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For everyone criticizing St. Patrick’s Day as a meaningless excuse for debauchery — you’re not entirely wrong, but you’re definitely a little bit wrong. More than 33 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, and that figure is seven times larger than the entire population of Ireland. So as long as you’re conscientious about appropriation and at least somewhat up to speed on the holiday’s religious history, feel free to revel in the greenest celebration of the year. As far as destinations go, some cities delve a little deeper than others. Here’s our rundown on the best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day in 2019.
As the legend goes, apparently the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston took place almost 300 years ago in 1737. It was a modest gathering of religious Irish colonialists, and it likely didn’t come close to the massive secular drinking-focused event it’s become today.
In 2019, Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will likely (again) be the largest gathering outside of Ireland, and the parade’s route will wind through three miles of classic New England neighborhoods with tons of bagpipers, dancers, floats, and colorful characters in tow. Boston’s 2019 celebrations will take place on Sunday, March 17th.
Best Irish Pub: There are simply too many to choose from here. Brendan Behan Pub, Mr. Dooley’s, and JJ Foley’s Cafe will all be a great time. If you can’t decide, check out this Guided Boston Brewery tour that includes a lunch or dinner.
If a city dyes its rivers green, you know they’re serious about St. Patrick’s Day. People from all over the country flock to Chicago to celebrate the Irish holiday and see the town defend its title as the greenest city in the United States on St. Patrick’s Day. Buildings don green lights, storefronts hang flags, everyone goes all out. Chicago actually has three parades — Northwest Side, Southside, and Downtown — so there’s plenty of opportunities to get your cheer on. For some help on accommodations, check out Where to Stay in Chicago: Hotels, Hostels, and Home Rentals.
Best Irish Pub: It’s tough to pick a clear #1 here, but we’ll go with Chief O’Niell’s Pub. Live Irish music and a massive back patio make this spot an ideal place for a pint on a spring afternoon.
After Boston and Chicago, Philly is a close third for the largest St. Patty’s day (also known as Feast Day) celebration in the country. The debaucherous day in Philadelphia consists of bar crawls, brewery tours, block parties, concerts, and more. There is a parade, but it takes a backseat to the rest of the commotion.
Best Irish Pub: McGillin’s Old Ale House is one of the oldest bars in the country, and you become quickly aware of that upon entering. Everything from the brick exterior to the musty bar gives it a vintage vibe.
The hot and sweaty American South may not be the first place you think of when drumming up St. Paddy’s day plans. As seen in the Top 10 Things to Do in Savannah, there are plenty of reasons to visit this southern bell, the St. Paddy’s day being a big one. Since 1824, people have gathered around Forsyth Park fountain which flows green come St. Patrick’s Day. Surrounding the fountain you’ll find grassy spots to set up a picnic and enjoy a beer or two. And once the parade is over, the party continues into the wee hours of the morning at many of Savannah’s Irish pubs.
Best Irish Pub: There’s a longstanding consensus that Kevin Berry’s Pub is the best option in Savannah.
New York City
It’s no surprise that the United States’ largest city has one of the most impressive St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. New York City has a long (and troubled) history with Irish culture, and they don’t hold back in their celebrations. The parade that takes place on Saturday, March 16th along 5th Avenue between 44th and 79th streets, usually has upwards of 150,000 participants with another few hundred thousand bystanders. The volunteer-led parade includes bagpipers, Irish step dancers, school bands, police officers, and firefighters.
Best Irish Pub: When you’re parading, head over to McSorley’s Old Ale House. It’s been open since 1854 and is currently the oldest Irish pub in the city.
If some of the destinations on this list overwhelm you, consider heading to one of the best small-town celebrations in the United States. As you would imagine, the town of Dublin, Ohio eats, breathes, and sleeps Irish culture. That said, its St. Paddy’s day celebration has a more family-friendly feel. Wear your green clothing and head over to the pancake breakfast (yes, the pancakes are green), then watch the daytime parade where young ones can interact with leprechauns, and end your evening at the Blarney Bash.
Best Irish Pub: Once you put the kids to bed, head over to the Dublin Village Tavern.
New Orleans, LA
Unsurprisingly, St. Patty’s celebrations in New Orleans last upwards of two weeks. The Irish Channel Parade takes place on Saturday the 16th and features everything you could want in a classic Irish parade.
The French Quarter and nearby Metairie also have their own parades, so you can’t really go wrong anywhere in the city. On the actual Sunday of St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to check out the Downtown Irish Club Parade that passes through Bourbon Street and makes some refreshment stops along the way.
Best Irish Pub: Check out Boondock Saint for a great spot close to Bourbon street that’s surprisingly cozy.
Buffalo also holds one of the largest St. Paddy’s celebrations in the entire United States. While the event isn’t the all-out party it is in New Orleans or Boston, Buffalo hosts a really well put-together event suitable for all ages.
On Sunday, March 17th, the parade begins its march at 2:00 pm down Deleware Avenue. It only lasts two hours, but the time is jam-packed with dancing, concerts, floats, and more.
Best Irish Pub: On downtown parade day, nothing beats Darcy McGee’s. The Shephard’s pie is to die for and there’s a great selection of beers on tap.