Photo: D Guest Smith/Shutterstock

5 Way Cooler Things to Do on St. Patrick's Day in Chicago Than Watch the River Turn Green

Restaurants + Bars
by Katie Prout Mar 16, 2015

1. Rock out to bagpipes

To see some of Chicago’s finest strut their stuff, check out Chicago’s very own Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society, aka Cops in Kilts: their site lists performances all over the city from March 12 through St Paddy’s Day proper. Originally started back in the 1970s to honor policemen killed in the line of duty, this organization now boasts impressive bagpipe performances, in addition to remembrance activities. Their main draw is really all in the name: COPS IN KILTS, Y’ALL.

2. Whiskey and lit lovin’

If you’re looking for something to do on St Patrick’s Day proper, head to legendary Chicago dive bar The Hideout for a whiskey and some literary love. Billed as “Literature as blood sport,” Write Club is a competitive reading series where two writers defend two opposing ideas via essay, story, or other live-lit. Originally started in Chicago, the series has now spread throughout the country. This month’s theme is “Pot of Knuckles At The End of the Rainbow.” Sounds pretty Irish, no?
Details: March 17, The Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia. 7pm, $10 cash: all money goes to the winner’s charity of choice.

3. Bike and brews

Biking and drinking is as dangerous as drinking and driving, so please be responsible. That said, it’s been a bitter winter, and Chicago is really an excellent town for bike trails. Take advantage of the early spring thaw and also make your own unique pub crawl by riding over to the North Shore Channel Trail (near the corner of Lawrence and Francisco). From there, bike to any number of Chicagoland breweries, including Tighthead Brewing Company. About 14 miles past Tighthead, hit the Onion Pub & Brewery for dinner. Here, you can eat beer cheese soup and reubens before taking the Metra back into town–both bikes and open containers are both welcome on this commuter train.

4. Get your Mex-Irish fix

For traditional Irish music from an unexpected, culturally significant source, check out Sones de Mexico Ensemble’s performance with the Irish Music School of Chicago. “Los San Patricios: The Story of the St. Patrick’s Battalion” explores an oft-overlooked part of the Mexican-American War, when a volunteer army of recent Irish immigrants fought alongside Mexicans resisting U.S. imperial ambitions. In a city with large populations of both cultural groups, this celebratory musical fusion is sure to resonate.
Details: March 21, Old Town School of Folk Music, 7pm. General admission tickets, $30.

5. Drink a pint far outside Wrigleyville

If you’re craving a pint on St Patrick’s Day itself, but want to steer clear of everything Wrigleyville, do yourself a favor and drop in at Shinnick’s Pub in Bridgeport. Owned and operated by the same Irish-American family since 1966, and nestled in a space built in the 1880s, Shinnicks will give you a warm welcome and no-bullshit attitude that is perfectly emblematic of the true Irish-Chicago spirit.

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