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My Solo Trip to New York City
There are over eight million people in this city, clogging the streets, subways, stores, museums, parks, bars and restaurants at all hours. Even the dead have 30 bodies buried on top of them and frankly, it's downright terrifying to suddenly find yourself standing in solitude on a street corner sometimes. So where do you go when you need a few moments of lone bliss, other than a locked bathroom? In New York, you learn to appreciate being alone in a sea of people. Sometimes, the mere illusion of being alone is enough—a quiet corner in a park, for instance, or the silent stacks of a peaceful bookshop will suffice, for a time. We've culled a list of some of our favorite spots in the city to catch a few unaccompanied moments; as always, leave yours in the comments. Shakespeare Garden in Central Park In this city, even a natural manmade oasis like Central Park tends to be overrun with human bodies pretty much all the time. But the oft-overlooked Shakespeare Garden, perched inconspicuously and fittingly behind the Delacorte Theater, serves as a solid break from the madhouse outside its wooden gate. In keeping with Shakespeare garden tradition, the four acre, century-plus-old space is lush with flowers and plants ripped from his body of work, like pansies, thistle, roses and a mulberry tree. Wander the stone pathway and park yourself on a romantic wooden bench for some solo contemplation—just note that the area is a popular spot for weddings and wedding photos, so bring an airhorn to ward off any intrusive bridal parties. There are plenty of swank or otherwise unique hotel bars here that will serve your hermitic purpose see our full list from last year , but our favorite is the NoMad Library Bar, where you can sit by yourself in a room full of books, delectable cocktail at hand. Freddy's Bar This South Slope dive might not seem like a first choice spot to fly solo, but if you're going to hang at a bar by yourself, it might as well be this one, particularly on a weekday afternoon. Bartenders here are always friendly, though they won't judge you if you choose to pair your beer with a book. Drinks are cheap and there's plenty of room to sit, so you're not idling alone awkwardly by the bar. If crowdwatching's not enough entertainment for you, bizarre videos are looped on a TV above the bar, plus you can stoke your solitude with a serving of buffalo wings and a lettuce, guac, bacon and tomato LGBT sandwich. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Okay, yes, on the surface, spending a day at one of the city's top tourist attractions is probably not the best way to forge some alone time. But the Met is comprised of two million square feet, and if you can't find a few quiet corridors, you're not looking hard enough. Once upon a time, one of my favorite alone time activities involved sticking on a pair of noise-canceling headphones, taking advantage of the Met's pay-what-you-wish ticket policy and scavenging for unexplored territory. Some areas of note: And ne'er forget the American Wing, where rooms upon rooms of 18th century furniture and portraits of bewigged white men await you—the only tourists you'll find there are a few unhappy stragglers who opened the wrong door on their way out of the Temple of Dendur. There are more hidden sections out there, but I'll let you find those on your own, now that I've blown up all my special spots. Matinees at Sunshine Cinema Or anywhere, really Sadly, you can only experience the joy of a weekday matinee if you don't work a weekday 9 to 5, or happen to casually come down with a "stomach bug, it's nothing, maaaaaybe norovirus. The Sunshine is a particular favorite—matinees start around The Film Forum in the West Village is another good spot for lone movie watching, with arthouse films kicking off at And if you're looking for something a little more mainstream, a number of larger multiplexes AMC Kips Bay, for instance offer cheaper tickets for movies that start before noon. Unnameable Books As the bookstore hurtles toward extinction , so too does the distinct pleasure of parking yourself in the stacks, brand new tome in hand. Thankfully, some of the city's bookstores have managed to stay afloat thus far, and they're ready for solitary readers to invade. Quiet Prospect Heights shop Unnameable Books is one of the best spots for lone reading, boasting a spectacular collection of eclectic reads ripe for perusal in strategically-placed piles, along with a few scattered chairs you can sit in to test out a chapter or two. Though, please actually purchase books there, lest the Amazon Kindle Warriors snuff out the written word for good. Marks Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn The Cloisters This one's a little like cheating, since technically The Cloisters is part of the aforementioned Met, but this out-of-the-way spot is much more serene than its Upper East Side counterpart, with peaceful courtyards, stone-walled interiors and covered outdoor walkways that harbor exemplary medieval art. Getting there takes some finesse—you can take the A up to Dyckman Street and walk over, or you can bike up the Henry Hudson River Parkway and make a day of it. Once you're there, spend some necessary time taking in the famed unicorn tapestries, but DON'T miss the reliquaries. There's no better way to spend your alone time than by looking at the finely-decorated skulls of saints. The Red Hook Piers: The Louis Valentino, Jr. Pier earned accolades from us for being one of the best outdoor spots in the city, but one of the best things about it is that there's rarely anyone there. If you can make it out there early in the morning, you'll have the pier to yourself, and with it a spectacular view of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The Hayden Planetarium Nothing will make you feel more alone than plummeting into the deep, dark depths of space, even if you're surrounded by a thousand screaming school groups while doing so. Take in a star show at the Hayden Planetarium, and you'll be forced to reckon with the fact that, no, Brooklyn is not the center of the universe, and that if you magically floated off the face of the Earth and found yourself bouncing around the Milky Way, you'd be nothing more than a speck of dust in a mighty, mighty world also, you'd be dead. Gothamist is now part of WNYC, a nonprofit organization that relies on its members for support. You can help us by making a donation today! Your contribution supports more local, New York coverage from Gothamist. Contact the author of this article or email tips gothamist.
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