New York City: Places to Explore

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West Village

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High-rises and office towers have little business among the labyrinth of small curving streets, peculiar alleys, and historic town houses here, although a new boom in distinctive apartment living by designer architects has emerged around the western edges near the Hudson River. Primarily residential, there is something unique about the tree-lined streets of the West Village, with its charming cafés, nondescript celebrities out and about, and the well-dressed children playing in the parks. Tiny as they might be, restaurants like the Little Owl and 'ino invite you to linger, as do larger restaurants with outside dining areas.

It's easy to feel like a local while shopping here. Unlike 5th Avenue or SoHo, the pace is slower, the streets are relatively quiet, and the scale is small. This is the where to come for unusual finds rather than global-brand goods. The West Village section of Bleecker Street is a particularly good place to indulge all sorts of shopping appetites; high-fashion foragers prowl the stretch between West 10th Street and 8th Avenue. Hudson Street and Greenwich Avenue are also prime boutique-browsing territory.

Christopher Street has long been the symbolic heart of New York's gay and lesbian community. On this street, among cafés, lifestyle boutiques, and clothing shops, is one of the city's most acclaimed off-Broadway theaters, the Lucille Lortel, where major off-Broadway playwrights like David Mamet, Eugene Ionesco, and Edward Albee have their own markers in the sidewalk. Nearby, at 51–53 Christopher Street, is the site of the Stonewall Inn and the historic Stonewall riots, which marked the beginning of the gay rights movement. Across the street is a green triangle named Christopher Park, where there are commemorative statues of gay and lesbian companions.

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