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Things to Do Alone in NYC

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This post is for those traveling solo to New York City.

We include safety tips, suggestions on finding the best hotel for you, where to dine alone and how to meet people if you want to.


Best New York Hotels for Solo Travelers

We don't think you should limit your hotel search simply because you are traveling alone.

You probably have a budget and a particular taste in hotel atmosphere. 

By all means, look into any hotels that interest you. Still, there are some considerations when choosing a hotel.

pod 39 hotel rooftop

Narrow down your choices by finding a neighborhood that is safe and lively.

The more people around, the better you will feel arriving back at your hotel late at night.

Also, you’ll want a neighborhood that has lots of cafes and restaurants that are good for dining alone. 

Some hotels have a built-in social scene, either with scheduled activities, game rooms and lounges that are welcoming to solo travelers.

We like these hotels for those traveling alone in New York City:

  • The Pod hotels are reasonably priced and lean toward social atmospheres. Some have playrooms and very welcoming lobbies and lounges. They have several locations: Pod 51, Pod Times Square, Pod 39 and Pod Brooklyn.

    Pod 39 in particular is a great solo traveler hotel. They pride themselves on being “all about connectivity – be it to the city, our staff, or your fellow urban nomads.” Plus, there is a fantastic rooftop bar!
  • Ace Hotel is in NoMad, a safe and central location near Midtown Manhattan. There’s a subway on the corner and it’s within walking distance of many popular attractions. Better still, the hotel holds social events every night in the lobby. This is a perfect opportunity to meet other travelers.
  • Leo House is a Catholic guesthouse but there is no requirement that you have certain religious beliefs. Many solo women travelers report that it feels very safe and homey and that it is a good atmosphere overall.

    The Leo House is located in Chelsea, a lively neighborhood that has many peaceful spots as well. You are within walking distance of the High Line, a must-see urban park.

See our article on Where to Stay in New York City organized by neighborhood. 

Lastly, look for hotels that are near subway stations.

Not only will your legs thank you for not adding additional walking time to your NYC exploration, but you will also have a quicker, safer walk to your hotel at night.

Best Hostels in New York City

If you want to meet fellow solo travelers, consider staying at a hostel.

While there are not that many hostels in NYC compared to other international cities, there are a few, and some are fairly good. 

If you want some personalized assistance finding the right hotel, join our NYC Travel Tips Facebook Group and create a post asking for recommendations specifically for solo travelers.


Dining Alone in New York

When you dine alone in New York City, you will not be eating alone! Lots of people enjoy their meals without companions. 

Bring a book, play on your phone, or just people-watch, something that New Yorkers love to do!

Restaurants will not be reluctant to seat you alone. Waitstaff are often friendlier to solo diners, especially if they know you are visiting the city. 

If you want to enjoy your food with others and even make a friend or two, take a food tour like our pay-what-you-like food tours!

Your best bet for meals is small cafes and restaurants. Of course, you must try some New York pizza!

A lot of New Yorkers have a bagel and coffee for breakfast. Try it and you will see why so many do this!

ess a bagel

You also have standbys like Starbucks where most people are alone. NYC has some great diners where you can sit at the counter. In nice weather, enjoy your food in a park!

You can also opt for restaurants that have communal tables, food courts, and even restaurants that cater specifically to solo travelers!


Food Halls

Essex Market on the Lower East Side has lots of space to sit and is light and spacious inside.

If you are thinking of going to Essex Market, why not join us for our pay-what-you-like food tour of the Lower East Side instead!

Time Out Market is located in DUMBO where you will find excellent views from the rooftop of the Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge.

top of the timeout food market

Citizens at Manhattan West is a 40,000-square-foot space with nine separate food hall kiosks.

It’s located in Chelsea in Hudson Yards within walking distance to the High Line as well as the observation deck Edge.

DeKalb Market Hall is a very lively dining hall located in downtown Brooklyn within walking distance of Brooklyn Heights

Gansevoort Market is inside the Oculus in the World Trade Center.


Communal Tables

Roberta's serves some of the absolute best pizza in town. It’s in Bushwick, home to the Bushwick Collective.

Here you can see some of the best street art and murals from world-famous street artists.

Clinton Hall has communal tables and serves great food in a friendly atmosphere.

They have several locations. The location in Lower Manhattan is perfect if you plan on visiting the 9/11 memorial or taking the free Staten Island Ferry

Le Pain Quotidien is a very good chain restaurant and quite affordable.

Mimi Cheng's has locations in the East Village and the Upper West Side.


Want To Be Alone While Dining Out?

If you want to be totally alone while in a restaurant, try Ichiran.

They have brought their Japanese solo-dining booth concept to New York City along with fabulous ramen! 

Ichiran restaurant

There are three locations, Midtown Manhattan, Times Square and Bushwick, in Brooklyn. Ichiran is so popular that there can be a wait, but it is worth it!


How To Meet People In New York 

New York City is an excellent destination for solo travelers, for both men and women.

There are so many people living here who spend time on their own that you won't feel alone!

Many locals are happy to talk to solo travelers and will offer advice and suggestions and may even chat with you for a while. 

If you do want to meet other travelers, there are a few ways to do so.


Join A Walking Tour

Walking tours and food tours are a great way to learn about the city and meet new people.

Our pay-what-you-wish walking tours and food tours attract travelers from all over the world and quite a lot of solo travelers. 

New York Tours

Our guides are very friendly and they always make sure that no one feels left out of the tour experience!

At Your Hotel

Most hotels have common spaces, like the lobby, or a hotel bar or restaurant.

You’ll be surrounded by other travelers, some of whom are also looking to connect with other people.

NYC Meetups 

If you are familiar with Meetup.com, use it as a resource for spending time with other people.

There are many New York City groups that arrange all sorts of activities. 

Often, the people who turn up don't know each other so they are in the same boat as you!


Is New York Safe For Solo Travelers? 

It’s normal to be concerned with safety when traveling alone, even more so in such a huge city like New York.

But rest assured, you will be fine if you follow some safety tips. 

how safe is central park

These tips below are for both men and women of all ages. 

However, women solo travelers face challenges that men solo travelers typically do not.

Here are two in-depth articles for women traveling alone: Solo Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers and Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers.


Always Pay Attention To Your Surroundings

You probably do this already, but take it up a notch in NYC.

If you find yourself in a densely crowded area, be aware of who is in your immediate surroundings. 

Pay extra attention on the subway during rush hours when the trains can be packed.

Speaking of the subway, save yourself time and confusion by reading our article on using the subway before you arrive in New York City.

busy subway car

The same holds true when you are on quiet unpopulated streets at night.

Many neighborhoods will be lively on their main streets, but side streets can be very quiet and you may not see a single person! 

As best you can, stay on streets that are well-lit and fairly populated.

Do not listen to music on the streets at night. Take those earbuds out and listen to who and what is around you! 


Try To Blend In With The Locals

There is no shame in being a solo traveler in NYC! 

But if you have your head buried in a map, you will stand out like a sore thumb and be a target for pickpockets. 

Carry yourself with confidence. Act like you own the city!

Read up on the areas you are going to so you will know in advance what to expect.


Never Leave Your Bag Unattended

This is a given in most cities. Be sure at all times to have your bag and other belongings with you.

Don’t leave your purse or phone on a table while you go off to use the restaurant restroom. 

Keep your bags closed and any valuables out of sight. Don’t have your phone sticking out of your back pocket.


More Safety Tips

Read up on even more safety tips from our article, Is New York Safe to Visit for Tourists? as well as 15 Mistakes to Avoid in New York City.


We hope that all the information above helps you enjoy your time in New York City! 

Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of things to do in New York City that includes information on free things to do, nighttime activities, and suggested itineraries to make the most of your time in NYC! 

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About The Author

Courtney

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: July 14th, 2022
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