Greenwich Village walking tour [self-guided in 12 stops]
This Greenwich Village walking tour is going to take you through one of the most interesting areas of New York through 12 stops.
Only 50 years ago, this was the bohemian capital of the world, popular with artists and musicians.
It all started in the 1950s with the Beat Generation, with the likes of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Jimi Hendrix performing in the nightclubs of The Village (just to mention a few).
Indeed, today you will not find that bohemian capital, gentrification and the high cost of the buildings have pushed out all the artists.
In saying that, there are still some interesting things to experience and see, including probably the most expensive toilette in the world.
The best is that you can do this walk in Greenwich Village on your own with the free self-guided map that I have shared below
Table of Contents
- 1 Washington Square Park
- 2 The Museum of Interesting Things
- 3 Bigelow Apothecary
- 4 Jefferson Market Garden & Library
- 5 Keith Haring’s Bathroom Mural
- 6 Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment
- 7 Gay Liberation Monument
- 8 Marie’s Crisis
- 9 Friends Apartment
- 10 St Luke in the Fields Garden
- 11 Narrowest building in New York
- 12 Bleecker Street
- 13 Organised tour with local guide
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Let’s start the walk from the first stop, Washington Square Park, in the heart of Greenwich Village.
Washington Square Park
If there is a park with lots for you to see and do, it is the iconic Washington Square Park. It has been renovated and designated for different activities over time.
It has a cemetery, a spot to play chess, a parade ground and even a playground for kids and dogs.
Not only that, there are many monuments that honor history and influential figures like George Washington himself.
There is always something to do at the park, which makes it the best place to start your walking tour.
The Museum of Interesting Things
You can never go wrong with a museum visit, because it is always a chance to learn something cool.
There is no better place to visit than the Museum of Interesting Things.
Denny Daniel is the founder of the museum and he called it that way because, of course, of the interesting items you will find there.
There are over 300 exhibits of toys, science, music and historical items.
The cool thing about the Museum of Interesting things is that they can come to your parties, school events and other special occasions so that your guests can check out what they have.
Medicine has come in many forms over time.
The Bigelow Apothecary, also known as the C.O. Bigelow Chemists, is a hidden gem in Greenwich where they make different types of perfumes, balms, elixirs and medicines.
They have been in business for over 200 years!
They have had a unique clientele base like the father of electricity, Thomas Edison, who soothed a burn with their balms.
An even bigger public figure was a faithful customer – Elenore Roosevelt, the former US First Lady.
Take a walk around the store and who knows, you might find something that can soothe or interest you.
Jefferson Market Garden & Library
Next, take a stroll to the nearby Jefferson Market Garden and Library.
The building is a recognized New York landmark that you must visit.
It has served the Greenwich area for over 50 years and started off as a courthouse.
While here, check out the old books and journals at the library.
Take a walk downstairs and view the 150 rare books in the reference section.
There are books such as Hellhole: the shocking story of the inmates and life in the New York City House of Detention for Women by Sara Harris or the Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report.
Aside from the library, take a stroll in the garden and see the beautiful flowers and scenery.
The garden and library were a community effort and you can see it in the beauty the place holds.
Keith Haring’s Bathroom Mural
We have heard of drawing on bathroom walls, but this project takes it to a whole new level.
The Keith Haring’s Bathroom Mural is an homage to the LGBTQ community.
The creator, American artist Keith Haring, worked on this project back in 1989 before passing on in 1990 due to HIV complications.
It was a commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and can be found in the 2nd floor men’s bathroom at ‘The Centre’.
The mural was put up for auction for a whopping $2.5million – it is safe to say it is the most valuable bathroom in the world. Visitors can still marvel at the artwork for free!
Are you interested in exploring more of the Big Apple? Here are 5 unique self-guided walks of New York, including maps and little gems like the Keith Haring’s Bathroom Mural.
Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment
Who hasn’t watched at least one episode of the TV show “Sex & The City” with the beautiful Sarah Jessica Parker playing Carrie Bradshaw.
This is the apartment used by Carrie, located in a beautiful street that fills up with orange and red colours in the Fall Season.
It’s a lovely spot for a few photos, doesn’t matter if you are a fan of the TV show.
You can’t walk up the stairs (there is a little chain).
On a side note, if you have a spare dollar or two, there is a donation box to help injured animals.
Gay Liberation Monument
The fight for sexual equality has been going on for a long time.
Thanks to changes in laws during the Obama administration, you are free to love who you want.
The Gay Liberation Monument is one of the tributes to the movement.
The statue was made by George Segal and tells the story of the iconic Stonewall Inn events.
Come and marvel at the four white figures of 2 men standing and 2 women sitting down.
If you love a drink and musical theatre, you will feel right at home at Marie’s Crisis Cafe.
This is a dim basement cafe known for its piano sing-along shows.
It is originally considered a gay bar, but everyone is welcome.
An interesting thing you will notice is that the waiters also double up as the solo performers.
The owner, Marie DuMont, named it after Thomas Paine’s masterpiece, American Crisis.
Come and enjoy a drink, sing along to some theatre music and make some new friends.
Six best friends graced our screens for 10 seasons and gave us some of the most memorable tv moments and quotes.
Who doesn’t remember Joey’s shenanigans or the Rachel and Ross love story?
This is another must-see place for the fans of the iconic TV sitcom.
Ironically, Friends was not actually filmed inside the apartment block.
Only the exterior was used for the TV series. Every episode had a stunning shot of the tan brick building.
Take a snapshot of the facade, or even better, a selfie.
St Luke in the Fields Garden
New York City is undoubtedly one of the busiest cities in the world.
You will not think for a minute that there is a green oasis where you can take a walk and collect your thoughts.
St Luke in the Fields Garden is one such place among the chaos of NYC.
Come and sit on one of the benches in the garden while protected by the high brick wall.
This is a collection of 4 gardens which you can check out, like the Gene Morin Contemplation Corner or the older Rectory Garden.
Narrowest building in New York
While in Greenwich, you must visit the narrowest building in New York, located at 75 1/2 Bedford St.
Sounds like a train station in Harry Potter, doesn’t it?
This is a red brick 3-storey building that has been in existence since 1873 but was sold in 2015.
What makes it a memorable spot, other than its size, is the well-known previous residents.
Come and take pictures of the former residence of Cary Grant and Margaret Mead, among others.
This is the central street of Greenwich with cafes, bars and restaurants left and right.
For a great cafe head to Prodigy, just off Bleecker Street, a bit hipster, a bit minimalistic, with the best coffee in the area.
This place transforms in wine bar in the latter part of the day, with a nice outdoor area, a real winner.
For a bite, check out the very affordable Hello Saigon, with a tasty Vietnamese cuisine at a bargain price, especially considering you are in Greenwich Village.
Another stop should be at the vintage Village Revival Records, still selling the 70s and 80s records/LPs, an institution in the area.
Just cross the street and check out Artful Posters and its huge amount of prints on sale.
For a laugh or two, or three, spend the night at The Comedy Shop, a boutique place with stand-up comedians running most nights. Check out the program at their website.
Organised tour with local guide
You can also join an organised tour to get more of an inside from a local guide.
This Greenwich Village Walking Tour starts from Waverly Place and it goes through famous spots as the Edgar Allan Poe House and the Washington Square Hotel.
It takes a different route from the one I have drawn in this post, as interesting and as engaging.
This is a part of New York where you can easily spend a week and find different hidden corners every single day.