Now that you have kids, you may think celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is a distant (and perhaps foggy) memory. Well, think again. From the northern ‘burbs to the far south side, there’s something for everyone looking to go green this month. Check out these family-friendly festivities and Erin Go Bragh (aka Ireland til the end of time)!
Seek Out a Sweet St. Patrick's Day Themed Treat
Charm'd Pop-Up. This magical pop-up is an enchanting, over-the-top, multi-room, multi-level Irish experience. Featuring wall-to-wall Irish decor, lucky charms, multiple bars, photo-ops and a whole lot of leprechaun mischief. Best news for parents? Kids are welcome during the day.
Open as of Feb. 10; 3505 N. Clark St., Lakeview. More info.
Jo Jo's Shake Bar's Candy Land. Life doesn't get any sweeter than at Jo Jo's Candy Land. In this immersive dining experience, you'll experience over-the-top shakes, biggie hot chocolates, signature cocktails and delicious diner fare.
Open through Apr. 24; 23 W. Hubbard, River North. More info.
Stans Donuts & Coffee. Satisfy sweet tooths with Chocolate Emerald Dipped, Chocolate Green Mint Dipped, Green River Glazed, Chocolate Milk Emerald and Irish Cream Bismark. Wash it all down with Green Mint Hot Chocolate.
Mar. 10-17; 16 Chicagoland locations. More info.
Watch Chicago Go Green
Chicago River Dyeing. The first Mayor Daley kicked off this tradition in 1962 and every year since the Chicago River has turned bright green to kick off the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Boats speed through dropping 40 pounds of eco-safe dye that starts orange and miraculously turns green for a spectacle that lasts for a few magical hours.
Mar. 12, 9 a.m.; Best viewed along the Riverwalk between Columbus & State, Loop. More Info.
Dress Head-to-Toe in Green & Find a Parade
Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Elmhurst's parade features over 80 floats, Irish Dancers, the Shannon Rovers, Benny the Bull, Southpaw, Tommy Hawk, Irish musical performers and the world's largest drum. But, the parade is only the beginning. Stay for a festive day of food, music and family activities.
Mar. 5, noon; Wilson St. & Spring Rd. & continues north on Spring Rd., Elmhurst. More info.
Downtown Parade. Rain, shine, snow or sleet, since 1956 our fair city has been hosting the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade starts at Balbo and Columbus and heads north in a procession chock-full of colorful floats, bagpipes, Irish dancers, marching bands and more.
Mar. 12, noon; Columbus Dr. between Balbo & Monroe, Grant Park. More info.
West Suburban Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade & 5K. A 5K chip-timed Race, Run or Walk will kick things off at a perky 8 a.m., followed by the parade at 10 a.m through historic downtown Naperville.
Mar. 12; 8 a.m. (5K) & 10 a.m. (Parade); Downtown Naperville. More info.
South Side Irish Parade. The South Side Irish Parade began in 1979 as a small neighborhood affair that eventually grew into one of the largest celebrations outside of Dublin. The two-hour shindig features more than 90 acts meandering up Western Ave. for a day of festive flair.
Mar. 13, noon; Western Ave. between 103rd & 115th Streets. More info.
Northwest Irish Parade. The Northwest Irish Organization (NWSI) kicks off its 19th annual parade to celebrate all things Irish. With a large group of parade participants, this is always a fun-filled hour and a half for the whole family.
Mar. 13, noon; 6633 W. Raven, Norwood Park. More info.
Cruise the River
Chicago Fireboat Tours. The fully restored 1937 Chicago Fireboat is kicking off its season on St. Patrick's Day. Book the 8 a.m. tour to watch the annual Chicago River dyeing or book a tour in the afternoon to see it in its green glory.
Mar. 12, 9 a.m., noon & 4 p.m.; DuSable Harbor, 111 N. Lake Shore Dr., Loop. More Info.
Intro Your Kids to St. Patrick's Day-Style Fun
Shamrock'n The Block. This family-friendly pop-up pub will include beverages, tasty pub fare, live music, Irish dancers and activities for kids.
Mar. 12, noon-6:30 p.m.; Adams & Desplaines St., West Loop. More info.
St. Patrick’s Festival. Immediately following the downtown parade, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center on the northwest side for the after-party. This family-oriented annual event will include traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish dancers, food and drink, children’s activities and an arts-and-crafts fair with an Irish flair.
Mar. 12, immediately following the parade; 4626 N. Knox Ave., Irving Park. More info.
Gallagher Way. Immerse yourself in the celebratory spirit of St. Patrick's Day with Irish dancing, music by Old Town School of Folk Music, face painting, a wandering magician, balloon artists, crafts and games. The first 500 guests receive a free cake ball from West Town Bakery.
Mar. 13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; 3635 N. Clark St., Lakeview. More info.
Chicago Gaelic Park. While Chicago Gaelic Park celebrates Irish culture all year round on its 62-acre Oak Forest campus, things really ramp up for South Side Irish Sunday. With live music, an Irish feast and kids activities you'll find something that’ll excite the Irish lover in you.
Mar. 13, 1 p.m.; 6119 W. 147th St., Oak Forest. More info.
Cantigny Park. If you’re in the mood for just a bit of shenanigans this year, gather your wee ones for a day of stories, crafts and Irish treats at Little Leprechauns.
Mar. 17, 10 a.m.; 1s151 N. Winfield Rd., Wheaton. More info.
Yorktown Center. Hit up the Yappy Hour event in the Dog Lounge that includes a St. Patrick's Day-themed selfie photo-opp, decorations and costumes along with a dog "beer" tasting and shamrock-shaped dog treats.
Mar. 17, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; Yorktown Center, 203 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard. More info.
Feast on Traditional Irish Fare
If you’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve got to do it right. Wear green, learn the lyrics to The Unicorn and take your taste buds on a tour of Ireland. Chicago has no shortage of spots to sample the best of what Ireland has to offer. Here are our favorites:
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant. Chief O’Neill’s could not feel more authentic if it were in the heart of county Cork itself. Home to the Irish Music School of Chicago, Chief O’Neill’s serves up traditional dishes such as lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, and Guinness-infused meatloaf. With live traditional Irish music and a “little leprechauns” menu featuring more American than Irish fare, you can’t go wrong!
3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale; chiefoneillspub.com
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro. The Chicago Tribune called Mrs. Murphy’s “one of Chicago’s most authentic Irish restaurants," and for good reason. The menu is vast, with everything from a traditional Irish breakfast to Guinness mac n’ cheese to award-winning barbecue—not to mention its intriguing collection of craft beers and vast whiskey selection.
3905 N. Lincoln Ave., North Center; irishbistro.com
Quigley’s Irish Pub. Talk about authentic… Quigley’s was designed and built in Ireland and then shipped to its current location in downtown Naperville. The interior includes an authentic antique fireplace and bookcases from Dublin and custom glass and Irish prints fill the walls. Of course, the menu is filled with traditional Irish favorites, such as corned beef, lamb stew and beef braised with Guinness.
43 E. Jefferson St., Naperville; quigleysirishpub.com
Irish Times Pub. The Irish Times is a unique combination of old-school tradition and new-school thinking. Inside this “cozy cottage” you’ll find genuine Irish whiskeys, ales and beers (and faces) behind the bar. If you could see the back office, you’d find a progressive recycling program, a commitment to efficient gas and electric usage and a dedication to sourcing as much local produce as possible, including beers from local craft breweries. These ingredients are used in classic, homemade favorites such as corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, all from family recipes.
8869 Burlington Ave., Brookfield; irishtimespub.com
Ballydoyle Pub. Enjoy a special St. Pat’s Family Day at Ballydoyle! Take the kids to the pub, Mar. 12, 10 a.m (Aurora). & Mar. 13, 11 a.m. (Downers Grove) for Irish brunch featuring family activities, crafts, live music and dancing. The traditional pub menu is filled with Irish classics including boxty (a potato pancake folded over and filled with different meats and vegetables) and Irish bread pudding.
28 W. New York St., Aurora & 5157 Main St., Downers Grove; ballydoylepub.com
Bring Home the Grub
Throwing a St. Paddy’s bash at your place? Get all the goods for your guests at these Irish import shops and markets:
Gaelic Imports. Since 1957, Gaelic Imports has carried the largest selection of Irish groceries in the Midwest, including freshly made sausage rolls, bridies, steak & kidney pies and soda bread to name a few. Oh, and if you’re looking for something to wear to a party or a vessel to serve the punch, they sell clothes and Galway crystal too.
6346 W. Gunnison, Portage Park; gaelicimportschicago.com
Jack & Pat’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop. This is the epitome of a family-run business. Started by brothers Jack Powers and Kenneth Patrick Powers in 1972, the quaint and aptly named old-fashioned butcher shop is now run by three of Jack’s children. If you’re in the southwest suburbs, be sure to stop at Jack & Pat’s for every kind of meat you can imagine, or have them cater your corned beef and cabbage dinner.
10717 S. Ridgeland Ave, Chicago Ridge; jackandpats.com
Mariano's. Stock up on Irish from the international aisle to the bakery. Look for Green River Soda (local to Chicago), Guinness Chips (thick-cut, crisped and seasoned with barley and hops), Barry's Tea (an Irish household staple), Mariano's Soda Bread (baked fresh daily), Bailey's Irish Cream (needs no introduction), Reuben Sausages (handmade with corned beef and sauerkraut, Kerrygold Butter (use milk sourced from grass-fed cows) and Jameson Ginger Ale & Lime (ready-to-drink canned cocktail with ginger ale, lime and Jameson Irish Whiskey).
Locations throughout Chicago; marianos.com
— Maria Chambers