March is finally here, and that means one our favorite holidays is fast approaching – Saint Patrick’s Day! On the one day of year everyone in America is just a little Irish, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy many festive activities, performances, and attractions that celebrate Irish cultural heritage. If you’ll be spending this March 17th in the Windy City, be sure to check out a few of these classic Chicago Attractions.
Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Without question the single largest collection of people in green you’ll see in this side of Boston. Expect floats, balloons, dancers, performers, and bagpipers galore – a truly magnificent celebration of Irish culture! It begins on Columbus Drive at noon, and then moves north through Grant Park and beyond. Insider tip – the best place to view the parade without crowding is at the very beginning in Grant Park. Plus, there will be tons of other festive stuff to do in the Park. You can even stroll right down to the Museum Campus and pay a visit to The Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium or the Adler Planetarium after you watch the last of the floats and marchers head north.
Check out the Chicago River!
On March 15th, the Chicago River will get a giant makeover! For five hours, the waters of this beloved waterway will be bright, Irish green (thanks to a whole bunch of environmentally-friendly vegetable dye). If you time it right, (around 10:45 am) you can even watch city employees dye the river by standing on the Columbus Avenue or Michigan Avenue Bridges. You can get up see the lovely green hue up close while you enjoy the ever-popular Chicago Architecture Cruise; it’s going to be quite a site to see the vibrant green reflected against all of the waterfront skyscrapers. Of, for a really unique set of vacation photographs, try snapping a few shots of the river from the top of the John Hancock Observatory.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Responsibly, of course. There are plenty of family-friendly Irish eateries throughout Chicago – in addition to a few that are better saved for an over 21 crowd. Many popular eateries where you’ll find some great fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and a good old pint of plain are centrally located near Chicago attractions that you’ll probably be checking out anyway, so it’s easy to swing by. The massive Fado Irish Pub on Grand Avenue is worth checking out for the interior decoration alone, although their Guinness pour is also top-notch. It’s great for families although it gets very busy on weekend nights and will likely be packed on the holiday itself. McGee’s Tavern (just outside of Lincoln Park, near the always-charming Lincoln Park Zoo) has more of sports bar-vibe, with plenty of live music. Just a little north you’ll find the Galway Arms, which has a great outdoor section that will keep you coming back in the warmer months. The Emerald Loop is another great choice, just off of Millennium Park, and you can’t go wrong with one of the local Elephant and Castle locations, which, while more British than Irish, have similar food and some great beer.
For those of you looking to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with children, the Irish American Heritage Center on North Knox Avenue has tons of great family-friendly food, music, and programming. This popular Chicago attraction has everything from traditional Irish music to a special arts and crafts fair, plus food and drink, of course! The fun begins at 1:00 pm (after the parade) and continues until midnight. There’s a small entry fee for adults, but kids under 12 get in for free! It’s a great way for children to have some hands-on exposure to Irish culture.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2014 in Chicago, and enjoy the best food, drink, music, and camaraderie around. Bring your friends, bring the family, and bring your best green gear!