This list of the best things to do in the Greenwich Village is written by Antonina Pattiz, the founder of New York Simply (an official NYC partner of Apple Maps).
As a local New Yorker, I’m often asked about the most charming areas of New York City. The answer is always simple, always the same — The Greenwich Village. Between the cobblestone streets, old-world charm and the most endearing corner cafes you’ll ever see, visiting the West Village feels like stepping foot on a movie set. So, without further ado, let’s cover the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
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 10 Best Neighborhoods & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Things to Do in the West Village
Table of Contents: Best Things to Do in the West Village NYC
- Best Things to Do in the West Village
- Grab a Bite at Buvette
- See the Iconic Friends Building
- Have Cocktails at the Best Bar in the World
- Catch a Jazz Show at Village Vanguard
- Visit Three Lives & Company
- Enjoy Washington Square Park
- Get a Sweet Treat at the Original Magnolia Bakery
- Visit the Famous Sex and the City Brownstone
- Swing by Grove Court
- Visit the Birthplace of America’s Cappuccino
- Go Shopping on Bleecker Street
- Grab Midnight Burgers at Corner Bistro
- Learn About the Stonewall Inn
- Enjoy a Performance at the Comedy Cellar
- Get a Pie from John’s of Bleecker Street
- Enjoy a Meal at Minetta Tavern
- Visit Murray’s Cheese Flagship Store
- Visiting the Greenwich Village (Post Summary)
- Visiting the West Village (FAQ)
- What to Do in the West Village (Helpful Map)
Grab a Bite at Buvette
Stepping into Buvette feels like stepping foot into an authentic Parisian cafe. Which is precisely why grabbing a bite here is one of my favorite things to do in Greenwich Village. The interior couldn’t be cozier, but it’s the high quality food that shines brightest here. Having visited Paris a few times, I can confirm that everything tastes authentic (the escargot especially!).
So swing by to rest your legs for a few minutes and linger over a warm coffee or chilled glass of wine. But take note, getting into Buvette is a challenging task during peak hours. Reservations can be made online (but they’re limited), so most folks opt to wait. If you’re visiting for brunch, the wait can be 1+ hours long, so heads up.
See the Iconic Friends 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 but was actually filmed in California. But because the show was set in NYC, you can see the exterior of the famous building where Rachel, Monica, Chandler and Joey lived.
The building is used in the opening credits and it’s super easy to find because there’s usually a huddle of tourists at one of the corners eagerly taking photos (hard to blame them, this is so cool!). The corner cafe, Little Owl, is actually really delicious! Don’t hesitate popping in for a meal if you’re hungry.
Have Cocktails at the Best Bar in the World
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 & 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. The dirty martini is the best in the city (fighting words, I know).
Catch a Jazz Show at Village Vanguard
Home to some of the most significant jazz clubs in the world, the music scene in the West Village is hard to beat. If you have an occasion to celebrate, I suggest making reservations at a local jazz club for an experience you won’t easily 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.
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 local gem (and the well-read staff) for more than 43 years. Creaky floors, warm-toned wooden bookshelves and colorful books — you’ll be hard pressed to find a more charming way to spend an afternoon in the West Village.
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 commemorates the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration, the park is a huge hit with locals.
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.
Get a Sweet Treat at the Original Magnolia Bakery
Magnolia Bakery took the world by storm, largely because it was prominently featured on 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 most unique things to do in Greenwich Village.
Visit the Famous Sex and the City Brownstone
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 brownstone is located at 64 Perry Street, one of the prettiest streets in the West Village, and merely wandering around is a great time. And for those of your wondering if Sarah Jessica Parker lives in the West Village, the answer is yes. In fact, she lives a mere block away from the famous Sex and the City brownstone.
“In New York, you’re always looking for a job, apartment or a boyfriend.”Carrie Bradshaw
Swing by Grove Court
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. Seek out 10 Grove Street to see a row of brick townhouses that look like a scene out of a movie.
You can peek through the gate to see the pretty scene, but it’s private property so you won’t be able to wander around. 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, add this to the list.
Further Reading: The West Village in Autumn (Photo Journal)
Visit the Birthplace of America’s Cappuccino
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 locals and tourists alike, attracting hundreds of folks every day.
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 minutes to enjoy the famous cappuccino before exploring the West Village further.
Go Shopping on Bleecker Street
Home to small boutiques and splurge-worthy brands, Bleecker Street is considered one of the cutest places to shop in the West Village. 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.
Grab Midnight Burgers at Corner Bistro
The Corner Bistro is a classic West Village burger joint that has been a staple for many (boozy) New Yorkers. For 50 years they’ve been serving what many locals consider the best burgers in NYC. Unlike Minetta Tavern, this place feels more casual and comfortable (the staff are super relaxed).
Open as late as 4am from Thursday through Saturday, it’s a great midnight stop if you find yourself in the area after a fun night with friends.
Learn About the Stonewall Inn
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.
Enjoy a Performance 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, considered 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.
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 for years. 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).
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.
Enjoy a Meal at Minetta Tavern
If you’re keen on old-school vibes (leather booths, cozy wood panels and waiters in waistcoats), make a beeline for Minette Tavern. Dating back to 1937, Minetta Tavern was taken over by the mastermind behind Balthazar’s, Keith McNally in 2009. The restaurant has served the likes of Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings. And you know what I usually say, “if it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for me.”
Visit Murray’s Cheese Flagship Store
I need all my cheese lovers front and center. Swinging by Murray’s Cheese flagship store is one of the best things to do in Greenwich Village for foodies. Murray’s Cheese has been around more than seven decades. If you’re not a fan of cheese (who even are you?!), you’ll still find yourself tempted by the tantalizing smells wafting from the shop. The mac and cheese is the star of the show (some consider it the best in the country), highly recommend ordering if you’re peckish.
Visiting the Greenwich Village (Post Summary)
- 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
Visiting the West Village (FAQ)
Grove Street is the most beautiful street in the West Village. Known for quaint row houses, tree-lined sidewalks, and a sense of tranquility that’s hard to find in bustling Manhattan, Grove Street captures the essence of the West Village’s enchanting character.
The West Village in NYC is renowned for its European charm, historic architecture, and bohemian past, setting it apart from the city’s urban sprawl. Its winding, cobblestone streets defy Manhattan’s grid, leading to unexpected discoveries of quaint cafes, boutique shops, and intimate jazz clubs
The West Village is part of Greenwich Village. The two areas are divided by 7th Avenue (everything west of 7th Avenue is considered West Village).
What to Do in the West Village (Helpful Map)
As always, don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed anything. Cheers!
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