If you are looking to get lively this St. Patricks Day, then don your best green outfit, lace up your dancing shoes, and seek out one of these crowd-pleasing favorites. The proud Irish tradition spans across our great nation from coast to coast, but these 10 destinations stand out for their larger than life celebrations that keep visitors flocking in to join the celebration and discover a treasure of memories that rival a pot of gold.
1. Savannah, Georgia
When the fountains go green, it's almost St. Patricks Day in Savannah. — Photo courtesy of Visit Savannah
When the fountains go green in Savannah on March 13th, it’s a sign St. Patricks Day is almost here. Witness the 191st St. Patricks Day Parade wind it’s way through the historic streets of this culturally rich city on March 17th, and let the spirit of the crowd energize you. Later have a pint at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub on River St. and make sure to head upstairs to see the Hall of Heroes, a touching salute to the military. The celebrations in Savannah are some of the most famous in the South. Watch as the city transforms it’s romantic setting into a tribute to the Irish community.
2. Seattle, Washington
Seattle celebrates St. Patricks Day with an Irish Week full of festivities. — Photo courtesy of Jal Schrof/ Irish Week Seattle
The Irish Club in Seattle keeps the festive spirit going with a week’s worth of anticipated events. Roll up your sleeves for the Soda Bread cooking exhibition and following competition where contestants battle it out for much sought after bragging rights. On March 14th, let your Irish flags fly during the St. Patricks Day Parade which begins at 4th Avenue and travels up the Monorail to the Seattle Center for closing ceremonies. Bring the whole family Sunday March 15th to the Armory, for an Irish Festival to remember with music, singing, and dancing, and the Irish Reel Film Festival. Irish art exhibits will be on display and the kids will enjoy plenty of contests and activities. Finally wrap up the week with a Genealogy Conference and discover more about your roots on March 21st.
3. Chicago, Illinois
Watch one of the worlds modern wonders, the turning of the Chicago River green. — Photo courtesy of Go Chicago/City of Chicago
On March 14th, take part in the celebration of a modern miracle, the turning of the Chicago River to kelly green at 9:30am followed by the St. Patricks Day Parade. For over 40 years the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers turn the river green using an environmentally friendly dye. For the best perspective of the magic, reserve a sightseeing river cruise and experience the city from a magical point of view. It’s not truly a St. Patricks Day in Chicago without a visit to the Kerryman Irish Pub for some great eats, and plenty of holiday revelry including dancers, a beer tent, and face painting for the kiddos. At noon on the 14th, find your spot on the downtown streets for Chicago’s world famous St. Patricks Day Parade beginning at Balbo and Columbus.
4. New York City, New York
New York City hosts the nations largest St. Patricks Day Parade — Photo courtesy of © NYC & Company /Joe Buglewicz
For over 250 years The New York City St. Patricks Day Parade has been a source of unification for the Irish community in the city. Staying committed to it’s original heritage this “true marchers parade” does not allow floats, automobiles, or other commercial aspects but instead features upwards of 250,000 marchers including bands, bagpipes, highschool marching bands, and community servicemen. As the spectating dissolves into revelry make your way to McSorely’s Old Ale House, the oldest Irish Tavern in NYC. History literally clings to the walls at McSorely’s including wishbones hanging above the bar left by WWI soldiers (only to be removed upon their return), and the original "Wanted" poster for John Wilkes Booth. Enjoy a house-made soda, or the only alcohol they serve, Guinness or Dark Guinness.
5. Detroit, Michigan
Old Shillelagh is a Detroit Institution featuring the biggest St. Patty's Day bash in the city. — Photo courtesy of Ernest Sisson II/David Washington/Old Shillelagh
If you’re looking for a party that will last all night, the downtown Detroit institution Old Shillelagh is the place to be. Rock your green garb and grab a friend for an epic St. Patricks Day tent party that gathers crowds from near and far to hear amazing live music acts, and to get down as the DJ spins the night away. Old Shillelagh was founded in the 70s by a retired Detroit police officer raised in Dublin. Now operated by third generation family members The Old Shillelagh proves that celebrating the good times with friends and family never goes out of style.
6. Boston, Massachusetts
Emmets Pub and Restaurant is lively Pub on Beacon St where Bostonians love to celebrate St. Patricks Day. — Photo courtesy of Emmets Pub and Restaurant
Celebrate St. Patty’s big day in the home of the first ever St. Patricks Day parade in Boston, America’s “Most Irish City.” On March 15th spectators convene to watch Southie’s annual “Wearin of the Green” Parade rain or shine, then come together all weekend to party at area pubs like the Burren in Somerville, or Emmet Pub & Restaurant on Beacon St. where music and dancing take center stage.
7. Portland, Oregon
Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub kicks off the St. Patricks Day weekend with an Irish vs Oregon boxing match. — Photo courtesy of Diego Diaz/Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub
Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub’s St. Patricks Day festival is Portland four-day affair full of excitement and fun for the whole family. Kick off the celebration by seeing if luck truly is with the Irish in the Oregon vs Irish boxing match March 15th. The weekend rounds out with three more days of festivities including a Shamrock Run and an ongoing party in Kells’ “Back Tent." Fun for all ages is planned along with arts and crafts, live music, Irish dancers, and face painting.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
The Irish Channel Parade is one of three parades held in New Orleans over the St. Patricks Day festivities. — Photo courtesy of NewOrleansOnline.com
If you simply cannot get enough of kelly green and celebrating all day head to New Orleans where there are three parades to choose from on three different days beginning March 14th, including the Irish Channel Parade, the St. Patricks Day Parade, and the Downtown Irish Club Parade. Attend one or all of them, the more outrageous the outfit the better. On the heels of Mardi Gras, New Orleans citizens are experts at throwing a great party. St. Patricks Day parade goers are still known to toss out beads, but you might also keep your eyes open for more “Irish” style handouts like cabbages, carrots, and onions. Stew anyone?
9. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta's St. Patricks Day Parade is a family friendly affair where "everyone is Irish for the day". — Photo courtesy of Atlanta St Patricks Day Parade, Inc
Dating back to 1858, Atlanta’s St. Patricks Day Parade is one of the oldest in the country. Hailed as a family-friendly event, all ages are welcome to join in a day where “everybody is Irish." Dancers, bagpipes, clowns, and drill teams convene with community servicemen, politicians, and various clubs and societies to celebrate the city and the contribution the Irish community has had in Atlanta and the South as a whole. When the spectating is over, head to Fado’s Irish Pub voted the “Best Pub in Atlanta." Fado’s claims the best St. Patricks Day party in the city with food tents, live entertainment, and a beer garden.
10. Indianapolis, Indiana
McKinley's Golden Ace Inn is the oldest Irish Pub in Indianapolis — Photo courtesy of Timothy Hill Photography/McGinley's Golden Ace Inn
Enjoy not only the best party in Indianapolis, but arguably the best cheeseburger as well. McGinley’s Golden Ace Inn has been dishing out great service and live entertainment in Indianapolis since 1934 when it was opened by John and Ann McGinley, immigrants from County Donegal, Ireland. McGinley’s annual St. Patricks Day party has been going strong for over 80 years and draws the Irish community back to its historic neighborhood every year for the biggest St. Patricks Day party in the city. Join in the 21 and older fun in McGinley’s heated tent where acts from Ireland and America will perform on March 17th.