17 Things To Do Alone In NYC
When you’re in New York City, you’re almost always surrounded by people. But you still might want to see some sights alone or have some solo experiences. If you want to get out of the crowds and find some peace, check out these things to do alone in NYC.
1. Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is an icon that has been featured in movies, TV shows and novels. It spans the East River and connects Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn.
You can bring a picnic blanket and your journal and hang out in the picturesque park beneath the bridge. However, most people want to experience walking across the 5,989 feet at some point in their lives. It’s a beautiful stroll that provides a stunning view of the NYC skyline.
The bridge is open 24 hours a day and fairly busy with pedestrian traffic until about 11 p.m. If you’re alone, you might want to walk it before that time.
2. One World Observatory
The One World Observatory is the highest point in NYC. It’s located on the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower and offers breathtaking, 360-degree views of the entire city.
For the best experience, you’ll want to take your time here. It’s one of the best things to do alone in NYC because you can take in the panoramas at your own pace. Plan to spend at least 45 minutes to an hour strolling from window to window and scoping out the tiny landmarks below.
Talk to a Tour Ambassador about famous landmarks and the city’s history. Stand on a glass disc that gives you a unique perspective of the city streets. If you want to relax longer, you can relax at ONE Dine, the gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar. Buy tickets so that you can climb aboard the SkyPod elevator and soar to the top of the Freedom Tower the next time you’re in the city.
3. Shakespeare Garden
Central Park may be bustling with kids playing, people exercising and lots of tourists. However, you can get a glimpse of quiet bliss at the four-acre Shakespeare Garden. This secluded spot was created in 1913 and dedicated to the English poet and playwright in 1916.
The garden has been restored and expanded over the years and features a wide variety of flowers that Shakespeare mentioned in his writings. You can sit on rustic benches and take it all in or walk the colorfully lined paths for some tranquility. Although the garden is bursting with delight in the spring, something is always blooming there throughout the year.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, perhaps better known as the Met, is on most people’s list of things to do in NYC alone. The museum features 5,000 years of art. It can take much longer than a day to get through all of the exhibits, which is why you might not want to be distracted by other people’s company.
The Met has three locations. Many are familiar with the Fifth Avenue site, but the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters feature additional exhibits.
One of the best times to go alone is on Friday or Saturday, when the museum stays open until 9 p.m. If you don’t want to hit the nightlife scene by yourself, spend your time looking at art instead.
5. Take a Solo Bar Tour
NYC is filled with cute bars and restaurants with plenty of small tables and bar seating. At Raoul’s, you can dine on appetizers or full entrees while sitting at the bar. Head to Judy and Punch to visit a local bar where everyone is friendly and the rotating draft list isn’t snobbish.
If you enjoy sushi, try KazuNori, where hand rolls are made to order and you can sit at the bar. Bar Tabac in Brooklyn is a French Bistro with patio seating that lets you watch the passersby as you eat lunch, dinner or brunch and sip some wine, beer or cocktails.
6. New York Public Library
You’re supposed to be quiet at the library. Therefore, you might want to check out this historic landmark alone. The Schwarzman Building is the library’s flagship structure. It took 16 years to design and build the Schwarzman center. When it opened in 1911, it was the largest marble building in the country.
You can take a tour of the building or meander around the stacks on your own. It’s an impressive space with an even more remarkable collection of literature.
7. Go Thrifting
One of the best things to do alone in NYC is shop at thrift stores. You can find a large collection of them in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. When you go solo, you won’t have to worry about anyone else’s opinion or schedule. You can take your time and peruse all of the unique pieces that are available. This is definitely one of the things to do alone in NYC over and over again because the shopping selection is always changing.
8. Washington Square Park
You’ve probably seen scenes in movies or TV shows that portray the chess tables at Washington Square Park. These stationary platforms are located at the southwest corner of the area. You can partner up with someone for a match, which costs $5 for two games, or just watch others in their contemplative battles.
When you’re done, visit the chess shops around the park. The Village Chess Shop is the oldest in the area. It was established in 1972 and displays chess sets from across the globe. You can also pay a few dollars to play for an hour at the shop.
9. Borrow a Bike
Although the traffic in NYC can be daunting, you can get around it on a bike. Fortunately, you don’t have to pack your own cycle to pedal around the city. Citibike offers an affordable and convenient way to move around town.
You can view bike availability on one of the hundreds of stations around the city by using a mobile app. Unlock a bike, take it for a spin, and return it to any station in NYC. This is one of the most fun things to do alone in NYC if you want to stay on your own timeline.
10. Go to the Movies
You can go to any huge cinema in NYC, but the city is filled with independent theaters that offer unique experiences. Some of the best independent movie theaters in Manhattan include:
• Film Forum – Open 365 days a year
• Angelika Film Center – Features a gourmet café
• The Quad Cinema – Shows indie films, documentaries and foreign movies
• Cinema Village – One of the oldest art cinemas in NYC
11. See an Off-Broadway Show
When you attend a theater performance alone, you only have to pay for one ticket. Therefore, you might be able to see a few shows on your trip when you’re traveling solo.
Check the New York Theater Guide to find scheduled shows. You can also read reviews for the performances on this website before you buy a ticket.
12. Sleep No More
If you’d like to go to an especially unique theater performance, consider attending Sleep No More at the historic McKittrick Hotel. This is an immersive take on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
Most audience members are separated from their friends as they enter. That’s one reason why this is a great activity to do alone. You’ll be able to explore different rooms, wandering into various scenes while wearing a mask and refraining from talking.
13. Soho Grand Hotel
The Soho Grand was the first boutique hotel in Manhattan. You don’t have to book a room to visit its chic Grand Bar and Lounge. Pretend that you’re a guest and order a cocktail or nibble from the extensive menu.
The Club Room is another intimate space where you can sidle up to the bar and talk to other locals and visitors. It looks like a glamorous gentlemen’s club from yesteryear. You’ll feel swanky, and you might hear some interesting conversations.
14. Hayden Planetarium
If you don’t have time to investigate the American Museum of Natural History, visit the Hayden Planetarium. You’ll be reclining on a comfortable chair while you look at the stars.
The state-of-the-art projection system was custom made for this theater. It displays scientifically accurate, hyper-realistic images of the cosmos in a way that makes you feel as though you’re defying gravity. This is one of the ideal things to do alone in NYC because you can’t hold a conversation while you’re gaping at the universe.
15. Elizabeth Street Garden
Because it’s tucked away, Elizabeth Street Garden doesn’t get as crowded as Central Park. You can spend an entire afternoon or just a few hours wandering around the old sculptures, park benches and greenery. You’ll get a sense that you’re in a secret garden even though you can see the buildings around you.
The area where Elizabeth Street garden lies has been a recreational and educational public space for more than 200 years. However, the lot was neglected for several decades. The Elizabeth Street Gallery leased it in 1990 and began to clean it up. This created the foundation for what has developed into a thriving garden.
16. Madison Square Park
If you love urban green spaces, go to Madison Square Park when you’re hungry. Grab a burger and fries at Shake Shack. Doing this alone is easy because the outdoor seating fills up quickly. It’s easier to find a place to eat when you’re solo.
The park is easy to get to while you’re sightseeing. It’s also home to more than 30 art installation pieces. The lively space also offers public events, such as birdwatching, art talks and horticultural tours.
17. Cat Cafes
When you feel like putting your feet up, go to a cat café for some company. Koneko is a Japanese cat café in Manhattan. The Brooklyn Cat Café features events, such as yoga classes and comedy shows. Cat cafes fill up quickly with human visitors. Most of them recommend that you reserve a spot before you arrive.
No matter how you decide to spend your alone time in NYC, you’ll have a blast immersing yourself in the city’s culture. When you’re planning things to do alone in NYC, remember that you can always make friends everywhere you go. Don’t forget to bring home a souvenir.