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St Patrick’s Day Chicago Checklist

St Patrick’s Day Chicago Checklist

You are a brave soul for wanting to spend St Patrick’s Day in Chicago!

My first time in Chicago was spent during this holiday, and it certainly was memorable!

There were more people here than I have ever seen in my entire lifetime in one place, and the river is so green I couldn’t believe my eyes!

While St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is very busy, there is so much to do whether you are looking to party, sightsee, or both!

During St Patricks day, Chicago lights up and is full of energy. It is not the best place for a family vacation, however, as there are a lot of drunken people roaming the streets!

Nonetheless, it is one giant party and everyone is just looking for a good time! Keep reading for more on St Patrick’s Day Chicago checklist

Make sure you don’t make any of these common travel mistakes while you are here!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

st patricks day in chicago

Green River

green river with boats in Chicago

This is, personally, the best part of the St Patrick’s Day Chicago checklist, and the most notable.

Starting at 9 AM on St Patrick’s Day in Chicago, 40 pounds of dye begins to be dumped into the river. After trial and error, the city found that 40 pounds were just enough to keep the river green for just one day.

The dye is actually an orange powder, and you can line up along the river to watch the dying process! It is fun to watch, although it can get busy along the riverfront, so get there early!

Before long, the entire river will be bright green. This was what I was most excited about on this trip. 

I had thought maybe photoshop enhanced the green color, but I was wrong! It really is bright green!

This area will be busy, but the river is long, giving a lot of space for viewers! 

St. Patricks Day in Chicago Parade

After viewing the green river, it will be just in time to watch the parade, which starts around noon, and is free! 

The parade runs on Columbus Drive from Balbo Street to Monroe Street.

We recommend getting a spot near the beginning to the middle of the line. We stood towards the end of the parade, and it was pretty boring. There will be a lot of people here, so be patient!

There are plenty of Irish marching bands, Irish dancers, floats, and bagpipes to watch and enjoy!

Pro Tip: Getting out of here was a nightmare, as there are typically about a half million people! Consider leaving a little before the parade ends, to save you from human traffic jams. There are plenty of cops and helicopters around to keep everyone safe.

River Cruise

chicago skyline at night from water

One night, we decided to take a river cruise. You can find many different cruise options, some including open bar, some with dinner, dancing, etc., here. 

Our cruise included a DJ and two floors including a sky deck. The cruise takes you along the river, giving you a full few of the beautiful Chicago skyline! It will be cold since it is the middle of March, so be sure to dress accordingly! 

A river cruise is a great option for those who want to party and have a little fun, but also want to get away from the crowds for a bit

Recommended Bars

Anywhere you go for St Patrick’s Day in Chicago will be a party. Pretty much any bar in Chicago during this time will have some sort of St. Patrick’s Day event going on, so if you did not make specific bar crawl plans, don’t worry!

One bar we recommend is The Dearborn. There was an Irish band playing, which still providing a low key atmosphere. The drinks and food were both great, and it was close to our hotel (more on this later!)

You can find more information on bar crawls, here!

The Bean

the bean in chicago

No St Patrick’s Day Chicago checklist is complete without spending some time with the bean! 

Because Chicago will be busier than usual, we suggest going during the morning, or around dinner time, since there will be fewer crowds. 

Make sure to take some selfies in the bean, and admire its beauty!

We even saw an engagement here! Funny story: I took a picture of Colin in front of the bean, and when looking at the picture a short minute after, we realized there was an engagement in the background! We tracked down the couple afterward to send them the pictures of their precious moment! You never know what you will see here!

Skydeck at Willis Tower

man and woman on Chicago sky deck

Second to the bean, no trip to Chicago is complete without a view from the Skydeck at Willis Tower! 

From 1,353 feet high, you can see the entire city of Chicago! Try to go on a clear day so you can see the whole city!

Lines were very long during St. Patrick’s Day, but they move quickly. Get your picture on the sky deck, and enjoy the views!

We used this pass to save so much money on our trip. You basically save 50% on admission, and you get to cut the line at some attractions! This was an amazing perk, especially during St Patrick’s Day when the lines were crazy long! Learn more about it here!

Fun fact: The sky deck is 346 Erica’s high 🙂

Hotel Information

bed in hotel room

We stayed at the Cambria Hotel in the Theatre District, and we highly recommend it! It was located in the heart of the city, and we could walk everywhere we needed. It even had a smart mirror, that you could connect your phone to. I was pretty excited about that!

For other hotel information, we suggest as they have some amazing hotel offers!

Thank you for reading the St Patrick’s Day Chicago checklist! If you have any recommendations or tips for surviving Chicago during this busy holiday, please leave a comment below! Remember to get your 50% discount pass here before you go!

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