Greenwich Village is New York’s original bohemian neighborhood, famous for its legacy as an artistic stronghold, counterculture enclave and the birthplace of the Pride movement. Explore its cobbled, tree-lined streets for some of the best music, bougie shopping and cozy restaurants in the city.
Take the 1 or 2 train to Christopher Street and walk over to The Elk. Owner Claire Chan hails from Vancouver and channels Pacific Northwest vibes at her low-key spot. Grab a coffee and settle yourself onto the bench outside. If you’ve got time for a meal, The Elk’s chef (who was a contestant on Top Chef) makes a mean breakfast (pulled jalapeño chicken with eggs, and a breakfast burrito with scrambled egg, avocado, chorizo and pico di gallo to name two) that’ll help you tackle the day.
The scent of baking wafts out the doors of Amy’s Bread – a popular café known for its freshly made carb-y delicacies. Grab a strong coffee and a pastry that makes you go weak at the knees (think cinnamon walnut scones, almond brioche toast, strawberry danish or glazed chocolate baked donut). If you’re more of a savory person, try one of Amy’s fresh loaves.
Next, meander over to Bleecker Street to do some window-shopping (or actual shopping). Once lined with independently owned stores, virtually every shop front is now occupied by high-end fashion labels and lifestyle boutiques.
Invest in the finest scented candles and fragrances money can buy at Diptyque, get customized leather goods (think monogrammed or logoed bags and accessories) at The Daily Edited and pick up effortless Parisian style classics at Ba&sh.
Where Bleecker Street meets West 11th Street you’ll find Magnolia Bakery – a classic New York cupcake spot whose popularity exploded after it was briefly featured in season three of Sex and the City. Carrie Bradshaw fans can also visit the character’s famous brownstone stoop at nearby 64 Perry Street.
When you’re feeling peckish, nothing beats a true New York slice from Joe’s. Eat it while strolling to Washington Square Park – the ideal place to spend an afternoon lazing on the grass and watching some of New York’s eclectic characters. While you’re there, check out educational events hosted by New York University (NYU) – its buildings flank the park. Many of its seminars, screenings, exhibitions and talks are open to the public.
Afterwards, take a stroll through some of the West Village’s more quiet, picturesque streets (Gay, Leroy, or Bedford), winding up at the West Side Highway waterfront park for magic hour overlooking the Hudson River.
Make your way to Buvette for charming ambience and delectable food. Share tartines, veggies, seafood and meat dishes sourced from trusted farmers, bakers and cheesemongers from New York and the surrounding states. It doesn’t take reservations, but a seat in Buvette is well worth the wait.
Tacombi is one of the city’s most beloved Mexican restaurants. After starting out as a taco truck in the Yucatan, the company has gone on to open several locations around NYC. Order chips and guacamole, cups of Mexican corn and pitchers of spicy-sweet margarita, plus a platter of Tacombi’s specialty tacos. There are nine flavors, including battered fish, black bean-veggie, chorizo and marinated pork – a Mexico City classic.
Miss Lily’s is New York’s top destination for Caribbean food and vacation-style cocktails. The menu contains all the best Jamaican dishes – from artichoke and callaloo dip to jerk chicken and traditional curry goat stew served with a side of buttery roti bread. What’s more, the vibe is unbeatable. A playlist of reggae, dancehall and ska will have you dancing in your seat.
When night falls, the Village’s legacy as a jazz and blues neighborhood becomes apparent. Visit Café Wha?, a live music venue that kick-started the careers of many famous musicians, or catch a show at Terra Blues, a first-rate blues club. Underground spot Fat Cat is also a great place to catch up-and-coming jazz artists while playing a game of ping-pong or shuffleboard late into the night.
A modern-day saloon in the heart of the West Village, Terra Blues offers an impressive line-up of local and international blues, jazz and rock bands who play nightly. Acoustic sets are played early in the evenings, while late nights are reserved for the rockers. A fine selection of whiskey, bourbon and scotch makes the two-drink minimum for a table a treat.
Esme Benjamin contributed additional reporting to this article.