Are you thinking about spending St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago? Great idea! With one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S., Chicago is the ideal place to celebrate St. Pat’s. Whether you’re celebrating your Irish heritage or just joining in the fun, here are some top activities to make the most of your trip.
Take a Cruise
Hop on a boat from the Navy Pier for a pre or post-St. Patrick’s Day Parade cruise on March 16th. Popular are the cruises from Shoreline Sightseeing, which are offered either from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Enjoy a 90-minute exploration of all three branches of the river accompanied by stories about how the Irish helped shape Chicago. The cruise also includes a cash bar and a buffet of traditional Irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage and bread pudding. Note that the boats are open-air, so be sure to dress for the weather.
Watch the Dyeing of the River
Every year on the day of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Chicago River is dyed a vivid shade of green. The recipe for the dye is a closely guarded secret, but it has been shown to be environmentally safe. If you want to catch the river’s transformation from its normal color to orange to green, the best place to be is the intersection of the river, Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. The river is dyed at 10 a.m., so be sure to be there early for the best view.
Pick a Spot and Catch the Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place every year the Saturday before St. Patrick’s, which this year is March 16th. It begins at noon at Balbo and Columbus and then makes its way north on Columbus, ending at Monroe Drive. Plan on arriving early for a good spot and make sure to bring snacks, as the parade is about three hours long. Dress for the weather, as the parade takes place rain or shine. Public transport is definitely the way to go, as parking is limited.
Visit an Irish Pub
There’s nothing like a trip to an Irish pub to get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit. Some of the downtown pubs that are a convenient place to head after the parade include Fado Irish Pub (at 100 W Grand Ave); The Kerryman (located at 661 N Clark Street and named after a monk from County Kerry who may have set foot on America before Columbus); Timothy O’Toole’s (at 622 N Fairbanks Ct), and Poag Mahoney’s Carvery and Ale House (an old style Chicago saloon at 333 South Wells). You can also venture to Celtic Crossings, named ‘Most Traditional Chicago Irish Pub’ by USA Today, in Chicago’s Gold Coast (at 751 N Clark St).
Celebrate at the Navy Pier
Round out your St Patrick’s Day Chicago weekend with a trip to the Navy Pier. On March 17th you can catch a performance by the Trinity Irish Dancers and some live music at the Family Pavilion Stage. The dance performances will take place at noon, 12:30 p.m., 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. You can also take a Spirit of Chicago dinner cruise, which includes a scenic two-and-a-half hour boat ride, a buffet, music and dancing.
Whichever activities you choose, St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chicago is sure to be fun for everyone. If you’re traveling with friends or family, a vacation rental would be a great option. Watch the dyeing of the river and the parade on Saturday, visit some Irish pubs or restaurants, then head back to your home base for some relaxation in front of a cozy fire or in the hot tub. You’ll be ready to go the next day for another round of St. Patrick’s Day activities. Have a great time in Chicago!
Author Bio: Anis Salvesen is an avid traveler and polyglot who loves Chicago for its architecture, food, museums and outdoor activities. She writes for the travel site Tripping, where travelers to Chicago and 36,000 other cities can compare vacation rentals from top home rental sites all in one place.