I love the West Village.

I used to work there, so I spent a lot of time exploring pretty much every inch of its cobblestone roads.  It’s easily one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York.

The neighborhood has beautiful old townhouses, trendy shops, amazing restaurants, and tons of culture.

The village is also home to some of the most popular nightlife scenes in the city, as well as the extremely popular Friends apartment.

It’s so easy to spend the entire day just enjoying all the different activities that the village has to offer.

If you’re new to the area, or just in town visiting, this is a neighborhood you must check out.

Below you’ll find the ultimate list of the best things to do in the West Village.

Grab Brunch

brunch nyc west village

The West Village has no shortage of delicious and trendy brunch spots. It’s one of the most popular neighborhoods for locals to grab brunch on weekends.

Some of my favorite places to meet friends for brunch include:

Go Vintage Shopping

vintage shopping west village

I love shopping in the village, but especially when it’s for vintage clothes.

Since the area is a nicer neighborhood, a lot of the clothes that end up in these shops are really nice designer or couture items that you can’t find anywhere else.

As an example, I ended up with a pair of leopard Manolo Blahnik stilettos for only $80. Sex and the City fans know designer shoes like that typically cost hundreds. 

If you’re looking for similar bargains, these are the hottest village vintage shops:

Visit a Famous Apartment

friends tv show apartment nyc west village

The West Village has no shortage of famous apartments. The two most notable ones are the Friends apartment, and Carrie’s apartment from Sex and the City

You can find the Friends apartment at 90 Bedford Street (at the corner of Grove St). 

It’s so famous that it’s even marked in Google Maps. Though chances are you’ll notice a gaggle of tourists taking selfies before you spot the building.

You should note that only the exterior shots of the Friends apartment were shot there. They shot everything else at a studio in L.A.

A few blocks north of the Friends apartment, at 66 Perry Street, you’ll find Carrie Bradshaw’s humble abode. 

Unlike Friends, they actually shot Sex in the City in New York. In fact there’s even a bus tour for mega-fans that showcases all the show’s filming locations around the city.

Local’s Tip: Since the apartment is a residence, there’s a chain preventing Sex and the City fans from climbing onto the apartment’s steps to take photos, but you can always take a selfie standing on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Indulge in Sweets

desserts nyc

I’m a big fan of stopping for a sweet treat while out exploring. It’s the perfect little sugar kick to power through all the waking you’ll be doing in the city.

I highly suggest that you make time to stop and sample some deliciously sweet offerings that the West Village has available. 

These are my favorite spots to indulge my sweet tooth:

Enjoy the Architecture 

jefferson market library

The West Village has some of the best architecture in the city when it comes to charming townhouses and historical buildings.

The most famous ones to check out are:

  • The “Narrowest House” that’s you guessed it, the narrowest house in the city at only 10 feet wide! You can find it at 22 75 ½ Bedford Street.
  • Jefferson Market Library is a landmark from the 1870s with a four-faced clock, sculptures, and lots of Victorian details. You can locate it at 6th Avenue and West 10th Street.

For a complete walking guide to some of the West Village’s iconic architecture, check out New York Architecture’s detailed post about the best buildings to walk by.

Drink at a Historic Bar

Stonewall Inn NYC West Village

Why not see a bit of history while you indulge in a drink (or two)?

The West Village still has a few historic bars in operation today. These are the ones to add to your sightseeing (drinking) list. 

  • White Horse Tavern on Hudson Street at West 11th Street is well known as the bar that Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, and Bob Dylan all drank at.
  • Julius’ on the corner of West 10th and Waverly Place began as a speakeasy before it became a go-to spot for celebrities during the 1930s and 1940s. It was around that time that Julius’ became the oldest gay bar in the city.
  • The Stonewall Inn is a few blocks away from Julius’, at 53 Christopher Street. It’s a National Historic Landmark where the gay rights movement began in when the 1969 riots broke out there. 
  • Chumley’s counts F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, E. E. Cummings, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg among its list of famous past clientele. You can find Chumley’s behind a plain wooden door at 86 Bedford Street.
  • Cafe Wha? Is the former hangout of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. This touristy hotspot is at 115 MacDougal Street.
  • The Beatrice Inn at 285 West 12th street operated as a popular speakeasy in the 1920s during prohibition. Even though it’s no longer a speakeasy, you can still see the original wooden escape door that regulars like Hemingway and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald would use to escape raids.

Get Cheesy

murrays cheese NYC west village

I love Murray’s Cheese so much that I would go once a week to stock up on cheese.

You need to stop in and at least sample some of their amazing offerings. 

I always grab a few cheeses, charcuterie, and spreads while I’m there. My favorite cheese to grab is their Truffle Brie, it’s a must if you enjoy truffles.

If you love cheese as much as I do, you can even take a class with them. The best part is the class involves eating a lot of cheese! 

Their flagship store is at 254 Bleecker Street. 

Check Out Some Boutiques

nyc boutique shopping

When someone asks “where’d you get that?”, there’s nothing better than saying “oh, I picked it up at a boutique in New York.”

I love that boutiques provide you with the ability to invest in a piece of clothing or accessory that other people can’t immediately copy. 

In an age where so many people are the same, it’s nice to be original. 

If you want to pick up something none of your friends will have, check out one of these cool shops:  

Grab a Cocktail

smoked manhattan the beatrice inn NYC
Photo courtesy of The Beatrice Inn

The West Village has no shortage of cocktail bars. It’s one reason that this is my go-to neighborhood for a night out.

I’ve spent a great deal of evenings over the last decade bar hopping around the West Village, and so I’ve developed a handful of go-to cocktail spots.

These are some of my favorites:

Catch a Comedy Show

comedy cellar

Comedians like Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, and Amy Schumer all got their start in comedy performing in New York clubs. 

In fact, I was lucky enough to be sitting front row at a venue where Amy Schumer performed about a year before she became a major star. 

Some of the best comedy clubs in the village to (hopefully) see the next up-and-coming comedy stars include:

Grab Dinner

beatrice inn dinner table nyc
Photo courtesy of The Beatrice Inn

I’m always thrilled anytime someone suggests grabbing dinner in the West Village. It’s a hot spot of trendy restaurants with delicious mouth-watering food.

I highly suggest you check out The Beatrice Inn. I was the maitre’d there for a little over 2 years, and still cannot get enough of their food. 

The entire experience you’ll have at the Bea is unique, from the presentation of the dishes (they love to light things on fire), to the combination of flavors, the original cocktails and the outstanding service. It’s a seriously special place that will always be close to my heart.

These are a few other places I’m always most excited to dine at:

Listen to Jazz

jazz Club West Village

NYC is famous for its jazz scene, and most of those famous spots are within the West Village. 

I love grabbing an indulgent meal, then wandering down the street to have a cocktail and listen to jazz. It’s a quintessential New York night!

These are some of the hottest jazz clubs in town:

Take a Bike Ride

city bike nyc west village

Rent a Citi Bike and spend the afternoon getting lost in the West Village. Trust me, it’ll be a beautiful ride.

If riding around the streets of the village looking at brownstones doesn’t sound appealing, you can also ride along the bike path next to the Hudson river.

 Take a Walking Tour

west village nyc

I love wandering around all the maze of streets in the village. There’s so much history in the area.

Unless you know the history of the area, it’s easy to just walk by something amazing and not understand its historical importance, that’s where taking a walking tour comes in.


These are some of my favorite walking tours in the village!

Hit Up a Bookstore

book shop nyc

I’m an avid Kindle reader when I’m traveling, but I still love a good old-fashioned book.

There’s nothing better than the smell of a book and the feel of the pages as you turn them. I find it so relaxing to wander around a bookshop, perusing the shelves for a new book to read.

These are the West Village bookshops I adore spending afternoons getting lost in:

Visit an Apothecary

apothecary

As a high schooler, I was a C.O. Bigelow lip gloss addict. In fact, I still keep a tube of the stuff in my purse. 

Little did I know that the lip gloss I couldn’t get enough of in high school came from the oldest apothecary in America that has its original store in the West Village.

If you haven’t tried it before, I highly suggest picking up a tube. Its minty menthol formula feels amazing sitting on your lips and keeps your lips moisturized and shiny. 

Don’t worry, they sell more than just lip gloss; they have a whole beauty and skincare line.

See an Off-Broadway Show

lucille nortel theatre nyc west village

As a theater nerd, did you really think I wouldn’t mention checking out a bit of theater while you’re in the village?

Honestly, some of my all-time favorite shows are the ones I’ve seen Off-Broadway. It’s always an intimate, almost community experience because the venues are smaller, and local theater nerds make up most of (if not all of) the audience. 

These are a few of the best Off-Broadway theaters to see shows at: 

Go to a Drag Show

Drag Bar West Village

I’ve been to a few of my friend’s drag shows over the last few years and let me tell you, it’s a ton of fun. It’s basically a giant party, where the music is fantastic and everyone is fabulous.

Drag shows have slowly gained popularity in pop culture thanks to shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, and headlines like the one from a few years ago of Adele and Jennifer Lawrence’s wild night out at Pieces bar in the West Village.

If you haven’t been to one yet, consider checking out one of these popular West Village spots:

Hit Up a Speakeasy

speakeasy nyc west village

A lot of us know New York for its speakeasy scene during Prohibition, when famous figures like Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds were partying it up around town.

Drinking is legal again, but the speakeasy is still very much a trend. Some of the most popular places to seek out are:

Check Out the Museum of Illusions

illusions west village

The Museum of Illusions is any social media lovers’ dream museum. This is the perfect place to get that killer IG photo that will make all your friends jealous. 

The museum features exhibits on optical illusions, photo illusions, holograms, rotating and tilting room illusions, and more.

Trust me, you’re going to want to take tons of photos. 

Hang Out in the Park

washington square park west village nyc

Washington Square Park is one of New York’s most iconic parks. As you may have guessed, they named it after George Washington, who was President when New York was still the capital. 

You’ll likely recognize the iconic giant arch that sits in the park. It was built to celebrate the centennial of Washington’s inauguration. 

Fun Fact: The New York City Parks and Recreation Department has said that likely over 20,000 bodies remain under Washington Square Park. The city put the bodies of the poor, criminals, and victims of the epidemic there during 1797.

Take a Food Tour

champagne donut west village nyc

Who wouldn’t want to walk around eating the best food a city has to offer?

The West Village has some of the most delicious food in the city, so it only makes sense to spend part of the day discovering and sampling all the wonderful treats in the area.


These are a few of my favorite West Village based food tours to suggest for visitors!

Hit Up a Dive Bar

corner bistro west village dive bar nyc

I’ve had so many nights out in the village and almost all of them have ended at Corner Bistro eating fries and chatting the night away with West Village locals. I’ve met so many wonderful people over drinks at that bar. I highly recommend stopping by for a drink (or two). 

Heading to a dive bar is the perfect way to end a night out in New York because they stay open later than the fancy wine and cocktail bars. 

Plus, a lot of them serve food until the early morning, so you can carb up and keep the party going later. 

Some of my other favorite dives in the village are:

Get a Massage

nyc massage

My boyfriend will tell you, I have a weakness for massages. To me, there’s nothing better than being forced to unplug and relax. 

I believe every vacation should include a massage or spa treatment. Even as a local, I attempt to get at least one massage a month to release built up muscle tension.

If you’re looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, I recommend you try reflexology. It’s basically an epic foot rub where the practitioner hits pressure points in your feet. 

These pressure points relate to different areas of your body, and when pushed will release tension in the correlating area. 

These are a few of the best spots in the village for some rest and relaxation:

Check Out a Piano Bar

piano bar nyc

Who doesn’t love having a few drinks then singing along to famous show tunes?

Okay, I admit it’s not for everyone, and not every piano bar allows drunk group sing-alongs, but boy are they fun when they happen!

These are the two spots to check out if you’re in the mood for some singing and piano playing: 

Catch an Indie Film

movie popcorn nyc

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I was a huge film nerd, but I’d have to drive almost two hours one way just to see the latest indie hit film. 

So one of the most exciting things about moving to New York was having easy access to indie movies.

The best indie film theaters are in the village, so for me seeking those theaters was a big part of how I began exploring downtown when I moved to the city.

Catching independent film while you’re in town is a fun and affordable way to see something on the big screen that you likely wouldn’t get to see anywhere else.

My favorite village based indie theaters are:

Final Thoughts

west village nyc 2

I’m seriously craving a day in the West Village after writing this.

It’s truly one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York

I love the locals, and that the neighborhood feels like home to me, even though I’ve always lived uptown.

It’s a place that’s filled with lots of charm and a bit of that old New York energy that’s so rare these days.

I hope you’re able to spend the entire day exploring this magical neighborhood, and that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Let me know in the comments below what you’re most looking forward to doing in the West Village! 


Check out some of these popular tours while you’re in NYC!

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