Simply put, Greenwich Village is a quintessential New York City neighborhood. The rich history of this charming area is preserved on nearly every block, making it a fabulous place to go for a stroll, grab a drink, share a meal, catch a show, or maybe even spy a celebrity in the wild. Whether you’ve lived in New York your whole life or this is your first visit, Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park is a much-loved gathering spot, and there are plentiful restaurants, bars, shops, performance spaces, and more nearby just waiting to be explored.
Greenwich Village Neighborhood History
Throughout the twentieth century, the Greenwich Village neighborhood became synonymous with the New York City arts scene and bohemian culture writ large. It was here, in the years before World War II, that the Whitney Museum of American Art was established and several of the country’s first jazz clubs were founded. In the post-World War II years, the area became even more famous, as it was arguably the epicenter of the American folk-music scene, free-jazz revolution, and the push for LGBTQ+ rights and equality.
Greenwich Village has come a long way since the days when it attracted writers, musicians, painters, and assorted bohemians to the neighborhood on account of its cheap rents and abundant opportunities for personal and artistic expression. Nowadays, the area’s many charms remain, but Greenwich Village’s real estate ranks among the most expensive in the entire United States.
Exploring Greenwich Village
Nestled in Lower Manhattan roughly halfway between the gleaming towers of the Financial District and the iconic skyscrapers of Midtown, Greenwich Village can at times feel a world apart from the typical New York hustle and bustle. However, though its brick townhomes, cobblestone pavements, and narrow streets may provide a contrast in style to other parts of the city, don’t be fooled: Greenwich Village is an incredibly lively place, one that practically pulses with energy all hours of the day.
In many ways, the heart and soul of Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park, and no visit to the neighborhood is complete without spending some time exploring this popular public green space. Located adjacent to the campus of New York University, Washington Square Park features multiple playgrounds, on-site food trucks, historical monuments, and of course, its signature fountain and arch. Snapping a photograph that lines up the two landmarks at just the right angle is considered the ultimate souvenir of your Washington Square Park experience.
Many visitors to Greenwich Village opt to enjoy a guided tour of the neighborhood. Given its popularity, there are many such tour options available here. These include guided tours devoted to themes and topics as diverse as food, drink, history, shopping, Sex and the City, and even cupcakes.
Greenwich Village is located at the northern edge of what’s considered Lower Manhattan. To its immediate northeast is Union Square, while to the east and south it’s bordered by NoHo and SoHo, respectively. To the west is West Village—that is, unless you’re an old-school type, one who still maintains that the West Village is merely a subsection of Greenwich Village, in which case “the Village” rightfully runs all the way west to the Hudson River.
Greenwich Village Dining
Greenwich Village’s enduring popularity as a New York City nightlife destination ensures that it’s jam-packed with desirable dining experiences. From fast-but-tasty bites to world-class Italian plates, all-night falafel places to restaurants that specialize in serving natural wines, Greenwich Village has every sort of cuisine you can imagine and then some.
When it comes to all things culinary, if you had to focus on one area of Greenwich Village, you do worse than targeting a meal on MacDougal Street. In fact, that’s where many locals would steer you. MacDougal, with its blend of so-called dive bars, tradition-rich establishments, and beloved performance spaces—the legendary Comedy Cellar is located here—is a fantastic street on which to begin or end an evening.
When in doubt, go on a food tour of Greenwich Village. That way, you’ll not only have someone else—a knowledgeable local guide—showing you the ropes, but you won’t even need to make a decision: you can sample the fare at multiple establishments along the way!
Greenwich Village Shopping
Some of the best shopping in Greenwich Village these days is to be found on Bleecker Street in what many now consider to be the West Village. All the same, Bleecker is where to head for unique stores like Anine Bing, LoveShackFancy, Mack Wheldon, Il Bisonte, and many, many more.
And while the lovely brownstone that was used as the model for Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment is not, strictly speaking, a shopping attraction—is it safe to say it’s at least shopping adjacent? Fans of the hit HBO show might be interested in checking out the building itself, which can be found at 66 Perry Street, between Bleecker and West Fourth Street.
Explore Greenwich Village Like a Local
- If you’ve got your heart set on an unforgettable meal at one of Greenwich Village’s more popular restaurants, don’t take any chances: make a reservation as soon as you know your schedule. This will go a long way toward preventing any disappointments that might occur when/if you get shutout from your desired destination.
- New York City overflows with coffee shops, but if you want a distinctive experience, save your caffeine fix for a stop at Caffe Regio. This one-of-a-kind institution first opened in Greenwich Village nearly 100 years ago, and its original owner is said by some to be the man who introduced espresso to the United States.
- If you only check out a single live jazz show your entire life, make it a gig at one of the Village’s venerable jazz clubs. The Village Vanguard, Smalls Jazz Club, Blue Note Jazz Club: the list could go on. Greenwich Village is home to a wonderful selection of jazz clubs, places where the greats of yesterday once played and the legends of tomorrow are playing right now. Pick a venue, grab a drink, and have a blast unwinding to some quality tunes after a long day of sightseeing.