5 Top U.S. Destinations for Solo Female Travel

5 Top U.S. Destinations for Solo Female Travel

If you’re a woman who’s always wanted to strike out on an independent adventure, let these five cities empower you to not only discover a new place, but also embrace the growth opportunities that pop up when you’re the only navigator behind the wheel. Factoring in comfort, accessibility, culture and attractions, these five cities rank among the best places for solo female travelers.

Austin, Texas

Fly into Austin for a solo escape, and before you know it, you’ll be repping the city’s slogan: Keep Austin Weird. Home to well-known annual festivals including South by Southwest (SXSW) in March and the Austin City Limits Festival in October, Austin also entertains travelers and locals alike year-round in the vibrant South Congress (SoCo) neighborhood, south of the Texas State Capitol. Stay in the heart of this hip ’hood just a few blocks from downtown at the bungalow-style Hotel San Jose, which is also a community gathering spot ideal for solo travelers seeking to meet new people.

While in SoCo, catch a show at the Continental Club or sift through trendy shops like Blackmail Boutique, a monochromatic accessories and clothing store, or Crofts Original for handmade local Austin shirts and accessories. Then hit up eateries offering tacos, barbecue and good ol’ Southern-style cookin’ on your way to the South Lamar neighborhood. Try the brisket at Brown’s Bar-B-Que on South Lamar Boulevard. For hipster vibes and a variety of hole-in-the-wall eateries and food trucks, head 5 miles north via Interstate 35 to the eclectic East Austin neighborhood. Check out the acclaimed fish tacos at Veracruz All Natural food trailer on East Cesar Chavez Street, certain to satisfy any single traveler’s appetite on the go.

After relishing in Austin’s cultural and savory attractions, enjoy an afternoon of cool, calm reflection with a dip in Barton Springs Pool. Just 2 ½ miles southwest of downtown Austin, this spring-fed pool averages a pleasant 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. If you’d prefer to soak up the Lone Star State’s sun from a boat, rent one on Lady Bird Lake, just a 3 ½-mile drive southeast of downtown.

Baton Springs Let your worries float away while you drift along Barton Springs Pool. Photo by Lars Plougmann, Flickr.

Boulder, Colorado

Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains sits the epicenter of the great outdoors. With 200 miles of trails and 30,000 acres of pristine land surrounding the city, Boulder is a playground for hikers, skiers, bikers and runners.

Reconnect with nature at Chautauqua Park, a 1 ½-mile drive south of downtown. Pack a picnic and go on a short, relaxing hike along the Chautauqua trail, backdropped by Boulder’s Flatiron mountains and sprinkled with wildflowers in spring. Or consider a breathtaking drive along the Peak to Peak Highway. Travelers can access this scenic byway via State Route 119. Soak in impressive views of the Front Range mountains as you drive through old mining towns, like Central City, all the way up to the border of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Colorado Mountains Travelers won’t be able to miss the Flatirons — eye-catching red and brown rock formations — in the foothills of Boulder and just west of town.

In town, stroll down vibrant Pearl Street, where you can snuggle up to warm coffee at Laughing Goat Coffee House in the morning or cool off with a pint of craft brew from Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery in the evening. For a night of entertainment, head to the Dairy Arts Center or the Fox Theatre for live music before resting your head just a couple of blocks off Pearl at Hotel Boulderado in the heart of downtown.

After you spend a few days in the 25-square-mile urban oasis of Boulder, reserve your last day or two to explore Denver before heading home. The friendly city presents tons of social activities and sightseeing for solo travelers. Go for a guided Colorado Walking Tour to see Denver like a local. For dinner, grab a meal at a brewpub like LowDown Brewery + Kitchen, where you’ll be seated at communal dining tables — perfect for swapping travel stories with strangers.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Plant your beach chair in the waves and absorb the Outer Banks’ ocean views and boundless beaches. Drive to the north end of the Outer Banks to see wild horses roaming the beach in Corolla. To get up close to these descendants of the Spanish mustangs brought over in the 1500s, book a guided tour on an open-air vehicle from an area provider, like Bob’s Wild Horse Tours.

Afterward, grab a takeout boil pot from Outer Banks Boil Company. Just add water and throw on the stove at your bed-and-breakfast for a delicious seafood boil night in.

Corolla Horses Wild Colonial Spanish mustangs roam the beaches of Corolla in the Outer Banks, where travelers can watch and snap photos of these majestic creatures and their herds. Photo by Andrew Brennan, Flickr.

Hit the road south along Highway 12 for a day in the Outer Banks’ quaint coastal towns, filled with shops selling gifts, antiques and art. Start in Duck with a delectable, sweet breakfast at the original Duck Donuts. Then head to Kitty Hawk and Nags Head for more shopping, or to the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve for a kayaking tour, where you’ll learn about the area’s ecology and natural history as you paddle. Here you can reserve a room at the conveniently located Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks/Kitty Hawk — an oceanfront property featuring private balconies in each room, a swimming pool and beach access— perfectly situated for your solo North Carolina adventure.

Add some history to your itinerary with a stop in Kill Devil Hills to see the Wright Brothers memorial commemorating the first successful flight. As you make your way down the Outer Banks, pull over for lunch at one of the many local seafood restaurants, like Tale of the Whale in Nags Head, which features fish fresh off the boat.

Seattle, Washington

Journey to this edgy seaport city where musical legends like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain grew up. Indulge in the inspiring art and live music scenes scattered throughout the city and in any of its three official Arts and Cultural Districts: Uptown, Central Area and Capitol Hill. Check out the event calendar at Neumos, a Capitol Hill spot lauded for continuously attracting shows by top national and local artists. While you’re there, grab a drink from the venue’s newly remodeled, ’70s-themed bar, The Runaway.

After you work up an appetite, head to one of the oldest farmers markets in the country – Pike Place Market. Park in one of the market’s garages and take the skybridge to explore more than 9 acres of farm and craft tables, restaurants and coffee shops overlooking the waterfront. Stay about half a mile southeast at the boutique Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle, where every room comes equipped with a yoga mat, four-legged friends are welcome and complimentary bicycles are available to all hotel guests.

Pike Place Shop from more than 80 local farmers and more than 200 local craftspeople at Pike Place Market.

A block from the market, art lovers can explore the Seattle Art Museum’s special exhibits, installations and permanent global collections — including an entire collection on the Pacific Northwest. With a car, it’s easy escape the city for a solo excursion to hike in the Olympic Mountains to Seattle’s west or Mount Rainier to the southeast, or catch a glimpse of the San Juan Islands’ famous orcas 100 miles northwest of the city.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Pack your bags and head to the nation’s third-oldest city. Settled in 1623, this hidden gem is known for its harbor views, fine foods — including more than 15 oyster-specialized restaurants sourcing fresh seafood — and pubs with European charm. Park for free at the Strawbery Banke Museum and get ready to unleash your inner history buff. Stroll through this outdoor museum space comprised of dozens of buildings portraying life from 1695 to 1954. Absorb the quaint atmosphere and transport yourself through time strolling along brick sidewalks and exploring unique shops, and Colonial and Georgian houses open daily for tours from May through October.

Strawbery Banke Journey back through more than 250 years of American history as you traverse the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum. Photo by Lee Wright, Flickr.

Walk half a mile up the street to tour the Moffatt-Ladd House, where you can roam the gardens or peer into the past of the 1763 Georgian mansion that was once home to Gen. William Whipple, whose signature can be found on the U.S. Declaration of Independence. According to family legend, to commemorate participating in the historical event, Whipple planted several horse chestnuts that he brought back with him from Philadelphia. More than two centuries later, the tree that spawned still stands.

While you’re in town, cure any ale-ments with a mug on the waterfront at Surf Portsmouth or Harpoon Willy’s after an afternoon boat ride taking in the scenic coast and nearly 400 years of local history. Make your home base at the Port Inn. Conveniently located off Interstate 95, this dog-friendly boutique hotel features a seasonal heated pool, complimentary healthy breakfasts, a barbecue patio and free parking.

Join a Group of Fellow Solo Travelers

Just because you’re traveling solo doesn’t mean you need to be entirely alone on vacation. In fact, if you’re craving a little community, consider a guided journey with tour groups like Tauck, which offers more than 100 guided vacations across the U.S. and on all seven continents. If you’d prefer to travel in a group strictly with other women, consider one of many journeys with Women Traveling Together, an organization founded by and made for single female travelers.

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