It had been 11 years this fall since I’d last visited New York City. The city had changed and I had changed. When I planned my trip to NYC, I knew that I wanted to skip over the main attractions — you know the ones I’m talking about (and if you don’t you can find them here). It wasn’t because the main attractions aren’t amazing — because they are — but I remember many of them from my first visit. And besides, as I’ve grown older I prefer to take solo trips that focus on underrated destinations. So that’s what I did.
Check out my solo female traveler’s guide to NYC — I hope you enjoy!
Where to Stay
For many solo female travelers, safety is a top concern, and when it comes to picking a hotel in NYC, I highly suggest staying at the Millennium Hilton One UN Plaza. Located across from the United Nations in Midtown East, the Millennium Hilton One UN Plaza is extremely safe. As many of the dignitaries visiting the UN stay at the hotel, it’s one of the safest hotels in the city. There’s a sniffer dog and a police officer that checks all bags before guests enter the hotel. You also can’t use the elevators without a key, which makes it unlikely that anyone off the street can follow you to your floor.
In addition to safety features, the hotel has so much more going for it. For one, the views are stunning. Request a corner room so that you have (almost) 180-degree views of the East River, Manhattan, and downtown. Secondly, I loved how big the rooms are, too. Their smallest rooms are even bigger than the average NYC hotel room. Other pluses included the quiet atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff (the bellmen were amazing).
Where to Eat and Drink
There’s so many food options in the city that it can be quite overwhelming to choose. For a quick and laid back lunch or dinner, check out Chelsea Market. Located in Chelsea, it’s a warehouse-like building filled with small restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines. There’s also boutiques and artist markets that allow for shopping, too!
For a relaxed lunch near Times Square, head to Park Italian Gourmet. It’s one of the few good places to eat in that part of Manhattan, and it has so much character. Owned by a traditional Italian family, it’s a quick-paced place with a cute old man that works the register. There’s two lines — one for cold Italian food like sandwiches and the other with warm Italian choices like pasta! I had a ravioli that was to die for!
Right before sunset make sure to grab a drink at PJ Clarke’s on the Hudson, and then watch the sunset over the bay. It’s gorgeous. After that, head to Del Frisco’s Grille, in Brookfield Place, and ask for Abby — she’s an amazing waitress from NOLA that made my solo meal superbly enjoyable. Not to mention the food was incredible!
Wine lovers, head to Carroll Place in Greenwich for a glass of wine or two. This trendy spot has a cellar decor and lots of beautiful people to watch from the bar area. Of course, the wine is good, too!
What to Do During the Day
It’s New York City, so I imagine you know the highlights — Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Central Park. I won’t bore you by going in-depth on attractions that everyone already knows and loves. Besides, there’s so much more to NYC than the mainstream tourist attractions. So with that in mind I’ll share a few of my favorite, underrated things to do as a solo traveler in NYC:
Explore Brooklyn, my friends. Take the train to the Brooklyn Bridge and take the time to walk across it. The views are great and it’s a good photo op. Once in Brooklyn, walk through Dumbo for some good shots of the bridge and enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Afterwards, head to Williamsburg for boutique shopping and to grab an original rainbow bagel at The Bagel Store. Art lovers head to Bushwick for fun graffiti art.
If you’re in the Greenwich and SOHO area, I highly recommend walking the High Line park. It’s an old train track-turned-park with fun views and funky art. Stop at Chelsea Market (mentioned earlier) for a bite to eat and some shopping — I found a great sample sale there! Then head to Greenwich to see beautiful old homes and visit the historic Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the LGBT rights movement.
Most people are very much unaware that NYC has a great tramway that provides a fun experience and stellar views of the East River. Called the Roosevelt Island Tramway, the tram takes visitors from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. From there, I suggest taking the ferry to the Astoria stop in Queens for a quick exploration of the Socrates Sculpture Park, a park with cool, large sculptures and great Manhattan views. After that, hop on the ferry again and enjoy a long ride along the river to downtown Manhattan near Wall Street.
What to Do at Night
Everyone is obsessed these days with getting the best Instagram worthy rooftop photos in NYC, and I can’t blame them. The view is better higher up. Though most people visit 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar for it’s views of the Empire State Building, consider a visit to the Jimmy at the James Hotel. It’s a little less popular with tourists which is better for you, and also provides stunning Manhattan views. Just be aware the drinks are pricey, like $20 for a vodka tonic pricey.
For those on a budget who want a more relaxed vibe, go to East Village or the Lower Eastside. I’m a lover of dive bars and had a blast at 169 Bar and The Library. 169 Bar has a more hipster vibe with cool retro decor and music and great Mac-N-Cheese. The Library plays rock and punk and feels very local. As the name implies, it has books on bookshelves on the walls! The drinks at both these places are affordable (beer is $4 or $5) and I never sat for too long without someone saying hello!
Do you have any other great suggestions for solo female travelers visiting New York City? Please, share them below!