8 U.S. Solo Travel Destinations You Probably Haven't Thought Of

If pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is at the top of your agenda this year, booking a solo travel experience might be a good place to start. Friends weekends and romantic getaways are great—and, often, very necessary—but there’s something potentially life-changing about testing your own boundaries by exploring new places on your own.

"Solo travel makes you more outgoing, it requires you to engage with people you normally may not need to speak to, and can open your mind to all different types," says Dr. Magdalena Swierczewski, the founder of ExplorerMD. "You also learn more about yourself, as you have time to observe, reflect and learn who you are and how you react to certain situations. Solo travel makes you feel strong."

Where to start? If you're planning to go abroad, Dr. Swierczewski suggests spending time researching areas of interest and familiarizing yourself with the culture and customs, specifically as they pertain to women, since safety should always be a first priority.

Still, solo travel doesn't always mean hightailing it to faraway lands, or planning a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

"If you have the travel bug and want to [go] solo, a good way to start is short-distance domestic travel," says Dr. Swierczewski. "You have the language down which gives you more confidence and, after a few trips, you can graduate to international solo travel." Plus, trips around the country can also be shorter—even if just a long weekend—making them ideal for those of us who can't duck out of work for weeks on end.

Read on for eight cool, unexpected American destinations to consider this year.

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

If an unexpected seaside escape is your cup of tea, consider Bay St. Louis. Once ravaged by Katrina, this resilient town on the water has seriously artsy vibes. Boutique hop through Old Town (quirky Smith & Lens gallery and The French Potager are musts) and then Vinyasa flow your way through your #NewYearsGoals at Treehouse Yoga followed by a visit to Mockingbird Café for a cup of near-perfect coffee. If you can swing it, treat yourself to a restorative day at Spa at the Bay in Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast.

More: http://www.glamour.com/story/us-solo-travel-destinations-for-women