I am so excited to be writing this post for you all following my recent SOLO trip to New York City! After sharing bits and pieces of my trip over on social media, I was surprised by the number of people commenting they’re wanting to do the same thing or even visit New York City for the first time, so I figured I’d put this post together for all the things you need to know when visiting NYC solo or for the first time! You can also watch my Solo NYC Travel Vlog over on my YouTube channel here!
As I had been to New York City a couple of times in the past and have done a lot of the touristy things before, my main goal for this trip was to “live a day in the life of a New Yorker” and get my NYC living fix in and I absolutely thrived! It was the BEST experience and I had the best time.
Before diving right into this post though, let me provide a little bit of additional context.
The whole week prior to my long weekend traveling solo in NYC, I was on a business trip for my work on the east coast and was staying in the greater New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. A couple of months back as I was booking this trip to fly into Newark in New Jersey, I just knew I couldn’t pass up the chance at spending a long weekend in the city following my business trip, especially because you can see the whole New York City skyline flying into Newark. It was just something that I couldn’t pass up, no matter how terrified I was to do it.
I had very minimal experience with solo travel so the thought of doing this on my own was making me so nervous and, honestly, I was doubting my capabilities that I could even do it. Once the moment finally arrived where I was on my own in the city, something changed in me and I instantly felt 100% more confident in myself and definitely felt my senses a bit more heightened to be aware of my surroundings while navigating the city on my own.
New York Kels was SO confident, brave, and street smart and was everything I needed to take on NYC solo and it ended up being the absolute BEST experience and is one of the best choices I have made for myself and for my own personal self-growth. So if you’re reading this and sharing that same fear of traveling to NYC on your own, this is your sign to book that trip and just go for it! Also a side note that while NYC can seem very overwhelming and intimidating for your first solo travel experience, it’s also a great city to travel solo in!
Everything you want is on the other side of fear, and let me tell you, this was definitely the theme of my NYC trip. I pushed myself WAY out of my comfort zone and the result was so rewarding and gave me some great memories. The experience has only made me want to solo travel even more and I am so thankful for that.
Going off of this, I wanted to dive right into some tips and tricks and things to know when traveling to New York on your own, aka how to live like a New Yorker 101:
- Wear/pack walking shoes
- You will be doing a TON of walking and your feet will thank you by wearing proper shoes. I made the rookie mistake of wearing shoes not meant for long-distance walking a few times and my feet had a pulse at the end of each day that I did.
- Bring cash
- Some restaurants require cash only and you may occasionally run into a situation where you’re in a taxi and the card reader is broken where you’re left to only pay in cash, so always make sure you have some on hand in case these situations arise!
- Carry a backpack or tote bag with you around the city and pack a portable phone charger
- You will see so many New Yorkers walking around with either a backpack or tote and portable phone charger and it’s a good habit to get into. My phone was how I navigated the city on my own and I would truly have been lost had my phone died while I was out and about. I made the rookie mistake of not carrying my charger on the first day and had to run to Target to buy one before running out of battery and getting lost!
- Do some research on where to stay
- I personally had heard great things about SoHo and decided to stay there this time around and felt very safe walking around SoHo on my own. The hotel I stayed at, Arlo Soho, in particular, was a great choice for being on my own! The staff was so friendly and the room was the perfect size for one person and in such a good location. In the past, I had always stayed in midtown where most of the tourist attractions are and it is much louder, busier, and a bit more sketchy than downtown in SoHo.
- Don’t go out at night/after dark or try to avoid as much as possible
- I went out at night twice and both times I was with a group of friends. When on my own, I was always in my hotel before the sun went down, which honestly worked out just fine with how tired I was at the end of each day after a full day of navigating NYC – it’s exhausting!
- Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid going down any side streets
- Especially if you’re shooting some content with a tripod – don’t go too far away from it so you can always grab it and walk away if someone sketchy approaches.
- Always act confident and act like you know where you’re going, even if you don’t
- I made the mistake of looking lost and confused on my first night back in the city in a few years and people can easily tell. I won’t go into details but creepy people were starting to bug me so it was an immediate lesson learned. The moment that I knew I needed to look confident and walk with a purpose, people were coming up to me at this point asking for directions assuming that I lived there! It’s all about how you present yourself that can make such a huge difference!
Honestly, the subway system confuses the heck out of me so I stayed away from the subway for the most part and either walked everywhere or took Ubers. I personally just felt safer doing it this way, even if it cost me a bit more money. I was prioritizing my safety on this trip and was totally okay with spending a bit more on transportation as long as it meant I felt safer and more comfortable, plus it’s all in how you can justify it, if you can walk somewhere versus when you need to take alternate forms of transportation. Anything longer than a 20-minute walk I would typically Uber to, and anything under 20 minutes I would choose to walk. I’ve also heard great things about the app Citymapper for all things navigating NYC.
And now moving on to the fun things!
As previously mentioned, New York City was not new to me and I had done all the midtown things in the past. I was, however, pretty unfamiliar with SoHo and the Tribeca area and was so excited to stay in this area on my trip and explore downtown a bit more. SoHo is in a great location and is very walkable to Tribeca, Little Italy, downtown and the Financial District, Chelsea, Hudson Yards, the West Village, and Greenwich Village. Bonus points that all of these neighborhoods are so cute and aesthetic and have a fun vibe!
As a content creator, one thing I absolutely loved about traveling to NYC on my own is that New Yorkers see weird things every single day and seeing someone out and about taking pictures with their tripod is not one of those things. Normally I always feel so awkward about shooting content on my own with my tripod, but in NYC, literally no one cares and I had no issues with people watching me take photos. It’s New York after-all, everyone is always hustling and rushing to the next place that no one even notices!
As you can imagine, there is an overwhelming amount of restaurants to choose from in NYC and I feel like I haven’t tried enough of them. As I traveled solo, I didn’t go to too many sit-down restaurants and was typically grabbing something quick. So some of my personal favorites that I’d recommend for one person are:
- Joe’s Pizza
- Murray’s Bagels
- Bagels and Schmear
- Juice Press
- Bluestone Lane Coffee
- Sarabeth’s (for breakfast/brunch) – I visited last time I was in NYC a couple of years ago and I remember it being so delicious!
Things to do while solo in NYC:
- Explore Brooklyn and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Grab coffee and walk around Central Park and the Upper East Side
- Go shopping in SoHo
- Explore the West Village and Washington Square Park
- Take yourself out to eat in Little Italy
- Explore the Flatiron District
- Explore Hudson Yards and the Vessel
- New York has so much to choose from, the opportunities are endless!
SoHo is the shopping/fashion district so if you’re looking to do some shopping while in NYC, SoHo is a great place to go for that and there are so many shops to check out! I personally loved visiting the 12th Tribe pop-up shop, Alo, and Mure and Grand, but honestly, I could’ve spent a whole day checking out all the shops in SoHo if I had more time, and more room in my suitcase for new things to bring home!
Where to stay:
- If traveling alone, I’d recommend SoHo/downtown since it’s a bit more laid back and felt a bit safer.
- If traveling with someone and/or for your first time visiting the city, I’d recommend midtown since that’s where a lot of the tourist attractions are and where you can truly experience New York City.
If you made it all the way to the end, thank you so much for reading and I hope this post was helpful for planning your trip to NYC!
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Thanks for reading!
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