Taking On Chicago for St. Patrick's Day

Is anyone as sick of hearing the word 'canceled' as I am? So incredibly ready for positivity to radiate through the pandemic and all else! The month of March brings a holiday I have celebrated generously throughout the years, St. Patrick's Day. Chicago for St. Patrick's Day always felt like the embodiment of the Irish celebration.

Although sadly, the parades are canceled once again through the streets of Chicago in 2021, lord knows 2022 will bring the big party that we so desperately deserve.

Sharing the ultimate Chicago guide for St. Patrick's Day and how to celebrate like a local!

Where to Stay

We opted to stay at the Chicago Athletic Association, a breathtaking, 1920's style hotel that sits directly across the street from Millennium Park (where the classic Chicago 'Bean' artwork resides), boasts a beautiful rooftop bar, and, best of all, a Shake Shack in the lobby. It was the perfect place for an upscale stay in the heart of the Windy City.

Unfortunately, the hotel is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Honorable mentions at the same price point and relatively similar location include Loews Chicago & the Hyatt Regency.

Chicago has so many fun areas to stay, but the central locations that would be great jumping-off points for exploration include:

+West Loop

+River North

+Lincoln Park

*As a final note, I would allot over an hour or more to get to and from the airport. There are two major airports: O'Hare International and Midway, both about the same distance from major neighborhoods. The traffic can get wild, so make sure to give yourself ample time!

Where to Eat and Drink

Enjoying a cocktail at Cindy's Rooftop!

3 Arts Cafe in Restoration Hardware

Chicago has some of the most fantastic food and ambiance of any city in the United States. Take advantage of the local flair, which for me is spelled D-E-E-P-D-I-S-H.


Fun fact: I had my first sip of oat milk in this city, a bold yet reckless choice for the future of my wallet. Here are a couple favorites:

+Mindy's Hot Chocolate (Wicker Park): Delicious sweet treats and even more decadent hot chocolate choices.

+3 Arts Cafe (in Restoration Hardware, Near North Side): Come for the ambiance, stay for the $29 lobster roll. Featured above, the interior is beyond stunning and hosts an aesthetically pleasing dining experience.

+Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe (The Loop): For the sweet breakfast lover, pancakes galore. Reading through reviews, definitely get there early as it is a trendy spot for brunch!

+Wake 'N Bake (Lakeview): As a yelp reviewer stated perfectly, "this place is a whole mood." The spicy chicken and waffles look phenomenal, and flowers dangling romantically from the ceiling? I mean, GENIUS.


+Mother Cluckers Kitchen (Sauganash): Offers takeout and delivery: Fried chicken heaven. Straightforward cooking done right!

+Blue Door Farm Stand (Lincoln Park): Need to come up for air after eating fried foods? Enter Blue Door. With melty sandwiches and big beautiful salads, a great place to get your fill of greens.

+Pinched on the River (Near North Side): Mediterranean Food on the river, need I say more?

+Portillos (River North): My boyfriend has a relative that sends us Portillo's meaty sandwiches every year, and they do not disappoint. Absolutely for the meat lovers in your life to visit.


+Lou Malnati's (Locations EVERYWHERE): Are you even allowed out of Chicago if you haven't had a slice of deep-dish pizza? A famous spot to grab a casual dinner.

+The Whale Chicago (Logan Square): American classics with a side of fancy cocktails.

+Trivoli Tavern (West Loop): Atmosphere level 100. A fantastic date night spot that promises the best steak in Chicago.

+The Delta (Wicker Park): Scheduled to reopen this month, the Delta offers Southern food at its best. Try the hush puppies!

Drinks/Night Caps

+Lost Lake (Logan Square): You can never go wrong with a tiki bar! Such a fun variety of cocktails.

+Cindy's Rooftop Bar (The Loop): Upscale cocktails with a million-dollar view featured above!

+The Violet Hour (Whicker Park): A moody setting for a well-crafted nightcap, Violet Hour is a beautiful place to grab a hand-crafted libation.

+Federales (West Loop): SUPER fun bar if you're looking to get a little rowdy. They have ice cube shot glasses that you can throw at the wall post-drinking them. Oddly satisfying & fun!

St. Patrick's Day Festivities

With hope, in 2022, the 'usual' celebration of St. Patrick's Day will resume in full force. The morning of St. Patrick's Day, the river is dyed a florescent green color, leaving it green for 24-48 hours. This tradition has been in place since 1962 and is wildly fun to see and experience.

Green River Viewing Spot

According to Thrillist, "Recommended viewing spots include the riverwalk between Michigan and Columbus, the west side of Columbus, and all along Lower and Upper Wacker Drive between Michigan and Columbus."

St. Patrick's Day Parade

Unfortunately, this parade has been canceled for a second time, but it typically resides on the south side of Chicago from Balbo Drive to Monroe Street.

We opted not to watch the parade; however, it is a fun process to witness and maybe catch earlier in the morning prior to pub crawling!

River Booze Cruise

Hopping onto a boat to explore the Chicago River is fantastic regardless of the St. Patrick's Day holiday, and a river + lake booze cruise is an ideal way to celebrate.

Book your river tour here for the traditional architecture venture, or view this Eventbrite page for additional charters.

Bar Crawls

Arguably the biggest part of celebrating St. Patrick's Day is the pub crawls that ensues around the city.

We debated purchasing a pub crawl ticket to avoid the lines, and honestly...we probably should have bought the ticket. The two of us sat in line for close to an hour. Especially with the frigid Chicago temperatures, this could be brutal! Purchasing the pub crawl excludes you from long lines, handles cover charges, & includes food and drink specials at specific locations.

Pub crawl, not your scene? Choose from individual bars like Lottie's Pub, Fado Irish Pub, Bub City (a personal favorite), & Lizzie McNeill's.

Other Chicago Activities

The windy city has its fair share of things to do besides St. Patrick's Day related activities:

+Skydeck Chicago (former Sears Tower): Featured above, the classic glass casing encompassing beautiful views of Chicago's cityscape. A must-do! The cost is $30 to go up and view.

+River Cruise: I mentioned this above, but an absolute must whether the river is green or clear! The helpful guides talk you through the historical architecture surrounding Chicago's river. The cost is around $38 to ride and enjoy!

+'The Bean'(Cloud Gate in Millennium Park): A public work of art, this sculpture is a renowned relic of the windy city. It is completely made out of stainless steel!

+Chicago Cubs Game (Wrigleyville): Wrigley Field is the second oldest baseball park in the country. If you are lucky enough to catch a game, I would highly suggest it. Walking around Gallagher Way is a perfect way to make some new friends!

Sample Itinerary

As a bonus, I wrote out a quick itinerary for your weekend exploring Chicago for St. Patrick's Day! Feel free to copy and paste this into your notes :)


+3 Arts Cafe for coffee and breakfast

+Skydeck Tour

+Explore Lincoln Park & Wrigleyville neighborhoods

+Grab lunch at Blue Door Farm Stand

+Afternoon Cocktail on Cindy's Rooftop

+ Evening River Tour (dress warmly!)

+Eat dinner at Trivoli Tavern

+Lost Lake for a nightcap


+Early, hardy breakfast at Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe

+View Green River/Parade (Beginning at 9:00 am)

+St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl

+Mingle with new friends, end up at Shake Shack, fall asleep by 5 pm (not my personal experience at all..wink)

+If you aren't a lush like me, an early dinner at Lou Malnati's


+Brunch at Cindy's Hot Chocolate

+Chicago Bean in Millenium Park

+If there is a Sunday Chicago Cubs home game, head there!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day this year?



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