Where is Greenwich Village?
Greenwich Village is a neighborhood west of Lower Manhattan. Oftentimes, visitors tend to visit the main attractions of New York City such as the Statue of Liberty — yada yada — and tend to overlook this gem. Not only were iconic shows filmed there, but my dad was also born in the Village. I recently visited his childhood home and learned so much more about why my dad is the way he is.
New York is said to be “New York or Nowhere.” I understand and appreciate this statement and recommend visiting Greenwich Village for all of its cultural and historical essence. Known for its artistic and bohemian appeal, Greenwich Village is a hotspot for film shoots, iconic restaurants, historic architecture, and so much more. Here are seven things to do in Greenwich Village at any time of the year.
1. Take a Stroll Down Bleecker Street
This iconic street connects east-west boroughs, but it’s most famous for the Greenwich Village nightclub scene. However, the daytime scene and restaurants along this street are also a can’t miss.
Joe’s Pizza and Bleecker Street Pizza have received recognition from both their loyal patrons and tourists for years. Why? Their consistency, quality, and dedication to the craft. In fact, many locals proclaim Joe’s “a Greenwich Village institution.” Joe’s has used the same recipe since 1975 and is famous for its traditional New York City slice. The recommendation is to order the mozzarella or Sicilian slices. Joe Pozzuoli, the original founder, might be there to oversee your order. He’s been working there since he immigrated from Naples, Italy, over 45 years ago.
Bleecker Street Pizza is consistently named the best pizza in NYC by The Food Network. There’s usually a line wrapped around the door, and the folks behind the counter aren’t messing around. Know your order! They opened in 2004 and have two specialty pizzas: the Nonna Maria and the Grandma. They have gluten-free pizzas that are made to order too. The crust on their pizzas is thin and crispy, and toppings are added upon request — guaranteeing that perfect, heavenly slice made just how you like it.
How long is Bleecker Street?
Bleecker Street is about one mile long. It will take you about 25 minutes to walk from the beginning to the end without any pizza breaks.
2. Walk Around and Spot Famous Brownstones
Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw’s actual apartment is on 64 Perry Street in the Village. It’s another reason to visit, and if you’re wondering what this quintessential apartment looks like on the outside, you must go see it for yourself. (For every 90s fan out there who lived through Carrie’s computer screen and closet, this street is just as you would imagine it. Take a seat on a stoop somewhere on the street and enjoy the moment. Carrie’s apartment is blocked off and marked private.)
90 Bedford Street is where another famous group of friends became well known. This address is known as the Friends building. Once you see it, and if you’re a fan, it’s like Joey’s “ah ha!” moment. It’s pretty epic. Even Don Draper from Mad Men took to the village scene, renting his bachelor pad at 104 Waverly Place.
3. Enjoy Local Restaurants and Bars
There are many restaurants to choose from in the Village. I ate at Moustache, which offers Middle Eastern cuisine. I had their delicious hummus with their fresh to order pita bread. Their salad was a full portion and almost too big to finish. It was delicious. The Little Owl is located next door and offers a delicious brunch. Both of the restaurants are under the Friends building on Bedford Street.
Grab a cocktail or coffee at Dante and sit in the part of Greenwich Village that used to be called the South Village. Step back in time and imagine what Italian immigrants used to converse about. Established in 1915, Dante has a unique vibe. You can also visit the family run Italian restaurant Villa Mosconi for an authentic meal that’s perfect if you have a large party. Be sure to make reservations in advance.
4. Drop by Cherry Lane Theatre
Have you heard of this theater? Why is it so small? It has less than 100 seats, qualifying it as an off Broadway theater. Cherry Lane Theatre is the oldest running theater of its kind and hosts performers from around the world. It’s nestled in the corner of a picturesque neighborhood.
“It still remains a Greenwich Village paradox that the smallest stage in town is asked to accommodate no end of enthusiastic performers.”
The New York Times, Dec. 1930
While in town, I had the opportunity to visit and see Alison Leiby’s comedy performance. The Village is known to host comedians, and she’s one who is telling it all and not holding anything back. You never know what performances will be playing at Cherry Lane, and you won’t want to miss experiencing it!
5. Check Out the Stonewall Inn and Landmark
The Stonewall Inn (often referred to as The Stonewall) is a gay bar that is under historic preservation as the first LGBT (the precursor of LGBTQ+) landmark. An uprising occurred following a police raid at The Stonewall on June 28, 1969. Since then, the events at The Stonewall Inn have opened the door for millions of people to freely and openly live their authentic lives.
In 2016, President Obama designated Stonewall as a national monument, and it’s protected by the National Park Service. It was the first recognition of its kind, and soon after, there would be others. Pride Month is celebrated in June, and in NYC, a one-of-a-kind parade runs from Fifth Ave to Greenwich Village over the last weekend of the month. Stonewall Forever is a living monument to over 50 years of Pride.
Fun find: as you’re exploring the area near Stonewall, you’ll come across Gay Street. Look for where this street intersects with Christopher Street, and you’ll find a colorful LGBTQ+ sign. It represents that acceptance matters and diversity rules.
6. Spend Some Time in Washington Square Park
Best known for its iconic arch and outdoor markets, Washington Square Park is a favorite amongst visitors and locals. Students from NYU frequent the park on the weekends, where vendors line up to sell art, books, and street food. An authentic Greenwich Village weekend wouldn’t be the same without a stop at the park. Locals use the park as a pass-through or a meeting point, but whatever the occasion, Washington Square Park is not only home to the opening shot of Friends — it’s a hangout. When Harry Met Sally featured epic scenes in this park. They practically unloaded their lives here. It’s a must see film, and wow, is it now considered a romcom classic.
7. Take a Walking Tour With an Expert Guide
The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce offers a walking tour with Joyce Gold as the guide. I highly recommend touring the Village on foot with an expert guide who has lived in the area and can answer questions about the history and culture of the borough. Joyce gave insight about everything from the restoration of the Chelsea Piers to the smallest home in Greenwich Village. We walked past 75 ½ Bedford Street. It was built in 1901 and is 999 square feet for 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The dimensions of the residence range from eight and a half to two feet wide. She discussed the classic architecture and what time period buildings were erected, and so much more.
At the time, I didn’t know the cross street my dad lived on. I knew his address, but I didn’t want to ask too many questions seeing as I was the newbie on the tour. However, I did locate his apartment later that day and learned more. I hope to visit Greenwich relatively soon and schedule something again. It would be interesting to learn more about the area where my dad grew up. The scene back in the late 40s and early 50s, from his recollection, was much different than it is now.
More Things to Do in Greenwich Village and Beyond
If you are looking for additional things to do in Greenwich Village, explore on foot and walk to adjacent boroughs like West Chelsea or Soho, or walk the High Line. The High Line is a 1.45 mile elevated linear park. It is open all year round, there is no entrance fee, and it will take you around 30 minutes to travel across.
Other boroughs have different activities and are easily accessible but things to do in Greenwich Village are pretty unique and plentiful. Take a step back in time, enjoy the classic food, architecture, and its people. Greenwich Village is very much like my dad, direct but also very loving.