A great place to spend Saint Patricks day weekend is in downtown Chicago. Starting at 8am the streets are packed with people sporting green from head to toe, typically with a green beer in hand.
While the crowds are a bit overwhelming and maneuvering the streets to get to the parade can be extremely irritating, a few Jameson shots and Guinness pints can help take the frustrating edge and make the whole experience more enjoyable.
At 9am they dye the Chicago river green using an environmentally friendly green dye. The river stays the enchanting shade of emerald throughout the day, which is nice if one cannot make it into downtown bright and early.
The parade takes place on Columbus drive in downtown Chicago, a block up from the bean and millennium park. The crowds were absolutely insane, full of drunk people all wearing green.
One of my favorite things to get in Chicago is the classic Chicago dog. The combination of hot peppers, tomatoes, dill pickle spear, onions and celery salt make an otherwise unpalatable beef sausage a delicacy. I have had the hotdogs both from the stands that are scattered throughout the popular locations in the city as well as at Pontillos, a city favorite. If there are toppings that seem less than desirable, you can customize the hotdog and leave certain items off, just know that you are a boring person with the palate of a seven year old. As they are, in proper chicago-style, hotdogs are perfect.
One major attraction we visited while in Chicago was the Shedd Aquarium
. While I have problems with the use of dolphins and other cetaceans in entertainment shows, the other components of the aquarium are quite impressive. It is definitely worth a tour, although the lines can be quite long and take awhile to be allowed admission.