Top 3 Safest Cities to Visit Alone in the US

Traveling with friends or family members can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but at times it is also frustrating. It can be hard to match schedules, agree on what to see and what to skip, and plan a trip that meets everyone’s unique needs. While I still love traveling with others, I’ve started going on more trips alone. I can stay where I want, eat what I want, set my own schedule, and go see what I’m most excited about without worrying about the travel preferences of others.

sightseeing alone

Although traveling alone can be fun, it does come with some increased risk. You can stay safe and still have fun by choosing your destination wisely, making smart decisions, and packing the right gear. We researched the safest popular sightseeing destinations to help you make the most of your next solo trip while also staying safe.

We’ve also included tips for staying safe while traveling solo and suggestions for what to pack when you’re traveling alone.

The best big cities for sightseeing alone

Visiting big cities alone can be a little intimidating, but larger cities also have some of the nation’s coolest attractions. When deciding which cities to recommend for solo travelers, we looked at violent crime rates, public transportation, cell phone coverage, and the number of law enforcement employees in the city.

We should note that most big cities are going to have a higher violent crime rate than the national average (which was 372.6 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015)—but since the national average factors in very small cities with extremely low crime rates, it wouldn’t really be fair to judge large cities against the entire country. Plus, while small cities can be interesting, they don’t have the iconic landmarks and cultural attractions that a large city can offer. We’ll evaluate these large cities in relation to other large cities for a more reasonable comparison.

Although safety was the primary focus, we also looked at cities to see what kind of attractions they had to offer a solo traveler. All the cities we recommend have a good selection of museums, parks, markets, and other points of interest that would be fun to explore alone.

New York, NY

new york wall street

New York is not just an iconic American city, it’s one of the most famous cities in the world. It is a great city to visit solo because there is so much to do and see that you’ll never get bored being there alone.

Why we recommend it

What to go see

You’ll never run out of things to do in New York, but we suggest hitting some of the city’s most popular sights and focusing on public places, where you’ll feel safer while you’re alone.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

This famous museum is the perfect place to wander alone for hours without ever getting bored. The museum stays open late on Fridays and Saturdays, which would be a great time to visit if you’d like to see the exhibits when it is less busy.

Shakespeare Garden at Central Park

central park

A visit to New York wouldn’t be complete without seeing Central Park—rent a bike or explore on foot and enjoy the gardens, historical buildings, classic bridges, and more. One unique garden in the park is the Shakespeare Garden, which was named in honor of the famous playwright. You can enjoy the calm scenery while reading the plaques with quotes from his plays.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station is a great spot for a solo traveler to wander through markets; shop for clothes, gadgets, and cosmetics; or sit back and observe the people coming and going.

When to visit

New York can be very hot and humid in the summer and can get extreme snowstorms during the winter, so we’d suggest visiting in the spring or fall.

San Diego, CA

Coronado Hotel

San Diego is known for gorgeous beaches, delicious tacos, and a laid-back atmosphere. It is an excellent place to visit for solo travelers who are looking for a place that will be relaxing but not boring.

Why we recommend it

  • San Diego has the second-lowest violent crime rate for a city with a population over one million. San Diego’s rate is 398.5 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which isn’t much higher than the national average. (For comparison, San Francisco has over 500,000 fewer inhabitants and a crime rate of 776.8.)
  • The climate in San Diego is pretty temperate all year round, which makes extreme weather and temperatures less of a concern.
  • You can get good cell coverage from all four major wireless carriers throughout most of San Diego.

What to go see

San Diego is an excellent destination if you want to spend a lot of time outside. We suggest stopping by the following attractions:

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo, but it also has art galleries, science museums, gardens, greenhouses, and cafés. It is a great place to spend a day outside by yourself wandering around at your own pace.

Coronado Beach

coronado beach

San Diego has lots of beaches, but if you want to sit and watch the waves or read a book, you might prefer Coronado over La Jolla. (La Jolla is pretty, but it has lots of rocks and wind and not many places to lay out and relax.) As a bonus, you’ll also get to see the Del Coronado hotel, which is featured in Marilyn Monroe’s famous film Some Like It Hot.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Visit Old Town San Diego to see historic buildings, enjoy live music, walk through local markets, and eat tacos at nearby restaurants.

When to visit

San Diego has nice weather year-round, so you should be able to visit at almost any time. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, you may want to avoid visiting in the winter since it is a little chillier.

Seattle, WA

seattle skyline

If you enjoy spending time in nature and exploring a big city, Seattle might be just right for you. It has museums, parks, bookstores, and coffee shops, and it is close to national parks and other nice outdoor spaces.

Why we recommend it

  • Seattle’s violent crime rate in 2015 was 598.6 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which is relatively low for a city with close to 700,000 residents. (Detroit is about the same size and had a rate of 1759.5 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.)
  • Seattle was awarded sixth place in the country for public transit.
  • All four major wireless carriers have good coverage throughout the city.
  • Seattle earned the top spot in the country for cultural attractions and recreational venues with one for every 364 residents.

What to go see

Seattle is an excellent city for wandering through bookstores and relaxing in coffee shops, but if you want to get out and explore, this is what we’d suggest going to see.

Pike Place Market

Check out one of the most famous local markets in the country while listening to live music, eating fresh seafood, and visiting unique shops.

Seattle Ferris Wheel

Museum of Pop Culture

There are plenty of art and history museums in Seattle that would be interesting to visit, but the Museum of Pop Culture is something you won’t find in many other places. It has exhibits about classic TV shows, famous musicians, science fiction, and more.

Washington Park Arboretum

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy nature without driving to a national park or going on a hike, visit the arboretum to walk through the 230 acres of beautiful scenery. You can visit most parts of the arboretum for free, but you’ll need to pay an entrance fee if you’d like to visit the Japanese Garden.

When to visit

Seattle can get rainy in the spring and snowy in the fall. It is a great place to visit in the summer since it isn’t too hot and there is a little less rain than other times of the year.

Tips for staying safe while sightseeing alone

Arrive during the day

Arriving in an unfamiliar place at night when it is dark can leave you more vulnerable and make it harder to navigate. When possible, arrange your schedule so you can arrive while it is still light out.

Tell someone where you are

Stay in touch with a friend or family member throughout your trip. Let them know where you’ll be and plan regular times to check in so they know you’re safe.

Stay in open, public spaces

You’ll be safer in public places where you can easily move around. This is especially important at night.

Avoid drawing attention to yourself

While there’s nothing wrong with traveling alone, it isn’t wise to draw attention to the fact that you’re by yourself or that you’re unfamiliar with the area. If you need to look at a map to get your bearings, find a local café, library, or park to stop in instead of standing on the sidewalk trying to figure out where you are.

Keep your alcohol consumption in check

You don’t have to completely abstain from alcoholic beverages, but alcohol can impair your judgement and make you clumsier, so know your limits and stay well below them when you’re out by yourself.

Make copies of your ID and important documents

Take photos or make copies of your IDs so that you’ll always have a backup if something gets lost. We suggest uploading photos of your IDs to a secure cloud storage service like Dropbox, but it may also be wise to print out hard copies as backups.

What to pack while traveling solo

The right supplies can make traveling alone safer and easier. We suggest bringing the following items.

Hard-shell luggage

    Fabric luggage can be more flexible, but it is easier to cut open and it isn’t waterproof. We recommend investing in more secure luggage like this Samsonite 3-piece luggage set.

    Luggage lock

      A TSA-approved luggage lock can help you keep your personal possessions secure. These luggage locks are relatively inexpensive and give you extra protection.

      Portable phone charger

        I rely on my phone for quite a bit when I travel. It is my camera, GPS, city guide, and more. While I don’t recommend being completely dependent on your smartphone, I do suggest bringing a portable charger so you can use your phone as much as you need to. I have an iPhone, so I carry the Mipow Power Tube 3000. I like it because it is small enough to fit in a pocket and because I don’t need to bring any extra cables to use it. If you’re an Android user, or if you don’t mind carrying something slightly larger, I’d recommend the AmazonBasics Power Bank. It has a 16,100 mAh capacity, which should be enough to charge most smartphones one or two times. Since it has built-in USB ports, you can use it to charge almost any smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, or Windows) as long as you use it with a certified cable.

        A secure bag

          We suggest keeping the items you carry while you’re out sightseeing to a minimum, but in most cases, you’ll need something to carry a few essential items. Invest in a secure bag to protect your personal possessions. Check out our previous article on the best travel bags for help finding a good backpack, purse, cross-body bag or small waist pack (view on Amazon).

          First-aid basics

            While it isn’t practical to carry a full-sized first-aid kit with you wherever you go, a few first-aid items can be very useful. I suggest carrying at least a few Band-aids, disinfectant wipes, and any essential medication. If you have room, consider getting a mini first-aid kit to keep with you while you’re out and about.

            Water bottle

              It can sometimes be difficult to find water while you’re out exploring a new place. Take a water bottle with you whenever you head out so you can stay hydrated. I like the Vapur Eclipse water bottle because it is collapsible, which means I can easily stash it in my purse when I finish drinking. It also has a carabiner on the lid, so it can easily be hooked to a belt loop.

              Do you like traveling alone? We’d love to hear about your adventures. Share your tips for staying safe in the comments below.