The United States is gorgeous, from sea to shining sea. I love being from such a huge and varied country with all kinds of different landscapes, cultures, and sights. If I spent my lifetime only exploring the States, I’d have so much variety it would still feel like I’d traveled far and wide.
It’s incredible that in one country you have some of the highest mountaintops, tropical beaches and icy glaciers, and rocky deserts with some of the most breathtaking formations on planet Earth.
So for those who want to test out solo traveling at home before they go abroad, or if you’re from elsewhere and want to see what the US has to offer, you’ve made a great choice. But with so many options, you might be wondering where to start. For a visual tour, watch the video below, or keep reading for an explanation of each below:
These are some of my favorites in the USA, plus the advice of several other solo female travelers to get you started:
1. Alabama Hills, California
The Alabama Hills is BLM land, meaning it’s owned by the public (the Bureau of Land Management), with arches, beautiful views of the eastern Sierras, and lots of Hollywood history. I did a solo road trip here and enjoyed every minute of it. If you are a photography lover, the Alabama Hills has plenty of photogenic stops, including the popular Movie Road (pictured above), Mobius Arch (go at sunset!), Boot Arch, and Miss Alabama herself.
As a solo traveler, you’ll get lots of solitude in the Alabama Hills and the other deserts on my California deserts road trip, which I loved. This is one of the beautiful things about traveling in this part of the world: all the wide-open spaces and the spiritual vibe. Plus, you can’t beat the stargazing or the sunsets!
2. Page, Arizona
Page is the jumping-off point for several of Arizona’s most beautiful places. I was blown away in particular by Horseshoe Bend and of course the famous Antelope Canyon. Since this part of the world attracts so many travelers, I found it easy to have conversations with others who were free-camping with me, and even made a friend when I ventured to the paid campsites for a shower (but not in the shower itself, we met in the parking lot later, I swear).
If you’re considering which of the two canyons to visit, I did a comparison of Lower and Upper here, though both are worth checking out for different reasons!
3. San Francisco, California
Whenever people who aren’t from the state visit California, almost everyone ends up falling in love with San Francisco. As a native Southern Californian, it’s in my DNA to roll my eyes and find this offensive, but deep down, I silently agree. The Bay Area in general is beautiful and temperate, and has a unique culture. My European friends often say it has a charm that reminds them of home.
I love it for the ease of getting around on the BART system, how small and contained the city itself is, and how picturesque and multicultural it is. Try a yoga or meditation class, head there during Pride, or see some live music at the Outside Lands festival. It’s the perfect place to jump off from or end up in when on a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway too!
4. Bayfield, Wisconsin
Midwesterners are known for being friendly, and they lived up to their reputation when I visited Bayfield, Wisconsin. It’s an artsy town with outgoing residents, and it’s small enough that it feels intimate, yet big enough that there is plenty to do. Join a kayaking or boat trip, or take a drive around to the various orchards.
There are plenty of beaches and quirky hangouts as well. If you love camping, there’s lots of that. If you visit in the winter, the famous caves ice over, which looks incredible. If you’re into photography and the outdoors, then you will absolutely love this little town on Lake Superior, the jumping-off point for the Apostle Islands.
5. Moab, Utah
Moab is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. For those all about the camper-van life, bouldering, hiking, or kayaking, Moab has it all going on. It’s where you’ll find Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as well as Dead Horse Point State Park. Basically it’s one of the most gorgeous areas on earth, with a high concentration of incredible rock formations and free campsites.
I easily met people just by hanging around the free campsites and the coffee shops, and while watching the sunset over Dead Horse Point during my solo American Southwest road trip. I tend to find that when a place attracts people because of common interest, especially something outdoorsy, it tends to be social. Moab is no exception.
6. Big Sur, California
I’ve looked on every continent and I still haven’t found anywhere as beautiful or majestic as Big Sur on the central coast in California, though it’s seen its fair share of disasters lately. Still, when accessible, McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is one of the dreamiest waterfalls I’ve seen.
Big Sur is a fantastic place to unwind. If you want to meet others, the campsites can be pretty social. However when I’m out there, I find the best companions are the dolphins and whales jumping out of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, and the squirrels and deer on the trails.
For more on my favorite state and national parks in California, check out my musings on Alamo’s Scenic Route.
7. Squaw Valley, California
“My go-to solo trip destination is Squaw Valley. During the winter, it offers ample skiable terrain that is safe to navigate solo, in addition to a wide array of yoga classes and spa services perfect for wrapping up a long day of solo skiing or boarding.
“The variety of restaurants at Squaw also cater to the solo female travel, with many offering intimate booths where you can curl up with a book and hot toddy while waiting for your meal. When the snow has melted, this is still my favorite solo-trip destination, as it offers dozens of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. For those who don’t feel comfortable hiking or biking on their own, there are multiple companies that offer guided tours.” – Bailey of Feng Shui Mommy
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas wouldn’t have been the first place that I would have expected to be awesome alone, but with so much to do, it’s actually perfect!
According to Noni, “I’ve traveled in North America by myself, and I’ve never enjoyed anything more than Las Vegas! I’m not American and didn’t expect much of it, but when I arrived I knew it was so much better than any other location in North America!
“It’s very easy to meet people: everybody’s in a good mood and very open to meeting new people. There’s a bus that’s very popular and goes every couple of minutes, which makes traveling easy. And there’s so much to do, from cinemas and clubs to bowling and casinos — Las Vegas is definitely my favorite place to travel as a female solo traveler!” – Noni of Noni May
9. New Orleans, Louisiana
“I believe New Orleans is a perfect place for solo female travelers. I have traveled there on my own and loved it. The city may be known for Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, but there is a fascinating and rich cultural history to discover over a long weekend. There’s something for everyone in NOLA. For starters, I suggest staying in a boutique hotel on Royal Street, right near the allegedly haunted LaLaurie Mansion. While you’re there, tour cemeteries in the Garden District and the French Quarter, and sample the town’s famous beignets, po’ boys, and beverages.
“Entertainment is plentiful and ranges from low-key to raging parties. Learn about the dueling reigns and lingering influence of France and Spain, or the city’s centuries-long history of voodoo and witchcraft. Or join the revelers in the Fruit Loop for a round of Hand Grenades. You’re sure to find exactly what you’re in the mood for and stay within your budget, too.
“New Orleans is a large city, but it’s easy to navigate on foot or by streetcar and bus. I never felt unsafe as a solo traveler, because the streets are always bustling with tourists and locals, although it’s smart to practice precautions appropriate for travel in any big city.” – Brittany of She Goes With Purpose.
10. Maui, Hawaii
I forgive you if you don’t think of Hawai’i when you think of great places to travel solo, and I wouldn’t have either until I actually went to Maui alone last year. It was fantastic! There was so much to do, from a women’s surf school to driving the Road to Hana to joining snorkeling trips.
I thought I would be surrounded by honeymooners, but I actually found that people were very outgoing and friendly, coupled off or not. I highly recommend Maui solo, much to my surprise!
11. The Big Island of Hawaii
“The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the best places for adventurous solo female travelers. With volcanoes, world-class dive sites, interesting beaches, and miles of hiking trails, any girl with a penchant for the unexplored will never get bored. Solo travelers will love watching lava bubble at the top of Mauna Loa, snorkeling in Honaunau Bay, and visiting Uncle Robert’s night market, an eclectic market that serves fresh food and sells handmade clothing, beauty products, and decor.
“It’s easy to meet friends through activities, at the beach, and by going on day tours. The island is easy to navigate with a rental car, as there is one main road that circles the entire island. Most people consider going to the more tourist-heavy islands like Oahu, but the Big Island is an underrated spot that is well worth the trek.” – Chantae of The Salt Sirens
12. Seattle, Washington
“Traveling solo in Seattle is great because it offers such a variety of activities that you can enjoy some solitude or plant yourself in an area teeming with activity (or even do both easily on the same day). Seattle offers neighborhoods with distinct character, food from any culture you can imagine, fantastic museums, and gorgeous public parks.
“A highlight of any trip to Seattle was experiencing the exceptionally talented local musicians that perform throughout the city on most nights. Jazz, experimental, rock, punk, metal, baroque, blues, hip-hop — all are waiting for you. Public transit can get you most places during the day, and taxis/ride-shares are readily available for late-night adventures. It is very common for people to dine solo or listen to live music by themselves in Seattle, so no need to hesitate or feel awkward. Also, if you have heard of the ‘Seattle Freeze,’ don’t worry: locals are actually friendly and helpful once you start the conversation. But no umbrellas, please!” — Robin
13. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
“Cape Cod, the tail of Massachusetts and a family-friendly beach destination, is also very well suited to solo female travelers. Why? Because it’s extremely safe, easy to get around, and downright beautiful. The Cape is just over an hour’s drive from Boston or Providence. You’ll definitely want to have a car, so that you can freely explore its beautiful beaches. The ocean ones are all lined with epic sand dunes, while the bay ones host the most stunning sunsets (if you’re lucky enough to catch one at low tide, wow — the reflections off the puddles in the sand flats are something else!).
“Outdoor adventurers should tackle the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which runs for 25 miles, from Dennis to Wellfleet. There are outposts all along the trail where you can rent a bike then cycle past cranberry bogs, marshes, and lakes. Or for slightly less active adventures, hit up Wellfleet for the weekend flea market and drive-in movies, gay-friendly Provincetown for shopping and nightlife, and just about any restaurant for the Cape’s legendary clam chowder.” — Lindsay of Frugal Frolicker
14. Minneapolis, Minnesota
“I call Minneapolis the Stockholm of the Midwest. It’s filled with Swedish-Americans, gets very cold in winter (colder than Stockholm, actually), and has many opportunities to enjoy the fine arts.
“For a solo female traveler, it’s a perfect big city to visit. It’s safe to wander around, has beautiful architecture and natural vistas, provides great bike paths, and features plenty of fun shops, like cafés and stationery boutiques.
“When it comes to the outdoors, in the summertime, it’s wonderful to explore all the green space and the hundreds of lakes nearby. And in the winter you have lots of opportunities to go ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. No matter the time of year, Minneapolis has plenty on the calendar for you to enjoy.” — Hayley of International Hotdish
15. Sun Valley, Idaho
Idaho really must be one of the most beautiful states in the wintertime. I celebrated New Year’s there last year and I just loved the welcoming and friendly vibe. Idaho is so underrated!
Sun Valley is a quaint town with fantastic skiing and snowshoeing, natural hot springs, and locals who are more than happy to have a conversation with visitors and newcomers. If you want to venture outside of Sun Valley, there are tons of amazing hot springs to check out. You can find my itinerary here.
16. Austin, Texas
In recent years, Austin has completely exploded in popularity. More and more young people are choosing to transplant themselves to this hip Southern city, and I can’t blame them. There’s so much to do there — from catching live music to the summer street festivals and top-notch museums, this city has it all.
Austin is the perfect solo destination for travelers who enjoy meeting other people on the road. It’s very social, with bustling restaurant, café, and bar scenes. Go vintage shopping at North Loop Vintage Shops, see the city via bike tour, or connect with your inner child at the Museum of Ice Cream. It’s no wonder Austin is such a popular destination for travelers, solo or otherwise.
17. Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park in Montana is a magical slice of outdoors heaven that is perfect for solo travelers with an adventurous spirit and who thrive in solitude. Here you’ll find crystal-clear lakes, abundant greenery as far as the eye can see, and some of the best stargazing in the US.
Don’t be intimidated by the park’s size, because it’s totally doable to visit for just a couple of days. Check out everything you can do in Glacier National Park in just 48 hours for inspiration.
18. Portland, Oregon
The beauty of Portland is that a solo traveler can be as social as they’d like in the city and then retreat to the forest for solitude at any time. Portland is just a short drive away from the Columbia River Gorge, where you’ll find the majestic Multnomah Falls, among others.
In the city, you’ll enjoy bearing witness to all of Portland’s quirks, like its quintessential underground donut scene. Biking is quite popular in Portland, and you can join in on the cycling fun by taking a bike tour that focuses on the city’s vibrant art and poetry culture.
19. Chicago, Illinois
Visiting such a large city solo gives you a sense of anonymity that can be exciting. When I lived in Chicago, I loved going on solo adventures all over town and discovering cultural gems, quirky restaurants, and unexpected museums. Each neighborhood in Chicago has a personality of its own, filled with endless adventures. Whether you’re staying for a couple of days or a few weeks, you can be sure that Chicago lives up to the hype of its being one of the most fascinating cities in the country.
No matter if you visit during the frigid winter or the lively summer, don’t miss out on an architecture boat tour — Chicago is bursting with history, and many stories come to the surface through its unique architectural history. You can also take a tour of the legendary Art Institute of Chicago before opening hours, for a VIP experience.
I recommend that solo travelers choose accommodations that are in the Loop (downtown) area or close to an L train (Chicago’s metro) for easy access to public transport. This will give you the freedom to move around town without having to navigate the buses or use rideshares, which can get expensive, especially if you’re on your own.
If you are looking for ways to save money, check out all these incredible things to do in Chicago for free!
20. Detroit, Michigan
Although it’s known as the Motor City, there’s so much more to Detroit than cars and engines. It has a reputation for being one of the most historically rich destinations in the country, let alone the Midwest. It’s famous for its contributions to music, industry, and architecture especially.
Start your solo trip to Detroit with a walking tour that highlights the city’s beauty and architectural gems. You also won’t want to miss a trip to Belle Isle, a massive, 982-acre island park home to a conservatory, aquarium, museum, and nature center. Who knew you could find a peaceful green paradise in such an industrial place?
That’s what makes Detroit so special for a solo trip, though. You could spend hours walking around town, getting a feel for its urban flair, and then head somewhere else to connect with nature and find solitude.
There is so much to do in Detroit, you might find yourself going back over and over again for a solo trip or otherwise.
21. Miami, Florida
Colorful and vibrant, Miami stands out as one of the most unique cities in the US. Between hearing salsa at all hours of the day in Little Havana and finding murals from world-renowned artists throughout the city, your senses will be delighted here.
If you thought Miami was all about crowded beaches and roaring nightclubs, think again. It’s a great place for solo female travelers, because of the abundance of things to do in Miami. Plus, the city has an excellent reputation for being extremely hospitable, and even quite safe in general.
Whether you are looking for a beach vacation where you can soothe your worries with a dip in the ocean or a full-on intercultural experience, you’ll find it in Miami.
22. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is dripping with Southern charm, and definitely has plenty to do to keep any solo traveler occupied. Some travelers describe it as the closest thing to a fairytale, and judging by the elaborate architecture, towering oak trees with Spanish moss, and overall historical atmosphere, I think they’re right.
Fall in love with Savannah by hopping on an e-bike tour to see the city’s highlights. As it’s such a globally recognized soul food destination, get a taste by taking a food tour. Both of these activities are great if you want to have a bit of social interaction with other travelers, but if you want to hit the town solo, make sure to spend time strolling through the Historic District and River Street.
Ready to be enchanted? Check out this ultimate Savannah Guide for more ideas of what to do and where to eat.
23. Washington, DC
Our nation’s capital city is undoubtedly the mega-hub for incredible historical sites and museums. Personally, I prefer going to museums solo, so I can move through each exhibit at my own pace. I’m that girl that needs to read every placard and see every little thing, so going by myself gives me the freedom to do that without holding anybody else up.
If this is also you, Washington DC will be heavenly to visit alone. Get up before dawn to see the way the rising sun illuminates the Lincoln Memorial, because nobody can stop you. This city is truly magical at sunrise, before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.
24. Nashville, Tennessee
Famously a destination for girls’ trips and bachelor bashes, Nashville has a bit of a reputation for being a party city. Maybe as a solo traveler, this is exciting to you. If it’s not, no worries! There is much more to Nashville than its vibrant nightlife.
Nashville is bubbling over with historic sites, street festivals, live shows, and much more. It’s also one of the cheapest destinations in the USA and has plenty of free things to do. The Tennessee State Museum and Cooter’s Place Museum are among many free museums one can visit; there are also plenty of parks and the legendary Music City Walk of Fame.
When you travel solo, you don’t have anybody to split transportation and accommodation costs with, so finding affordable destinations makes a big difference in how much you can stretch your dollar. Nashville is my top pick for an affordable solo trip.
25. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe seems like the more upscale, artsy, and design-focused part of New Mexico — and I love it! While other parts of the state have their own character, Santa Fe served up that quintessential Southwestern vibe that most people picture when they think of New Mexico.
This is where you’ll find some of the finest restaurants, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA). The Meow Wolf Museum was a trippy wonderland, and the galleries of Canyon Road had me enchanted. It’s a solo traveler’s paradise, with many awesome things to do.
Be sure to watch the “one day in Santa Fe” itinerary above to hit all the best it has to offer, including chocolate!
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Though the United States is huge, and no list could ever do justice to the wealth of places to see and experience, these are a few of our favorites. I hope this list helped you to get a sense of where to start — or continue — your solo journey.
If you have some favorite solo spots to share, please tell me in the comments below!