The Best Things to do in Greenwich Village

December 12, 2019 9:00 am

Certain parts of New York are simply iconic, from Central Park to Lincoln Center. To that list you’d have to add Greenwich Village, home of beat poets, cool jazz, and, lately, good restaurants and shopping.

Here are some of the best things to do in Greenwich Village.

Washington Square Arch

Washington Square Park, not surprisingly, is named for George Washington— he was actually inaugurated in New York as the country’s first president. The original arch was made of wood and designed to commemorate the inauguration. The marble one that stands there now was designed by the notable architect Stanford White. You can see statues of Washington and other noted leaders throughout the park, as well as performers, chess players, dog walkers. Even protesters. It’s an essential historic stop on any tour.

Be sure to visit Washington Square Arch in the Village

“Friends” apartment

Whether you’re obsessed with Friends (the show, not your actual ones) you have to admit that the apartment in the series is pretty iconic. The apartment – at least the exterior – is real, and you can stop by and take a few pics for posterity. It’s located at 90 Bedford Street on the corner of Grove. There’s also a great restaurant called Little Owl on the ground floor. Take your photos, find a fountain to jump in, go have a coffee, and your Friends experience will be complete.

Get Central Perk-olated near the “Friends” apartment

Macdougal Street

Once known for being the epicenter of cool – Bob Dylan played his first gig there; Hemingway drank there; and numerous other luminaries lived, worked, or hung out there – Macdougal Street is another one in the Village that has seen an urban renaissance. Go stroll it for its history, as well as its places to eat. For starters, the once-legendary Caffe Dante is now simply Dante, and has rebranded itself as a bar/restaurant that’s known for being a great date spot. Stop by Café Wha? where Jimi Hendrix and Dylan used to play, and grab a drink and some oysters at the Mermaid Oyster Bar. But mostly, just go soak up the vibes.

Check out Cafe Wha in the Village

Photo courtesy of Cafe Wha?

 

Stonewall Inn

The site of the 1969 riots that launched the gay rights movement, the Stonewall Inn is a bar, entertainment space, and historic landmark all in one. It’s in the heart of Greenwich Village, on Christopher Street, and is a vital part of the history of the Pride movement. It’s also the first LGBT-history site in the country listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and the first LGBT-history site in New York City. Go have a drink, buy a t-shirt, listen to some music, maybe play some drag bingo and be a part of the history.

The iconic Stonewall Inn is a must-see in the Village

Photo courtesy of The Stonewall Inn

IFC Center

There are movie theaters, and then there’s the IFC Center, the premiere home of independent cinema in New York. Go not just to impress your friends by knowing that the latest New Wave film is playing here, but for a quintessential New York experience. It has five theaters, plenty of premieres of independent, documentary and foreign films, and a documentary festival every fall. Plus cult and classic movies on weekends. The ultimate NYC film experience, and a classic Greenwich Village one to boot. And if all this New York history has given you a hankering for more, while you’re downtown, go check out Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty

The iconic IFC in Greenwich Village

Photo credit: IFC Center

Blue Note

There are jazz clubs, and then there’s the Blue Note. If the name is familiar, they have branches around the globe, and it’s hosted just about every jazz great. Opened in 1981, it’s now one of the premiere jazz clubs in the city. You’ll see headliners like Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner as well as legends like Stevie Wonder and Liza Minelli. But you’ll also get to see up and coming jazz musicians. If you like jazz- or just want to experience a piece of New York nightlife history- check this one out.

The Blue Note is a classic Greenwich Village hangout

Photo credit: The Blue Note

 

Bleeker Street

Once the center of a kind of urban hippie chic, Bleeker Street fell into disrepair, boasting empty storefronts and a desolate feel. But it’s bounced back, and is now home to lots of chic stores and restaurants—definitely worth a visit. Visit vegan darling By Chloe, beloved by celebrities. And it’s kosher, to boot. Also worth checking out: Bessou, which offers modern Japanese comfort food–yes, that’s a thing. The Porto Rico Importing Co. has been in business since 1907, and is a must-stop for tea and coffee lovers. Coffee is roasted daily; you’ll find some teas you won’t find anywhere else.) And The Village Tannery has been offering up its leather goods since 1973—it’s even open at night. Now you feel like you’re in the Village.

Photo credit: Porto Rico Importing Co.

 

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