Travel the World
The 10 Best Vacations Everyone Should Take By Themselves
Travelling on your own can be the best way to see a new place, because it means you can go at your own pace and pursue your own interests. If you’re keen to take a solo adventure, here are some of the best spots to explore.
If you visit Austin, there’s a chance you may never leave: The Texas capital was recently named the #1 place to live in America by U.S. News. With fantastic nightlife and food, great live music, and plenty of beautiful outdoor spots, this city has got a little bit of everything. You’ll want to grab a bite to eat at East Side King for some inspired Japanese street food, preferably before you catch a show at Hole in the Wall, right next door. Definitely don’t forget to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, especially if it’s a hot day.
Toronto has long been one of the most diverse and livable metropolises in the world, but it’s only recently claiming its spot as a major tourist destination. You won’t need a companion to enjoy the city—since Canadians are notoriously friendly, you’ll more than likely come away with a few new friends anyway, especially if you stay in a hostel like Planet Travelers, the “greenest hostel in North America.” In the morning, visit the bustling Kensington Market for some fresh pastries and produce; then pay a visit to Pandemonium to shop for books and records with the locals.
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Rain-soaked Seattle is more than a quaint little port city: It’s also an art haven, a hiker’s paradise, and a hub for great coffee. Go to the bustling Pike Place Market for fresh produce and fish, flowers, and local crafts, then cross the street to get a cup of hot coffee to warm up at Storyville Coffee or the flagship Starbucks cafe. If the weather is nice, take a trip out to Mount Rainier (visible on the horizon) for some breathtaking Pacific Northwest vistas. At the end of the day, have a pint at the aptly named bar Damn the Weather in the very hip Pioneer Square neighborhood.
Despite being the butt of many national jokes after the series Portlandia depicted it as a trapped-in-the-’90s hipster theme park, Portland remains one of the most genuinely unique cities in the country. Here, you can go to a grown-up arcade (Ground Kontrol), get a craft brew (The Commons Brewery), have a world-class vegan meal (Farm Spirit), then walk through the beautiful (and free!) Elk Rock Garden on a sunny afternoon.
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Reykjavik is a solo traveller’s dream: a bustling, modern city with a unique, ancient culture, all in the safest country in the world. Visit during the summer to see the fantastic setting of the midnight sun and visit the Heidmörk Nature Reserve, or come in the winter to witness the spectacular northern lights. The city has dozens of well-maintained bike paths, which you can use to easily tour the city with a rented bike. Be sure to get the Rekjavik City Card when you visit, as it will get you free entry to many museums, parks and pools, as well as unlimited free bus and ferry rides!
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New York City, New York
New York is a great place to see on your own, even (perhaps especially) if you’re young and broke. Finding a place to stay will be your biggest expense—besides that, it’s surprisingly easy to find cheap but good food and entertainment throughout the city. Get some take-out and eat it in Central Park, go to one of any number of poetry readings or art opening on any given night, walk along the well-maintained High Line, an elevated railway-turned-park, filled with local vendors and public art.
There’s a lot more than politics going on in DC. This vibrant city rivals New York in terms of good food, art, and culture. It’s beyond easy to get around the city on the DC Metro, including to all the memorials and museums that every American ought to visit. Once you’ve done the National Mall, go to the National Museum of Women in the Arts for a slightly deeper cut. In the evening, stop by Busboys and Poets to peruse their excellent selection of books (including lots of local authors) with a cocktail in hand.
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Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Skip the more crowded parks for Hot Springs, nestled in the middle of the town with the same name. The park contains 47 natural hot springs, all of which come out at a piping hot 143 degrees F. This means that you can’t get in the springs themselves—but you can go to the nearby Bathhouse Row (on Interstate 7) with many commercial bathhouses for luxurious soaking. Most places, like Buckstaff Baths, offer separate facilities for men and women. Hike up Hot Springs Mountain in the mornings, then unwind at one of the many relaxing bathhouses afterwards.
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The southern hospitality and the laid-back city culture of Nashville mean that you’ll find yourself with some new friends by the end of your first night there. Nashville is a great city for walking around and for seeing live music: Try to do some of both! Go on a guided wildflower hike. Catch a concert at the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman Auditorium, or, if you’re pressed for cash, check out the free weekly concerts at the Frist Museum. In the evening, treat yourself to a rich dinner at The Southern!
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Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
The Twin Cities have more to boast than a friendly population: Solo travelers will love the plentiful craft breweries and indie bookshops. Check out the Freehouse for a “breakfast to beer” menu with everything from oysters to tacos to breakfast pasta, then walk or bike down the Greenway, a 5.5-mile park trail that can take you through the Chain of Lakes. Get a feel for local literature at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, the largest independent bookstore in the Twin Cities. In the morning, get a delicious latte and light breakfast from The Bachelor Farmer, just off the Mississippi River.
Originally published as The 10 Best Vacations Everyone Should Take By Themselves on ReadersDigest.com.