More and more American tourists are choosing to travel solo today, eschewing schedule coordination and group consensus in favor of much-needed "me time." Solo travelers cite increased opportunities for relaxation and freedom to explore cities and destinations at their own pace as top reasons to travel alone. These destinations across the United States rank as top solo vacation spots for their wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities and their convenient transportation, either boasting sophisticated public transit systems or high walkability scores to major attractions. For a more structured solo vacation experience, many cities offer guided cultural tours, from bike or Segway exploration of city centers to guided brewery or culinary tours.
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The Poconos are a mountain range that spans more than 2,400 square miles throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, located along the stretch of the Delaware River between the Lehigh and Wyoming Valleys and Lake Wallenpaupack. The region is one of the most popular outdoor tourism and recreation areas in the United States, accessible within a two-hour drive of millions of American East Coast residents, including the residents of the greater New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. Two national parks and nine state parks are located throughout the mountain range, including Big Pocono State Park, known for its ski resort areas, and Lehigh Gorge State Park, a popular whitewater rafting spot during the spring months. As most parks are located within a 30-mile radius of one another, the Poconos make for an excellent combined trip getaway, with overnight rental properties and backcountry camping sites located throughout many parks.
2.San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is a Central Coast city in California, located approximately halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The city is home to a population of more than 269,000 residents throughout its greater county region and is one of the oldest communities in California, originally established in 1772 by Spanish settlers. The city's central gathering place, Mission Plaza, is home to a weekly farmer's market, a monthly Bike Nite social ride, and a summer concert series. Unusual local landmarks include the eccentric Madonna Inn, which sponsors the annual California Festival of Beers tasting festival, and the unique Bubblegum Alley, which has been covered with chewed pieces of gum since the early 1960s. Cultural attractions include the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, which highlights the works of California's contemporary artists, and the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a preserved 18th-century Spanish mission that has been converted into a living history museum.
Bainbridge Island is located within the Puget Sound in Kitsap County, Oregon, accessible from Seattle via a connector ferry service. The island city is home to a population of more than 23,000 residents and has been named as the second-best city to live in in America by CNN and Money magazine. The affluent city has become a popular Seattle bedroom community, offering four centers of commerce that are home to a variety of tourist attractions, including the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and the Kids' Discovery Museum. Elsewhere on the island, Bloedel Reserve offers a variety of nature trails and landscaped gardens, while Fay Bainbridge Park showcases an overnight campground and a beach that provides spectacular views of the Puget Sound and Cascade Mountains.
Block Island is one of the American East Coast's top island tourist destinations, located approximately 14 miles off the tip of Long Island's Montauk Point. The 9.7-square-mile island extends off the coast of mainland Rhode Island within the Outer Lands archipelago and is home to a population of more than 1,000 residents, serving as a popular summer tourism destination for residents throughout the New York City and New England regions. It is home to expansive undeveloped natural areas, historic lighthouses, and a number of rocky cliffs and beachfront areas, named as one of the "Last Great Places in America" by the Nature Conservancy. Throughout the 20th century, the island served as a popular retreat for American presidents and celebrities such as Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Hiking, cycling, sailing, and fishing are popular seasonal activities, while an annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show attracts more than triple the island's normal summer tourist population.
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, originally founded in 1630 by English Puritanical settlers prior to the country's founding. Today, the Massachusetts city is the state's capital and is home to a population of more than 4.8 million residents throughout its metropolitan region, making it the 10th-largest city in the nation. The city is known for its historic attractions, including the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, which showcases a variety of sites connected to the American Revolution, including the Faneuil Hall marketplace. It is also one of the top education and business cities in the world, home to the facilities and museums of internationally-renowned universities such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other major attractions include the Institute of Contemporary Art, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and the Boston Athenaeum, one of the nation's oldest independent libraries.
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Boulder is the largest municipality within Colorado's Boulder County, home to a population of more than 294,000 residents throughout its metropolitan region. The city is located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of over 5,000 feet and is known throughout the United States for its connection to American pioneer and frontier history. It is continually ranked as one of America's top cities based on cultural and quality of life criteria, known as one of the best cities for artists and foodies and one of the most LGBT-friendly destinations in the county. Outdoor recreational opportunities abound throughout more than 61,000 acres of public natural landscape, from rock climbing areas to nature preserves. Shopping and cultural districts include the Pearl Street Mall and the Twenty-Ninth Street retail district. Annual special events hosted in the city include the Colorado Music Festival, the Polar Bear Plunge, and the Bolder Boulder 10km run.
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Charlottesville is a city in central Virginia that is home to a population of more than 150,000 throughout its metropolitan region, known as a popular tourist destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains region. It is best known as the home of two early American Presidents, James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, and as the site of the University of Virginia, which was designed in large part by Jefferson. Living history attractions abound, including Jefferson's famed plantation Monticello and Monroe's residence Highland. Despite its relatively small size, the city is a major cultural center in the southern United States, known internationally for its independent music scene, beer and wine tours, and its Downtown Mall, one of the largest pedestrian shopping districts in the country. For visitors seeking outdoor recreational thrills, the city serves as a major gateway to Shenandoah National Park.
Chicago is the third most-populous city in the United States, home to more than 10 million residents throughout its metropolitan area. The city is best known internationally as the birthplace of the modern steel skyscraper in the late 19th century and is home to a number of the world's tallest buildings, including two of the three tallest buildings in the United States, the Willis Tower and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Notable skyscrapers and historic buildings abound in the city's Magnificent Mile, which is home to one of America's most upscale shopping districts and international landmarks such as the Chicago Water Tower. The city is also renowned for its museums, such as the Impressionist-focused Art Institute of Chicago, and for its Navy Pier entertainment complex, which is home to rides and attractions such as an historic carousel and a state-of-the-art DW60 observation wheel.
Coeur d'Alene is the largest city within Kootenai County, Idaho, home to a population of more than 44,000 residents. The city, which is known colloquially as the "Lake City," sits on the banks of the 25-mile Lake Coeur d'Alene and is part of the Spokane, Washington metropolitan statistical area. As a major tourist hub for outdoor recreation and resort tourism in the American Northwest, the city is best known nationally as the home of one of the largest Christmas light displays in America, a celebration that has been showcased on Good Morning America. It provides convenient access to a number of prominent nearby skiing areas, including Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area and Silver Mountain Resort, and is located adjacent to the Coeur d'Alene National Forest. Nearby, Silverwood Theme Park offers the Northwest's largest amusement and water park.
Missoula is the county seat of Missoula County, Montana, located at the confluence of three rivers and five mountain ranges. The city is home to a metropolitan population of more than 117,000 and is known for its minor-league and collegiate sports teams, including the University of Montana's Montana Grizzlies basketball and football teams and the Missoula Osprey baseball team. More than 400 acres of public parks are showcased throughout the city, along with 5,000 acres of conservation lands, 22 miles of nature trails, and outdoor attractions such as golf courses and aquatic parks. White water rafting is a favorite outdoor activity in the region, popularized by the novel and feature film A River Runs Through It, written by Missoula resident Norman Maclean. Cultural attractions include the Missoula Art Museum, the HIstorical Museum, the 1877 Fort Missoula, and the city's handcrafted Carousel for Missoula. The city also serves as a jumping-off point for a number of natural areas in the region, including Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness and the Discovery Ski Area.
Naples is one of the United States' wealthiest communities, home to the sixth-highest per-capita income of any American city and the second-highest concentration of millionaires. The city is located along the Gulf of Mexico within Collier County and is home to a population of more than 322,000 throughout its metropolitan region. Miles of white sand beach are accessible from the city, including the beaches of Clam Pass Park, while fishing and dolphin-watching are available at the city's historic 1888 Naples Pier. Natural attractions abound, including Everglades National Park, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, and the 11,000-acre Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, which offers a 2.5-mile visitor boardwalk. More than 80 championship golf courses are located throughout the region, giving the city the reputation of the "Golf Capital of the World." Cultural attractions include the Naples Zoo, the Big Cypress Marketplace, and the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum.
New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, home to a metropolitan population of over 1.2 million residents. The "Big Easy" is the cultural hub of the Gulf of Mexico, renowned throughout the world for its unique Creole culture, which blends elements of French and African-American cultures. 24-hour nightlife is on display in the city's historic French Quarter, which offers jazz and blues music performances, Cajun restaurants, and internationally-renowned festivals such as the city's Mardi Gras celebration. The city's bustling French Market, the oldest commercial vendor market in the United States, is home to the famed Cafe du Monde, noted for its cafe au lait, beignets, and other French cafe fare. Other attractions include the city's Garden District, historic Jackson Square, and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
13.New York City
New York City is the most populous city in the United States and one of the world's great metropolises, home to over 23 million residents throughout its greater region. It is known throughout the world as a major cultural and financial capital, renowned for its fast-paced lifestyle, diverse populations, melting-pot culture, and iconic subway system, the largest of its kind in the world. Internationally-renowned landmarks are scattered throughout the city's five boroughs, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the United Nations Headquarters, and the neon-illuminated Times Square urban hub. Sprawling urban oasis Central Park spans over a square mile throughout Manhattan, while the city's Broadway district presents world-class theater premieres. For a more low-key New York experience, Brooklyn offers trendy neighborhoods and hip nightlife, while Queens is home to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which preserves landmarks from the 1964 World's Fair.
O‘ahu is the third-largest island within the Hawai‘ian Islands, home to more than one million residents throughout its 596 square miles. The island is home to the state's capital city, Honolulu, which is known for its high-rise hotels, iconic crescent peaches, and Waikiki cultural and nightlife district. Nearby, several attractions honor the 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing, including the USS Arizona Memorial. 227 miles of shoreline are showcased throughout the island, which is home to the Wai‘anae and Ko?olau Range shield volcanoes. The island's highest point, Ka?ala, reaches more than 4,000 feet above sea level. A number of historic attractions are preserved throughout the island, including former sugar cane plantations and ?Iolani Palace, the former residence of Hawai‘ian royalty prior to the incorporation of the islands into the United States.
Ogunquit is a trendy Maine coastal tourist town, located within the Portland, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The town's name is a reference to the Abenaki indigenous word for "beautiful place by the sea," originally settled in 1641 as part of the nearby city of Wells. Today, it has become a popular retirement village and LGBT tourist destination in New England, voted as the best coastal small town in America by USA Today in 2016. Views of the Atlantic Ocean are offered from Ogunquit Beach, while a 1.25-mile cliff walk at Marginal Way connects the beachfront to the town's downtown shopping and dining district. Cultural attractions include the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, focusing on the works of Maine artists, and the Ogunquit Playhouse, which stages musical performances each summer.
Portland is the largest city in the state of Oregon, home to a population of more than 2.4 million throughout its urban region. The city is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and the foot of Mount Hood and is one of the most prominent port cities in the Pacific Northwest, known internationally for its thriving counterculture scene and socially liberal values. It is one of the United States' most environmentally-conscious cities, noted for its bicycle-friendly atmosphere, farm-to-table culinary destinations, sprawling public parks, and city-wide sustainability initiatives. Major attractions include the 412-acre Washington Park, which is home to the Oregon Zoo and a traditional-style Japanese Garden and tea room. The city is also home to more than 60 independent craft microbreweries and brewpubs, earning it the nickname "The Craft Beer Capital of the World."
San Antonio is the seventh most-populated city in the United States, home to over 2.4 million residents throughout its broader metropolitan area. The city is a major cultural center of Spanish colonial heritage, home to famed sites such as the 18th-century Alamo Mission, which is included in the citywide historic Missions Trail. Its downtown district is home to the beautiful San Antonio River Walk, a pedestrian riverfront trail that travels down the length of the San Antonio River and offers access to top attractions such as the city's Hemisfair Park, showcasing preserved attractions from the 1968 World's Fair. Three amusement parks are located near the city, including nationally-renowned theme park Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Each year, the city is host to major special events such as the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, one of America's biggest rodeos.
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San Diego is the second-largest city in California after Los Angeles, home to more than 4.9 million residents throughout its metropolitan region. The city, which is nicknamed "The Birthplace of California," is located at the United States' border with Mexico at the Baja Peninsula and is one of Southern California's top cultural and economic centers, known for its beautiful deep-water harbor, which offers ample opportunities for water sports, boating, and swimming along more than 70 miles of pristine beaches. A year-round mild climate makes the city one of the American West Coast's top tourist destinations, home to attractions such as the acclaimed San Diego Zoo, the immense Balboa Park, the culturally-focused Gaslamp Quarter, and a number of museums chronicling the city's rich naval history. Exploring the city is easy for tourists traveling alone, with ample sites for bike rental and major attraction access provided by the city's Hop-on Hop-off Trolley.
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San Francisco is the northernmost major city in California and is the fifth most heavily-populated region in the United States, only ranking behind four of five New York City boroughs. The beautiful peninsular city is known around the world for its expansive bay region, which is home to landmarks such as the often-photographed Golden Gate Bridge and the notorious former Alcatraz Island prison. It has a national reputation as one of America's most socially liberal and affluent cities, noted for its mid-20th century political activism and anti-war movements, and is frequently rated as the most liveable major city in the nation due to its abundance of public and state park lands. Major visitor attractions include the Fisherman's Wharf District, the fine arts DeYoung Museum, and the nation's oldest Chinatown neighborhood. Throughout the city's broader Silicon Valley region, the nation's technology and innovation companies are showcased, along with visitor attractions such as the California's Great America theme park.
Mackinac Island is a major resort island located off Michigan's Lake Huron coastline, spanning 3.8 square miles of urban and natural park lands. The island, which has previously been home to Odawa indigenous settlements, fur trading posts, and British and American military facilities, has been one of Michigan's top resort communities since the late 19th century, famously banning cars throughout its urban areas to preserve its natural habitat. Over 80 percent of the island's lands are protected as part of Mackinac Island State Park, which offers a variety of seasonal outdoor recreation opportunities. Historic architecture abounds, preserved at sites such as the Victorian Grand Hotel, the Biddle House, and the McGulpin House. Each year, the island hosts an annual 10-day Lilac Festival and two noted Great Lakes sailing races.
Savannah is Georgia's oldest city, originally established and planned by Georgia's colonial founder and urban developer James Oglethorpe. The city is home to one of the United States' largest urban historic districts, which roughly corresponds to the city's boundaries around the time of the American Civil War. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, live oak and Spanish moss trees, and National Historic Landmarks abound, including the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the oldest public museums in the American South, and the First African Baptist Church, one of the country's oldest African-American Baptist congregations. The city is noted as a major cultural center in the American South, home to arts organizations such as the Savannah Ballet Theatre, the Savannah Theatre, the Savannah Orchestra, and a number of annual cultural festivals.
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Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, located in Washington State near the Puget Sound. The city is home to more than 3.8 million residents throughout its metropolitan region and is one of the fastest-growing major cities in America, known internationally for its technology and innovation industries, socially liberal values, and independent music scene, which established the careers of grunge rock bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Prominent skyline landmarks include the Space Needle, constructed for the 1962 World's Fair, and the Seattle Great Wheel, one of the largest observation wheels in the United States. Cultural attractions abound, including contemporary art museums, fringe theaters, and microbreweries and farm-to-table restaurants. The city's mild climate allows for year-round outdoor recreation opportunities throughout its vast sprawls of park lands, with nearby access points for hiking and skiing in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.
Sedona is a city within Arizona's Verde Valley, home to a population of more than 10,000 residents. The city was named after the wife of its first civic postmaster and is best known for the beautiful red sandstone formations that surround it, including steep canyons and brilliant red buttes. Throughout the 20th century, the city was a major filming hub for Western-themed Hollywood films, including 3:10 to Yuma, Desert Fury, and The Last Wagon. It is also a hub for New Age spirituality, serving as the site for the 1987 Harmonic Convergence event. Uptown, the city is home to a significant arts district hosting annual events such as the Sedona International Film Festival, the Sedona Bluegrass Festival, and GumptionFest, one of the largest free music and arts festivals in the state. Nearby, Red Rock State Park offers a number of hiking trailheads and bird-watching sites.
Taos is a city within New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains, home to a population of approximately 5,700 residents. The town's name is derived from nearby preserved indigenous village Taos Pueblo, roughly translating to "place of red willows" in English. More than 20 buildings within the city's center have been preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, including several living history sites connected to early American Southwest settlers. The city has long been known as a prominent artist colony, home to more than 80 art galleries and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, which sponsors artists in residency. Each July, the city hosts the Fiestas de Taos celebration, honoring the city's two patron saints. Nearby, the D.H. Lawrence Ranch preserves the 1920s home of the famed novelist, while the Taos Valley offers opportunities for skiing, mountain biking, fishing, golfing, and hot springs relaxation.
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Vail is one of America's wealthiest small towns, located at the base of Vail Mountain within the White River National Forest. The city is home to a population of more than 5,300 residents and is best known as the site of the Vail Ski Resort, Colorado's largest and most popular ski mountain. It serves as a major gateway for winter recreation in the Rocky Mountains, including snowboarding and skiing. During the summer months, Gore Creek becomes a popular spot for fly fishing, while golfing and hiking opportunities abound throughout the National Forest and other outdoor sites. The city is also a major center for cultural events and culinary tourism, hosting annual events such as the Vail Film Festival, the Bravo! Vail orchestra series, and the Taste of Vail food and wine festival.
25 Best Solo Vacation Destinations in the United States
- The Poconos, Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/stock.adobe.com
- San Luis Obispo, Photo: Bon/fotolia.com
- Bainbridge Island, Photo: ansyvan/fotolia.com
- Block Island, Photo: sbgoodwin/fotolia.com
- Boston, Photo: Crin/fotolia.com
- Boulder, Photo: Yevgenia Gorbulsky/fotolia.com
- Charlottesville, Photo: Melinda Fawver/fotolia.com
- Chicago, Photo: soupstock/fotolia.com
- Coeur d'Alene, Photo: wollertz/fotolia.com
- Missoula, Photo: davidrh/fotolia.com
- Naples, Photo: philipus/fotolia.com
- New Orleans, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/fotolia.com
- New York City, Photo: deberarr/fotolia.com
- O‘ahu, Photo: bennymarty/fotolia.com
- Ogunquit, Photo: Thomas/fotolia.com
- Portland, Photo: haveseen/fotolia.com
- San Antonio, Photo: andreykr/fotolia.com
- San Diego, Photo: Jo Ann Snover/fotolia.com
- San Francisco, Photo: JFL Photography/fotolia.com
- Mackinac Island, Photo: Michael/fotolia.com
- Savannah, Photo: marls/fotolia.com
- Seattle, Photo: Felix Mizioznikov/fotolia.com
- Sedona, Photo: Margaret/fotolia.com
- Taos, Photo: Richard/fotolia.com
- Vail, Photo: Nelson Sirlin/fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Gordon Fahey/fotolia.com