A Day (and Night) in the West Village

Brian Sloan

The West Village is one of downtown Manhattan’s most attractive neighborhoods, known for its landmarked brownstone architecture, angled street layout, arts scene, bohemian roots and historic role in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. A sub-neighborhood of Greenwich Village, it’s approximately bound by Sixth Avenue to the east, the Hudson River to the west, 14th Street to the north and Houston Street to the south. This summer, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising—which took place at Christopher Street’s Stonewall Inn, right in the heart of the district—WorldPride is coming to NYC for the first time. If you’ll be in town for the event, or want to explore anytime, read on for the best ways to spend a day in the area.

Courtesy, The Doughnut Project

Breakfast and Landmarks

With its quirky streets and quaint architecture, the Village is made for walking and wandering. Grab a bagel from Bagels on the Square or a bacon-maple bar from the Doughnut Project and head for Bedford Street, along which you’ll find the oldest original house in NYC (the Isaac-Hendricks House, at 77 Bedford St., which dates back to 1799) and, just next door, the Edna St. Vincent Millay House (75 ½ Bedford St., the narrowest building in Manhattan). It was home to the famous poetess and, at various other times, Cary Grant, John Barrymore and Margaret Mead. You might also recognize the building on the southeast corner of Bedford and Grove that served as the apartment facade on Friends.

AIDS Memorial. Photo: Brittany Petronella

Christopher Park’s Stonewall National Monument commemorates the 1969 turning point in human rights history that took place here and across the street. Just up Seventh Avenue, the New York City AIDS Memorial across sits across from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital buildings, where many died during the 1980s epidemic. Stop next at the LGBT Community Center, on West 13th Street, to see some of Keith Haring’s daring work, visit the center’s queer bookstore and check out one of the many social events and meetups held there every day.

Courtesy, Cowgirl

Lunch and a Stroll Along the Hudson

Lunch options include seafood at Mary’s Fish Camp and, a short walk west over to Hudson Street, the campy Cowgirl—notable for its Frito pie, frozen margaritas and Western kitsch.

LGBT Memorial. Photo: Max Guiliani

After your meal, head over to the Hudson River. The onetime industrial shipping zone alongside the water is now a park with piers for recreation and relaxation. At Christopher Street Pier, you can sunbathe with incredible views of the City’s skyline. In the 1980s and ’90s, it was a gathering spot for LGBTQ+ youth and drag queens. The park, in its stretch between Bethune and West 12th Streets, is also home to a new LGBT memorial, by artist Anthony Goicolea, that memorializes victims of hate crimes.

Diptyque. Courtesy, Diptyque.

A Little Shopping

Thanks in part to Sex and the City, the Village is known for shopping. Bleecker Street is packed with boutiques like Diptyque, James Perse and Marc Jacobs’ bespoke literary shop, Bookmarc. Another amazing bookstore, Three Lives & Company, is a favorite of well-known local authors like Michael Cunningham. For a late afternoon pick-me-up, stop by Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee for a cup of joe and an all-vegan menu of baked goods. An alternative is Village landmark Tea & Sympathy, which provides afternoon British tea service with all the bells, whistles and clotted cream.

Julius. Photo: Matthew Papa

A Drink and Dinner

As dusk falls, stop in for drinks, burgers and dogs during happy hour at Julius’—thought to be the oldest gay bar in the City. Christopher Street mainstay Pieces distinguishes itself with cocktail specials and drag shows. Over by the waterfront, the Rusty Knot serves tiki-style cocktails and pays cheesy tribute to the ’hood’s nautical history.

For dinner, The Little Owl has classic American fare and a beautiful wall of windows overlooking the intersection of Grove and Bedford. Via Carota, on Grove Street, a recent James Beard Award winner, sources fresh ingredients for its modern takes on Italian favorites.

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Big Gay Ice Cream. Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

Wherever you go, save room for dessert. Big Gay Ice Cream often has lines out the door for whimsical soft-serve treats like the Dorothy (named for a certain Golden Girl) and the Salty Pimp, but it’s worth the wait. The same goes for Milk Bar, from the folks at Momofuku. Die-hard fans love its pies and cereal-milk shakes. By Chloe, meanwhile, serves vegan cupcakes, cookies and ice cream.

Stonewall Inn. Photo: Elizabeth Bick

Hit the Scene

No trip to the Village is complete without exploring the area’s vibrant bar and club scene. Your first stop should be the Stonewall Inn, where the seeds of Pride began on a summer night in 1969 when patrons fought back against a routine police raid. Today the place has two levels: the ground floor has a bar and pool table; upstairs, depending on the night, you might find cabaret, dancing or karaoke. Just across Christopher Park, another longtime LGBTQ+ favorite is The Monster, which has a convivial bar and nightly dancing downstairs. Across Seventh Avenue, Marie’s Crisis is an old-timey piano bar that’s open to all who love a good show-tune sing-along.

After all the singing, drinking and dancing, you’ll need a late-night snack. We suggest a midnight slice from Famous Joe’s Pizza, which has been on the same block for nearly 50 years. It’s a classic NYC nightcap to a long day (and night!) in the Village.


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