It’s a holiday that hails from another land, sure, but St. Patrick’s Day is a favorite U.S. pastime as well. Celebrations start early and end late from coast to coast, and every year it seems like the cheers get louder, the outfits get greener (the beers, too), the Irish recipes get more enticing, and the party gets bigger. So Fodor’s rounded up some of the best ways to celebrate across the country this year, from the longest-running parade in Boston to dyeing the river green in Chicago. Here are their top five choices for throwing caution to the wind this St. Patrick’s Day.
Two Ways to Celebrate in New York City
"On the honorary 'alcoholiday' of binge drinking (to quote Irish author Oscar Wilde), when indulging in pints of green beer has become the norm, organizers of the first annual Sober St. Patrick’s Day are offering a new booze-free alternative. As a reminder, there is more to Irish culture than getting sloshed."
Option number two seems a little more traditional. They recommend the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade that runs down Fifth Avenue and starts at 11 a.m.
A Mardi Gras-style Cóisir (Party) in New Orleans
"A mad mix of Mardi Gras and Irish-inspired brouhaha, St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans is just what you’d expect. The city, normally known for its French roots, also lays claim to the largest port of entry for Irish immigrants in the South. Kicking off a week-long celebration of parades and pomp on March 11, beads and flowers, along with potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and onions (standard Irish stew ingredients) are tossed to revelers from re-used Fat Tuesday floats as marching bands play on."
Dyeing the River Green in Chicago
"Don your green garb this year and join the 400,000-plus spectators descending on the Loop in Chicago to watch the Chicago River 'go green.' A St. Patrick’s Day tradition since 1962, splashing 40 pounds of the fluorescent (actually orange) environmentally friendly dye turns the downtown portion temporarily kelly green in honor of the day." Once you’re done dyeing the river, make your way to The Grafton Pub & Grill, one of the city’s best Irish pubs, for a Guinness and waiters with accents. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Gradys Kitchen)
A Traditional Boston Blowout
"Many argue the holiday’s current unbridled bravado began in Boston. In fact, the first-anywhere St. Patrick’s Day parade was held here in 1737 (Dublin didn’t throw its first to-do until 1996!). Considered America’s 'most Irish city,' Boston’s four-day weekend celebration is one of the world’s biggest Patty’s Day bashes. Kicking off on March 14 with Celtic-punk group the Dropkick Murphy’s annual hometown show (tickets still available at press time; $32.50), the festivities climax on March 18 with Southie’s Annual Wearin’ of the Green parade that started it all. On March 17, nosh complimentary corned beef sandwiches at the Irish Village in Brighton, Boston’s temple to pub culture since the 1970s, which boasts the most perfect pint of Guinness in the land."
Seattle Celebrates All Week Long
In Seattle, arguably the west’s best St. Patty’s Day destination, the "week culminates with the downtown Seattle Center’s annual 4th Avenue Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Dash (a four-mile race launching from the Space Needle), and Irish Festival. An all-out, family-friendly soirée, festival highlights include Celtic handicrafts, non-stop Irish music, Irish language workshops and performances by champion local step-dancers. In addition, film buffs can catch screenings of contemporary Irish shorts during the Irish Reels Film Festival." Find that classic pint of Guinness, pulled right, from the Owl N’ Thistle Irish Pub and Restaurant, which has been open since 1930. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Miroslav ÄŒuljat)