Thought not a national holiday in the United States—yet—St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year when you have full permission to throw back a dozen pints, wear head-to-toe green, and wake up just hungover enough to warrant a whiskey-laced Irish coffee for breakfast. If you can’t hop on a flight to Ireland, don’t fret. These seven cities go all-out for St. Paddy’s, and we're betting at least one of them is a little closer to home.
For more than 50 years, Chicago has taken St. Patrick’s Day festivities to a river-deep level. How? The city tints the Chicago River shamrock green with a temporary dye to observe the Irish holiday. While you probably don't want to jump in, you can stay on dry land and get soaked at any of the endless pubs in the city. Consider making a St. Paddy’s pit stop at Galway Arms, which has live Irish music and traditional food offerings, like Guinness beef stew, Celtic bread, butter pudding, and of course, lots of Irish whiskeys.
This city doesn’t shy away from a day meant to celebrate the Irish—after all, Beantown is home to a huge population of Irish immigrants. But while they pour brews like any other city, Boston also hosts a St. Patrick’s Day Road Race to benefit the Boys & Girls Club, encouraging locals and visitors to work up a sweat before drinking until the wee hours of the morning. To start off your St. Paddy’s party, visit The Black Rose in the heart of Boston, where you’ll be greeted by staff with real brogue as you walk in the door. They serve a free Irish breakfast on March 17—with Guinness on tap if you’re ready for it—so you can make a day of running, fueling, and of course, boozing. And if you want to add some history to the mix, visit McGreevey’s on Boylston Street, which was founded in 1894 and claims to host the "Best St. Patrick’s Day party in Boston."
The city of Brotherly Love shows a lot of affection (and a hard-working liver) for St. Patrick’s Day with its 30-year-old Erin Express St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl. To make this booze-train possible, owners at local bars Cavanaugh’s and Smokey Joes sponsor more than 10 buses that pick up and drop off thirsty patrons at more than 15 Philly bars over not one, but two, weekends in March. Even better: The buses are free, though we bet it’s never a bad idea to tip the person making sure you’re safely trying every pint in town.
4. Dublin, Ohio
If you can’t get to the real Dublin, Ireland, why not hit up a town named after the original? Your Instagram fans might not even know the difference, since this small Ohio destination decks out every street in green splendor for the holiday. In addition to an annual parade with more than 100 floats, all the restaurants and pubs also join in on the fun, with crazy decorations and food and drink specials. For a must-see on your itinerary, stop by the historic Dublin Village Tavern. Started in 1889, this local haunt has survived everything from prohibition to the Great Depression, and is still serving up pints daily.
5. New York City
It’s true that New York City never gets any shuteye, especially when there’s an excuse to skip out of work a wee bit early for a celebration that includes booze. With its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and countless pubs and restaurants decked out with shamrocks and Guinness specials, you’ll find a place for a festive pint in any neighborhood in town. Need a place to start? Consider visiting McSorley’s Ale House, the oldest tavern in the city. While there are only two brews on tap—McSorley’s Dark Ale and a light variety—you’ll appreciate the old-school charm. They also offer traditional Irish food, if you work up an appetite touring the Big Apple.
6. New Orleans
Even when it's not Mardi Gras, NOLA doesn't need an excuse to deck out the French Quarter. New Orleans goes big for just about any holiday, and St. Paddy’s is no exception. You'll find block parties, numerous parades over the weekend, and more corned beef and cabbage than you can handle. Make pit stops at Tracey’s on Magazine Street, which hosts a party complete with green beer and grub, then make your way to Parasol’s for its block party on Constance Street, offering more noshes and brews.
7. San Diego
If you’re on the West Coast, don’t worry—you can still get in on the St. Paddy’s Day fun. San Diego hosts the largest celebration west of the Mississippi with its annual shamROCK all-day party that includes parades, festivals, and Irish bands. Located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, you can stop by anytime from noon until midnight to guzzle green beer and try different traditional foods. You can also take part in the annual pub crawl that features a leprechaun photo booth (why not?) and gives you access to 10 different pubs, all within walking distance.
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