Things to do in Greenwich Village in Winter – with Kids
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I used to live in Greenwich Village, specifically the West Village. That was many moons ago, pre-kids, when I had a busy nightlife, never cooked, and lived in a shoebox of an apartment. Those were the days. I loved that neighborhood, what with its brownstone buildings, amazing restaurants and impossibly charming streets. It’s still my favorite hood in Manhattan.
So when my friend Clare, from the travel blog Suitcases and Sandcastles, was visiting NY in mid- February and wanted to walk around and explore the village with me and my girls, I said absolutely! The thing was, believe it or not, I hadn’t taken my girls there yet. They had been to some parts of the village, such as the Highline and the Hudson River waterfront park, but they had never really walked around the core of the neighborhood before. And being February in the dead of winter, I realized I had to do some research before we set out. Not sure the weather would leave much room for lazy cobblestoned walks!
After much sifting through the memory and checking out some things online, I discovered there was plenty to do in Greenwich Village in winter with the kids. It involved a lot of eating and a lot of sweets, but fun, quintessential places to visit nonetheless! I devised a loose itinerary for us and Clare and her son, and we wound up having a fabulous February day in the village. I thought I’d share it here for all those who are in New York City in the winter time and want to explore around Greenwich Village with their kids. Here we go!
Things to do in Greenwich Village in Winter – with Kids
Begin in Union Square
Technically, Union Square is not the village, but it’s right on the cusp and the perfect spot to start your day. Union Square is such a big part of NYC – a major congregation point – that if you haven’t been to the city before you’ll want to see it any way. There is a park and playgrounds, and if warm enough in winter can be enjoyed outside. During the holidays, there is a big, festive Christmas market beckoning passers-by.
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Some points of interest in Union Square that are fun for the kids are:
There is a downtown branch of this crazy popular candy store on the Upper East Side, and it’s located in the old Andy Warhol factory on Union Square West. Not sure anything screams NYC kids more that Dylan’s Candy, with its bright colors, whimsical space and every candy imaginable.
The Farmer’s Market, or Green Market
New York’s largest open-air food market is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and is a lot of fun for any age. There is stall after stall selling baked goods, produce, cheeses, delicacies and on. My kids love getting the samples and just walking around seeing all the different kinds of food being sold.
Metronome and Countdown Clock
I wish I knew what this was when Clare’s son asked about it, but I didn’t. So, I looked it up after. This public art work is displayed prominently on a building on 14th Street between Broadway and Fourth Ave, facing Union Square Park. What is it? The metronome is a sculptural element comprised of numbers – the seven digits to the left tell the day’s time, from hours to minutes to seconds. The seven digits on the right side tell how much time is left in the day. The moving digit in the center, though you can’t see it, represents a hundredth of a second. I wish I knew this when we were all there as it’s a pretty cool thing to see!
Strand Book Store
Walk a little south of Union Square on Broadway and you will come across Strand Book Store, an NYC institution. We did not go on this visit, but this gigantic store over 90 years old has every book under the sun, and a great Children’s section. On weekends there are story times for the wee ones.
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There are many stores and restaurants in and around Union Square to dip into, depending on your child’s age, and it is always bustling and fun to walk through.
As we headed into and through the village we came across the Nutella Cafe on University Place. Newly opened in November 2018, I actually hadn’t heard of it, but as my girls love Nutella, we decided to take a walk through. With everything Nutella, including gelato, and a modern space, I would imagine this place is a huge hit with families. We will definitely give it a go sometime, but we already had lunch plans in order.
We continued walking through the picturesque streets, making our way to the West Village for lunch reservations.
Cowgirl Hall of Fame
I had made a lunch reservation at this West Village staple, the quirky and kitschy Cowgirl Hall of Fame. This restaurant has been around forever and is so much fun. It has a southwestern menu which I thought would be the perfect Americana meal for our U.K. friends. The ambience is super relaxed with fun, silly décor that is perfect for kids as much as it is for adults. We enjoyed a leisurely and delicious meal here, and then set out again. I purposely did not have us order dessert because I wanted to take them to…
Magnolia Bakery is the original cupcake craze café. Sure there have been a whole host of others that have popped up, but Magnolia is a village institution! When I was working in the city, this was the place everyone went to for birthday celebrations. No one does the buttercream frosting the way Magnolia does. I’ve taken many an out-of-towner here, and everyone always loves this vintage style bakery.
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Washington Square Park
After Magnolia bakery, we walked through the village on its windy, charming streets, and made our way to Washington Square park, where the kids could burn off some steam, and sugar. With its iconic archway and plenty of space to run around, including two playgrounds, this park is always a hit in my family. When it’s warmer out you can see loads of chess players gathered around. Washington Square Park is always filled with action no matter what, though, and can be visited throughout the year.
The Evolution Store
We ended our day with a trip to the Evolution Store, just south of Washington Square, one of NYC’s most unusual stores. Think skeletons, fossils, skulls, insects, taxidermy, minerals, stones and a lot more at this eye-opening shop full of unique finds. Kids and adults alike love this store.
And that’s my list of fun things to do in Greenwich Village in winter with kids. I love the village, even in the cold weather. Don’t let the low temps drive you away, Greenwich Village is great any time of year!