Quiet Empty Commerce Street in the Historic Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City

15 Things to Do in Greenwich Village NYC (From a Local!)

Trying to figure out which things to do in Greenwich Village NYC but wishing you could get some local advice first?

You’re in the right place!

Using what I know as a life-long New Yorker, I’ve put together this guide to help you know what to do in Greenwich Village and how to make the most of your visit to this beloved New York City neighborhood.

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15 Things to Do in Greenwich Village NYC

No trip to New York City is complete without some time in Greenwich Village.

Yes, iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Empire State Building should be part of your NYC itinerary. But, if you want to experience New York City like a local, then head south to Greenwich Village. 

Where is Greenwich Village exactly? 

For starters, it’s in Manhattan. 😉

Specifically, the Village, as the locals like myself call it, is on the lower westside of Manhattan between 14th street to the north and Houston Street to the south. The neighborhood is bookended by the Hudson River to the west and Broadway to the east. These broad boundaries also include the West Village and the Meatpacking District.

For that reason, the best things to do in the West Village, for example, overlap with what to see in Greenwich Village.

Let’s get away from the towering skyscrapers of midtown and wander off the grid street pattern to discover the history, culture, and vibe of the Village.

1. Visit Washington Square Park.

At the heart of Greenwich Village sits one of New York City’s most beloved city parks. Rich with an abundance of history, no trip to New York City’s Greenwich Village is complete without a visit to Washington Square Park.

Compared to the 840-acre Central Park, Washington Square Park is tiny at just under 10 acres. It’s easy to walk the park from end to end as part of a Greenwich Village visit. However, size doesn’t define Washington Square Park and the impact it’s had not only on Greenwich Village but all of  New York City. 

On any given day, you’ll see artists, musicians, chess players, families, NYU students, poets, and pets all bringing the park to life.

The rectangle-shaped park is bordered by straightforward street names, Washington Square North, South, East, & West. But if you ask a local for directions, don’t be surprised if you hear different street names. We prefer to use popular Greenwich Village street names instead.

To the north is Waverly Place, the south is West 4th Street, to the east is University Place, and to the West is MacDougal Street. 

Washington Square Park NYC

At the northern point of the park is the Washington Square Arch. The Arch was built in 1892 for the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration, which happened at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan.

If you’re heading south on NYC’s famous Fifth Avenue, you’ll ultimately head right into the Washington Square Arch. 

This Greenwich Village park also has a fascinating history! Before there were park benches and dog runs, this area was fertile farmland surrounded by woodlands and a stream full of fish.

New York City grew outward from what is now Battery Park and the Financial District, and Greenwich Village was considered a rural retreat north of the city.

This made the land where Washington Square Park is today perfect for a potter’s field. Starting in the late 1790s, up to 20,000 bodies were buried here and are still resting in peace below the park’s soil.

Add this to the park’s legend of the Hangman’s Elm. “The Hanging Tree”  which still grows today, is believed to be the oldest tree in Manhattan at 300+ years old. 

If you’re looking for something spooky, try the Ghosts of Greenwich Village tour

Depending on the time of year, you may see a crowd gathered at the park’s fountain. On hot summer days, it’s a popular spot to dip your feet and cool off.

But anytime is perfect for a stroll around the park to take in the Greenwich Village vibe. Along the way, stop to play a game of chess with a friendly stranger or take a seat with something to drink and enjoy the sights and sounds of this famous Greenwich Village park.

2. See the Friends Apartment Building.

For 10 seasons, the comedy sitcom Friends entertained millions of fans with endless laughs as we watched six twenty-something friends living in the big city, trying to make it through all that NYC life threw at them.

While the popular TV show was filmed on a Warner Brothers sound stage in Burbank, CA, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey lived in Greenwich Village and drank coffee at the cleverly named Central Perk.

Today, the building at 90 Bedford Street at the corner of Grove and Bedford Streets is still recognized as the Friends apartment building. The show famously showed exterior shots of the building before cutting to the action inside.

New York Greenwich Village

On most days, the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets in Greenwich Village is bustling with groups of people taking selfies and staring up at the mostly nondescript 6-story building that was completed in 1899.

You can’t enter the building but don’t be disappointed! After getting your photos, the best part is that you’ll find yourself on a beautiful Greenwich Village street where you can continue to meander through this fabulous neighborhood.

The closest subway stops to Bedford & Grove are Christopher Street from the 1 subway line and West 4th Street from the A, C, E, B, D, F, and M lines. It’s about a 5-minute walk from each station. 

You can also do a guided Greenwich Village Walking Tour which includes a stop outside this iconic building.

3. Walk along Bleecker Street.

Any visit to NYC’s Greenwich Village must include a walk along Bleecker Street. Not only is this one of the most popular areas in Greenwich Village, but it’s also one of the more famous streets in all of New York City. 

Back when the area was mostly farmland, the Bleecker family owned a farm that had a road that ran right through the land. That road would ultimately be given to the city and forever named Bleecker Street.  

Bleecker street sign in Manhattan. Bleecker Street is most famous today as a Greenwich Village nightclub district.

Today, things are a bit different along Bleecker Street. Across several blocks, you’ll find the “Village” vibe in the restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, live music, and shopping along Bleecker Street.

The food scene on Bleecker Street has an incredibly rich history. In the late 1800s, there were just a couple of thousand Italians in all of New York City. By the early 1900s, over half the people living in Greenwich Village were Italians. 

Restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and butcher shops owned by Italians opened around Greenwich Village and dominated most of Bleecker Street.

Much of this influence is still felt today. Johns Pizza was established in 1929 and Ottomanelli and Sons Butcher Shop opened in 1900. As a first-generation Italian, this is a block that feels like home!

This Lower Manhattan itinerary guide has more about which stops to make for your own DIY food tour. 

Bleecker Street also has a legendary music scene. Simon & Garfunkel (who had a song called Bleecker Street), Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, & many more performed in the smoky venues along Bleecker Street.

Today, you can still pop into places like The Bitter End, The Red Lion, and Terra Blues to enjoy live music in a small venue…All without the smoke, of course!

Several subway lines access the area around Bleeker Street depending on where you’re coming from in Manhattan. The Christopher St. or W. 4th St stations mentioned above would land you just steps from Bleecker.

If you’re further east, take the 4 or 6 train to Bleecker Street or the B, D, F, or M trains to Broadway-Lafayette.

4. But, Don’t Miss MacDougal Street!

After strolling along Bleecker, head to MacDougal Street, which intersects Bleecker.

“I’ll meet you at Bleecker and MacDougal after work” has long been a common exchange by many New Yorkers looking to enjoy an evening out. You’ll know why seconds after walking onto the street. 

At just 6 blocks long, starting at Prince Street to the south and going to West 8th Street at the north, MacDougal Street somehow gets more classically Greenwich Village with each step.

Many of the storefronts have maintained their historical significance thanks to a Greenwich Village Historic District designation. MacDougal Alley is a perfect example of this. Just south of West 8th Street, this famous cul de sac served as stables for the neighborhood’s wealthy residents.

New York City Greenwich Village
An Artichoke Pizza slice on MacDougal is a must!

When these were converted into workshops at the turn of the century, artists like Jackson Pollack and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (future founder of the Whitney Museum) would take residence.

Today, MacDougal Street’s history combines fun, food, laughs, and live music. Cafe Wha is an absolute blast. Get ready to rock out at this legendary live music spot where Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan have played.

The Comedy Cellar (more on this in a moment) is perfect for some laughs. And, there’s no shortage of places to have some drinks and good eats.

Some of my favorite places include Minetta Tavern, Mermaid Oyster Bar, Mamoun’s Falafel, and Artichoke Pizza. (Do NOT leave MacDougal until you have an Artichoke slice!) 

5. Admire the Greenwich Village Architecture. 

If your time in New York City has been spent in midtown in and around main tourist attractions, you’re in for an architectural surprise in Greenwich Village. It’s one of the best things to see in Greenwich Village if you ask me.

The further south you go on the island of Manhattan, the older the neighborhoods get. On top of this, the island’s bedrock is much further down and harder to reach in Greenwich Village so tall skyscrapers are harder if not impossible to build here.

This adds up to brick-style homes and townhouses on narrow tree-lined streets, smaller apartment buildings, and historic buildings dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s.

You can still see Federalist-style architecture as you stroll the Village streets. One of the best examples can be seen in Grove Court just off Grove Street (just steps from the Friends Apartment building).

Grove Court, a private enclave in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

The secluded court is set back from the street behind a wrought iron gate. But look through to admire the 6 red townhouses dating back to the mid-1800s. They’re exactly the type of buildings that give the Village its charm!

Before you leave Grove and Bedford Streets, take a look at 17 Grove Street, the oldest wooden house in Manhattan dating back to 1822. Or check out 75 1/2 Bedford Street, the narrowest house in the Village lived in by many notable figures like Cary Grant!

Along Washington Square North, you can admire the Greek Revival townhouses known as “The Row” built in the mid-1800s. Many still have their original iron fences and stone stoops. In the 1800s, the townhouses were home to the social elite but today most of them are owned by NYU.

Houses aren’t the only notable architecture either. Jefferson Market Courthouse, which is now the Jefferson Market Library, was in the 1870s in the Venetian Gothic style. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark in plain sight at 425 6th ave. 

These are just snippets of noteworthy architecture in Greenwich Village. You can wander the neighborhood to discover more or join a guided walking tour of Greenwich Village.

6. Discover (So Much!) History in Greenwich Village!

Historic Greenwich Village doesn’t seem to do the neighborhood justice. So much U.S. and New York City history has happened here.

400 years ago the colony of New Amsterdam (not yet New York) sat in a small area between City Hall and Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. 

The area to the north (and what would ultimately become Greenwich Village) was considered a country escape from the craziness taking place 2 miles south. Even for a life-long local, this is fascinating and hard to believe.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that the population of what is now Greenwich Village started to grow. And in the 20th century, it became a mecca for bohemians, artists, musicians, poets, and writers.

As you stroll the Village streets, you’re walking in the footsteps of Edgar Allen Poe, Eugene O’Neill, Bob Dylan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Robert De Niro, and Lady Gaga. Countless celebrities have lived (and still live) in these apartments, performed in Village music halls and theaters, and wined and dined at these bars and restaurants. 

Quiet Empty Commerce Street in the Historic Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City

As a local, I’ve had the majority of my celebrity sights in Greenwich Village. It’s also my favorite area to join a guided walking tour. Each street is full of history just waiting to be uncovered.

7. Have a Night Out at Fat Cat Jazz.

Fat Cat Jazz is an institution, with entertainment that’ll make a night in Greenwich Village unforgettable. The atmosphere here has something for everyone. This draws a wonderfully diverse crowd, which is exactly what you’d expect in a Village bar. 

The music jams nightly and it’s an eclectic mix ranging from live jazz to classical. The music is only the start of the fun. The Fat Cat Jazz bar is a hub for gaming fun, too. Enjoy the music and play anything from billiards, ping pong, shuffleboard, foosball, chess, checkers, or scrabble.

Fat Cat Jazz is great for its size, too! It’s big for Manhattan. I never have to wait to play any of the games. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a fun night out or celebrating a birthday with friends.

If you prefer one of the more traditional jazz clubs in Greenwich Village (no games), you can’t go wrong at the Blue Note.  

8. Catch a Flick at the IFC Center.

Of all the cinemas in Greenwich Village, the IFC Center is an art-house staple and where to go to watch independent and foreign films, as well as documentaries.

This now 5-screen theater was where the midnight Rocky Horror Picture Show showings first became popular. The audience actively participated alongside the parody of horror and comedy by wearing costumes and yelling at the screen all in good fun! 

Today, the theater hosts a documentary festival, midnight showings of cult favorites, short films, and a weekend classics series. If you’re from out-of-town and you’ve been hoping to see a movie other than the latest blockbusters, check out the IFC Center schedule.

9. Don’t Miss Shopping in Greenwich Village.

When you think of shopping in NYC, it’s only natural that 5th Avenue or Soho comes to mind. But, Greenwich Village shopping brings all the diversity you’d expect in this neighborhood. 

Looking for vintage books and vinyl records? Head to Mercer Street Books & Records. 

Need to add to your vintage clothing collection? Hamlets Vintage on West 4th Street and Vintage Thrift West on West 10th Street have you covered. 

2nd hand sale clothes rack with a selection of fashion for women

New guitar? Scandinavian candy? Rubber Stamps? Check, check, and check. Greenwich Village makes for an eclectic shopping afternoon.

Want to go more upscale? Boutiques along Bleecker sell pieces by Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, and others.

There isn’t a more walkable neighborhood in all of New York City. Shops are nestled into all the neighborhood’s nooks. The charm is in the exploration and the unplanned.

10. Sing Your Heart Out at Marie’s Crisis Cabaret Bar.

If you’re a fan of Broadway music, having fun, and looking for an authentic Village experience, then this is the place for you. It’s almost impossible to not have fun here! 

Marie’s Crisis has a quintessential dive bar interior complete with plenty of drinks a-flowing! It gets crowded on the weekend so if this is at the top of your Greenwich Village nightlife list better to arrive on the earlier side to make sure you get in.

A piano sits at the center of the room where a pianist churns out Broadway favorites and everyone in the room sings their hearts out! Have I mentioned how fun this place is??

Like many other iconic locations in the Village, the building where Marie’s Crisis is today has an alluring history. Revolutionary War activist and author Thomas Paine died in this location. And, in the mid-1800s, the building was used as a lair for the world’s oldest profession (as their website claims).

ProTip: Want to plan a fun night out in Greenwich Village? Marie’s Crisis is less than 5 minutes away from Fat Cat’s on foot. So after a meal on Bleecker or MacDougal, head over to Fat Cat’s & Marie’s Crisis for an unforgettable night of good times!

11. Eat at the Many Amazing Greenwich Village Restaurants!

Whether it’s your first time in New York City or your 5th, avoid eating anywhere near Times Square. The restaurants are touristy and overpriced. Instead, head to Greenwich Village for a more local eating experience.

My challenge here is the food in Greenwich Village is too delicious that it’s hard to choose what to list! Keep in mind, I’m not a food critic, but just an NYer who loves to eat.

The food variety in Greenwich Village ranges from the dive bar with great wings to posh and upscale. Here are some of my faves. 

Best Italian Restaurant in Greenwich Village?

Don’t miss Il Mulino, Lupa, Carbone, Morandi, or Babbo

Best Pizza in Greenwich Village?

Check out Bleecker Street Pizza, John’s Pizza,  Joe’s Pizza, and Artichoke Pizza. 

Best Brunch in Greenwich Village?

Try classic favorites like Cafe Cluny, Bluestone Lane, or the hip vibe at Shuka.

Best Sushi in Greenwich Village?  

I go to one place for sushi in the Village,  Tomoe Sushi. You might be waiting for a bit but it’s worth it. 

Eating at a restaurant

Best Bakeries in Greenwich Village?

Mille-Feuille Bakery, Magnolia Bakery…or a complete Greenwich Village Cupcake tour!

Best Wings in Greenwich Village? 

Get the atomic wings at Down The Hatch on West 4th. 

Best Cafes in Greenwich Village?

Cafe Reggio on Bleecker is perfect for a cappuccino and a cannoli. The Olive Tree Cafe is a fun place to eat (chalkboard top tables…need I say more) with Mediterranean dishes.

Still looking for the Best Restaurant in Greenwich Village??

A few others I l-o-v-e and can’t NOT mention…

The Mermaid Oyster Bar and Pearl Oyster Bar are fabulous casual-ish Village seafood spots.

Blue Hill and Perry Street are out of this world. 

Corner Bistro, Elephant and Castle, Murray’s Bagels are classic NYC eateries.

As I said, there are so many restaurants in Greenwich Village. It’s an absolute foodie paradise!

12. Watch an Off-Broadway Show.

With so many artists, poets, musicians, and creative minds calling Greenwich Village home, it makes sense the neighborhood would have a vibrant theater scene. Making it to Broadway has to start somewhere and typically it starts off-Broadway for many of today’s actors, directors, and playwrights.

Greenwich Village has smaller theaters tucked away that are more affordable than Broadway show tickets, not to mention more personal.

Depending on when you plan to visit NYC, check what’s playing at these downtown theaters.

Cherry Lane Theatre 

Lucille Lortel Theatre

Provincetown Playhouse

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Public Theater  (Honorable Mention – Slightly east of Greenwich Village but close!)

13. Catch a Glimpse of the Carrie Bradshaw Apartment.

Sex and the City is as New York City as New York City gets.

The popular HBO show ran from 1998 to 2004 and starred the iconic fictional character, Carrie Bradshaw. (As well as the most legendary rent-controlled apartment in NYC!)

In the show, Carrie lived at the fictional address 245 East 73rd Street. In reality, though, the famous exterior shots were filmed at 64 Perry Street in Greenwich Village. Not only is this building one of the most recognizable locations in the Village but it’s widely considered a top sightseeing spot in all of NYC.  

This Village tree-lined block will have you dreaming of living there! If you’re curious, the townhouse at 64 Perry Street has more the 4,000 square feet over 5 floors and last sold for $9.5 million!  

If you’re hoping to see more Sex and the City filming locations, this popular On Location tour is a must-do!  (Not to mention, they offer other fun NYC tours that cover popular TV and movie locations.)

Greenwich Village NYC Apartments

14. Get Your Laughs in at the Comedy Cellar.

In the heart of Greenwich Village at 17 Macdougal Street between 3rd Street & Minetta Lane, the Comedy Cellar has been an epicenter of laughs since the 1980s. Many famous comedians have taken the stage here…and still do!

The Comedy Cellar doesn’t do headliners like a lot of clubs do. They’re known for showcases, which means 5-7 performers are doing about 15 minutes each with multiple shows a night. You never know who just might show up when you’re at the Comedy Cellar.

Big-time comedians often stop by to keep their comedic skills sharp with a surprise set. Before they take the stage, the stand-ups will often hang out at The Olive Tree Cafe which is a restaurant just above the club.  

15. Discover Greenwich Village on Foot.

Block of colorful buildings on historic Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, New York City

What’s the best way to soak up the Village vibe? Just stroll! Touring Greenwich Village on foot is the way to go. You can even customize a Greenwich village tour to suit your interests.

Greenwich Village is fun, charming, and quirky. The best way to get a feel for this world-famous neighborhood is to immerse yourself in it.

Ditch the grid city layout and the organized numbered streets in midtown and upper Manhattan, and just get lost in Greenwich Village.

Roll with it. In the Village, you’re never too far from discovering a local-favorite cafe, a one-of-a-kind shop, a historic tavern, or your favorite movie star. 

How to Get to Greenwich Village

The subway to Greenwich Village is easy because there are a lot of options no matter where you’re coming from in the city.

The Christopher Street stop along the #1 train line and the W. 4th Street stop along the A, B, C, D, E, F, and M train lines brings you into the heart of Greenwich Village.

The A, C, E, #1, #2, and #3 subway lines also have a 14th Street Stop at the northern edge of the neighborhood. The L train’s 8th Avenue stop is also part of Greenwich Village.

The N, Q, R, and W trains stop at 8th Street along the Village’s eastern boundary. While the #1 and #2 trains also stop at Houston Street at the southern edge of Greenwich Village.

If you’d like to talk, it’s about a 40-minute walk to a central area in the Village from Times Square. A better option from midtown is to walk the High Line from 34th Street Hudson Yards to the end at Gansevoort Street. You’ll be just near the Whitney Museum of American Art and the far west side of the Village.

Entrance of NYC subway station.

Searching for a hotel in Greenwich Village?

Where to stay in New York is always the hardest part of planning an NYC trip. Greenwich Village is a great neighborhood to stay in, especially if you’re in search of that signature cool New York City vibe.

Is Greenwich Village safe to stay in? Absolutely! It’s a family-friendly area of the city. But also very active at night. So even on smaller streets, you’re not likely to ever be alone.

You can have a leafy, green neighborhood setting by day and great nightlife when the sun goes down. And because Greenwich Village is well-connected by subway, you’re never too far from the city’s popular sights in Midtown and downtown Manhattan. Here are a few popular Village hotels to get your search started.

What would you like to do in Greenwich Village?

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