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Greenwich Street | © Beyond My Ken/WikiCommons
Greenwich Street | © Beyond My Ken/WikiCommons

How To Spend A Day In The West Village, Manhattan

Picture of Dana deLaski
Updated: 7 September 2016
Oh, the West Village. It feels like an escape even within Manhattan with its picture-perfect townhouses, tree-lined streets, and quaint shops and cafés. It’s perhaps the most desirable neighborhood in NYC, and once you spend a day here, you’ll see why. You’ll eat well, shop well, and feel a world away from the madness of Times Square or the Empire State Building, and you’ll probably never want to leave.

To start your day, head to Jack’s Wife Freda in the southern part of the West Village. It’s a hugely popular brunch spot, with another location in SoHo, serving up Mediterranean-inspired dishes like shakshuka and poached eggs with haloumi. It’s famous for its long lines in SoHo, but in this West Village location, there always seems to be available tables. Take advantage, and you’ll be glad you did.

If you’re in a rush, however, don’t skip Magnolia Bakery. If you’re a Sex and the City fan, it’s probably already on your list, and if you’re not, it still should be. They make delicious pastries, and there’s a park just next door where you can relax and enjoy them.

After breakfast, enjoy a walk or a run along the water. The West Village borders the Hudson River, and there’s an excellent running path along the river’s edge. It’s the perfect escape – you’ll feel the breeze of the river and can relax in the grass under a tree when you get tired.

When you're gone… Oh baby, all the lights go out 🎶 #TonightsTreadmill #ChasingLight

A photo posted by @hashtagdanika on

Though it’s lovely to walk along the water, it would be a shame to skip a wander through the West Village’s most beautiful streets. Meander Gay Street, Bedford Street, or Grove Street, and you’ll truly be shocked that you’re in New York City.

For lunch, consider one of Jody Williams’s acclaimed restaurants, Buvette or Via Carota. Both located on Grove Street, they’re all-day cafés mimicking those in Europe, and the food is extraordinary. Buvette has a location in Paris and serves delicious French small plates (and world-famous scrambled eggs), while Via Carota has a larger and fuller menu with more of an Italian style. Both are exceptional, and the ambiances can’t be beaten.

A photo posted by Via Carota (@viacarota) on

After lunch, go shopping. Bleeker Street is lined with high-end shops, so if you’re looking for Michael Kors, 7 For All Mankind, Intermix, or Ralph Lauren, you’ll find them all here.

Other shops to check out are Calliope – a furniture and home goods store with unique items collected from around the world. There’s also Murray’s Cheese for cheeses, meats, and olives (and fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches), The Meadow for more salts and chocolates than you’ll know what to do with, and Sisley Paris, a French makeup shop. Plus, the clothing boutiques are endless; your best bet is simply to wander and discover them as they come.

For dinner, you can find nearly anything you want. If you’re willing to wait, head to Hudson Clearwater and ask for a table in their back garden. It’s one of the most delightful settings to have dinner in the city, but they don’t allow reservations. But still, it’s worth the potential wait.

brunch 🍴🌿

A photo posted by by Danielle (@weworewhat) on

After dinner, options are, again, endless. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, then head to Big Gay Ice Cream for the most over-the-top soft serve you’ve ever had. For a more classic scoop, try Cones; for a vegan (but still delicious) cone, try Van Leeuwen, and for something lighter, try shaved ice from Snowdays.

If you need a slightly stronger nightcap, try The Garret or Little Branch for an excellent craft cocktail in unique, speakeasy settings.

It’s nearly impossible not to have a good day in the West Village. It’s walkable, it’s friendly, and it truly feels like a neighborhood in the big city.