The best things to do in Greenwich Village, New York City

From Washington Square Park to the IFC Center, here are the best things to do in Greenwich Village, one of NYC’s most distinctive hoods.

Greenwich Village is a Manhattan gem brimming with more personality than a Wes Anderson flick. Situated snugly between Houston and West 14th, this neighborhood is a haven for trendsetters and history shapers. Known as “The Village”, it has been the backdrop for some of history's most pivotal movements, from the Beatniks to LGBTQIA+ rights. With pulsing nightlife, a global culinary scene, and independent shops, The Village attracts those in search of New York's trendy and bohemian vibe, where the legacy of its cultural trailblazers continues to thrive.

Greenwich Village Tips: Know Before You Go

  • You can conveniently reach Greenwich Village via the A, B, C, D, E, and F trains to West 4th Street Station; the 6 train to Bleecker Street Station or Astor Place Station; or the N or R trains to 8th Street – NYU Station
  • Expect a mix of casual eateries and upscale dining options
  • The Village is a hotspot for live music and comedy
  • Comfortable walking shoes are essential for navigating the buzzy streets

Best Places to Visit in Greenwich Village, New York City

1. Washington Square Park

The beating heart of Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park is a popular spot where you will find NYU students lounging, street musicians serenading, and locals and tourists taking a break. The park’s layout has preserved its 19th-century charm, along with the iconic Stanford White Arch celebrating George Washington’s inauguration.

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2. The Stonewall Inn

This National Historic Landmark, nestled in the West Village, witnessed the seminal Stonewall Riots of 1969, marking a pivotal moment in the quest for equality. Today, The Stonewall Inn is still a byword for inclusivity, where high-energy dance beats and a diverse crowd create an electric atmosphere. While daylight hours draw curious tourists, the spirit of The Stonewall Inn comes alive at night, continuing its legacy as a sanctuary for celebration and resistance.

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photo by: Ajay Suresh

3. Comedy Cellar

Step into the Comedy Cellar on MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village’s epicenter of laughter. Established in 1982 by the comedic visionary Bill Grundfest, this legendary venue has been a launching pad for stand-up comedy’s finest. With a nightly lineup that features a mix of seasoned pros and newcomers, the unexpected is the norm here. Don’t be surprised if comedy titans like Dave Chappelle or Jerry Seinfeld spontaneously show up and grab the mic. The Cellar’s popularity has even given rise to a sibling space, the Village Underground.

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4. Bleecker Street

Once farmland owned by the Bleecker family in 1808, this street has morphed into a charming retail strip that cuts through the core of Greenwich Village. In the 50s and 60s, it was the stomping ground of Beatnik poets and folk legends, with intimate venues like The Bitter End shaping the sounds of a generation. Today, Bleecker Street balances the legacy of its bohemian roots with a modern twist, offering up a mix of clothing boutiques like Naadam and LoveShackFancy, bookstores like Bookmarc, and high-end home goods like Diptique and Christofle.

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photo by: Zhang Yu

5. Village Vanguard

The Village Vanguard has been an institution in the New York music scene since 1935. Tucked away on 7th Avenue South, this intimate hotspot has hosted jazz legends and contemporary stars. Originally a hangout for beat poetry and folk, the Vanguard’s soul is now known for bold, big jazz. Home to the Monday-night staple, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, since 1966, this venue is steeped in musical history. Ignore the signs of age; acoustically, you’re in one of the world’s finest. Just remember, there’s a one-drink minimum purchase per person.

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6. IFC Center

Forget the superhero sequels and popcorn palaces. The IFC Center is a cinematic go-to for those craving something different. With five screens, this indie film mecca showcases various documentary festivals, late-night cult classics, and weekend treasures. It’s a refreshing escape from the mainstream multiplex, offering a unique blend of art-house films and thought-provoking documentaries. Open daily, the IFC Center is a year-round destination for film enthusiasts. Plus, it holds a special place in cinema history as the birthplace of the cult midnight showings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

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FAQs about things to do in Greenwich Village

What’s the best way to explore Greenwich Village?

The best way to explore Greenwich Village is on foot. This allows you to immerse yourself in the neighborhood’s atmosphere fully, take in the architectural details, and stumble upon hidden gems. Start at Washington Square Park, the heart of the Village, and wander through the surrounding streets to discover historic brownstones, cozy cafes, and eclectic boutiques.

Where can I find entertainment in Greenwich Village?

Greenwich Village is a hotspot for a wealth of entertainment. Jazz fans should not miss the legendary Blue Note and Terra Blues, where you can enjoy performances from local talents and renowned artists. If you’re looking for a mix of genres, The Bitter End is the place to be, showcasing acts from hip-hop to a cappella. For a more relaxed vibe with live music, head to The Red Lion, where a trio of bands grace the stage each night. Additionally, for a dose of fabulousness, check out the boisterous drag shows at queer venues like Duplex and Pieces.

What are some must-try foods in Greenwich Village?

To taste Greenwich Village’s culinary delights, start with a classic New York slice at Joe’s Pizza, a local favorite for its thin-crust pies. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a famous cupcake from Magnolia Bakery, a must-visit for dessert lovers. Don’t forget to grab a chewy bagel from Murray’s Bagels, perfect for a hearty breakfast or brunch. For a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine, head to Mamoun’s Falafel for their crispy, flavorful falafels.

What are some famous filming locations in the neighborhood?

Greenwich Village is a popular filming location in New York City, with iconic spots like Washington Square Park, seen in I Am Legend and When Harry Met Sally, and the Friends apartment building. Other famous locations include the Jefferson Market Garden from Sex and the City, St. Luke’s Place from The Cosby Show, and MacDougal Street’s Minetta Tavern featured in movies like Mickey Blue Eyes.

What are some of the best brunch spots in Greenwich Village?

For a delightful brunch experience in Greenwich Village, try these top spots: Claudette for French-Mediterranean dishes in a charming setting, Tartine for a small, egg-focused menu in a BYOB atmosphere, and The Butcher’s Daughter for vegan and vegetarian options in a plant-forward eatery.