Though the weather is still a bit chilly, March is a great time to visit Chicago, regardless of whether or not you are looking to partake in the city’s many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. From raucous pub crawls to family-friendly parades and more traditional sightseeing, the city provides residents and tourists with lots of ways to enjoy the beloved Irish holiday – and beyond.
What to do
If you’re visiting Chicago around St. Patrick’s Day, the most famous tradition is the “greening” of the Chicago River, which this year will take place on Saturday, March 11. Each year, 45 pounds of eco-friendly green dye is dumped into the water, much to the delight of the nearly 400,000 spectators that gather downtown to watch.
Downtown is also where you can see the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which this year marks its 62nd anniversary. The 2017 theme is “Irish Immigration: A New World of Opportunity,” and the three-hour parade will begin on Columbus Drive and move north through Grant Park before concluding at Monroe Drive. For more information on this year’s parade, go to http://chicagostpatricksdayparade.org.
Of course, there are plenty of non-St. Patrick’s Day-related things going on in Chicago in March. One unique festival taking place is Baconfest, a two-day celebration of all things bacon that takes place in Little Italy on March 31 and April 1. Many local restaurants and breweries will be in attendance, each offering a tasty bacon dish or drink. To purchase your tickets, head to http://baconfestchicago.com.
The Navy Pier, a major Chicago tourist attraction, will be hosting the Chicago Flower & Garden Show March 18 through March 26. A celebration of the coming spring season, the show features instructional seminars, manicured gardens and a Kid’s Activity Garden for children to learn about planting seeds and growing vegetables. For more information, go to https://navypier.com/chicago-flower-garden-show-2.
Where to eat
There is no shortage of pubs in the city of Chicago. One of the most authentic is Galway Arms, a Lincoln Park establishment with a mostly Irish wait staff and menu items like Guinness beef stew and shepherd’s pie—ideal for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond.
For a more upscale take on the classic Irish pub, head to Lady Gregory’s in Andersonville, named after the sassy writer who was once described by George Bernard Shaw as “The Greatest Living Irishwoman.” The pub fare at Lady Gregory’s is farm-to-table, and even includes many gluten-free and vegetarian options. See the full menu at http://ladygregorys.com.
If you are looking for someplace to eat downtown, try The Gage, which is particularly famous for its fish and chips. The Gage is open for brunch, lunch and dinner—see the menu at https://www.thegagechicago.com for more information.
Where to stay
If you're looking for the ultimate in luxury during your Chicago stay, book a room at The Langham. The hotel only opened a few years ago, but has already become the city’s top-rated hotel on U.S. News & World Report rankings. With soaking tubs and rain showers, 55-inch televisions and an on-site 22,000-square-foot spa, it is easy to see why this 5-star hotel is so popular with business travelers and families alike. Book your room at http://langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/chicago/rooms.
If you still want to be close to the river, but don’t want to pay luxury prices, consider going to the Best Western River North. The hotel is well reviewed, located downtown and, best of all, includes free parking. Make reservations by going to http://rivernorthhotel.com/
With so many great things going on, you don’t need to have the luck of the Irish to have fun during the month of March in Chicago.