Traveling alone can be both daunting and liberating. Without family drama, travel companions’ hangups, or even a set schedule, the possibilities might seem endless. Here’s a list of our top destinations for those who are traveling solo, and how to reign yourself in and have a meaningful trip that’s all about you.
Russian River, CA
Tip: Go exploring
Upon arrival, nothing beats a good walk, drive, or bike ride to help orient you to your new destination. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting spots that you might want to check out later, including restaurants, unusual attractions, or places where locals gather. The town of Healdsburg in the Russian River area of California has a great downtown full of interesting shops and restaurants. Pop in and ask the shopkeepers about their favorite wineries. Who knows—you might get yourself invited to a tasting in the surrounding Sonoma wine country!
Tip: Sample the local brew
Nothing brings people together like beer, so if you’re a craft beer enthusiast (or maybe just a kindred spirit), seek out the local brewery for a literal taste of local flavor and hopefully some insider tips on what to see around town. In Seaside, Oregon, the Seaside Brewing Company has set up shop in the former City Jail building. The bartender can steer you toward the right beer selection for your palate, along with the best trails to check out during your stay on the gorgeous Oregon coast.
Topsail Island, NC
Tip: Connect with your interests
Perhaps the best part about traveling alone is that you don’t have to apologize to anyone for seeking out that special place that satisfies your unique interest. Topsail Island, North Carolina is home to the Sea Turtle Hospital, where visitors can peek in on the latest “patients” being rehabilitated for the wild. Learn all about how the hospital provides specialized care to wounded turtles, along with follow-up monitoring using satellite tracking. Early birds on the beach might also spot hospital volunteers doing their daily walks along the coastline to document turtle tracks.
Tip: Go on a tour
Just because you’ve left the group behind doesn’t mean you can’t join in on some group fun. Local tours are a great way to learn more about the area and meet new people in the process. Plus, you can partake in some adventure with the help of guides who know how to get around the area safely. New York’s Adirondacks are known for their excellent mountain biking trails, and guided tours are available to take you through all of the scenic spots. Or, find a self-guided tour amongst the many trails, and create your own adventure!
Tip: Try something new
Having no one else around means you have free license to try something that’s totally new for you, without anyone standing in your way. In Frisco, Colorado, you can take a glass blowing class with a master craftsman at Gatherhouse. You’ll have input on your design, and with assistance, create your own piece of glasswork to pick up later. It will certainly make for a unique story when someone spies it on your shelf after you get home.
Tip: Visit an unusual museum
For some, visiting a museum solo is the only way to truly immerse themselves in the exhibits. Sevierville, Tennessee has a pair of museums that capture a special slice of manufacturing history. The Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum is a gearhead’s delight, with 90 tricked-out cars from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. If beasts of the sky are more your speed, check out the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, which specializes in warbirds from around the world and has an active runway for demonstrations. Click here for a list of our top museums by state.
Mission Beach, CA
Tip: Take a lesson
Being by yourself means you can take the time to really focus on learning something new. Take advantage of surroundings that immerse you in your new hobby. In Mission Beach, California, there are numerous surf schools that offer lessons. Once you get the hang of it, look along the huge shoreline for an area marked off for surfers. The mild waves are perfect for beginners who are just getting started, plus the vibrant beach scene means you’re never far from a post-session drink with an ocean view.
Texas Hill Country, TX
Tip: Eat like a local
Taking a trip also means taking a break from your daily diet. It’s up to you to decide how far you want to stray from your regimen, but if you are all-in for going off the wagon, do it in Texas Hill Country. This is the land of Texas barbeque, chicken-fried steak, and (surprisingly) schnitzel. The area is rich with German heritage thanks to the large population of immigrants who settled there during the 19th century. If you’re lucky, you might hear a little Texasdeutsch while you’re chowing down.
Isle of Palms, SC
Tip: Connect with nature
Perhaps the ultimate “me-time” is spent in the solitude of great scenery. Take a hike, go swimming, or simply sit by a stunning vista, and your vacation will seem to slow to an wonderfully decadent crawl. The beach in Isle of Palms, South Carolina is out of the way just enough so you can avoid the crowds and take a nice long walk. Keep your eye on the sky once it turns dark; the area is also known as a prime stargazing spot.
Tip: Take to the sea
There are few things more liberating than being on a boat as it casts off from a dock and heads to a spot somewhere off the coast or downriver. For the ultimate marine getaway, head to Islamorada, Florida—the self-proclaimed sportfishing capital of the world. There are charters and tours for seemingly every kind of fishing: backcountry, deep water, fly fishing, and more. If simply admiring wildlife is more your thing, seek out any number of water tours by boat, kayak, or canoe. Or, forgo a vessel altogether and have a dolphin encounter!