So if you’re staying at a Boston hotel and want to experience the scene first-hand, here are some suggestions:
South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Each year the parade is kicked off with a very famous St. Patrick’s Day breakfast and Roast, which attracts all local politicians — and in some past years even the president of the United States has called in to add some color and humor. While most people can’t attend the breakfast, it is certainly worth watching on the local cable channel. If you want to see the parade, make sure you get to Southie early — they close off the streets by about 11 a.m.
If bellying up to bar is more your speed, Southie is still the place to be, and again, get there early. There are plenty of choices along the parade route. The Boston Beer Garden is a little trendy and typically reserved for the younger, newer locals and of course visitors from out of town. If you’re feeling adventurous, give one of the truly local pubs a try. The L Street Tavern is famous for its various scenes in "Good Will Hunting." If you’re nice, the bartender may even show you their photo album of celebs. Also popular is Shenanigans and the newly renovated Amrheins — both serve great pub food in a comfortable fun setting. And if you’re just looking for an unpretentious watering hole, my personal favorite is Kiley’s Tavern, but be warned it is not for the faint of heart.
If all else fails you can pretty much stop into any house party or roof deck along the parade route. This is one day that all the natives are friendly and welcoming. Whether you choose to watch the parade with your family or hit the taverns with your friends, be sure to keep a look out for alleged mobster Whitey Bulger — some say he comes out in disguise each year this parade.
— Jessica Labaire, Orbitz merchandising manager
On St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day in Boston is a day-long party, so I always try to lay low the night before. One of my favorite ways to prepare for a day of drinking is with a big dinner in Boston’s North End. There are so many great Italian restaurants that it’s hard to go wrong, but a few of my favorites are Prezza, Giacamo’s and Terramia. After dinner, swing by the Florentine Cafe for an espresso or grappa, and be sure to save room for a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry –- they are pure heaven.
Don’t forget to set your alarm before you go to bed, because lines will start early at all the best Irish bars. Most pubs and bars will serve a traditional Irish breakfast, which is a great way to kick off the day. One of my favorite Irish bars is Clery’s, which is located at the corner of Dartmouth & Columbus. Clery’s is broken up into a few different sections so there is something for everyone — you can hang out at the bar, relax on a leather couch in the lounge or dance to the DJ tunes spinning downstairs.
My two other favorite bars are the Irish Embassy and McGann’s — both are pretty traditional Irish pubs, located near the Boston Garden (I still have trouble calling it the TD Northbank Garden). You’re pretty much guaranteed a memorable day wherever you decide to go, but remember to get there early so you don’t get left standing out in the cold.
— Heather Leisman, Orbitz senior director of merchandising
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