Southie gets a whole lot of love this time of year as home to one of the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country. But, of course, all of Boston celebrates big on St. Paddy’s Day. And this year, March 17 falls on a Friday, which can only mean one thing: a festive long weekend of shamrock tattoos, green-dyed hair, and Guinness, culminating with the parade of all parades in South Boston on Sunday.
Here’s where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, from tracing your Irish roots, to honoring baseball’s oldest park, to raising a pint.
Tours and museums
Irish Heritage Trail. Join a guided tour, organized by the Boston Irish Tourism Association, to learn about Boston’s rich Irish heritage. Led by Ted Kulik, the tour kicks off at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common and makes its way to the Faneuil Hall area, covering 10 landmarks like the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. Tours are held on the 17th and 18th, and the cost is $15 adults, $12 students, seniors, military, and free kids 12 and under.
Another option: Take a self-guided trail walk instead. You can get a map in the March issue of BITA’s Travel & Culture Guide, distributed free at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common, and at the Prudential Center. www.irishboston.org
Massachusetts Archives & Commonwealth Museum. Ye want to trace your Irish ancestry? Visit the Massachusetts Archives on Columbia Point in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Passenger lists for the Port of Boston are one valuable resource here; you can inquire about family research at the reference desk in the Archives lobby.
Complement your visit with a stop at the Commonwealth Museum, which shares the same building as the Archives. View the “Massachusetts Experiment in Democracy: 1620-Today” exhibit — with a “Tracing our Roots” sub-theme — which tells the story of four families of Native American, English, African-American, and Irish heritage. The exhibit depicts the story of an Irish family that includes John Ryan, who served in the 28th Regiment during the Civil War and later became a captain of the Newton Police Department, says Stephen Kenney, museum director.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Also located on Columbia Point, it is another worthwhile St. Patrick’s Day stop, to view the many exhibits and collections, some of which honor Kennedy’s Irish heritage. www.jfklibrary.org
Fenway Park. The country’s oldest baseball park (1912) was built by Irish immigrant, Charles Logue, who arrived from County Derry in 1881 and soon became a celebrated Boston builder. On St. Patrick’s Day, take a one-hour walking tour of Fenway. You’ll see the famed Green Monster, up-close bullpen views, and more. Adults $20, kids $14 (12 and under). boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp
Pubs and taverns
There are more Irish pubs in Boston than there are Murphys. Here are just some of the best spots for a traditional Irish breakfast, a classic corned beef dinner, live music, and a pint of Guinness.
The Burren. This Irish pub in Somerville’s Davis Square is popular for its traditional live music year-round. On St. Patrick’s Day, a variety show will be held in The Burren Backroom with Irish tunes, ballads, stories, and dancing, performed by musicians/co-owners Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello and others. Also in the lineup — corned beef and cabbage, Guinness beef stew with soda bread (a veggy option, too), and Burren Shamrock Cake. Shows are Friday through Sunday, and tickets are $25 per person. www.burren.com
Eire Pub. This Dorchester pub opens at 8 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day — and every other day for that matter. A classic corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner will be served, and the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums will visit the pub, says Damian O’Halloran, bar manager. www.eirepub.com
The Black Rose. On St. Patrick’s Day, doors open at 8 for a traditional Irish breakfast (two eggs any style, Irish sausage, rashers of bacon, black and white pudding, tater tots, fresh grilled tomato and toast). Or, come for a beer or whiskey and live music from 2 p.m. until closing: Celtic Clan will play upstairs and Irish Descendants (from Canada) will perform on the main stage. www.blackroseboston.com
Grafton Street. Irish coffee will be served at Cambridge’s proper Grafton Street pub on St. Paddy’s Day. On parade day, start with the Irish breakfast, including black and white pudding, rasher bacon, baked beans, and corned beef hash. www.graftonstreetcambridge.com
M.J. O’Connors. Get Irish breakfast at this Back Bay pub on St. Patrick’s Day (as well as on parade day). Dishes include corned beef hash and eggs, and Irish Eggs Benedict. Enjoy with a White Irishman — a twist on a White Russian with Guinness. Later in the day, expect all the festivities. www.mjoconnors.com
Green Briar. An Irish seisiun is held every Monday at this Irish pub in Brighton, a 27-year tradition — and great way to kick off St. Patrick’s week. Return on St. Patrick’s Day for more live music from 2-8 p.m., and corned beef and cabbage, too. www.greenbriarpub.com
The Druid. Popular for traditional year-round Irish seisiuns and fish ’n chips, raise a pint of Guinness Stout at this neighborhood pub that’s housed in an old wooden mercantile building in Cambridge’s Inman Square. www.druidpub.com
McGreevy’s. The bar on Boylston Street will open early at 8 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, and “will be headquarters for the Dropkick Murphys,” who will play at nearby House of Blues throughout the weekend, says a restaurant spokeswoman. The bar will sell shamrocks, in support of the Dropkick Murphys’ charity, Claddagh Fund, ($3 for green shamrocks, $5 for gold shamrocks). “Since the House of Blues is so close to McGreevy’s, this place is a madhouse all week long—filled to the brim with DKM fans,” says the spokeswoman. “Band members also show up often to meet their fans.” www.mcgreevysboston.com
The Plough & Stars. On St. Patrick’s Day, “Guinness is where it’s at,” says this Cambridge pub’s executive chef, Jim Seery. And, luckily, you can also get your Irish on with a classic boiled corned beef dinner, fish ’n chips, and Irish Farmhouse potato leek soup. www.plough andstars.com
Solas. Sous chef Alex Galvis will serve his classic boiled corned beef and cabbage dish at this contemporary Irish restaurant in Boston’s Lenox Hotel. www.solasboston.com
Ned Devine’s Boston. Tucked in Quincy Market, Ned Devine’s will kick it up a notch with Irish step dancing, as well as live music — and beer — on St. Patrick’s Day. www.neddevinesboston .com
Mr. Dooley’s Boston Tavern. Raise a pint of Guinness at this authentic Irish tavern in Boston’s Financial District, known for live music, good food, and congeniality. www.somerspubs.com
Pre-parade, why not trade your jig for a jog — and participate in the annual 5K St. Patrick’s Day Road Race to benefit the South Boston Boys & Girls Club, a healthy, charitable event that takes place at 11 a.m. www.bgcb.org/get-involved/attend-an-event/2016-st-patricks-day-road-race-est-1940/
The historic Sunday parade kicks off in South Boston at the Broadway T Station and ends at Old Colony Avenue. The best viewing will be along Broadway. www.southbostonparade.org. Here are some Irish pubs and taverns in Southie to celebrate the day.
Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant. Hoist a pint and watch from Lincoln’s expansive windows as the parade passes by. Beginning at noon, Chef Nick Dixon will cook up his wood-fired wings and pizza. www.lincolnsouthboston.com
Croke Park Whitey’s. Celebrate at Boston’s self-proclaimed number one dive bar, with a pour of Glendalough whiskey (Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey and Cask Aged Single Malt Irish Whiskeys) from Ireland’s first craft distillery — founded by five Irish friends who wanted to revive Irish distilling with hand-crafted small batch spirits, a throwback to the age-old traditions of Irish whiskey. www.crokeparkwhiteys.com
L Street Tavern. The motto at Southie’s celebrity corner tavern is Good Times, Good Friends, Good Will — the latter, a nod to “Good Will Hunting,” which was filmed on-location here. 617-268-4335.Laurie Wilson can be reached at email@example.com.