No. 45 | Seven places to go by yourself

I like to go to things and do stuff. I want to know what the new restaurant is like, see the new movie, hear the hot band, try the new coffee. I am, in general, a participator. A lot of my close friends live in other places or have children. That makes it hard sometimes to do these things with other people. I’ve been (slowly) working on making new friends in Minneapolis, but in the meantime, it’s go to things solo or don’t go at all.

I know a lot of people who are nervous about going to things by themselves. In my experience, it gets easier with practice, and some situations are more comfortable than others. Here are my recommendations on seven good places to go by yourself:

1) Go to a movie

Going to movies by yourself is great. You show up exactly when you want, you sit exactly where you want, you stay as long during the credits as you like, and if it really sucks you can leave when you want. I like to go during matinee pricing with the old people. Even if I get married again I will keep going to movies by myself; if I’m watching a movie with a partner I’d rather do so on the couch with a good bottle of wine.

2) Go to a show

Junior year I skipped prom and went to see Blue October play the Ranch Bowl (R.I.P.) in Omaha. That was the first of a great many solo concert trips. I do like having a friend to see a show with, but I’ve also made lots of friends at shows while there by myself. The biggest advantage, again, is leaving exactly when you want to. I’m not getting any younger so sometimes I race out the door before the encore if the main set was sufficiently satisfying (or if I have an 8am meeting).

3) Go North

Or South. Or wherever looks good. I like to just get outside and walk and wander. Catch up on a podcast. Walking by yourself with no agenda is a very liberating feeling.

4) Go to a gym

I prefer going to the gym with a partner but plenty of people go solo and I’ve never felt out of place in a gym or fitness center by myself. Same for running outdoors.

5) Go to an arcade

Pop culture leads me to believe that the bar is the most natural destination for someone on their own, but the idea of popping into a neighborhood joint solo makes me somewhat anxious.

Arcades — bar or otherwise — are nice on your own because there’s something to do. I spent a lot of time at Family Fun Center in Omaha the summer before college dumping quarters into Dance Dance Revolution. And I put a lot of tokens into Metallica pinball at Up/Down Des Moines when I was newly single and wanted to “get out there” but wasn’t really ready to date.

6) Go to a diner (or a deli)

I find places where you can seat yourself the most comfortable for dining solo — it’s nice to not have to say “table for one” out loud. I try to avoid corporate chains, and maybe this is classist of me, but coffee and eggs by yourself at, say, Eggy’s or Merry Ann’s or Skylight Diner, or a cabbage roll at Kramarczuk’s, seems romantic, whereas a bowl by yourself at Chipotle seems rather sad.

7) Go to a museum

I will go to any museum, no matter how stupid it sounds. Even if the subject matter is not interesting, I almost always have interesting thoughts responding to how it’s been organized and curated. Museums are a nice date, but if I’m traveling solo for work sometimes the only sightseeing I can get in is a one or two hour stop at the nearest art museum. I’ve never regretted these visits. And you’ll run into all kinds of other travelers there by themselves, even in your own hometown. Bonus: a lot of art is about loneliness and was made by lonely people, so you’ll feel right at home!

Originally published as List No. 45 of the 7x77 newsletter project.
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