Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and I’m so lucky that Chicago is one of the most popular places to celebrate the Irish.  I visited for the holiday before I moved to Chicago, and the city’s energy during this time was definitely an influencer in my decision to make Chicago my home.

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

The main attraction for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is the River Dyeing.  This always happens the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day at 9 am. Boats cruise up and down the river dropping an orange vegetable dye in the water turning it a beautiful shade of green similar to the Emerald Ilse in Ireland.  You need to grab your spot early, as the crowds populate the river starting around 8:15 am.  The best point to watch the river is at the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive. On the same day, at around 12 noon, Chicago hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Michigan Ave.

Dyeing the Chicago River

Chicago River Dyeing

Chicago Green River Boats

The day after the river dyeing is the South Side Irish Parade.  This long-standing tradition is also rumored to have been quite the party in the past and one of the favorites among the locals.  Overtime, this has been a great day for families to gather, celebrate the holiday and eat and drink any Irish fare.

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Bars

If you are going to watch the river dyeing but want a place to enjoy some libations after, anywhere along the Riverwalk will be fun during this time.  Two that are known for the shenanigans are:

A place I’ve gone to in the past which is a bit of a walk from the river in the Loop is called Plymouth, which has a fun enclosed rooftop to keep you warm but enjoy some sunshine.

One place I’ll always recommend is Butch McGuire’s which is a fantastic Irish Pub completely decorated with green stringlights for the holiday. I love to celebrate holiday’s here.

More Chicago Irish Pubs

Regardless of the holiday, Chicago has many fun Irish bars throughout the city.  Here are a few to consider checking out if the crowds are too much close to the river:

More Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Events

There is no lack of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago, and many last throughout the month of March.  Here are some other things to do within the Chicago area during the great St. Patrick’s Day season.

  • Oak Forest Fleadh – The first weekend of March is a great way to kickoff events in Oak Forest. This includes a 5K, Family Parade, and Open Bars.
  • Tinley Park Irish Parade – This event happens the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day

If celebrating in Chicago is so fun you’re ready to go celebrate with the Irish, check out my post on my visit to the wonderful country.

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A little bit O’Eire – Part 1

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and I’m so looking forward to rocking out in my green and enjoying the dyed food and drinks!

What better way to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day? A visit to the land of the Irish! I went to Ireland at the beginning of March with my family (we are very Irish) and had a blast.  Usually I like to check a country off my list once I’ve visited, but there is so much to do and see, I’d go back again. I could hang with the locals for a week alone! Here’s a little update on what I did and what I’d love to go back for:

Day 1: Dublin – Sites

Would definitely put this in the man cave of my next house.

Red eye flight and touching down in Eire at about 7:30 am – we needed to quickly drop off our luggage and get our coffee fix.

Stay: We stayed all four nights at the Paramount Hotel right in Temple Bar.  Temple Bar is literally insane.  It is the place to go to party!  It doesn’t matter what hotel you stay in, you need ear plugs.  The clubs stay open until about 4 am.  However, everything is walking distance, so if you go with a small group, its a great way to be able to go places you want to and be able to get home!

See: We did the typical site seeing of Dublin Castle, Four Courts, St. Patrick’s Cathedral,  crossed the Ha’Penny Bridge (this is so cute and is great for pictures at night), hung out at a coffee shop, and saw the shopping streets of O’Connell and Graft – we were saving shopping for our last day.

Best of the Day: Visited the Jameson Distillery.  What a blast. The tour was typical – if you’ve been to one brewery or distillery, you’ve been to them all. But, at the end, they had a taste test panel of about 10 guys (apparently girls don’t drink whiskey?) of Jameson, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. My brother got to participate and at the end had to vote for his favorite.  How can you not say Jameson when you are at the Jameson Distillery?

Just hanging at the Distillery

Night: We went to dinner at a place called Dakota – the environment was defiinitely for people in their late 20s.  If I lived there that’s where I’d go to start my night.  It was a lounge set up with cocktail specials.  We got amazing hummus, sandwiches with rockets, or the huge potato fries they serve, and just relaxed.  Loved it.

We signed up for a bar crawl which didn’t end up going over so well – at first.  For some reason a Thursday night in Dublin is not as hot as it is in the United States.  We were there with some guy from Minnesota, but no one else signed up for the crawl  (good for me, he was 30, and quite entertaining). Lesson learned: Do the crawl on a weekend so you can meet lots of people! We started out at the Porterhouse Brewery, then went to one of the oldest bars in Dublin and learned how to pour our own Guinness, then ended up at some club with a band that made my mom extremely uncomfortable – don’t bring your mom to a club. 🙂

Off to bed for 6 am wake up call for Cork!

Day 2: Cork County – Did we do it all in a day?

Blarney Castle

Transportation: We took the train 2.5 hours to Cork.  It was a great, quiet ride, but was pretty pricey and a lot of time for a day trip. If I had more time I would stay a few days in each city to break up the time and to actually get some sleep (I think I got 12 hours of sleep the whole 4 days I was there).

See: We were ALL over that county.  Right when we got off the train we headed into Blarney (15 min cab ride) to see the castle and have lunch. It is totally worth it to ride out there.  Blarney is such a cute little town and if you want to see a castle, the Blarney castle is one to see.  It was so interesting going up the winding stone steps (claustrophobia I might add) and into the stone rooms – they were so  SMALL!  To people nowadays, these room sizes can’t even fit a bed. Once we got to the top of the castle, we got the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone.  After having fits of claustrophobia I started getting freaked out by the uneven floor at the top of the castle thinking I’d fall to my death. However, Discovery Channel lists kissing the Blarney Stone as one of the 99 things you need to do before you die. SO, I sucked it up, gave that stone a huge SMOOCH! and now have no regrets (Best of the Day). We then headed to the Muskerry for lunch- a cute little Irish Bar and had some sammies (no traditional Irish food yet)!

Yup. Me in my houndstooth kissing the Blarney Stone.

My brother had heard that Kinsale was absolutely breathtaking and one of the prettiest parts of Ireland so we decided to suck it up and take the 45 minute cab ride from Blarney there.  The bartender at the restaurant thought we were craic when we asked for the ride.  But money is fake when you travel, right?

Kinsale was the cutest little town on the water – with winding streets and multicolored buildings and shops.  It reminded me a bit of Key West and Mykonos, Greece.  However – most of the shops were closed because we were in off-season, and we go through the town in about 15 minutes! I would love to go back when its a bit warmer and just hang out in this town for a solid two days, enjoy the weather and visit all the small boutiques and coffee shops. We visited a little chocolate shop while we were there and got a quick drink at a bar.

From Kinsale we headed back to Cork City.  Cork is apparently where our family is from so we wanted to see what it was like.  HUGE disappointment.  It was just another typical city – and actually much more booming than Dublin.  It looked like there was a lot of great shopping though, but I was with my brother and guess where he wanted to go —- Captain America’s! This restaurant only exists in Ireland (funny, right?) and reminds me of a mix of a Fudruckers and Red Robin.  Don’t go. Don’t. Get your fix at an Irish pub. From there we were

Kinsale

on our way to the train station again to get back to Dublin.  We had about an hour to kill so we went to a Cork pub.  I guess people from America don’t visit Cork often because people kept whispering about how we were from the US.  I had a few Baileys on ice, relaxed a bit, and was ready for my 2.5 hour train ride back to the Dub. EEK.

Oh, wait. Night is not over yet.  Trying to make the most of our trip, my brother and I headed to Fitzsimons bar back in Dublin to hang with the Irish. The set up of the bar was so interesting. Floor 1 – Bar, Floor 2 – Band and Dance Floor, Floor 3 – Club, Floor 4- Rooftop Bar. We had a blast, even though we were being knocked over by 19 year-olds (remember the drinking age) every five seconds and had trouble getting drinks.  Fun fact: They sell Diet Sprite at the bar! American girls dream for a lighter drink.  Bad news is the ‘fizzy drinks’ as they call them, cost almost double a glass of Whiskey.

Off to bed for a 6 am wake up call to Galway.

 

Read A little Bit O’Eire Part 2