I’ve only been to New York City two times in my life. The first time I was a freshman staff accountant at a small CPA firm headed to the big city to work on a client. My manager got sick the first day and left me to the wolves while he nursed himself back to health at the Hyatt.
In most cases, I would just hop in the car and go to dinner and enjoy a quiet evening by myself. But in NYC? Not going to happen. First of all, I didn’t have a car (duh, who drives in Manhattan?) and secondly, I’ve never heard of any of the restaurants I passed on my walk back to the hotel.
Before I left the client for the day, I mustered the courage to ask him if he could recommend what to do all alone on my first night in the big city. He promptly pulled a subway and walking map of Manhattan out of his jacket pocket, along with some tips, and handed it to me saying, “I never leave home without this.”
I was a little apprehensive to step back onto the sidewalk after a change of clothes and freshening up at the hotel, but once I exited the building, I realized no one really cared that I (at least to me) stuck out like a sore thumb. I felt like I was the only person amongst the hustle and bustle. How did that happen? It turns out, New Yorkers are a different kind of people. They mind their business so you can mind yours.
I came across a thread on reddit that discusses some of the best spots to explore as an introvert on your own in NYC. Some highlights:
NYC is an introvert’s paradise. Because there’s so many people crowded together, people tend to respect each other’s privacy/ personal space more. If you’re reading a book on the subway, nobody’s going to try to strike up a conversation. And there’s a million things to do. Personally, I love the big museums, especially the MoMA, the Met, and the American Museum of Natural History. If that’s not your thing, you can always just wander down 5th ave. or stroll around SoHo and/or the east village. There’s stuff everywhere. -mouseknuckle
Do you like books? Strand Book Store is like 17 miles of books. St. Mark’s bookstore is also super awesome and “quirky.” Done with your books? Okay, go down the street and get some amazing ramen at ippudo. Worried about sitting by yourself? Naw, you sit at the counter and it’s normal to be sitting next to strangers. You could start a conversation, but why dilute your tasty experience. -yakhauler
[It's] a perfect city for being alone.
I would often ride the subway and get off of any random stops that looked interesting so I could wander around. Walk around Central Park and take in the views. Browse the bookstores and bakeries and coffee shops. If you’re there during the holidays, visit Rockefeller Center for the gigantic tree. It’s a great place to people-watch and be yourself. -mangoesmangoes