Get ready to update your bucket list. A trip to Savannah during St. Patrick’s Day is something that everyone should experience at least once. The city, which hosts the nation’s second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, goes all out on March 17. But don’t plan to stay for just the parade itself. The party starts several days before the parade and keeps going until long after the last strand of green beads has been cleared from the sidewalk.
St. Patrick's Day revelers are notorious for their outlandish green accessories. — Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten
It’s never too early to start planning your St. Patrick’s Day excursion. Before you book your trip, be sure to check the calendar: the parade is always held March 17 unless that day happens fall on a Sunday, in which case the event is usually moved to Saturday.
One of the most important parts of the planning process is securing a hotel room. Since parking in Savannah’s Historic District is nearly impossible on parade day, it’s ideal if you can snag a hotel room in the downtown area.
A view of River Street from the Hyatt Regency Savannah--one of the best places to stay during St. Patrick's Day. — Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Savannah
Several hotels are located near the parade route, including the Marshall House on Broughton Street, Hyatt Regency Savannah on Bay Street and Hilton Savannah DeSoto on Liberty Street. If you prefer something a bit more intimate, consider one of the city's many bed a breakfasts. You can’t go wrong at the Hamilton-Turner Inn on Abecorn Street, Ballastone Inn on Oglethorpe Avenue or Kehoe House on Habersham Street.
If all the Historic District hotels are booked up, there’s no need to panic. The city offers a St. Patrick’s Day shuttle from several locations, including the Savannah Mall. Grabbing a shuttle is a great choice for budget-conscious travelers, who can book a room at one of the city’s more affordable Southside hotels and catch a ride to and from the parade.
The fountain in Forsyth Park is 'greened' every March in honor of St. Patrick's Day. — Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten
Once you’re comfortable in your Savannah digs, it’ll be time to get your green on and party like an Irishman. The hottest place to party before, during and after the parade is River Street. The historic waterfront attraction, which features numerous shops, restaurants and bars, hosts a St. Patrick’s Day festival with live entertainment, interactive games, food and beverages.
During your visit to River Street, be sure to stop by Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. The popular bar features a nice selection of Irish beer and authentic cuisine such as shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.
City Market, located just a few blocks away, is another great place to party on St. Patrick’s Day. The open-air market is home to several restaurants and bars, including Congress Street Social Club, one of the city’s most happening nightlife spots.
Savannah's St. Patrick's Day parade is the second largest in the nation. — Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten
When parade day rolls around, bring folding chairs and secure your spot along the parade route early. The parade, which attracts some 300,000 visitors, usually kicks off around 10 a.m. and lasts several hours. During the festivities, you can expect to see approximately 350 floats, marching bands from around the country, local dignitaries, and lots and lots of green.
Thanks to Savannah’s open container laws, you can even have a cup of green beer in tow during the parade. Just be sure it’s in an approved container and that you don’t wander outside the Historic District’s to-go cup zone.
Once the parade is over, you can venture back to River Street or City Market or head to just about any bar in the downtown area. You’ll be hard pressed to find a spot that’s not still hopping after the parade.
Be sure to attend mass at the magnificent Cathedral of St. Paul the Baptist church. — Photo courtesy of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist/Jeff Miller
If you’re feeling guilty because you partied a little too hard, consider attending mass at the breathtaking Cathedral of St. John the Baptist church. You can pay your resects to St. Patrick and atone for your sins at the same time. Erin go bragh!