15 Incredible Solo Vacations to Take in the South
Solo travel is on the rise. While hiking the Appalachian Trail or taking a cross-country train trip on your own may sound a little daunting, these approachable and fun getaways are the perfect Introduction to Solo Travel 101. Read on for the absolute best solo vacation spots below the Mason-Dixon line.
Captiva Island, Florida
It's no surprise that Anne Morrow Lindbergh drew inspiration for her best-selling novel, the enlightening and lyrical Gift from the Sea, in this oasis for solitude. Post up in a seaside cottage at 'Tween Waters resort with a high stack of reading materials and punctuate long, lazy days by exploring the 100-something barrier and coastal islands nearby. For another nice excursion, check out J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, which is connected to Captiva via bridge.
Kansas City, Missouri
When you're not gazing at the city's 200+ fountains or eating BBQ, retreat to The Fontaine in KC's landmark Country Club Plaza District. Renovated in January 2018, sip a drink by the rooftop pool, enjoy a luxurious bath in your room, or ask a hotel staffer for a nearby rec (many are long-time residents). They'll likely point you towards the City Market to check out 150ish food stalls, artisan shops, and locally-owned eateries. Sufficiently stuffed, explore the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District where joints like KC Blues & Jazz Juke House will leave you clapping for an encore.
What could beat a porch, a sunset, and Spanish moss hanging from towering live oaks? Welcome to Dunham Farms, a family-run bed and breakfast with nearly endless acres of gardens, marshes, and forest. Luxuriate in some much-needed solo reflection while walking the grounds or aboard a kayak before treating yourself to a meal at Sunbury Crab Co., where the Blue Crab Bucket is a must. P.S. It may be Midway on the map, but this wetlands getaway is called Sunbury by almost every local you'll encounter.
San Antonio, Texas
Hotel Emma is one of those rare hotels you'll never want to leave thanks to its resplendent decor, rich history (it was a brewery in the 1800s), and on-site activities like cooking demos, an inviting library, and pool. Should you decide to leave the riverfront property, make new friends at the Main Plaza as you watch French artist Xavier De Richemont's one-of-a-kind art installation projected onto San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio, the Saga. Feet need a rest? Grab a water taxi along the San Antonio River Walk or a bar stool at Ocho's, where you can munch on tostones as you gaze down at the river from a glass conservatory.
Plenty of interesting fellow guests will cross your path at art-centric Quirk, a boutique hotel which features ample communal space like the lobby restaurant and rooftop bar and lounge. Continue riding that art-high with a visit to the Institute of Contemporary Art (pictured here) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Then, take your cultured self to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens for a quick floral fix before making new friends along the Richmond Beer Trail or at Comfort, a celebrated Richmond restaurant which recently announced all of its net profits will go towards fighting hunger in central Virginia.
On this visit to Music City, acquaint yourself with the historic Germantown neighborhood. Book your stay at the Germantown Inn, a Federal-style home built in the mid-19th century. Kick off your solo tour with a de-stressing class at Steadfast and True Yoga. Then it's to Poppy & Monroe we go for a manicure and facial before venturing to neighborhood shops like Peter Nappi and Alexis + Bolt. End the night at, The Green Hour (open Thursdays-Saturdays), after dinner at City House or Geist, a former blacksmith shop dating back to 1886, opening March 14th.
St. Petersburg, Florida
If your idea of a blissful vacation includes walking everywhere, check into the Hyatt Place St. Petersburg Downtown, the ideal launching pad for your adventures. Be sure to see The Dali Museum (pictured here), The Chihuly Collection, and the Museum of Fine Arts, which are all walkable from the hotel. Once you've checked the museums off your list, indulge in a meal at the Chef’s Bar at IL Ritorno (book your seat at 727.897.5900). There, you'll drool over an 8-10 course meal created by the talented Chef David Benstock. If you can time it right, be sure to swing by St. Pete Indie Market and Night Market Exchange to pick up some goodies for the folks back at home.
Rabun County, Georgia
Wecome to your private slice of Peach State paradise. Situated in Northeastern Georgia, this 1880s one-bedroom cabin is the kind of Airbnb fantasy only your travel planner sister-in-law seems to score. Inside, you'll find a fireplace and rustic-chic decor; outside you'll find the owner's small sheep farm, Wolffork Valley Farm. Should you decide to venture off-site, nearby attractions include Lake Burton, Tallulah Gorge State Park, and Black Rock Mountain State Park. Don't overlook the nearby town of Clayton, whether it's for comfort food at The Rusty Bike Cafe or a dose of the arts at Main Street Gallery.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
With Ponyboy's walls draped in vintage photos of Okies, this coffee shop and cocktail bar will make you feel welcome in the Sooner State any time of day. While in town, devote a morning for wandering the Myriad Botanical Gardens, which contains "The Crystal Bridge," a breathtaking 224-foot tropical conservatory. Also make a pit stop at the OKC Museum of Art where you can wander one of the world's biggest Chihuly collections. Rachel Cope, CEO & Owner of 84 Hospitality, also urges solo travelers to visit '90s-inspired pizza shop, Empire Slice House and Goro Ramen. For overnight accommodations, check yourself into The Colcord (their restaurant, Flint, is a stellar brunch choice) or the 21C Museum Hotel, perched on the emerging "Film Row." If you're feeling brave, book at The Skirvin. Founded in 1911, this hotel is said to be haunted (the New York Knicks blamed a 2010-loss against the OKC Thunder on the ghosts), but the fun you'll have listening to local musicians cover hits ranging from Chopin to Bruno Mars in the lobby's Red Piano Lounge will more than make up for any "visitors."
Beaufort, South Carolina
Paddle your worries away with Beaufort Kayak Tours sans kiddie chorus of "we're hungry!" interrupting your bliss. As a solo act, you'll also rejoice in a meal and stiff drink at Old Bull Tavern before retiring for the evening to The Rhett House Inn. The next morning, grab the paper and enjoy a traditional Southern breakfast on the veranda to fuel up for a leisurely bike ride downtown (the inn offers guests complimentary beach cruiser bikes). History Beauf, ahem, buff? Plan a trip to the Beaufort History Museum, which brings to life Beaufort's storied past.
Intrepid Travel's Florida Adventure
Hesitant to sign up for a group tour alone? Don't be. Travel tour company Intrepid Travel has seen 24% growth in solo trip bookings in 2017, and 40% growth in solo travel over the past five years. On their seven-day Florida Adventure tour, bond with fellow travel lovers as you journey from New Orleans to Miami. Some standout experiences include lazing in Key West, marveling at the architecture in NOLA, and a trip to Universal Studios or Disney World.
New Orleans, Louisiana
One of the finest joys of traveling alone is acting like a local and exploring lesser-known neighborhoods. In ever-friendly NOLA, there's perhaps no better area for this than Algiers Point. On any given morning, you may encounter 85-year-old bartenders doling out first-rate bloody mary's to locals at Old Point Bar, fanciful murals, or both. Once you take a quick ferry back to Canal Street, head to Frenchmen Street for live music and grub. Come nightfall, The Ritz-Calrton New Orleans makes for an ideal homebase. Sink into a seat in the mesmerizingly beautiful courtyard garden as jazzy notes from the Davenport Lounge waft over your head while you sip your nightcap.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
In laid-back Ocean Springs, your toughest task will be deciding between a paddle board yoga class with PaddlesUp or a swamp tour with the Eco-Tours of South Mississippi in nearby Gautier (do both). Also worth a slot on your unchaperoned cal is a cooking class at The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center. Dock yourself at the Inn at Ocean Springs which puts restaurants, galleries, and shopping a stone's throw away. On a budget? Check out the Convention & Visitors Bureau handy guide of Free Things to Do on the Gulf Coast.
Selfie opps are at every turn in Derby City, but a few of our favorite spots to snap a picture include 21C Museum Hotel's lobby art gallery before dinner at Proof on Main, by the baseball bat at the Slugger Museum & Factory, or while strolling through Historic Old Louisville, which is home to America's largest collection of Victorian mansions. Of course, there will be bourbon, so join a public tour group with Mint Julep Tours, where you can rank your favorites with fellow spirit enthusiasts. P.S. In March 2018, Louisville will welcome Omni Louisville Hotel. There, shake off a hangover at the full-service spa or by heading to the library bar (with a hidden speakeasy and bowling alley!) for some hair of the dog.
Attention historic home devotees: You'll swoon for Stanton Hall, Magnolia Hall, and Dunleith, along with other examples of antebellum architectural feats. More must-dos are Miss Lou's Odd Treasures tour, where you'll learn about the area's fabled (and haunted) history, and a meal at King's Tavern, housed in a building that dates back to around 1789. When you're ready to call it a night, get cozy at the Natchez Grand Hotel, and let your dreams float over the Mississippi River below.