Solo Travel in The USA
If you live in the U.S. you don't have to go far to experience a different landscape. There are so many different cities and terrain including deserts, canyons, mountains and forests. Each city has its own flavour, from the European grace of San Francisco to the historic charm of New England.
There really is plenty to see. Here are our recommendations for the solo female traveller. Just click on the relevant section or read the whole article.
- Best Places To Visit in The USA
- Activities in The USA
- USA Itineraries
- Accommodation in The USA
- USA Tours
- How To Travel Around The USA
- Questions About America
- Plan a Trip to The USA
Best Places To Visit in The USA
Starting in the North East, the Big Apple is every solo girl’s dream. New York will have you lost in movie-scene nostalgia, in a shopping frenzy at famous department stores, and at dizzying heights at the top of world-renowned landmarks.
Spend your days window shopping on 5th Avenue, strolling around Central Park, eating falafel from sidewalk vendors, and exploring the Met and other great museums off the park, before seeing iconic buildings such as the Empire State and the Chrysler Building.
At night, be sure to visit Times Square and get a ticket to a Broadway show or a concert at Carnegie Hall. Discover more with our solo guide to New York
For sports enthusiasts sail in Newport, the sailing capital of the world or ski in Vermont. New Hampshire is great for the outdoors or take a trip to Massachusetts to cycle along the century year old canal.
Experience the rural charm of Connecticut or the diversity of Maryland with the sea and mountains. Hike the Valley Forge in Pennsylvania or visit the oldest Protestant church in the U.S. in Delaware.
If you want to learn more about American history, you'll find plenty of Civil War memorabilia in Richmond, Virginia. This state played a huge part in America's fight for independence in the 19th century, and two of the three sites that make up the American Civil War Museum are in Richmond.
There's even a White House that you can tour, and visit the Museum of the Confederacy at the same time. If you want to know more about this country's history, it's definitely worth spending a few nights in Richmond so you can make the most of the history and enjoy the fine cuisine too.
Visit Washington D.C. the country’s capital and the centre of the U.S. government, known for its historical monuments. It's hard to understand the importance and impact of the National Mall (essentially the collection of buildings and monuments you picture when you think of Washington) until you're there.
In person, you get a true sense of the fact that Washington, and much of the structure of the U.S. with it, was based very intentionally on ancient Rome.
Washington D.C. has an extensive metro system which is safe and easy to use, and you’ll never be lost for long, thanks to the uncomplicated layout of the city. Whilst you’re there, you can explore some of their world-class museums for free, including the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Portrait Gallery.
Las Vegas is a little over-the-top, and it's certainly not for everybody. “The Strip,” as the main part of town is called, is a vibrant collection of resorts, casinos, and attractions that stay lit and active through the night. And the opportunities for fine dining, world-class entertainment, and luxury relaxation are just about unparalleled in U.S. cities.
With its neon lights and flashy casinos, Las Vegas is definitely for the party solo. It’s home to cabaret shows, famous singers and Cirque de Soleil and has more entertainment than hot dinners.
Arguably the United States' most famous natural attraction, the Grand Canyon is well worth a diversion to see. There are other great National Parks in the American southwest, such as Zion and Bryce, but the Grand Canyon is unlike anything else in the world.
The Grand Canyon is nothing short of awe-inspiring and somewhere that everybody should visit at some point in their lives. Wandering this National Park is a great way to take in the mammoth canyon, but a helicopter ride over it will give you astonishing views and show you just how vast it really is. This thrilling activity will certainly be one for your solo bucket list.
For another of the country's most iconic sites, Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border is a magnificent sight, standing tall in a vast red-sand desert, that may be recognisable from various Western Movies.
This is one for the spiritual Girl about the Globe, as the valley is a sacred ground and home to the Navajo. The best way to explore this sacred land is with a guided backroads tour, where you can get up close and learn all about the fascinating Native American culture.
As well as giant redwood trees in California, California has many interesting cities. There's the high-end culture of L.A, the beauty and nature of San Fran, and San Diego, known for its charm. Relax on one of San Diego’s 33 beaches, visit the Botanic Gardens on the first Tuesday of the month (when entry is free) or get some snaps of yourself on Potato Chip Rock.
California is definitely where it's at, and Los Angeles or ‘The Angels' as it is translated, is the place for celeb spotting. There is so much to see here from the Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive; the most exclusive shopping area in the world, to Beverley Hills; a star studded location and LA’s largest tourist attraction.
You can spot an Elvis impersonator, watch the performers at Muscle Beach, roller-skate along Venice Beach, or drive around Malibu where villas of the rich and famous are hidden away. If you can’t spot any celebs, then take a stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or take a tour of The Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see marble monuments dedicated to famous people buried here.
But there is more to do here than spot famous people. You can walk along the Santa Monica Pier, embrace your inner child at Disney Land or get some adrenaline pumping at Universal Studios. You can’t miss taking the Angels Flight railway either, this funicular is over 118 years old.
If you have to pick one thing to see in a California city, the Golden Gate Bridge stretching across the strait connecting the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean has to be on the top of your list. Walk along the flower-lined street of Lombard Street, see Alamo Square with its charming wooden houses, or spend time in the Marina district, or the Mission district which has a foodie Latino feel.
See the seals and street performers at Pier 39, tuck into some freshly-caught seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, then relax in the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. At night you can take a night tour of Alcatraz, or take the ferry during the day if visiting a former prison at night is too eerie. San Francisco will keep you busy for days.
Utah is a perfect destination for eco-tourists. The region offers lots of mountainous landscapes, snow, and sunshine. There's a wide variety of winter sports available such as: snowboarding, skiing, and mountain climbing and none of these will increase your carbon footprint.
There are many eco-friendly lodges in the area and a little bit of the Wild West. If you prefer to hike, explore the Great Salt Lake and rock formations of Utah instead.
Texas, as the largest state, has much to offer in the way of history. The Alamo Mission is the State’s most popular landmark, hosting many events. Visit Eisenhower's birthplace, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Fort Griffin, or the Stockyards National Historic District for some classic Texas culture.
If seeing a space rocket is on your bucket list, you can explore out of space at the Houston Space Centre in Texas.
There is a vibrant festival culture in Austin so it’s easy to meet new people when you’re travelling solo, and you’ll never be short of something to do. It’s full of quirky and unusual spots that you can explore on a haunted walking tour, or a mural tour.
If you fancy some quiet time, you can go on a walking tour downtown and explore all the weird and wonderful parts of the city on foot, stopping of at a food truck along the way.
New Mexico is known as ‘The Land of Enchantment.' It is home to many national monuments and parks with glistening white sands of Tularosa Basin, ancient rock carvings, and Roswell alien memorabilia. Visit Sante Fe, the state's capital known as one of the ‘creative cities' in the World for museums, galleries, shopping and dining within this vibrant city. Find out more about Solo Travel in New Mexico here.
The Rocky Mountains stretch over much of the Western United States, but Colorado provides the best chance to enjoy them. Famous towns like Aspen and Boulder allow you to relax in this soothing and beautiful state while giving you easy access to high mountains either for sightseeing and hiking in summer, or skiing during the colder months. If you're in the USA during the winter months, go skiing in Idaho at one of its 18 ski resorts.
Yellowstone National Park
The spectacular Yellowstone National Park in the Northwest is the world's first National Park and remains one of the greatest. It features an array of stunning geothermal features that include the legendary Old Faithful Geyser, as well as amazing wildlife. The thrill of tracking the wolves and other beautiful creatures in the park is unlike any other and an experience that you will never forget.
Portland is known for its liberal atmosphere and its laidback welcoming vibes, making it perfect for the solo traveller. There’s a vibrant nightlife scene to meet new people and plenty of unique walks and landmarks to keep you occupied during the day, such as the Japanese Garden in the West Hills.
Whilst the city is generally a safe place for a female solo traveller, it’s recommended that you’re careful around 82nd Avenue, Sandy Boulevard and some parts of the Old Town on a night. While you are here, visit the Crater Lakes and dunes in Oregon.
Chicago sits in the Midwest and is one of the top destinations in the U.S. with great architecture and art. Chicago is an interesting city and is home to culture, cuisine, and beauty. It's even been recognised as something of a hub for urban architecture fans as well.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities, whether you’re on Michigan Avenue or browsing Renegade Craft Fair. For something more peaceful, you could rent a bicycle and embark on the 18-mile ride along Chicago Lakefront Trail or enjoy a hike on one of the forest trails to observe the local wildlife, or learn more about American history at the Abraham Lincoln historic sites in Illinois.
America's Music Scene
Find peace at the International Peace Garden in North Dakota. Visit Nebraska for fossil beds, Wisconsin for fourteen thousand lakes and Milwaukee music festival, Missouri for some country dancing, or Indiana for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Visit Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.
Detroit has an R&B legacy, but this isn’t the only city known for music roots. Kansas City has a thriving jazz and blues scene. Nashville is where country music belongs, then there is Tennessee, home to the musical legend, Elvis Presley, and a visit to Graceland will get you rocking and rolling.
They say for American music that all roads lead to the deep south and you’ll find plenty of live venues in this part of the country, from jazz clubs in Louisiana, to the blues in Mississippi.
Explore the Gulf Coast beaches of sweet home Alabama, take a nostalgic riverboat ride along the Mississippi River, the Harpers Ferry in West Virginia or just get off the tourist track in Georgia. Visit Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby, South Carolina for Myrtle Beach.
There are plenty of great beaches across the U.S. but if you want to start or finish a trip on the East Coast, Ocracoke Island is a great one to see. Part of North Carolina's Outer Banks, this island's beaches are consistently rated among the best in the country.
In fact for 2015, Condé Nast Traveler's rankings of U.S. beaches tabbed Ocracoke Island at number four, with two of the top three being on the islands of Hawaii. This is a quiet, secluded, and beautiful area with some fascinating history (a few legendary pirates made it their home centuries ago!)
Maggie Valley in North Carolina is ideal for nature lovers. It's near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers something to do for any season including a host of activities in the winter too.
Witness the sunset from the top of Waterrock Knob on Blue Ridge Parkway, visit the Wheels Through Time Museum, and see Soco Falls, a site that is generally overlooked. If you visit between November and March you could try skiing, or see how whisky is made at the Elevated Mountain Distillery.
If big, famous cities aren't your thing, Louisville is as different from New York City as two places can possibly be. Louisville is home to the Kentucky Derby, so it's overflowing with tourists and activities in May, but the rest of the year it's a quiet Midwestern town and a great place to experience American culture.
Sip a mint julep, dine on a barbecue, and don't miss the Mega Caverns where you can tour caves and even try an underground zip line. If you decide to come for the Derby, you'll want to book your room at least a year in advance so you don't miss out.
Florida is the most southernmost point of America. From swanky beachfront clubs in Miami and the Keys to amusement parks in Orlando, this state is the place to find plenty of other tourists and party until sunrise.
Florida is a beautiful State to drive through, from the history of St. Augustine to the cultural food and art scene of Tampa. Fort Lauderdale not only has beaches to laze on, and gondola rides to enjoy but the shopping on Las Olas Boulevard is worth window shopping too. On Florida's southeastern coastline you'll find a promenade to take an afternoon stroll before heading out to a bar in the evening.
Florida Keys is made up of 3 coral islands that extend from Miami to the Caribbean. Key Lago is the largest and there is an overseas highway to the islands. Key West is a fascinating place to visit and is said to inspire creative people.
Even the famous author, Ernest Hemingway used to live here and you can visit his old residence which has now been turned into a museum. Tourist trains and buses travel to the Keys making it easy to travel to.
Orlando is the place to go if you are wanting to relive your childhood. Learn more about space and stories of astronauts who have travelled there, at the Kennedy Space Centre, enjoy a view of Orlando from the Orlando Eye, see meerkats at Bush Gardens or get Wet ’n’ Wild at the water park.
Although the theme parks will probably entice you here, spending a few days at the beach before or after your adventures will give you some well-needed relaxation time before you move on.
Or choose Hawaii with its warm tropical waters and Volcanoes National Park. Visit the capital, Oahu for Pearl Harbour memorials and legendary waves or Maui for the historic hot spot of Lahaina town. Natives of Hawaii have been environmentalists for centuries.
The local culture teaches “malama aina,” which means caring for the lands keeps it green. Hawaii offers lots of eco-friendly beach activities like surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, and snorkelling.
History buffs can learn about ancient sustainability practices at the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Park or explore the largest dormant volcano in the world. If you think that Hawaii only caters for families and couples then think again.
It’s very fun and incredibly safe for solo female travellers. The adventurous can learn how to surf, go snorkelling or kayaking in the tropical rain forest. To relax and rejuvenate, visit one of their wellness centres or treat yourself to a spa treatment.
Alaska is the perfect place for nature with remote wilderness, mountain peaks, and glacier lakes to an abundance of wildlife from whales to bears. Alaska has always been ahead of most states when it comes to taking care of the environment. The state has over a hundred state and National Parks where dozens of endangered species live.
You can explore the colossal glaciers, climb mountains, or just go hiking in the wilderness. If you're looking to get closer to nature, Alaska is one of the best places in the U.S. to do that. Juneau, Alaska, is completely unlike any other city in the U.S. and is a good base for whale watching, and seeing bears.
If you're searching for somewhere more tropical, consider the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. See the colourful capital of San Juan with its pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled streets.
See live performances in the plazas, visit UNESCO Heritage Sites and forts that span five centuries of history, or take a tour to the Bacardi Rum Factory to see how this famous spirit is made.
Head to Ponce, the island’s second largest city for some culture and museums, before heading into a coffee plantation. Explore El Yunque, the island’s very own rainforest, fly through the air on a zip-line or take a boat to the two islands: Culebra, and Vieques for beautiful beaches, a bioluminescent bay and plenty more adventure. Read my Solo Guide to Puerto Rico here
This part of the world is so diverse, from snow-capped mountain ranges, sprawling deserts, dense rainforests, epic blue lakes, gorgeous meadows, and everything else in between. From the Mars-like landscapes of Utah, to the swamps of Louisiana, and verdant rainforests, the USA has something for everyone and if you live there, you don't even need to fly to another country to experience something different.
Don't forget to savour the American food too. From American diners to steak houses, the American portions are definitely generous and will keep you fuelled up for your solo trip no matter where you go in the States.
Activities in The USA
Whether you are a beach bunny, a nature lover or a city slicker, the USA really does have something for any kind of solo. For the adventurous Girl about the Globe you could try white water rafting, skydiving, or horseback riding, climb mountains, trek into cloud forests, or hike the Glacier Park in Montana.
For the nature and wildlife Girl about the Globe, see the wildlife and amazing natural history of Yellowstone National Park. Experience the true nature of the wilderness first hand whilst you camp under the stars and be at one with nature. Below are highlights of the country that you don't want to miss.
- Watch a show in Las Vegas.
- Whale watching in Alaska.
- Watch a musical on Broadway in New York.
- Hiking in Maui.
- Visit Graceland in Tennessee.
- Listen to jazz in New Orleans.
- Watch a baseball game in the oldest baseball stadium in Boston.
- See a volcano in Hawaii.
- Drive along Route 66.
- Enjoy the nightlife in Miami.
- Admire the architecture in Chicago.
- Drink whisky on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
- Have fun in a theme park in Orlando.
- Hike Yellowstone National Park.
- White-water rafting on the Rogue River in Oregon.
- See America's only diamond mine at Arkansas.
Seven Wonders of The World
- Grand Canyon – Arizona, USA.
- Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights, Alaska.
One week – LA to Vegas to Los Angeles, San Diego, Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas.
Two weeks – West USA to Los Angeles, San Diego, Scottsdale, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Pismo Beach, Los Angeles.
Accommodation in The USA
There are plenty of types of accommodation in the USA and you'll never be short of places to stay whether you prefer to stay in hostels or a swanky city apartment. Choose from hotels, motels, guest houses, river boats, or even farm stays. For the eco Girl about the Globe you can stay in an eco-lodge in Hawaii or camp instead, There are plenty of eco lodges in Alaska too.
If you are planning on staying in New York, the Big Apple isn't a place for the budget conscious. Manhattan is expensive, but it's highly walkable and packed with iconic sights. If you don't have the budget for a Manhattan hotel, you can find cheaper Airbnbs instead or get a room in Brooklyn, which is just a short subway ride from everything you want to see.
As an alternative to NYC, Washington and Chicago, accommodation in San Diego is considerably cheaper than in some of the bigger cities. Choose a low-cost motel as a budget option.
If you are backpacking the USA alone, Hosteling International has many hostels across the states and offers a membership too. There is also Airbnb which offers rental accommodation in the States on a short-term basis and rooms with a local. You can stay in a private room in a local's house or rent their whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link
Booking.com is my favourite accommodation site for the USA. It offers BnBs and hotels from 3 star to the luxurious 5 star hotels, and even includes dorm rooms if you're travelling on a budget.
If you feel more comfortable not having to plan a trip and just turning up, consider taking a tour instead. Not only will everything be arranged for you but you’ll have company for your trip so you won’t be on your own with dining too.
G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 12 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
G Adventures USA trips range from a 7 day USA road trip for 18-to-thirty somethings from SFO to LAX, a classic Boston to Washington D.C for 8 days for all ages, a 15 day National Geographical Journeys National Parks of the American West to a 28 day Vegas to La 18-to-thirty something adventure. There are plenty of adventures in the USA whether you have a week or 4 weeks to travel. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures.
Their trips are carbon offset and their Intrepid Travel US trips range from an 8 day Utah parks circuit trip created by Lonely Planet and Intrepid, a 9 day American Jazz Festival tour embracing the music of the South from Atlanta to New Orleans, to a 20 day Best of America tour beginning in Newark and ending in San Francisco. With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including the USA. Choose from a Chicago river architecture cruise, a skip-the-line ticket to Kennedy Space Center, or a sightseeing tour of Bryce Canyon National Park. There are many to choose from including whale watching in Monterey Bay, an evening jazz cruise on a steamboat in New Orleans, and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
New York Pass
If you are planning on spending a few days in New York, consider purchasing a New York Pass which allows you to see over 80 of the city's attractions. You can save up to 70% even if you only plan to visit three attractions a day. * Check details for the pass here
How To Travel Around The USA
We’ve all heard of the great American road trip and for some cruising along the highway in a pink Cadillac may be a dream of a lifetime. But driving isn’t the only way to get around. With distances being so great, plan your route before you go and build in a couple of rest days. Here are recommended ways of getting around the continent.
If you are stuck on time and need to cover a lot of ground then taking internal flights is one of the quickest ways to get around. If you are only travelling with hand luggage then it will be even cheaper as most airlines now charge for check-in luggage.
You can usually accrue air miles as you fly which can be used for discounted flights. Flying is also a good option if it’s not possible to travel on a specific route such as from the West coast to the South where there aren’t any direct buses. * Check all flights here
If you love bikes and the feel of the open road then riding a bike from place to place could be on your solo bucket list. Some of the best motorcycle rides include Route 50 in West Virginia along The George Washington Highway, and the San Juan Mountain Skyway in Colorado. Just make sure you have some knowledge of bike repairs or good bike insurance if you are venturing off the beaten path.
Rent an RV
If you prefer your accommodation on the move as well as your transport, you could rent an RV (a recreational vehicle). Inside you'll find all of the amenities that you’ll find at home and if you rent one big enough you’ll even have a small bathroom too.
There are motorhomes ideal for one so you don’t need to worry about driving a large motorhome along the U.S. roads. No matter which State you are visiting you’ll be able to find an RV.
Take a Bus
For me, there is nothing better than contemplating your travels whilst enjoying a long bus ride, admiring the landscape out of the window. I travelled from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the Greyhound bus which was really comfortable. They have many routes and are an easy service to use. If you can’t drive or don't want to hire a car, this is also a good option of getting around.
There isn’t a national rail system in the States so venturing outside of a city can be a bit tricky when it comes to taking the train. You’ll more than likely have to mix up your journey with buses as well.
Whether it’s along the iconic Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway, you can have your own great USA road trip driving from place to place and stopping wherever you desire. If you feel more comfortable sharing your ride with someone else, you could always ask in the hostel you stay at if anyone is going the same way (this is if you feel comfortable with the person and you may prefer to travel with girls only).
There are so many routes and road trips that you can take. If your goal is to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, the trip can be pretty affordable; if you want to stop and see some meaningful landmarks along the way you may be zigging and zagging a bit.
Instead of hiring a car, collecting it in one destination and dropping it off in another you could try a car relocation service where you even get paid to drive it.
Questions About America
- Can I drink the water? Yes, in most of the USA, tap water is generally safe.
- Is tipping expected? Yes. America is a tipping culture. You should always tip in bars and restaurants and everywhere else. If you’re not satisfied, tip 10% up to 25% for being satisfied with the service. Find out who to tip here
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes. As well as banks, you’ll find them inside supermarkets too.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes, American food portions are huge too!
- Any seven wonders of the world? The Grand Canyon in Arizona, and the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) which can be seen from Alaska.
Plan a Trip to The USA
If you are ready to solo travel to the USA, here are some useful links to help you to travel the States alone, including airlines which fly there, vaccinations required and events and festivals.
Budget – $60+ a day (staying in cheap accommodation)
Capital – Washington, D.C.
Population – 328.2 million
Language spoken – English (American English). Spanish is also spoken in some areas.
Local Currency – US Dollar
Do I need a visa? You need an ESTA to enter the USA. You can apply online for the visa.
Lingo – They speak English!
The Best Time to Go to Washington – May and June
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