What To See in NYC from a Local: West/East Villages

What To See in NYC from a Local: West/East Villages


Living in NYC means that at some point during your stay, you will host friends and play tour guide at least once. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not, but we do it because we love our friends.

Last weekend as the first time I got to be a tour guide. My friend Athena stayed for the weekend. It was an exhausting weekend. I tried to curate the trip to things I knew she would like, things she wanted to see, and things she didn’t know she wanted to see! As a local, it’s your job to really think about what your friend wants to see even if they don’t know they want to see it.

I made the weekend itinerary as a compromise of some tourist spots and some local spots.

For Athena’s stay we spent Friday in the West Village, Saturday in Midtown, and Sunday in Financial District. I’m breaking each day into a separate post so stay tuned for details on the other neighborhoods and off the beaten path spots.

Some photos are mine. Flickr photos are linked appropriately.

Day 1: West & East Village

Visit NYC Itinerary West Village Best Spots

A) West 4 Train Station B) Carrie’s SATC apt C) Hudson River Greenway D) Bruno’s Bakery E) Washington Square Park F) Risotteria G) East Village H) Union Square

Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City Apt – 66 Perry St

This is the apartment made famous by Sex and the City as Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. There is a sign & chain across the stoop asking people to be respectful of the building’s residents.

Taking photos and sitting on the stoop is discouraged. They have a cute little donation box for animal rescue that they kindly ask you to donate to if you take a picture.

66 Perry St Sex and the City Carrie Bradshaw
Athena in front of Carrie’s SATC Apartment

Hudson River Greenway

The Hudson River Greenway is a beautiful bike path starting at the top of Manhattan going all the way down to Financial District. You can pick it up anywhere along the way. The path is great for walking, running, cycling, dogs, or sitting to take a break. No matter how you do it, the view of the Hudson is pleasant and it gets you out of the city noise.

We walked from 11th st down to Houston along the path. Streets are labeled on the path so you always know your location.

Leslie & Athena Selfie Hudson River Park
Taking a photo break on the Hudson
Manhattan West Side Hudson River Greenway
View of the Hudson River from the Westside Greenway
Laying out in Hudson River Park on a Sunny Day
Hudson River Park is a great spot to relax. Bring a blanket and some snacks.
Hudson River Greenway & Benches along Hudson River
Stop to rest along the Hudson

Bruno Bakery & Cannoli’s

This is my favorite bakery in the village. I recommend their black & white cookie, chocolate croissants, and the obligatory cannoli. They fill them fresh so you need to specifically ask for one.

You can dine inside, at the sidewalk tables, or take a short walk to Washington Square Park and enjoy your snack there.

Mini Cannoli's from Brunos Bakery West Village
Freshly Filled Mini Cannoli’s from Bruno’s

Washington Square Park

We took another mini-break to people watch and eat our cannoli’s at Washington Square Park. The fountain and Arch are fun to walk around. There are lots of performers around. It’s just a fun place full of activity during the day.

Washington Square Park Fountain Leslie and Athena
In front of Washington Sq Fountain
Washington Sq Park Arch Fountain NYC
Washington Square Park Arch & Fountain

Dinner at Risotteria

After hanging out at the park, we garnered up an appetite and strolled over to Risotteria. They specialize in Risotto (of course) but serve other gluten-free foods like pizza! I’ve only had the risotto there though and it’s been delicious every time.

This place is tiny so try to go on an off time to get seated right away.

Risotteria in West Village is Yummy
Delicious Risotto at Risotteria

Stonewall Inn & LGBTQ History

Before leaving the West Village I want to point out that this is the neighborhood of the Stonewall Inn. In 1969, this bar was raided by the police in a standard procedure to arrest gay and trans men & women.

This time the bar patrons resisted, inciting a riot on the sidewalk. These riots lasted 3 days outside of Stonewall. This incident was the catalyst for the entire gay rights movement and all LGBTQ awareness we currently have.

Looking at it now, it looks like just a bar, but it’s a pretty serious piece of history.

Stonewall Inn historic site of gay rights movement
Stonewall Inn – Where the lgbtq rights movement began
Plaque Outside Stonewall In West Village NYC
Historic Plaque at Stonewall In

Shops Along St. Marks Place

Unfortunately, Athena and I had a date with Avenue Q and couldn’t finish out the rest of the itinerary. If you didn’t have evening plans, there is more than enough time to check out the East Village too.

St. Marks Place is a great way to cross from the west to the east side of the city. Go through Astor Place and see the giant cube. You can spin it if you and some friends push hard enough. Then keep walking down St. Marks.

You’ll see quirky little shops and sushi joints. It can get kitschy and crowded but is still a fun experience for a stroll.

Astor Place Cube Alamo Sculpture in Manhattan
Astor Place Cube – An interactive art sculpture formally titled Alamo
Kenka, Search and Destroy on St. Marks Place NYC
Typical Shops on St. Marks Pl. in Manhattan
Tattoo Parlors and other Shops along St. Marks Pl Manhattan
Record shops, tattoo parlors, and sushi joints are common along St. Marks Place

East Village / Bars

Take another rest stop at one of the many bars in the east village. There’s nice places and total dives. Something for everyone. Come here in the early evening and you’ll find a great happy hour deal.

Keybar in East Village NYC
Keybar – Great happy hour and bonus outdoor area
Bar The Library in East Village NYC
The Library (bar) – Avenue A
Historic McSorley's Old Ale House in NYC
McSorley’s Old Ale House – Oldest bar in NYC
Generic Bar Sign for NYC Bar in East Village
Signs for bars/restaurants aren’t always descriptive, if there’s one at all.

Strand Bookstore

After you’ve quenched your thirst, stroll up to 12th street and check out the giant independent bookstore of Strand Books!

There are tons of indie book stores in the city, but The Strand is the largest.

Outside Facade of Strand bookstore in NYC
The Strand Bookstore on Broadway – home of over 2 million books!
The Strand Bookstore in NYC and 18 Miles of Books
18 Miles of Books at The Strand

Let’s Call It A Day

By now you’re probably exhausted. Union Square is another people-watching place. Plus a place that has a bunch of trains! Take one of them on home and rest your feet to explore midtown tomorrow.

Subway Lines at Union Square NYC
Union Square Subway Station

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