, the solo trip options are practically endless. From the classic lights of New York City to hitting the hiking trails in one of the US’s many national parks, traveling solo is all the rage and for the solo female traveler? There’s never been a better time!
However, if you hit Google with the classic “solo travel destinations” and went “WOAH MAMA” at all the options, then went into decision shock and gave up, you’re not alone. But rest assured — other solo travelers have been exactly where you are now (unsure of where to go, nervous, excited, butterflies, etc.) and you can always go somewhere else next time!
To make your decision a little easier though, we curated some top US destinations for a solo journey where you can meet other solo female travelers, do allllll the outdoor activities, and explore a new place.
The Best US Destinations for a Solo Trip
1. Stowe, Vermont
Vermont is the quintessential city for a New England solo vacation. While any season can be enjoyable, autumn is an incredible time of year for “leaf peeping”, watching the fall colors slowly creep down from the mountains as fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and cheery yellows dot the countryside.
Stowe is the ultimate stop for hikers, bikers, skiers, and adventure seekers. Down time in Stowe means good food in a quaint New England mountain town without the hustle and bustle of major cities like New York City. Be sure to either hike or drive up Mt Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, for some stunning views of the surrounding region. (If you are hiking alone, be sure to read our tips for safely hiking alone as a woman.) There are awesome national parks on the East Coast, so make sure to plan and drop by for some hiking.
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Located within an east coast state but possessing a midwestern attitude, Pittsburgh has gone from a “Steel City” to a budding metropolis that welcomes solo travelers. With three rivers converging at the city center, Pittsburgh has over 400 bridges leading visitors to pockets of unique neighborhoods to explore. Over the years this vibrant city has experienced somewhat of a resurgence, with a budding food scene and cultural district that rivals any major city.
Want to extend your time in Pennsylvania? Philadelphia, another worthy solo stop, is a mere few hours’ drive away.
3. Washington D.C.
With so many museums that are free and open to the public daily, America’s capital is the perfect spot for history lovers. Fill your itinerary with museum and history tours as you take in the local museums and take selfies with all the statues. When your brain can’t take another moment of history or old white dudes, head to the botanic gardens for a relaxing stroll, then taste test some of the different coffee shops.
For outdoor recreation, just outside the city limits is where the real magic begins with adventures like zip lining, rock climbing, and hiking. If you need some help planning that and want to meet other solo female travelers doing their outdoorsy badass thang, check out all our adventure day trips around DC.
4. Lexington, Kentucky
Bourbon, horses and hometown cooking — is there much more you need? Lexington is an ideal city to travel solo in the US. Visit Henry Clay’s mansion, meet some retired racehorses or relax on an iconic southern porch sipping a mint julep. The bluegrass state truly has something for everyone.
Be sure to visit the Arboretum, University of Kentucky’s botanical garden. It’s free to the public and the perfect activity for a solo traveler. With Louisville, Mammoth Cave National Park, or Cumberland Falls only each a few hours drive away, it’s easy to take a few mini solo trips to the surrounding areas. Plus, one of our favorite places — Red River Gorge — is a mere hour and 15 minute drive away. (To learn more about hiking or backpacking in the Red River Gorge, see our full post about it!)
5. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the southern town that dreams are made of. It’s the perfect charming place to meander down side streets and explore small parks and cemeteries that dot the city. With Live Oak trees and Spanish Moss swaying above you, it’s one of the most picturesque towns in the country.
Savannah is often known as the country’s most haunted city, so going on an evening ghost tour is just spooky enough to reveal the haunting history. Looking for a relaxing beach getaway? The beautiful Tybee Island is a short trip from Savannah, a chance to catch up with a good book on its white sandy beaches.
6. Moab, Utah
The epicenter of the “mighty 5” of Utah’s National Parks, Moab gives you a position for the ultimate outdoor adventure in the US. Moab is a park lover’s top destination with two national parks within an hour’s drive of the city. With so many options for hiking and mountain biking trails and camping galore, a solo hiker will be in heaven.
While parks like Zion and Arches have seen an influx in visitors if you’re looking for some serene trekking on your own outdoors consider visiting Capitol Reef or Canyonlands National Park. If you visit Capitol Reef National Park, be sure to visit Gifford Homestead and stock up on homemade cinnamon rolls and mini pies with fresh ingredients from the orchards within the park. Over at Canyonlands National Park the Murphy Point Trail is a great winter hike and White Rim Overlook is another easy hike to do.
7. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the southwestern city where art, food and culture collide. Famed artist Georgia O’Keeffe made her home here and there is now a gorgeous museum on her former property. In addition to the O’Keeffe museum, Canyon Road is lined with galleries and studios you can pop into and admire — truly an art lover’s paradise. See a total landscape change from the desert by visiting the botanical garden’s 55-acres of lush biodiversity and wetlands. Then, drive 5 minutes out of town to one of the many trailheads for epic sunsets and hiker gains. Keep it simple at the Dale Ball trail system or really challenge yourself getting up to 9,121 feet elevation up Atalaya Mountain. (Though keep in mind at a baseline of 7,000 feet elevation, you may notice any sort of hike feels challenging when you first acclimate in Santa Fe!)
Be sure to order one of your enchiladas or burritos “christmas-style”, a signature New Mexican mix of red and green chile sauces. A can’t miss place for souvenirs is the main plaza in town. Not only is it a National Historical Landmark, it’s the epicenter for crafts and artisans in the city, so you’ll find lots of art, handicrafts, jewelry and more.
8. San Francisco, California
A big city with a laid back vibe, SF has so much to offer when solo traveling in the US. The city has endless activities to keep a solo traveler busy. Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach…the list goes on! There are so many places to explore.
Public transit is easy to navigate so don’t skip taking a ride on the world’s last manually operated cable car system, an iconic way to see the city. There are also many walking tours as long as you’re ready to really get your steps in!
9. Portland, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest is a dream for solo travel in the USA and Portland is the perfect jumping off point. The city is known for “keeping it weird” with its quirky vibe. That’s what makes it such a great destination for solo female travel. It’s a great place for everyone to come and be their authentic weird selves.
The city is a perfect destination for any food lover — you don’t need group travel to enjoy a good meal. Get out of town and explore the Willamette Valley wine region, stunning waterfalls around Portland, or the Hood River and Columbia River Gorge for hiking, kayaking, or whitewater rafting.
10. Denver, Colorado
In Denver, you have some of the best of the outdoors right at your fingertips. Denver is an approachable city and if you’re looking for a smaller town vibe, you can take a short trip to Boulder and meander the outdoor Pearl Street Mall. This area of the Midwest is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and all the adventure junkies know it so even if you’re on the trail alone, you won’t be far from other hikers at some point.
Lace up your hiking boots and climb a “14er”— the state has 58 peaks that exceed 14,000 feet of elevation. Mount Bierstadt is the closest one to the city and has some exceptional views of the Rocky Mountains.
11. Madison, Wisconsin
While many might argue that places like Detroit or Chicago would be the first cities you’d think of when visiting this region of the Midwest, there are a few reasons Madison should not be overlooked as a more desirable destination for solo traveling in the USA. Some larger cities can be overwhelming for first time visitors and navigating a new big city can feel like a daunting task on your own.
While the capital cities of Michigan and Wisconsin are both fabulous destinations, Madison is both manageable and fun. A college town, Madison has energy and liveliness with a small-town feeling. Take a walk along Lake Mendota or a sunset cruise. Remember the state’s unofficial drink is the Old Fashioned, so be sure to grab a cocktail and dinner on State Street.
Final Tip for Women Solo Travelers in the USA
With all of this “local” travel, make time for some exercise to keep fit so that you can get out on those trails and hit the ground running. (couldn’t resist the pun 😝). If you’re nervous about striking out on your own, you’re not alone! It can be a scary place out there, especially as a woman (unfortunately). If you’re planning on hiking alone and want to feel more comfortable and prepared, check out our virtual outdoor self defense class or book a trip with new future besties with Explorer Chick!
Meet the Writer
Abbie Synan is a freelance writer who focuses on sustainability initiatives within the tourism industry. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she has been traveling full time since 2013, hopping the globe, visiting over 95 countries while exploring ways to be a more mindful global citizen. She is the sustainable travel expert for Wanderful, an international travel community, as well as the content co-lead for Impact Travel Alliance, a global organization educating and inspiring travelers.
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