It is no secret that Greenwich Village is one of New York Cities most walkable and charming neighborhoods. The 1960’s home to the beatniks and counter-culture is filled with tons of restaurants, bars, and of course tree-lined streets. In other words, Greenwich Village is a MUST see during a trip to New York City.
As a six-year resident I decided to prepare an easy walking guide that not only takes you through some popular streets and landmarks, but infuses some local flavor too.
The walking path of Greenwich Village I have chosen is posted below in Google Maps. Feel free to put it on your phone and follow along. I promise you wont get lost. Just remember – Greenwich Village has so many amazing streets to explore that you can’t go wrong detouring off the path when the mood strikes!
STARTING POINT: The West 4th Street Basketball Courts (West 4th street and 6th Avenue)
West 4th Street Basketball Courts
The walking guide will begin assuming you took the subway to West 4th street station . The A,B,C,D,E,F & M subway lines all have stops here.
The first thing you will notice coming out from the subway will be the West 4th street Basketball courts. On any given day you may see some tournaments for NYC “Streetball”. I always admire tourists who stand forever filming and trying to figure out which teams are playing. Former NBA players like Anthony Mason and Jayson Williams have spent time on this court in the past schooling their opponents .
Head down sixth avenue and turn left onto Minetta Street – which despite being sandwiched between 6th Ave. and Macdougal Street feels incredibly relaxed. Snap a quick photo on this peaceful and curvy block before turning right and hitting the hustle and bustle of Macdougal Street.
Immediately on your left you will come to Cafe Wha?. This live-music venue has events seven days a week. Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Woody Allen all honed their craft here. Even more recently, Van Halen did an intimate show before touring. On weekend nights expect a long line to get in.
Walking down Macdougal Street you will find a plethora of restaurants and bars. At night the area truly becomes alive with locals and NYU students alike enjoying drink specials at bars like Off The Wagon. Have a 2 am cookie craving? Look no further then Insomniac Cookies. Finally, one of the most popular food spots is a Saigon Shack, where you can get your Vietnamese fix with some affordable Pho & Banh Mi.
FUN FACT: In a purely unscientific discovery, I’ve determined that Macdougal Street has the biggest price discrepancy between a Burger and Pizza slice on the same block in NYC. At Minetta Tavern for dinner a Black Label Burger costs $33, while down the street at the aptly named $1.50 Pizza $2 Beer – a pizza slice costs just $1.50.
Porto Rico Importing Co.
Ready for some Coffee?
Hang a right on Macdougal onto Bleecker Street to find my personal recommendation for a cup at Porto Rico Importing Co.
Coffee Sack Overload at Porto Rico Importing Co.
Once inside your senses are treated to the fresh aroma of ground coffee and surrounded by sacks upon sacks of coffee beans. I always opt for the daily house blend at the back-counter and have never regretted my decision.
Continuing down Bleecker street you can’t help but notice on your left hand-side Molly’s Cupcakes. Be sure to step inside and have a seat at the Swing-Bar, while nibbling on center-filled cupcakes that you can decorate at the Sprinkle Station.
Some Cupcakes on display at Molly’s Cupcakes
As you continue north on Bleecker Street you will pass an array of Deli’s, Bakeries, and perhaps most unique a Cheese Shop. Murray’s Cheese Shop has been around since 1940 and may just have every specialty cheese you could ever imagine inside.
For the curious, I’d recommend going inside and taking some samples from behind the counter. The cheese aroma upon entering is enough of a reason to roam around for some Munster or Gouda slices.
The Cheese Counter at Murray’s Cheese Shop
Just down the road on Bleecker Street is the famous John’s Pizza. Interestingly enough, the number one question from tourists I have gotten walking around the area is, “Where is John’s PIzza?”. The Answer: Look for the giant line two blocks down on Bleecker Street!
John’s Pizza on a weekday afternoon.
I’d recommend coming on a weekday or for an early weekend dinner, unless your prepared to wait in line for a long time.
In terms of pricing, a medium cheese pie sets you back $17 dollars ( $4 dollars per topping) and comes with six slices. Not a bad deal for great pizza that you can split up between friends (A cheap dinner by Greenwich Village Standards).
After what may seem like an eternity on Bleecker Street turn left at 7th avenue and walk onto Commerce Street. This is the part of Greenwich Village that has that historic NYC charm to it. You begin to pass brownstones, old brick apartments, and wonder what a serene existence you could have here while still living in Lower Manhattan.
A typical Greenwich Village Apartment
When you reach the end of Commerce Street you will be standing in front of the Cherry Lane Theatre. It just so happens to be the city’s oldest continuously running off-Broadway theater, opening in 1924.
The Cherry Lane Theatre
Kevin Bacon, Dennis Quaid, and Jesse Eisenberg are just a few of the big names who have performed here. In my opinion, Off-Broadway theaters are a great place to watch a show because they offer a more intimate experience at half the cost of the Broadway Theaters occupying Time Square.
After admiring the old-school architecture around the theater, you are going to re-trace your steps back on Commerce Street and turn left onto Bedford Street.
The Apartment from Friends
You may notice at the corner of Grove and Bedford a group of people photographing the exterior of an apartment and wonder just what the heck is going on. Well, they are taking a picture of the apartment building from the 1990’s T.V. Show Friends. While technically filmed in LA, the exterior shot you see in every episode was actually taken right here in Greenwich Village. Fans from the world flock to the area just to snap a few photos.
17 Grove Street
After impressing your friends on Instagram with the “Friends Apartment” shot, turn to your left and soak in a little Greenwich Village History. Did you notice the wood-framed House that is in front of you? The home at 17 Grove street is quite rare, as NYC fire codes since 1866 prevent wooden homes from being constructed. And to think in 1820 you could have bought the lot it was built on for only $100.
It’s time to continue straight down Bedford Street and hit Christopher Street. Turn left and walk down the block for a few minutes before reaching and crossing the West Side Highway. You will immediately notice a walking and bike path going in both directions. You can actually take this all the way up to the George Washington Bridge in Upper Manhattan! It’s a bike trip worth doing when you have time.
A biker on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
Continue past the walking path and you will run right into Pier 45. It is 850 feet long and features a grassy area that sun-bathers love. There also is a gazebo that features salsa dancing in the warmer months, and some pretty incredible views of both Lower Manhattan and the New Jersey Skyline past the Hudson River.
A Pier 45 contrasting shot between Lower Manhattan and the Jersey City Skyline.
The Gazebo at the end of the Pier.
Congratulations! You have reached the end of the Greenwich Village walking tour. Feel free to re-trace your steps back to West 4th street for the subway. Or if you have time, head back down Christopher Street and detour in any which direction; you can do no wrong and may just discover a new favorite hotspot.
Are there any must-see spots that I missed in Greenwich Village that you would have added? Let me know in the comments what your favorite place or restaurant in Greenwich Village is.