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New York City, the city that never sleeps, is one of the most iconic US cities and is on many travelers’ bucket lists. There are many unique things to see and do, with something for every traveler or tourist. Though I love finding fun date night ideas with my boyfriend, I have lived in the city for a few years and also LOVE my solo dates. I’ve compiled this list of my favorite things to do in NYC Alone for solo travelers or people who live in the city looking for something to do with their free day!
Is NYC Safe for Solo Travelers?
Yes, and no. Safety is always a concern in big cities, especially for solo travelers. I travel around NYC regularly, but I know the city well, including the layout, transportation, and, most importantly, the safe vs. unsafe areas. I also recommend buying useful travel accessories such as an anti-theft bag or scrunchie with a hidden pocket to store emergency money.
I do not say this to make you feel unsafe but as a reminder to be cautious and alert. Generally, NYC is safe, especially if you stick to well-known areas and travel during the day. During the night, try to wander with a group of people from your hostel or in crowded areas rather than venturing out alone or in some back alley. Overall, if you follow basic common sense and safety rules while taking precautions you would take in any major city, you should be okay!
Museums are a perfect way to spend a day alone in New York City, and there are so many to choose from! Below is a list of some of my favorites:
- Museum of Natural History: This is a natural history museum in the Upper West Side featuring animals, plants, cultural artifacts, minerals, and more.
- The Met: This is one of the most visited museums in the U.S. and the largest art museum in the Americas. It contains works dating from ancient times to modern art.
- Museum of Modern Art: This famous museum showcases modern and contemporary art. It contains famous masterpieces such as Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lillies.
- The Whitney: The Whitney is a smaller art museum featuring 20th and 21st-century American art with over 25,000 pieces.
- The Rubin: An art museum focused on displaying art from Central Asia, India, and Eurasia. There is a significant focus on Tibetan and Himalayan art featuring Buddhism.
- Brooklyn Museum: This Museum contains NYC’s second-largest art collection and often holds special exhibits of interest, such as the Dior and Mugler exhibits.
- The Frick Collection: This art museum features European fine art and masterpieces from the Renaissance to the early 20th century.
Enjoy a Comedy Show
Comedy shows are a great way to enjoy some laughs and will keep you entertained. Most of the comedy shows in NYC have a cover charge and a two-drink minimum. Two of the best include Comedy Cellar and Gotham Comedy Club.
The Cellar provides a more intimate venue with three locations on the same block. The comedians are always hilarious, giving the club its famous reputation. Gotham is a little bigger, and guests are more spread out, which is excellent for travelers who enjoy having more space.
Enjoy a Broadway Show
A trip to NYC isn’t complete without checking out at least one iconic Broadway Show! For travelers on a budget, check out Broadway Roulette! Watch a Broadway show for $49 – $59 on a night of your choice. You can eliminate shows you don’t want to watch and get a random selection from the shows remaining. This deal is a steal when Broadway tickets usually go for $100s and the perfect thing to do in NYC alone.
Go Shopping in Soho
NYC is a fashion capital, and for a good reason! There are hundreds of stores, shops, and boutiques. Although 5th Avenue is a popular shopping destination, Soho is more fun and unique. Stroll through the streets and head into any shops that catch your eye. However, Soho can be pretty expensive, so it may primarily be window shopping (at least it is for me!), but the charm of this neighborhood is unmatched.
Central Park Picnic
If the weather is nice and warm, treat yourself to a gorgeous picnic in central park! Grab a bottle of wine, some food, and a picnic blanket, and make your way to central park to people-watch and soak in the nice weather. Though places such as Sheep’s Meadow are popular areas, I recommend heading somewhere a little more secluded for a more relaxing experience. My favorite spot is near Belvedere Castle. It provides stunning views; as a bonus, you’ll be near a bathroom!
Chase the City Skyline
The iconic NYC skyline is a sight to behold, with people even taking helicopter rides to experience it! There are multiple places to see the skyline and enjoy the views, including popular ones like The Edge, Top of the Rock, and Summit One Vanderbilt.
However, one of the best spots to view the skyline is from across the river in Jersey City. The best part is this is free (minus the Subway far to get over)! I recommend going to Exchange Place to see the view, and if you are ambitious, heading there for sunrise for a stunning sight!
Go to a Food Market
There are many lively food markets with fantastic food, making it one of the most fun things to do in NYC alone! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chelsea Market: Located in the heart of Chelsea, this market has many food stalls, from the famous Los Tacos to pasta to sushi. There are also many shops to get souvenirs or browse!
- Food Gallery 32: Located in Koreatown, Food Gallery 32 is one of the best markets for Asian food. It was ramen, omurice, bubble tea, and much more!
- Timeout Market: Timeout Market has a mix of great food and amazing views of NYC from Brooklyn. Look out for their fun events, including fun themes, DJs, and live music!
- Market 57: One of the newest food halls in NYC, this market features a mix of minority- and women-owned businesses with over a dozen food stalls.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great place to relax and marvel at the trees, plants, and flowers. It is one of my favorite things to do in NYC alone, especially during the Spring. The garden comes alive in spring with gorgeous pink and white cherry blossom trees. The atmosphere (and the photos!) are breathtaking!
Join a Meetup
If you are alone and want to make friends or try a group activity, join Meetup! Meetup is an excellent app that lets you connect with others with the same interests as you. You can join groups based on age and interest and then attend an event! I’ve been to multiple, with some of my favorites being dodgeball and escape room meetups.
NYC has so many venues to unleash your creative side! Try some of these fun activities if you find yourself with a free day:
- Color Me Mine: Color Me Mine is a pottery painting studio that lets you choose from multiple pieces, such as bowls, mugs, and dishes, to get creative!
- Happy Medium Art Cafe: This is a newer hidden gem that offers you multiple options, such as watercolor painting, charcoal, sculpting, oil pastels, and more! The space is also unique and creates an art loft atmosphere.
- Muse Paintbar: This is the classic paint and sip that everyone loves! Choose a day and painting you like, and an artist will take you step by step to recreate it independently.
- Downtown Yarns: Pick up a new skill or hobby by learning to knit! The instructor is both passionate and fantastic at teaching anyone this skill. I went to the scarf knitting class for beginners and had a blast!
Join a Walking Tour
Another way to meet new people while learning about the city is to join a walking tour! This activity may interest visitors more than residents, but it is a fun experience for anyone. The best part is that many walking tours are free! Check out Guruwalk to find hundreds of free options.
Also, as a bonus, check out City Girls Who Walk. Though not a walking tour, it is a great way to get out of the house and meet other girls living in NYC.
Check out Limited Exhibitions
New York always has limited exhibitions and pop-ups, from digital art to showcasing famous designers! I have been to many, with some of my favorites being the American Horror Story Pop-up, the Dior exhibit, and the Van Gogh digital art experience. These limited exhibitions and pop-ups may last from one week to a few months.
The easiest way to find them is to do a simple Google search for limited exhibits and pop-ups in NYC! Also, check out the Brooklyn Museum website for some of the most interesting ones! I’ve been to multiple popups in NYC alone and have enjoyed each one!
Kayak for Free
During the Summer, rent a kayak through one of New York’s many free kayaking programs! Downtown Boathouse Pier 26 and the Manhattan Community Boathouse on Pier 96 are two of the most popular options. Marvel at the NYC skyline from the water while enjoying this fun activity!
Sofar Sounds Show
A Sofar Sounds Show is a fun concept where you can discover new music in a cozy setting. Each show has 3-4 vetted artists showcasing their music, and the fun part is that you do not know the venue until the day before the show or the artists until the day of! Sofar Sounds is a great way to meet other music lovers or enjoy your own company!
Have you ever wondered what it is like to throw an axe at a target? Axe throwing is a fun and satisfying activity that leaves you feeling like a badass. Live Axe is my favorite axe-throwing bar in Manhattan and a great activity to do in NYC alone!
For a lower price, you can book a shared cage which allows you to meet (and compete) against other people and possibly make new friends! There is also a great drink and bar food selection.
This article should give you various ideas on how to spend your next solo day in the Big Apple! For those who still feel uncomfortable doing things in NYC alone, check out this guide on making friends in NYC, and you’ll have a squad in no time.