Inch toward the ‘old normal’ as Union Square reopens

The Strand bookstore and its famous maroon awning is back! (Wikimedia Commons)

The throbbing heart of downtown, Union Square has been a hub for shopping, food and general recreation for decades. During the COVID-19 pandemic it has been sorely missed by workers, students, tourists and passers-by. Now, with appropriate social distancing and mask wearing mandates, this historic spot and its surrounds are coming back to life with an array of businesses and things to do open this weekend:

The Strand

A worker happily returns to the famed bookstore, practicing mask wearing mandates. (Photo courtesy of Liz Ligon)

World-famous bookstore The Strand, which has been a New York staple since 1927, is now open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Book lovers can enjoy curbside pick-up and limited indoor shopping. Fed up with mountainous Amazon book order deliveries and want to support local businesses? This weekend is the perfect opportunity for a relaxing browse amongst the shelves. Known for their extensive inventory, curated collections and expert booksellers, something new and unexpected might just catch your eye—plus, who can resist that new-book smell! New and used copies available across a massive range of genres and academic specialties!

Union Square GreenMarket

828 Broadway, New York, NY

Get your fresh produce, but don’t forget to obey the rules! (Photo via Instagram/@UNSQGreenmarket)

Tired of fighting for a Fresh Direct delivery window? Get inspired on what to cook for the week with the fresh fruits and vegetables, and other essentials, at the thankfully reopened Union Square GreenMarket. Locally sourced goods are available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Joe Coffee

Cool down with an iced coffee from Joe Coffee. (Photo courtesy of NaN’nii Tsoi)

Every New Yorker has their go-to location for a caffeine jolt. For many, especially downtown, that’s Joe Coffee which has now reopened for take-out. Come enjoy their array of superior beverages and pastries too!

9 E 13th St, New York, NY 


Casual French outdoor dining. (Photo courtesy of Liz Ligon)

Nothing says cafe-culture quite like Paris. With international travel bans unyielding, let L’Express transport you. Savor delicious French flavors and the summer air while outdoor dining at the newly opened restaurant! Pick-up also available!

249 Park Ave S, New York, NY 

Blue Stripes Cacao Shop

Awake your inner chocoholic! (Photo courtesy of Liz Ligon)

Blue Stripes Cacao Shop is available for cacao lovers everywhere. With unique foods like the Wild Hot Chocolate, Nutella Swirl Bun or Cacao Fruit Shakes to satisfy your cravings! Outdoor seating is available to sit down and relax during consumption.

28 E 13th St, New York, NY 

Breads Bakery

(Photo courtesy of Ashley Solter)

Come pick up a picnic basket at Breads Bakery and enjoy a socially distanced picnic at Union Square Park! The basket features fruit, crudite, cheese and some sweet treats. 

18 E 16th St, New York, NY

Fanni Frankl contributed to this article.