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Exploring Greenwich Village: Winter Edition

Summer is a notoriously popular time to visit New York City, and for good reason. Outdoor fun abounds, from music festivals to strolls through verdant parks. But in a neighborhood as vibrant as Greenwich Village, the goings-on never slow down, even as winter settles over the city. In fact, the window of time after the holidays and before spring may just be the ideal time to visit, especially for families who like to experience life off the beaten path. Here’s our family-friendly, cold weather guide to exploring all things Greenwich Village, indoors and out.

Parks

If just the thought of heading to a park in the winter makes you shiver, you’re not alone. However, there’s something downright romantic about wandering the lamp-lit paths of Washington Square Park when it’s freshly blanketed in snow and the city feels eerily quiet. Even if you’ve never been, you’ll probably recognize the iconic arch, which has served as a backdrop for scenes in blockbuster movies like When Harry Met Sally and Hitch.

If you’re game for a longer stroll, check out Hudson River Park, the 500+ acre greenway that extends along the western edge of Manhattan. In Greenwich Village, it runs from West Houston Street to Gansevoort Street, but you can hop on anywhere in between. The path alternates between snow-dusted woods and open, vaulting views of the Hudson and the glittering skyline. Watch ice floes knock against each other from Pier 45, or dogs  playing at the Leeroy Street Dog Park. Sometimes, a simple walk from your Greenwich Village hotel can be a spectacular (and budget-friendly) addition to your vacation itinerary.  

The Whitney Museum of American Art

Just a 15-minute walk from the heart of Greenwich Village, The Whitney is worth a visit if just to glimpse the building’s beguiling design. Straight from the imagination of renown “starchitect” Renzo Piano, The Whitney is a striking collage of asymmetrical lines and angles; an architectural marvel. But enough about that – it’s winter, after all, so you’ll be eager to hurry in, out of the cold.

The Whitney is dedicated to contemporary American art, and is unique in that it emphasizes living artists, a fact likely to pique the curiosity of children. Beyond that, The Whitney has a whole host of programs focused on children of all ages, interests, and abilities. If you have a little one who likes to cruise, check out the early morning Stroller Tours. Led by PhD Art History candidates, the tour is an ideal place for parents who are nervous about navigating a stroller through crowds or a disturbing others with a fussy baby (the description specifically welcomes crying babies!)

Older children (and the young at heart) may enjoy the Open Studio. After a tour of the museum, you can drop in and work on an art project “inspired by what’s on view at the Museum.” It’s an effective way to help kids make a hands-on, real-life connection to the art and create a lasting memory. There are also programs for kids on the autism spectrum and immigrant families.

Film Forum

So much of modern living is steeped in technology, leaving many of us feeling that the last thing we’d like to do on vacation is look at another screen. However, if you want to take a little trip back in time to when movie watching was an immersive, transporting experience, head to Film Forum. This famous art house cinema started in the ‘70s with little more than a projector, a collection of uncomfortable folding chairs, and a group of people who wanted to experience films that challenged the mainstream.

Since then, Film Forum has grown into one of the most famous institutions in the film world. When a winter storm is bearing down on the city, there’s no better place to flee from the sleet than the (now) plush seats of the theater. The carefully curated selection runs the gamut from classic black-and-white flicks to independent foreign films, but the common thread is that most of these films are nearly impossible to find on the big screen anywhere else.

Film Forum Jr. is a popular kids program that screens old favorites like Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory and the original King Kong, all shown in 35 mm. The program is an ideal opportunity for kids to experience the dizzying and enrapturing storytelling specific to the films of yesteryear. Showings are at 11 a.m. on weekend mornings. 

Eat Along Bleecker Street

No trip to the city would be complete without sampling some of the local fare, and in Greenwich Village, that means eating your way down Bleecker Street. Upscale restaurants with white tablecloths and polished wine glasses abound, but there are plenty of laid-back spots that welcome the gleeful squeals of children, too. In fact, there are five standout pizza places on Bleecker Street alone, each with their own character, from the classic take on wood-fired pies at John’s of Bleecker Street to the Neopolitan flavors at Keste Pizza & Vino.

For dessert, check out Molly’s Cupcakes, named after a beloved 3rd grade teacher who loved to bake. Here, each cupcake is made fresh as part of a small batch. Many come with fillings like peanut butter, Nutella, and cake batter. Get creative and concoct your own cupcake, which the expert bakers will mix and bake right before your very eyes. Bonus: you can swing by Sprinkle Station and decorate it yourself, a treat that’s sure to delight your kids, and your inner child too!

Summer isn’t necessarily the best time to visit New York City. There is plenty of fun to be had, even in the dead of winter. Exploring Greenwich Village is one of the best.