Make no mistake, there’s no shortage of great things to do in Greenwich Village. You can easily spend a full day taking it all in and still leave wanting more.
Greenwich Village is arguably the most charming neighborhood in New York City. In fact, exploring it is often the highlight of almost everyone’s trip to NYC. But let me tell you, once you experience it for yourself, you’ll know exactly why.
Between the cobblestone streets, old brick townhouses, ivy covered buildings and the most endearing corner cafes and restaurants, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a movie set.
So, without further ado, let’s cover the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
“Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.Joan Didion
Best Things to Do in Greenwich Village NYC
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
#1. Grab a coffee (or bite) at Buvette
Stepping into Buvette feels like stepping foot into an authentic Parisian cafe. Which is precisely why this is one of my favorite things to do in Greenwich Village when I’m feeling nostalgic for France.
The interior of the restaurant is as cozy as can be and the food is equally delicious. I especially like the escargot and seasonal menu items.
Swing by for a quick bite or if you need to rest your legs. Make sure to linger over a warm coffee drink or glass of wine — it makes people watching all the better.
Please bear in mind however that Buvette offers few reservations that can be difficult to get and is known to have a wait.
#2. Check out the iconic Friends Apartment Building
Who among us didn’t grow up watching Friends? Arguably one of the most popular TV shows of all time, it ran for 10 seasons and amassed an enthusiastic fan base.
The show was set in New York City, even though it was actually filmed in California. Regardless, you can see a handful of the iconic buildings from the show. Most notable is the apartment where Rachel, Monica, Chandler and Joey lived.
Located at the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets, check out the exterior of the apartment used in the opening credits. It’s easy to spot because there’s typically a crowd of folks eagerly taking photos of the corner.
You won’t be able to enter the building, but the photo opportunities are endless thanks to the charming cafe below — which is not Central Perk in reality, rather it’s called The Little Owl.
#3. Visit Three Lives & Company
Founded in 1978, Three Lives & Co. is quite possibly the most beloved bookstore in New York City. New Yorkers have been relying on this welcoming bookstore and the well-read staff for more than 43 years.
This gem sits on the cutest corner in the West Village and acts as a beacon for a more noble and civil society.
Creaky floors, warm-toned wooden bookshelves and colorful books — when it comes to quaint NYC bookstores, this one takes the cake.
Note: Three Lives & Company has temporarily relocated to 238 West 10th Street while the building undergoes renovation. I took photos at the temporary location to reduce confusion.
#4. Get a treat at the original Magnolia Bakery
Magnolia Bakery took the world by storm, thanks in large part to being prominently featured in Sex and the City. The bakery is known for making decadent cakes and delicious cupcakes, but the banana pudding is where it’s at.
Grab a container to go when you feel that sweet tooth craving hitting you hard for a dessert you won’t soon forget.
You can find a handful of Magnolia Bakery locations throughout the city, but visiting the flagship bakery is one of the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
#5. Take a photo with Carrie Bradshaw’s home
If you’re a fan of Sex and the City, or merely know about the show because you don’t live under a rock, you should swing by the home of the fictional main character, Carrie Bradshaw.
The exterior of her home is located at 64 Perry Street and the street is worth a wander. It’s located in one of the prettiest streets in the West Village and the stunning brownstones in this area will have you day dreaming of owning a home in NYC in no time.
If you’d like to take this adventure a step further, head around the block to see the actual home where Sarah Jessica Parker lived until 2020.
“In New York, you’re always looking for a job, apartment or a boyfriend.”Carrie Bradshaw
#6. Swing by Grove Court & Grove Street
The whole of Grove Street is known for being a charming tree-lined street with beautiful townhouses, but the real star of the show requires some leg work.
Search out 10 and 12 Grove Street to see a row of brick townhouses that look like a scene out of a movie. There is a gate you have to look through but you get the picture. The home is stunning. Grove Court is especially pretty in the fall when the residents decorate the cobble-stone path with vibrant pumpkins. To that end, if you’re looking for charming things to do in Greenwich Village, look no further.
Further Reading: The West Village in Autumn (Photo Journal)
#7. Order a cappuccino at Caffe Reggio
Caffe Reggio is known for two things — bringing the cappuccino to America and serving some of the best cappuccinos in NYC to this day. Reason alone to visit!
Opened in 1927, this exciting green exterior of this cafe is irresistible to folks looking for relaxing things to do in Greenwich Village. You’ll typically find most tables full and lively chatter spilling from every corner of this charming postage-sized cafe.
Sit down for a few and enjoy the iconic cappuccino before exploring the West Village further.
#8. Stroll down Bleecker Street
Home to small boutiques and splurge-worthy brands, Bleecker Street is often considered one of the best streets to shop in the West Village, making it one of the most popular spots in the neighborhood.
Honestly, even if you don’t intend to buy anything, I still suggest strolling down Bleecker Street to get a feel for the charm of the West Village. You’ll see instantly why this area is so desirable!
#9. Have a celebratory dinner at Petite Boucherie
Serving classic French fare in a Parisian environment, Petite Boucherie checks all the boxes for Francophiles. Tucked away on the corner of Gay Street and Christopher Street, this cozy French restaurant is the perfect spot to celebrate a momentous occasion.
The food is top notch and the romantic ambiance is worth getting dressed up for. You’ll feel like you were transported to Paris! So swing by if you’re feeling a little Parisian while enjoying the plethora of things to do in Greenwich Village.
Reservations can fill out quickly so I suggest getting on it sooner rather than later.
#10. Have a drink at the best bar in the world (seriously)
What better way to cap off an adventurous day in the West Greenwich Village than by getting a drink at Dante?
Caffe Dante dates back to 1915. It served as a staple for the community before slowly fading into oblivion before two Australians decided to breathe new life into the historic institution in 2015.
The result was striking, within a few years of opening, Dante was named the best bar in the world in 2019 and appeared on the list again in 2020.
The menu is well curated with small fare and the drinks are perfectly executed. The hardest part about this experience is getting reservations because this is one of the most romantic things to do in Greenwich Village.
After visiting Dante for dates in NYC on a handful of occasions, I can confirm that their drinks are some of the best I’ve ever had. The dirty martini is particularly memorable.
Dante now has two locations — Dante West Village and Caffe Dante, the two bars are located a few blocks apart. I haven’t had luck getting into Caffe Dante without a reservation, so I suggest booking in advance. Try to book Friday evening during the spring and summer because they usually have a pleasant live jazz band.
Happy Hour: Both Dante locations have generous happy hour between 3pm and 5pm. Dante West Village offers martinis for $10 and Caffe Dante offers negronis for $10. The price/quality ratio can’t be beat!
#11. Visit the starting place of the LGBTQ+ Movement in America
It’s easy to forget that the fight for gay rights was riddled with turbulence. Before the 1960’s it was illegal to be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) and the laws in NYC were especially harsh towards those the LGBTQ community.
Things took a massive turn during the infamous Stonewall Uprising, which took place at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Frustrated by unjust raids, the patrons at the Stonewall Inn decided to fight back and riots ensued. These riots catapulted the LGBTQ+ community into the limelight and led to the re-evaluation of the relationship between the police and the LGBTQ+ community.
In effect, these events completely changed the course of history in America, which is why Stonewall was deemed a national historic landmark in New York City. Visitors are welcome to enjoy a drink at this notable gay bar while pondering the progress made and the distance yet to go.
All this to say, visiting the Stonewall Inn is one of the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
#12. Catch a jazz show
Home to some of the most significant jazz clubs in the world, the music scene in the West Village is hard to beat.
Chances are high that you’ll come across talented street performers playing jazz while you walk the neighborhood, but if you’d like to make the occasion special, I suggest making reservations at a jazz club for an experience you won’t soon forget.
The West Village is home to a handful of knock-out spots, but the most notable are Village Vanguard and Blue Note Jazz Club.
Village Vanguard is an intimate West Village jazz club that has been serenading New Yorkers since 1935, with legendary performers like Miles Davis. Likewise, Blue Note Jazz Club is a cultural institution and considered one of the best jazz clubs in the world. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either option.
#13. Have a laugh at the Comedy Cellar
If jazz is not your thing but you’d still like some entertaining things to do in the West Village, swing by Comedy Cellar, one of the best comedy clubs in New York City.
The Comedy Cellar first opened in 1980 and hosts long lines every day of the week. They don’t have headliners, unlike most comedy clubs, rather they have 5 to 7 comics perform 15-20 minute skits per night.
As such, you never know who to expect on stage, but you’re guaranteed to have a good time because the Comedy Cellar always attracts top-notch talent. Needless to say, this is one of the best thing to do in the West Village for anyone in search of a lighthearted evening.
#14. Relax at a speakeasy
Speakeasy’s are quote popular in New York City, and the West Village has the cream of the crop. My personal favorite is Employees Only, which has been around for more than a decade. This is my go-do date night in the West Village because it never seems to get old.
#15. Get a pie from John’s of Bleecker Street
John’s of Bleecker Street is an iconic New York City pizza shop that was founded in 1929. Much like the walls adorned with photos of countless celebrities and windows dressed in awards, the pizza here will keep you coming back time and time again.
The crust is perfectly chewy and charred (thanks to the grandfathers coal-fired oven) and the sauce-to-topping ratio is worth writing home about. The pizza is served fresh out of the oven so you can expect hot and delicious pizza within 20-minutes of sitting down (if you’re lucky enough to forgo an hour long wait).
The pizza goes down easily. I can’t even count the number of times I kept repeating “this is damn good pizza” to my husband. I think I lost count at 18 — a strong gauge, to be sure.
Note: John’s does NOT sell pizza by the slice, you need to purchase a whole pie. But don’t worry, after your first bite, you would have regretted having only one slice anyway.
#16. Enjoy Washington Square Park
Located in the very heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is easily one of the most beautiful parks in New York City.
Best known for the grand marble arch that celebrates the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration, it sits at the northern entrance of the park and overlooks the central fountain. Many folks consider this one of the most welcoming parks in NYC and come from all over the city to express themselves freely.
The inviting atmosphere makes Washington Park a great NYC park for people-watching. The energetic mood is contagious and you’ll notice park visitors from all corners of the world congregate on the various benches and grassy patches.
Make an effort to see Washington Park during the spring season. There’s an undeniable cheery buzz in the air as both locals and tourists eagerly flock outdoors after the dreary winter months.
#17. Visit Abingdon Square Park
Abingdon Square Park is one of New York City’s oldest and smallest public parks. Serving New Yorkers for more than 190 years and clocking in at a mere 1/4 acre, it’s one of the prettiest and most peaceful parks NYC has to offer.
Located at the end of Bleecker St, it’s a great place to rest your legs if you find yourself looking for relaxing things to do in Greenwich Village. Offering plenty of benches and shade from trees that wrap the park’s perimeter.
This park only adds to the charm of Greenwich Village and is a nice pop of nature should the neighborhood get too overwhelming.
#18. Peruse Bookmarc Bookstore
Established in 2010, Bookmarc came to the neighborhood from fashion designer Marc Jacobs, who bought a former bookstore that was forced to close down due to the rise in rent costs.
In such a captivating neighborhood like the West Village, the goal of Bookmarc was to show the importance a bookstore holds in the community.
If you have even the smallest interest in fashion or photography, I highly suggest adding this to your list of things to do in the West Village. You’ll find some of the coolest coffee table books and illustrated books spanning a gamut of interesting subjects like art, fashion and photography.
#19. Have a bite at Minetta Tavern
Dating back to 1937, Minetta Tavern was taken over by the mastermind behind Balthazar’s, Keith McNally in 2009. The restaurant served the likes of Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings, to name a few. And you know what I always say, if it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for me.
Minetta Tavern is one of those places in New York that feels as old-school and charming as it gets. Leather booths, cozy wood panels and waiters in waistcoats that roll up their sleeves while serving some of the best steaks and burgers in NYC.
You’ll find an iconic neon sign outside the building that will instantly pull at your heart strings. If you’re bold enough to put a flashy neon sign in front of your spot, you better be damn good. Luckily for us, Minetta Tavern lives up to the hype.
#20. Nibble at Murray’s Cheese
I need all my cheese lovers front and center. Looking for the best things to do in the West Village and not stopping at Murray’s Cheese is like visiting NYC and not visiting Central Park! Were you even here at all?
Murray’s Cheese has been around more than seven decades. Even those who don’t care for cheese (BTW – how dare you) find themselves awestruck by the tantalizing smells wafting from this shop. Considering that Greenwich Village is home to the flagship store, it’s a required stop for any visitor.
The best part about Murray’s Cheese is you don’t need to know much about cheese to enjoy the experience. The store has a spot upstairs that hosts many tastings and pairing courses for anyone looking to expand their palette. For the less adventurous folk, you can meander downstairs and marvel at the extensive selection of cheeses and sample any one you’d like (within reason, of course). 😉
#21. Grab a late night meal at Corner Bistro
Remember that thing I mentioned about flashy neon lights? Well, here’s another one for you. The Corner Bistro is a classic West Village burger joint that has been a staple (some nights even a necessity) for many New Yorkers.
For 50 years they’ve been serving what many New Yorkers call the best burger in Manhattan. Unlike Minetta Tavern, this place feels more casual and you quickly find comfort from the easy-going staff and tasty food.
This is one of the best places to visit in the West Village and it’s open as late as 4:00 AM from Thursday to Saturday. Corner Bistro gives you the lax environment required to rest your legs and fill your belly.
This burger joint is one of our go-to places in the West Village whenever we’re hosting out-of-town guests. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a juicy burger at midnight?
#22. Stroll the High Line
The High Line is such a unique park in New York City! Originally used as an elevated rail-line for freight trains delivering cargo, the demand for it became moot with the rise in trucking. The railroad track was abandoned and neglected until Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan to transform it into a park.
The High Line was opened in 2009 and became an instant success. The elevated promenade stretches for 1.5 miles and receives an average of 8 million visitors annually. Folks caught on quickly that this is an iconic NYC park (and experience).
As a local, I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoy visiting the High Line regardless of how many times I’ve seen it. The people-watching opportunities are endless!
Quick recap of the best things to do in Greenwich Village
- Grab a coffee (or bite) at Buvette
- Check out the iconic Friends Apartment Building
- Visit Three Lives & Company
- Get a treat at the original Magnolia Bakery
- Take a photo with Carrie Bradshaw’s home
- Swing by Grove Court & Grove Street
- Order a cappuccino at Caffe Reggio
- Stroll down Bleecker Street
- Have a celebratory dinner at Petite Boucherie
- Have a drink at the best bar in the world (seriously)
- Visit the starting place of the LGBTQ+ Movement in America
- Catch a jazz show
- Have a laugh at the Comedy Cellar
- Relax at a speakeasy
- Get a pie from John’s of Bleecker Street
- Enjoy Washington Square Park
- Stroll the High Line
- Relax in Abingdon Square Park
- Get inspired at Bookmarc
- Grab a steak at Minetta Tavern
- Taste all the cheese at Murray’s Cheese
- Enjoy a late night burger at Corner Bistro
Things to do in the West Village (Helpful Map)
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As always, don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed anything. Cheers!
Thank you for this article! I am planning a 3-day mother-daughter trip over mother’s day weekend with my 14-year-old and this site is a great help. We love books, art, comedy, music, coffee, and eating things unique to the area. Is there anything you would suggest for us? We are on a budget but want to experience the spirit of the city. She is LGBTQ so I want her to be able to connect with that in the city as well. Thank you for this site. It is fantastic!
Thank you so much for your kind comment! You sound like a great mom and I’m sure your daughter will love her time in NYC with you. For a robust overview of the best things to do in NYC, check out our NYC Itinerary for 4 Days. The article includes helpful insights from locals and suggestions for restaurants you can’t miss.
In terms of great restaurants, off the top of my head I suggest Katz Deli, bagels from Ess-a-Bagel and Juliana’s pizza (when exploring DUMBO, Brooklyn). All of these spots are mentioned in the NYC itinerary, give it a look and reach out to me directly with questions! We’re so happy you’ll be visiting NYC soon. 🙂
I would definitely include that buvette doesn’t take reservations and is usually at least a 30 min wait, and both Dante and petite boucherie are usually booked out in advance for dinner (sometimes weeks). Also grove court can only be observed through small gaps in a fence- not exactly an experience. Other than that love the included highlights of the village!!
New York Simply says
Hey Claudia, thank you for the great feedback! We made the changes you suggested, really appreciate it! 🙂
Venera Spadaro says
Love this! How do I request a print copy for my mother-in-law who grew up in this neighborhood but is not computer savvy (96 years Old!!!!. Thank you,, best,, Venera
JM Golden says
All good suggestions. But you left out one very important “must visit”: Jones Street, between Bleecker & W4th, the site of the cover photo of “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”, the album that put him on the map of the greatest poet/lyricist of his generation.
I walked through Washington square yesterday with my 13 year old son. Between the homeless in the fountain the dealers and users on the west side corners the open air weed market in the middle it’s not somewhere I’m recommending to tourists even Tompkins is cleaner nowadays
New York Simply says
Thanks for sharing your experience Drew. We couldn’t omit mentioning Washington Square Park from the list because of its iconic history, however your comment could help someone else plan their visit.
Totally missed out on McNulty’s Tea & Coffee on Christopher Street. In business since 1895!
Olivia Hunt says
Hi there! I represent a theater in West Village and am planning some neighborhood social events that are free and open to the public. I would love to get in contact with your team to collaborate on bringing this opportunity to New Yorkers!
Please feel free to email me.