Jack Kerouac wrote here. Jackson Pollock painted here. Odetta sang here. Greenwich Village – referred to by locals as simply “the Village” – and the West Village have traditionally stood as refuge for New York’s misfits – beatniks, bohemians, artists and the LGBTQ community, to name a few. For decades these enclaves in Lower Manhattan stood at the forefront of the city’s cultural heart: a place where folk music and avant-garde art could thrive. Today, you’ll find many designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and very few bohemians – but the historical impact of these artistic iconoclasts’ lives on.
Welcome to Greenwich Village and the West Village:
Resting in downtown Manhattan, the Greenwich and West Villages are north of Soho, south of Chelsea, west of the Hudson River, and east of the East Village (take a look at our guide to this district here). Once a site of industry, the neighborhood was claimed by New York’s nonconformist crowd and fostered the talents of some of America’s greatest artists. Due to the district’s upscale makeover, most of the remaining artists have been priced out of the Village, but the neighborhood has never forgotten its roots. You’ll find a mix of artsy businesses, concert venues and designer fashions, which sit wedged between beautifully preserved brownstones. Upper class residents – think movie stars and Wall Street businessmen – rub shoulders with hip NYU students. And as with elsewhere in Manhattan, the districts are served by multiple subway lines and bus routes, which means shuttling over to other parts of New York will be a breeze. Our video tour of Greenwich Village will help you visualize the bustling district.
Go Shopping in Greenwich Village and the West Village:
Like all of New York, Greenwich and the West Villages are rife for shopping. Whether you’re in the market for mainstream trends or off-the-radar items, you’ll discover a wide and exciting selection of choices here.
- Arguably New York City’s most famous avenue, Broadway stretches into the two Villages. And while you won’t find dazzling musicals in this part of town, there’s plenty of entertainment in the form of shopping and dining. The street’s intersection around Union Square alone boasts chain favorites like Barnes and Noble and Sephora. For something more melodious, trek over to Thompson Street (beginning south of Washington Square Park) and sample music along Generation Records’ punk and metal rock shelves. Bleecker Street, meanwhile, is an epicenter for concerts and live comedy: Bill Cosby, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan are some performers who kick started their careers along the road.
- Looking for the perfect pair of shoes at a perfectly reasonable price? DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) on East 14th Street has precisely the inventory you could ever want, with discounted rates for international and high-end brands. Head east on E. 14th Street and you’ll come across Nordstrom Rack, an outlet variation on the upscale department store – so go ahead and snag that Burberry tote you’ve always wanted for a friendlier price.
- Two notable spots in the Villages are ideal for healthy food shopping. Whole Foods Market on Union Square East specializes in the fresh organic ingredients in line with the franchise’s motto. Ensconced within Union Square Park is the Abingdon Square Greenmarket, where tents showcase crisp produce, beautifully cultivated flowers and delectable baked goods.
- Seeking a one-of-a-kind piece for your home or wardrobe? The Market NYC on Bleecker Street is the place to purchase unique jewelry, clothes, home décor and collectibles; if you’re lucky, you might just see a live artisan at work within the giant store. Marc by Marc Jacobs over in the West Village displays the latest fashions in the designer’s collection. Flight Club along Broadway is the location to hunt for rare sneakers at retail and consignment prices. A wide variety of bath and body products await at C.O. Bigelow on the Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue). A mecca for bibliophiles, The Strand is a four-story, Broadway-situated wonderland with all kinds of books, from current bestsellers to rare volumes in every genre imaginable. Less than a block away, Forbidden Planet is a flagship shop for pop culture nerds: think comic books, action figures, and sci-fi/fantasy collectables. But why stop there? Our top 5 shopping spots in New York will ensure you get the most out of your sartorial adventures.
Coffee, Restaurants and Nightlife in Greenwich Village and the West Village:
After dark, Greenwich and the West Villages transform into city hotspots for dining, clubbing and entertaining. With these best spots, you won’t miss out on all the activity.
- Restaurants: A warm and inviting atmosphere plus meat and seafood staples makes Jane (towards the southern boundary of the Village) a great dining experience. The West Village’s Spice Market brings Southeast Asian street food to a new level with a gourmet sensibility and a share-your-food mentality. For small plates – and an equally sized interior – and cocktails, head to the candle-lit Alta on West 10th Street. Come to Minetta Tavern on MacDougal Street for the history (Eugene O’Neill and E.E. Cummings are just some of the writers to make it a frequent haunt) and the many celebrity sightings, but stay for the French bistro’s delicious menu. Speaking of tiny interiors, Perilla on Jones Street accommodates roughly 18 tables but does not sacrifice its elegant American dining. Have a mix of meat-lovers and vegans in your party? Red Bamboo on West 4th Street has a list of menu items catered to both tastes. Italian cuisine gets the epicurean treatment at Scarpetta on West 14th and Lupa on Thompson Street; both are fronted by gourmet chefs. A three-course dinner awaits you at Gotham Bar and Grill on East 12th, which specializes in American cuisine with a chic twist. To finish off your hungry palate, save some room Max Brenner on Broadway – their decadent chocolates are too good to miss.
- The two Villages are not known for their inexpensive fare, but you can find cheap eats with meals less than $8 in this part of New York. Mamoun’s Falafel off of MacDougal Street and Taim on Waverly Place serve Middle Eastern specialties that are sure to satisfy. For mouthwatering Kati rolls (an Indian delicacy of meat and veggies rolled up in flat bread), look no further than The Kati Roll Company on MacDougal Street. Carmine Street’s Dos Toros Taqueria tantalizes the taste buds with perfected recipes of Mexican favorites like the taco, burrito, and quesadilla. And what would New York be without thin-crust pizza – the best in the world? Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street and East 14th Street brings that regional forte to delicious life. We also recommend The Corner Bistro, Saigon Shack, and Dojo Restaurant.
- In the mood for caffeine? You’re in luck: both Greenwich Village and the West Village have plenty of coffee shops to get your day off to a great start. Intimate and dedicated to the best ingredients, The Grey Dog – with its two locations on University Place and a specifically coffee-geared locale on Carmine Street — has a collection of over a dozen coffee choices, plus an eat-in restaurant. For a socially conscious approach, Think Coffee on Bleecker Street works directly with coffee farmers across the world to create a fair cooperation system. Joe the Art of Coffee on Waverly Place continues this tradition of sustainability while bringing in gourmet ingredients for its brews from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia. There are also coffee making classes for aspiring baristas. Bourbon Coffee on West 14th Street honors its Rwandan roots by using beans grown and art made in the African country. If coffee isn’t your preferred caffeinated beverage, Bosie Tea Parlor on Morton Street offers over 100 types of tea cultivated by a resident Tea Sommelier, along with sweet pastries and macarons. Check out Grounded, Third Rail Coffee, Roasting Plant, Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee, and Presstea, too! For more caffeine hotspots around the city, check out our list of the top 10 coffee shops in New York!
- After hours in Greenwich and the West Villages are just as exciting with its bars, clubs and live performances that spring to life. When it comes to taverns, it’s often go big or home – and Off the Wagon is not one to scrimp. With two levels and two different bars, this hotspot offers nightly live rock and roll and over a dozen beers on tap. The only rooftop beer garden in New York, the Brass Monkey on Little West 12th Street has two stories’ worth of warm brick and wood interiors and a vast selection of beers, wines, and spirits. And with a rotating seasonal menu, every time you visit means you can try something new. For a multimedia experience, pop by Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street for drinks, an art gallery, and live music from eclectic indie and alternative rock artists. Alternately, for something with a little more urban pizzazz, the Blue Note can’t be beat for its lineup of jazz performers and wine samplings. Late in the night, walk over to Art Bar on 8th for a taste of the old Greenwich Village – slightly rough around the edges – as well as impeccable wall art and kitchen open way past midnight. Other bars of notable interest are Little Branch, the Biergarten at the Standard, Down the Hatch, the Dove Parlour, Tortilla Flats, and Wicked Willy’s.
- If you want to dance into the wee hours of the night, then the club scene in this section is bound to get you on your feet. For world-class DJs weaving a mix of the best EDM tunes, look no further than Cielo on Little West 12th Street. For the club equivalent of a variety show, visit The Fat Black Pussycat on West 3rd Street: it’s got live musical performances, karaoke nights, comedy stand-up, and homemade infused vodkas. Monster, on Grove Street in the West Village, celebrates its storied history – from its previously-named establishment for 1940s celebrities to its disco days in the 1970s – and is one of the most popular gay clubs in the area. VIP clientele, meanwhile, flock to Hudson Street’s Provocateur for its lavish interiors and guest-list only parties. Once you’ve exhausted these options, why not try the following: Le Souk Harem, Le Bain, The Griffin, Soho House, and the Village Vanguard?
Stay or Live in Greenwich Village and the West Village
Have we convinced you to stay or live in Greenwich Village or the West Village? If not, let our real estate do the talking! Our agents will work hard to ensure that you are paired with the perfect apartment or accommodation to suit your needs. If you’re only in New York temporarily, our New York vacation rentals or bed and breakfasts across the two Villages are just the ticket.
If you’re lucky enough to be moving to Manhattan, might we suggest taking a closer look at our New York furnished apartments in the Village neighborhoods or a roommate share accommodation? No matter how you want your future apartment to be, we can help.
Things To Do And See in Greenwich Village and the West Village:
Two districts full of historical significance: it’s no surprise that Greenwich Village and the West Village are ample for sightseeing!
- The Gray Gallery of Art (in conjunction with NYU) prides itself on cultivating an ever-expanding discussion on art’s relation to greater historical and social contexts with rotating exhibits every few months. At Washington Square East, its location cannot be beat; in addition, its $3 entry fee is one of the cheapest you’ll find in the entire city. On LaGuardia Place, the Center for Architecture (free entry) honors the pioneering spirit of architecture on a global scale, while celebrating the unique “urban fabric” of New York’s buildings. To understand the strength of New Yorkers, visit the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, which displays pictures and relics of the 9/11 tragedy. On West 14th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, the museum charges $25 for its tour (proceeds go to costs of the gallery and charities devoted to those affected by the tragedy); be aware that advanced purchase for tickets is required.
- An Episcopal church dating back to the 19th century, the Church of Saint Luke in the Fields on Hudson Street fosters community, activism, and faith: feel free to take advantage of church prayer if you’d like. Likewise, Washington Square’s Judson Memorial Church emphasizes the powers of the community working together but places a special emphasis on the arts. The beautiful Victorian Gothic architecture of the Jefferson Market Library leaves an impact on patrons as they pass through the doors to browse the shelves; a quiet retreat from the hubbub of the Avenue of the Americas. Washington Square Arch may be the most famous landmark in Greenwich Village; its marble design was modeled after Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, and it certainly lives up to that victorious inspiration. Stroll along the Washington Mews or reflect on the generosity and empathy of people across the globe at Tiles for America, an art installation in memoriam of the 9/11 tragedy.
- One of Manhattan’s most famous parklands, Washington Square Park has certainly seen its share of changes – from contentious riots in the 1960s to its current reinvention as a place for families, canines, chess enthusiasts, and avant-garde artists. For a less sedate experience, head over to Hudson River Park for sporty activities such as kayaking, bicycling, ice skating in the winter, and the most unusual one of all: trapeze! And while it is nowhere near as grand as Central Park, Jackson Square provides an inviting escape from the urban jungle with its greenery, elegant central fountain, and Victorian-esque fences and streetlamps. For other parks in the districts, walk through Jefferson Market Garden, Christopher Park, and Winston Churchill Square. Parklands are some of the best ways to enjoy New York while on a budget; here are some of our other favorite free things to do in the city.
Readers, what are your favorite spots in Greenwich Village and the West Village?