East Village is one of New York’s most unique and lively neighborhoods filled with restaurants, tattoo studios, and vintage stores. As the birthplace of punk rock the neighborhood still has a creative vibe to it. This guide will cover the best things to do around East Village.
Best things to do in East Village NYC
Relax at Tompkins Square Park
You haven’t experienced East Village without a visit to Tompkins Square Park. It’s small in size but still worth a visit. Grab a bagel from Tompkins Square Bagel and sit down somewhere to relax and enjoy some great people-watching. My favorite time of year to come here is in the spring when all the trees and flowers are full of color.
Explore St. Mark’s Place
Your visit to East Village is not complete without visiting St. Mark’s Place. This might be the coolest street in New York filled with vintage stores, street vendors, dive bars, and amazing restaurants. St Mark’s Place is located along 8th Street between Astor Place and Tompkins Square Park.
The Museum of the American Gangster is located at 80 St. Mark’s Place in an old speakeasy. Here you can learn about gangster stories, things they did, see weapons the mafia members used, and learn about the most famous gangsters of the 20th century.
Go shopping at L Train Vintage
One of the best things to do in East Village is to go thrift shopping. This neighborhood has a great selection of vintage and second hand stores, and one of them is L Train Vintage. They have a great selection of clothes and accessories but also lots of team shirts and jerseys if that’s something you’re looking for.
Explore the Ukrainian Museum
East Village is the home of the largest museum in the US about Ukraine. At the Ukrainian Museum, you can learn about Ukrainian art and history. The museum also presents regular gallery talks, film screenings, concerts, and sometimes traditional folk-art workshops. The museum has been around since 1976.
Escape the city at East River Park
East River Park is a beautiful place to enjoy some nature and to get a break from the hustle and bustle in New York. It stretches from Lower East Side to East Village. You can come here for a bike ride, walk, or for the scenic views. Many locals come here to escape the busy streets of New York to enjoy some calmness by the water.
Buy a souvenir at Strand Bookstore
Strand is one of the most popular bookstores in New York City. Here you can shop for books, and souvenirs like tote bags, key chains, and mugs. This is definitely one of the best things to do in East Village.
Get some late night candy at Ray’s Candystore
You need to visit Ray’s Candystore if you’re in the mood for some candy. They are open 24/7 and have a great selection of candy. Famous people like the Kardashians and Anthony Bourdain have been to Ray’s Candystore.
Visit Casey’s Rubber Stamps
A visit to this unique store is one of the best things to do in East Village. Casey’s Rubber Stamps has been around for more than 40 years and sell handmade rubber stamps.
Go thrift shopping at Buffalo Exchange
This is one of my personal favorite and go-to thrift stores in New York. Here you can find some younger and trendier brands like Ganni and Jaded London but also some more affordable brands like Zara. I almost never leave the store empty-handed.
Best Restaurants in East Village NYC
Try a cheeseburger dumpling at Brooklyn Dumpling Shop
A visit to Brooklyn Dumping Shop will give you a very unique experience. You order your food from your phone, or on the kiosk inside to later pick it up from a wall filled with lockers. The owner of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop said that he sees dumplings more like a sandwich. So, whatever he would put in a sandwich he would put in a dumpling. Here you can order cheeseburger or pepperoni pizza dumplings, spring rolls, bowls or even dumpling with dessert flavors such as peanut butter and jelly or chocolate.
Grab a bagel from Tompkins Square Bagels
Tompkins Square Bagels makes the most delicious bagels with almost too many good and creative choices of bagel flavors and spreads. I can assure you that the long lines are worth it for these hand rolled bagels. This is the perfect place for you if you’re into some odd flavors such as chocolate chip cookie bagel, pairing it with pear or birthday cake cream cheese. Their regular bagels are also delicious! I would highly recommend this bagel shop to everyone.
Try Ukrainian food at Veselka
Located in the heart of East Village is the Ukrainian restaurant and diner Veselka. Here you can eat traditional Ukrainian dishes like borscht and pierogi and the best part is that they are open 24/7.
Eat Lebanese food Au Za’taar
Au Za’taar is a cozy Lebanese restaurant with the most amazing food and is the perfect place if you’re in a larger group. In that case, you can order many dishes and try the whole menu!
Eat at Seasoned Vegan – Real Quick
This restaurant serves plant-based dishes that even non-vegans will enjoy and is a must-visit in East Village. It’s a family-owned business created by a mother and son. Sink your teeth into their Craw Pretzel
Boy, BBQ Craw Sandwich or SV Chicken Nuggets Sandwich. YUM!
Best Bars in East Village NYC
Grab a beer at McSorely’s Old Ale House
This is definitely one of the best things to do in East Village! McSorely’s Old Ale House is one of the city’s oldest bars and has been around since 1854. The decor in this place is incredible since they haven’t taken anything down from the walls since 1910. Believe it or not but rumors say that Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Houdini, and E.E. Cummings has been here.
Visit the speakeasy bar Please Don’t Tell
Please Don’t Tell is a very cool speakeasy bar located in East Village and is one of my favorite things to do. It might seem like a regular hotdog store on the outside, but once inside you will see a cool hidden cocktail bar. To get into the bar you need to go to the phone booth to the left and call a specific number, which will open the door to the bar.
Play old arcade games at Barcade
Barcade is one of my favorite things to do in East Village where you can combine good drinks with some old arcade games. It’s located on St. Mark’s Place.