A great place to spend Saint Patricks day weekend is in downtown Chicago. It’s a fantastic destination to head with a group of friends to celebrate the holiday, especially if you’re in college and on Spring Break, it can be a budget getaway if you can’t afford a beach vacation.
Starting at 8am the streets are packed with people sporting green from head to toe, typically with a green beer in hand. Make sure you pack some cute outfits with green and don’t be afraid to accessorize!
While the crowds are a bit overwhelming and maneuvering the streets to get to the parade can be extremely irritating, a few Jameson shots and Guinness pints can help take the frustrating edge and make the whole experience more enjoyable.
The Green River
At 9am on Saint Patricks Day, the city dyes the Chicago River green using an environmentally-friendly green dye. The river stays the enchanting shade of emerald throughout the day, which is nice if one cannot make it into downtown bright and early. If you can – rent a boat in Chicago to experience the river from a whole new perspective!
Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place on Columbus drive in downtown Chicago, a block up from the bean and millennium park. The crowds were absolutely insane, full of drunk people all wearing green. Be sure to keep an eye on your stuff so nothing gets grabbed off you while enjoying the parade.
Chicago-style Hot Dogs
One of my favorite things to get in Chicago is the classic Chicago dog. The combination of hot peppers, tomatoes, dill pickle spear, onions, and celery salt make an otherwise unpalatable beef sausage a delicacy.
I have had the hotdogs both from the stands that are scattered throughout the popular locations in the city as well as at Portillos, a city favorite. If there are toppings that seem less than desirable, you can customize the hotdog and leave certain items off, just know that you are a boring person with the palate of a seven-year-old. As they are, in proper Chicago-style, hotdogs are perfect.
One major attraction we visited while in Chicago was the Shedd Aquarium. While I have problems with the use of dolphins and other cetaceans in entertainment shows, the other components of the aquarium are quite impressive. It is definitely worth a tour, although the lines can be quite long and take a while to be allowed admission. Buy your tickets in advance if you can!
Brunch Buffet at Drury Lane Theater
This is by far the most impressive buffet brunch I’ve ever had. It sticks in my memory as one of the most incredible eating experiences ever. It’s a huge buffet in a beautiful, historic theatre outside the city. It’s a must if you’re a brunch lover and visiting Chicago, but give yourself plenty of time to eat and enjoy. There are so, SO many things to try, you’ll be filling your plate over and over again. Come hungry, and prepare for the food coma of a lifetime afterward.
Travel Tips to Saint Patrick’s Day in Chicago
Book accommodation early. This is a busy time to be in the city, so things can get crazy.
Pregame! Drinks are incredibly expensive at bars, and you’ll be waiting in long lines to get in, so it’s best to have a buzz on.
This time of year is so up and down in the midwest. It can be freezing with snow, or pleasant if the sun is shining and it’s not windy. Bring a variety of layers so you can be prepared for any temperature.