US States to Visit for an Alternative St Patrick's Day Celebration

Celebrate St Patricks Day by painting the town – or river – green in Chicago
Celebrate St Patrick's Day by painting the town – or river – green in Chicago | © Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / Alamy Stock Photo

Editorial Manager

Every March 17, millions of people around the world gather to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. The joyous festivities sometimes extend to painting the town green and indulging in a few libations in honor of true Irish heritage but can take different forms in parts of the US. Here’s a guide to our favorite destinations for the ultimate Stateside party and ultimate St Patrick’s Day celebration.

Watch the world’s largest parade in New York City, New York

Since 1762, New York City has put its greenest face forward for St Patrick’s Day. The city’s annual holiday parade is the world’s largest – with 150,000 people participating and around two million bystanders lining the route along Fifth Avenue. Volunteers run the parade, which features bagpipers, Irish step dancers, police officers and firefighters, school bands and more. After the parade finishes, the party continues in one of the many Irish pubs in the city that never sleeps.
Must visit Irish pub: McSorley’s Old Ale House is the oldest Irish pub in the city and famously home to two types of beer: light and dark house ale.

The New York City Police marching band on 5th Ave in the St Patrick’s Day parade

Cruise the emerald green river in Chicago, Illinois

Irish connections with Chicago run deep and the city’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are not just about the party itself, but celebrating Chicago’s heritage and history. Since 1962, the dyeing of the Chicago River has become one of the city’s most treasured traditions and travelers can experience the emerald green waters from a river cruise – the best seat in the house. After a morning on the water, visitors can attend the St Patrick’s Day parade that typically evolves into lively street parties in the areas surrounding Grant Park and Division Street.
Must visit Irish pub: Galway Arms boasts traditional Celtic cuisine, Irish hospitality and the best draft beer list in Lincoln Square.

The Plumbers Union annually dyes the Chicago River green for St Patrick’s Day

Dance the Irish jig in Savannah, Georgia

Since 1824, the Southern coastal city of Savannah has paid homage to St Patrick with weeks of festivities culminating in a parade on March 17. As the home to a number of Irish neighborhoods, Savannah boasts the largest annual celebration in the South, with hundreds of thousands of people converging in the town’s grassy squares, as the city’s Forsyth Park fountain flows green. After the parade, the party continues into the early hours of the morning in Savannah’s many Irish pubs where travelers can dance the night away – a true Irish tradition.
Must visit Irish pub: O’Connell’s Irish Pub is an authentic Irish pub in the heart of historic Savannah offering a relaxed atmosphere and the best pour of Guinness in the city.

The Forsyth Fountain on the St Patrick’s Day celebration

Listen to live music in San Francisco, California

Each year, more than 100,000 people attend the San Francisco St Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade. Taking place the weekend before the holiday, the two-hour parade begins at 2nd and Market Street and travels down to the Civic Centre Plaza where the annual festival takes place. During the festival, travelers can expect live music, traditional Irish grub and an ample supply of beer – and the option to carry on the celebrations by joining the St Patrick’s Day PubCrawl along Union Street to end the night, Irish style.
Must visit Irish pub: The Irish Bank is known as the soul of Ireland in the heart of downtown San Francisco and hosts an annual St Patrick’s Day block party, featuring traditional Irish music and Celtic rock.

Floats drive past on St Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco

Celebrate Irish ancestry in Boston, Massachusetts

Boston’s Irish heritage and pride run deep with nearly a quarter of all Boston residents claiming Irish ancestry. Holiday celebrations often begin weeks before the official holiday and include Irish band concerts, an Irish film festival and celebrations at Irish bars and local breweries. The annual St Patrick’s Day parade takes place in South Boston with up to one million people lining the route to watch floats, marching bands and bagpipe bands from both Ireland and the United States.
Must visit Irish pub: Black Rose, where Irish flags adorn the walls and travelers are likely to stumble onto a rowdy sing-a-long with live music.

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston

Attend a legendary block party in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans comes to life with a week-and-a-half of festivities and fun including three parades and two legendary block parties. One of the best places to be for St Patrick’s Day is Parasol’s Bar in the Irish Channel, a neighborhood originally named for its heavy concentration of Irish families. Located near the Garden District and just 10 minutes from the French Quarter and Downtown New Orleans, travelers can expect non-stop singing and dancing and an endless supply of green beer.
Must visit Irish pub: Erin Rose is located in the French Quarter and specializes in cocktails, traditional Irish grub and memorabilia galore.

St Patrick’s Day street party in New Orleans

Witness the River Walk transform into River Shannon in San Antonio, Texas

Organized by the Visit San Antonio River Walk and the Harp and Shamrock Society of Texas, the St Patrick’s Day River Parade has been running since 1969 and features a procession of 12 larger-than-life Irish-themed decorated floats, with musicians, dancers and entertainers on board to rally the crowd. Kicking off the festival is the dyeing of the River Walk when the San Antonio River is transformed into the River Shannon by 25-gallons of eco-friendly green dye.
Must visit Irish pub: Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub for traditional grub, import drafts, piano entertainment and plenty of opportunities for sing-alongs in the festive atmosphere.

St Patrick’s Day River Parade in San Antonio

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