Where: Anywhere but the Loop
Each year, families and frat brothers alike descend on the Magnificent Mile to witness the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Hosted on the Saturday directly before the holiday itself, the event draws record-breaking crowds; anyone who’s attended the downtown Parade knows just how popular it can be. The event is so popular the commuter lines increase the number of express trains and, smartly, ban the usually permitted on-board consumption of alcohol.
While the parade is a spectacle, the true show comes in the form of the green Chicago River. The 45 pounds of dye, which is actually orange, turns the river from a dull, ugly green to an opaque emerald within a few hours. However, glimpsing this magic river comes at a price—drunk college kids crowd the Riverwalk, making for a truly unpleasant experience. Though the parade is incredibly popular, most Chicagoans agree—it is overrated.
In fact, there are dozens of other ways to spend your St. Patrick’s Day. Chicago hosts three parades—the infamous Loop parade, the South Side Irish Parade, and the Northwest Side Irish Parade. The Southtown Parade started it all—hosted along Western Avenue between 103rd and 115st streets, the parade is one of the more traditional in the country. In fact, this is the largest neighborhood parade outside of Dublin. It works its way through the historically Irish neighborhood of Beverly. If you’re really in the mood to celebrate Irish heritage, this is the place to go. If you truly can’t imagine St. Patrick’s Day without a bit of day drinking, check in with your local pubs and breweries—most offer special St. Patrick’s Day deals to compete with the downtown event.