Chicago does St. Patrick’s Day in a big way: More than 400,000 spectators ooh and ahh as the Chicago River is dyed a brilliant green at 9 a.m. on March 11, followed by one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the country, with over 1 million people glimpsing the festive procession from Balbo Drive to Monroe Street on Columbus Drive starting at noon. Want to catch a glimpse of the celebration, but avoid the crowds? Get above it all at these primo downtown rooftop bars and restaurants for a perfect view of the festivities.
This Chicago Athletic Association hot spot offers expansive Grant Park views that will give you an exclusive look at the parade from above. Try a mocktail like the Golden Lime, an elixir fragrant with tarragon and honey, or make it boozy by adding Cruzan Blackstrap rum. Grab an early bite to eat from the brunch menu (Dutch Baby pancake with maple-roasted pear and pomegranate molasses, anyone?) while enjoying the unparalleled sights east to Millennium Park from the patio. 12 S. Michigan Ave., 312-792-3502
For a festive green libation that’s not beer: Travelle
Who said St. Patrick’s Day was all about suds? Don your best emerald outfit and head to Travelle for stunning riverside views and drinks like the green Cucumber Matcharita, with cucumber matcha juice, lime, and Chareau Aloe Liqueur. Reserve your table ASAP; with Travelle opening at 8 a.m., this will be a prime spot for pre-parade partying. 330 N. Wabash Ave., 312-923-7705
Soaring directly over the river, LondonHouse Chicago hotel’s 23rd-floor patio perch is the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the neon-hued river on Saturday. Wake up with an Espresso Martini, a potent potion of gin and Kahlua topped with espresso and garnished with whipped cream and chocolate-covered coffee beans. 85 E. Wacker Dr., 312-357-1200
With a sweet riverside setting, this recently opened rooftop in the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel is prepping for its first St. Patrick’s Day in style. Early morning river dyeing party packages sold out long ago, but you can still get in on the action starting at 10 a.m., when a $20 cover allows you access to the sprawling space. Inside, expect a tempting assortment of a la carte St. Patrick’s Day-inspired fare like corned beef sliders with preserved cabbage and Jameson Irish Whiskey mustard, and tater tot poutine with Guinness-braised corned beef, as well as live music and drink specials. 1 W. Wacker Dr., 312-795-3442
One of the hottest rooftops in the Loop, this 27th-floor nightspot embraces its Irish side for the weekend with specialty drinks including the frozen XXX Shamrock Shake with peppermint-infused Absolut Elyx and a Lucky Charm marshmallow garnish, plus dancing to DJ-spun tunes starting at noon. Doors open at 11 a.m., so you can start the festivities as the party heats up at street level. 201 N. State St., 312-239-9501