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New York City is an animal. For untrained tourists, it can be an intimidating task to see New York City through local eyes or to even find the best places to stay in the city. A good way to experience The Big Apple is to take it one neighborhood at a time. Greenwich Village is best for art and architecture lovers, live music, and history buffs — and we’ve narrowed down some of the best things to do in Greenwich Village.
One of the most prestigious universities in the United States, New York University has presented diplomas to 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, 30 Academy Award winners, and 37 Nobel Laureates. And while not all of us had their “you-know-what” together enough in high school to get into NYU, it is still worth looking at. A nontraditional campus because much of it is distributed across Greenwich Village, many of the buildings are quite beautiful. The institution’s Grey Gallery is one of the finest art galleries in the city and should absolutely be visited. In the past, artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Miro have all had their work on display here.
Washington Square Park
Home to New York City’s famous Arc de Triomphe replica, officially called the Washington Square Arch, Washington Square is one of the most picturesque parks in town. Now surrounded by many NYU buildings, historically the park has served as a gathering place for artists and an image of nonconformity. Try spending some time sitting next to the large fountain on the other side of the arch and enjoy watching the pace and activity of the locals.
Only a block or two from Washington Square Park, this live music venue on the popular Macdougal Street is legendary for being the former haunt of music gods like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, and The Velvet Underground all had ongoing gigs here early in their careers as well. Stop by and see who might be next.
Fat Cat Jazz Club
Somewhere between classic jazz bar, art exhibit, and frat house, the Fat Cat Jazz Club is a unique, fun experience on the New York nightlife scene. Nightly live music is the main draw but many like coming here to shoot pool, play ping pong, get competitive over board games, or even class it up with some chess. Open until 4 AM, visitors are assured to get some good people-watching in.
The “Friends” Apartment
Although technically shot in a studio in Los Angeles, the exterior of Joey, Monica, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Ross’s home is a building on the corner of Bedford and Grove in Greenwich Village. One of the main cornerstones of American culture in the last couple of decades, “Friends” fans are usually always taking pictures in masses outside the apartment building.
More famously known by its old name, the Waverly, the IFC Center is a popular art house movie theater. Upholding its long traditions, these days patrons will only see independent movies making their premieres here. Every month there are multiple special guests, like famous actors, directors, and producers, who come to the theater to give behind the scenes commentary and insights into various films.
Once so forgotten that the then owner made comedians perform to empty crowds in hopes that someone wandering in might stay, the Comedy Cellar is now arguably the most well-known comedy specific club in New York City. Famous comedians like Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, and Darrell Hammond have all made the Greenwich Village club a frequent spot to perform. Every night they host 3-4 live shows.
Jefferson Market Courthouse
Now more commonly known as the Jefferson Market Branch or the New York Public Library, this iconic feature of Greenwich Village is a United States National Historic Landmark because of its striking architecture. While anyone can access the beautiful building as a library, they also hold annual tours, usually during Open House New York in October.
Take a Stroll
Forget having a specific destination in mind and set forth into Greenwich Village on foot. Unlike much of New York City, Greenwich Village isn’t in the shadow of giant skyscrapers but rather has tree-lined streets with historic brick homes. Tremendously less chaotic than Midtown, there are still good places to roam. Macdougal Street, known for late night bars and munchies, and Christopher Street, a landmark for the LGBTQ Movement, are the best places to begin.