Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is more than just wearing green, sloshing down green beer and stuffing your belly with corned beef and cabbage. This annual March holiday is all about the Irish festivals and parades, bagpiper bands and Irish jigs, and a bit of reveling pub crawls along green riverwalks. And cities and towns all across America are rolling out the green carpet to celebrate Irish traditions and culture in style! So, let’s check out these best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that will create a great memory…and possible hangover!

Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Best Cities to Celebrate St. Patricks Day - Always On Liberty

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Whether it’s sipping Irish coffees, swigging Irish whisky or sloshing green beers, St. Patrick’s Day is all part of learning about and taking part in the Irish heritage and celebration. 

Here’s the good news, you don’t have to be of Irish descent to take part in the St. Paddy’s Day festivities!

But first, let’s dive into a little about how St. Patrick, himself, got his own day to celebrate ‘everything Irish’.

History of St. Patrick’s Day

Obviously, March 17th would be just like any other ordinary day on the calendar if it wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the famous St. Patrick.

Saint Patrick, or St. Patrick for short, is most celebrated for being Ireland’s patron saint. 

St. Patrick was a 5th-century missionary to Ireland where he later served as Bishop. He is credited with bringing Christianity to parts of Ireland. And, there’s speculation that he’s partly responsible for the Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons and Picts.

Because of his religious successes, Ireland designated March 17th to commemorate Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

There is much celebrating the Irish heritage and culture with public parades and festivals and Céilís (pronounced “Kay-leigh”), Also spelled “Ceilidh”, a Céilí is a social event at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling. And of course, it’s a given that everyone wore green attire and with lots of shamrocks!

So, that’s why St. Patrick’s Day is such a popular holiday.

But then, news traveled fast even in those times.

St. Patrick’s Day in America

Now, since the city of Boston, has a heavy influence of Irish heritage and culture, it comes as no surprise that Beantown would be the first city in the United States to say “Top-o-the-morning”!

In fact, the first St. Paddy’s Day celebration was held in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. New York City didn’t join in on the fun until 20 years later.

But, once other cities heard how much fun those Bostonians and New Yorkers were pretending to be Irish for a day, municipalities joined in on the going green debauchery.

And now, almost 300 years later, cities are the place to be on March 17th!

Interesting to note from Washington Post’s article (2013):

“the Irish-American population is seven times larger than Ireland. And, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish.

That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million). Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.”

So, it’s no wonder St. Patrick’s Day has become such a popular event in the U.S.!

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Fact:

Irish immigrants in the United States believed  that wearing green made them invisible to the leprechaun; the classic fairy creatures who pinch anyone they can see.

Now it’s time to check out some of the best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day where we Americans can be Irish for a day and take part in the merrymaking revelry and Irish tradition!

Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Man wearing green on St. Patricks Day in Irish Pub

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston remains as the hub of Irish heritage. The city’s Irish population has continued to multiply throughout the centuries.

Today, approximately 23% of Boston’s population claims Irish ancestry. The coastal New England city retains its place as a center of Irish-American culture and history.

But, St. Patrick’s Day didn’t happen just because of its’ dominant Irish population. St. Patrick’s Day is indirectly observed as an official holiday in Boston, as it coincides with the official Evacuation Day. 

The holiday is still being observed annually since 1901 to commemorate the day in 1776 when British troops ended their occupation of Boston.

“Boston has long staked claim to the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the American colonies. On March 17, 1737, more than two dozen Presbyterians who emigrated from the north of Ireland gathered to honor St. Patrick and form the Charitable Irish Society to assist distressed Irishmen in the city.” reports History.com

Hence, why the pagan holiday has become such a big deal in The Hub.

Having lived in City of Boston for many years myself, I can honestly say, Beantown is hands down, the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There’s no better city where you’re actually expected to take part in lots of reveling and roistering, swigging green beer and doing a little Irish jig.

In fact, it’s safe to say that celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Boston IS closest to celebrating the Irish holiday in Dublin, Ireland!

Regardless if you’re a long-time local or visiting tourist, the Americanized Irish celebration takes the crown because of it’s huge parade in South Boston, the Dropkick Murphys concerts, Irish beer festivals, and pub crawls to hail the Irish Saint.

And, speaking of pub crawls, there’s over 50 Irish Pubs in Beantown! So, plenty of green beer and Irish whisky to go around! In fact, some of our favorites are J.J. Foley’s Cafe (Boston’s oldest Irish Pub), the Black Rose, Mr. Dooley’s, the Purple Shamrock and Matt Murphy’s (unfortunately both are closed permanently) just to name a few.

New York City, New York

Irish Bagpiper Band St Patricks Day Parade in New York City

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, New York City ranks second in the United States to go green. How the Big Apple celebrates the pagan holiday is their extraordinary annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Which, by the way, this is the America’s oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world; celebrating the origins of the holiday as well as Irish culture.

According to the History Channel,

“The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City was held in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread.”

In recent years, New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade draws about 150,000 participants and two million spectators. The parade was first held in 1762, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

But of course, New York City doesn’t just roll up the carpet after the parade and call it a day. As we all know, the Big Apple never sleeps. So, we are your comfortable shoes because NYC’s nightlife is what it’s all about!

That said, you’ll be hard pressed to find an empty bar stool at any one of the New York City’s best Irish bars as it becomes crowded even in the wee hours. But that’s okay, the Irish jigs and chants while downing pints of green beer or your favorite Irish concoctions will have you on your feet anyway!

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago River Green - Best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day

The city of Chicago celebrates St. Patrick’s Day just like any other large city in the United States. But, there’s a big controversy between the Windy City and the Big Apple.

The battle rages on who which city can claim bragging rights of having the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Chicago claims having the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade with over 2 million spectators and participants. Either way, Chicago never disappoints. But it isn’t just the parade that takes center stage during the annual March event.

Most notably, the city has been dying the Chicago River green since the very early 1960s but for a whole different reason. The tradition actually started from plumbers using green dye to keep track of the sewage pollution and where it seeped into the river. This only made sense to continue the tradition but in a more celebratory way today.

Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day event include shamrock-themed festivities that commit to multiple weekends, bringing about corned beef meals in dining establishments all across the city. And, dive bars to fancy pubs will be busy pouring massive amounts of beer in your choice of green or traditional amber.

You can also take in the St. Patrick Festival at Irish American Heritage Center for family oriented cultural events that include exhibits, live Irish music and dancing, food and drink, and gift vendors.

But if adult nightlife is your game, it’s not hard to get in on the bar crawls or belly up to the bar at Chicago’s many Irish pubs in Chicago for swigs and Irish jigs.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah Fountain on St Patricks Day - Best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day

According to Garden & Gun’s article, Savannah, Georgia is dubbed St. Patrick’s Day Capitol of the South.

In fact, the city of Savannah hosts the largest St. Patrick’s Day party in the South spanning over several days.

It dates back to March 17th, 1824. The Hibernian Society president invited the public to walk through Savannah’s streets to go hear a speech from Bishop John England, the founder of the diocese of Charleston.

And so, the city’s first public St. Patrick’s Day parade went down in the history books.

Every year, the festivities actually begin with dying the water in Savannah’s Historic District Forsyth Park fountain a brilliant green.

Then, reigning as the second-largest, the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States, decorated floats, marching bands, bagpipers, Shriners, Irish dancers, military regiments and other organizations gather from all parts of the Country to join in on the festivities.

Today, Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade draws in over 400,000 people. And after the parade, you can enjoy live music, food and beverages, and a walk along River Street in the city’s Historic District.

But also, there’s much going on at Savannah’s City Market, where you can enjoy dining at cafes and restaurants and shop at art galleries and unique gift shops.

But if you want to skip the daytime festivities and head out into the night, Savannah has some of the best Irish pubs in the Country! You and your chaps can enjoy your favorite brew, take shots of Irish whisky while enjoying great music.

Some even serve traditional Irish foods to coat your tummies before starting your evening of imbibing.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio Riverwalk Dyed Green - Best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day
Photo by Moab Republic/Shutterstock

If you’re looking to mix a little Texas with St. Patrick’s day, look no further than enjoying the Irish festivities in San Antonio!

Across from the Alamo historic site, San Antonio’s River Walk is the best place to be from sun up to sun down! (I can personally vouch for that!)

On March 17th each year, the city dies the river green. Thus, the entire 2 1/2 mile downtown portion of the River Walk instantly intensifies with water’s movement from the boats.

Typically, the Saturday following St. Patrick’s Day, the city plays host to a magnificent and fun river parade to churn up those green bubbles. You might even catch a leprechaun hopping over a rainbow if the sun hits it just right.

Other St. Patrick’s Day events encompassing the Riverwalk include a Tater-Tot eating contest, Lucky Dog Parade, 5K and Wine Run, Artisan Show and more.

And at sunset, the Riverwalk transforms into glittery sparkles of gold and green as beer steins clank from the crowd celebrating a night of jollification.

There’s plenty of Irish pubs in San Antonio and non-Irish bars along the River Walk to keep you and your friends entertained through the night of festivities.

But,if you want to keep within the Irish theme, Maddy McMurphy’s Irish Sports Bar is located just steps away from the historic Alamo!

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia lit up in green on St. Patricks Day

Philadelphia’s first documented St. Patrick’s Day Celebration was held in 1771, marking +250 continuous years of celebrations.

The current St. Patty’s Day parade, which is hosted by the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1952.

Should you want to meander about without regret the next morning, you still can pull up a stool, grab a brew or glass of wine while listening to live music.

But if you’re more into a night of carousing and swigging down green beers until you see little leprechauns and rainbow mirages, you’ll definitely want to enjoy one of the City of Brotherly Love’s St. Paddy’s Day pub crawls.

Denver, Colorado

Irish Pub Bar on St Patricks Day in Denver

Denver also hosts one of the largest St. Paddy’s parades in the country. The parade is so big that it lasts almost four hours!

Their estimated 200,000 spectators pack in along the 15-block route to watch and listen to more than 200 units, 10,000 parade marchers, floats, bagpipe bands and Irish dancers, clowns, military units, horses, and cool vehicles.

Now, if you’re a runner, the Mile High City hosts one of the largest 7k road races in the Country; the Green Lucky 7K. For those who want to still take part but at a slower pace, the untimed Leprechaun Leap 2 Mile Walk is just perfect for strollers and dog walkers.

After, attendees can enjoy live music, a beer garden, Irish dancers, and the thrill of being among other outdoor enthusiasts.

But, if you’re not into overly exerting yourself, consider taking part in one of the city’s pub crawls where you can party until the cows come home.

San Francisco, California

Bagpipers at St. Patricks Day in San Francisco - Best places to celebrate St. Patricks Day
Photo by David Yu

Though the east coast has a much larger Irish influence, San Francisco leaves nothing out when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

The Golden Gate City claims to have the oldest and biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade west of the Mississippi River.

Organized by the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, the 2-hour parade features over 100 floats, several marching bands, bagpipers and Irish dance companies. Also, local schools, public officials, first responders and even military organizations take part in the parade celebration.

San Francisco’s Irish Festival is a family-friendly event that draws in hundreds of thousands of attendees. Festival goers enjoy listening to live Irish bands, eating and drinking while mingling with old friends and new. You can find almost every kind of fair food as well as good ole Irish food and beer at area pubs.

And, speaking of brews, the beer vendors offer the official Guinness as well as lighter beers and Irish coffee. While the lines are long the wait is worth it.

With over 15 Irish pubs that pepper San Fran, there’s lots to do besides sipping Irish coffee in the morning and gulping Guinness’ at night.

That said, the Irish Festival is a family-friendly event that also caters to families with a designated kids area to play games and enjoy sweet treats.

San Francisco also celebrates with individual block parties. They require cover charges and are for legal-drinking adults only (over 21).

But get this, San Fran doesn’t celebrate just one day of the year. There’s concerts throughout the week at different designated locations.

If you’re not into the huge celebration vibe but want to just hang out for St. Paddy’s Day, there’s plenty of Irish pubs and restaurants in San Francisco to drink a pint (or 5).

ST. PATRICKS DAY PRO TIP  Want to serve awesome food at your own St. Patrick’s Day party? Check out how to make our personal St. Patty’s Day favorite;  New England Boiled Dinner.

Plan the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day adventure with your RV!

If you’re wanting to take your RV to any of these cool St. Patrick’s Day destinations, it’s important to plan ahead so your experience will be less stressful and tons more fun!

Anytime we plan our RV destinations, we use RV LIFE Trip Wizard. RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.

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Wrapping up

Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the US

So, are you ready to plan your next St. Paddy’s Day adventure? As you see, these American cities really lay out the green carpet to welcome all walks of life to celebrate Irish heritage and culture.

As with any annual event, we recommend checking with event organizers prior to making any travel arrangements for dates and times of parades, festivals and events. Some St. Patrick’s Day celebrations may not actually take place on March 17th.

Check out Trips to Discover  video “Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America”

 

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