San Francisco is a mecca of fun events for St. Patricks Day. There’s something here for you whether your style is kissing the Irish at a local pub or visiting the historic St. Patrick’s church in the heart of town.
The San Francisco St. Paddy’s Day Parade
The most popular St. Patrick’s Day event in San Francisco is, of course, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival. The theme of the 2012 parade is Irish San Francisco: Past, Present and Future – and there’s a lot of history to celebrate considering that this year marks the 160th anniversary of this parade! The parade starts at 2nd street and market at 11:30 in the morning on St. Patrick’s Day and continues to Civic Center Plaza. The plaza itself is where the festival takes place. It runs from 10 – 5 and includes music, food and traditional Irish arts and crafts. Entry to the festival is free and all are welcome.
Other Top Picks for a San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day
- St. Patrick Historic Church. St. Patrick’s is a Catholic Church in the SoMA with a regular mass but it’s also a historic attraction worth peeking into regardless of your religious affiliations. The beautiful green and gold decor and large stained glass windows are awe-inspiring. There is a small display at the entry of the church explaining the history and architecture of the building since it was first created in the mid-nineteenth century. This church also hosts a special St. Patrick’s Day dinner and dance.
- Crossroads Irish-American Festival. This is actually a month-long festival celebrating Irish-American heritage with a variety of different events. 2012 marks the ninth year of this event with activities beginning on March 3rd. There are no specific events on St. Patrick’s Day itself but there is an open mic on March 15th and a poetry reading on March 22nd as well as all of the other Irish celebration options throughout the month.
Best Irish Pubs in San Francisco
There are numerous Irish pubs in San Francisco and every single one of them is a jam-packed place of fun on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s tough to choose one but some of the best San Francisco Irish bars are:
- Ireland’s 32. This bar has been serving up pub grub and drinks for thirty years and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a little out of the way from the usual tourist crowd so you’ll find mostly locals here enjoying the happy hour deals, live music and other events offered here. A great place for a high-energy St. Patrick’s evening.
- Kennedy’s. This off-the-wall bar in North Beach combines an Irish pub with Indian food dining. It sounds weird but it’s a really fun place that is also very popular with the locals and you’ll find plenty of people hanging out around the pool tables here on St. Patrick’s Day. From here it’s not a far walk to the bars on Grant Street; a popular choice there on St. Patrick’s Day is Maggie McGarrys.
- The Irish Bank. If you want to go to a bar and restaurant that has a traditional Irish pub feeling then you’ll want to find The Irish Bank which is located in an alley in the Financial District. You’ll get to enjoy a little bit of history on display here while you celebrate the holiday. It’s a busy place on St. Patrick’s Day since it’s located not so far from the parade activities.
- The Plough and The Stars. If you want to get down and dance to some traditional Celtic music for St. Patrick’s Day then your best pick is this hot spot, frequently voted a best San Francisco Irish bar. There is music here almost every night with a special event on St. Patrick’s Day itself.
- Napper Tandy. The Mission is always a popular neighborhood for bar hopping. It’s not typically thought of as a place for Irish pubs but there are a couple of good ones down there including Napper Tandy where Irish drinking culture meets a Latin twist in a high-energy fun environment.
Off-the-Beaten Path St. Patrick’s Day
- Visit the United Irish Cultural Center of San Francisco. This is a place with a wide variety of classes and local events. On St. Patrick’s Day they offer lunch and dinner (traditional corned beef and cabbage) and a space to hang out to watch the Gaelic Games together on TV. The center is located close to Golden Gate Park and just a few blocks from the beach so it gives you a chance to see some sights while you’re in the area.
- Annual Green Fest Block Party. The Irish Cultural Center also hosts this annual Irish-themed block party at 45th Ave and Sloat Blvd. Hear Irish music, see Irish dancing and enjoy the day near the beach at this family-friendly event. The 2012 event is on March 13th and runs from 11-4.
- Celtic Music in Berkeley. Take BART across the bay to visit the historic Freight and Salvage Coffee House for a night of traditional Irish music. For 2012’s St. Patrick’s Day the performance is by the Black Brothers from “Ireland’s foremost family of song”. The band includes an Irish step dancer and accordion player as well as a fiddle virtuoso.
The Right Hotels for St. Patty’s Day
If you want to be close to the St. Patrick’s Day parade action then you should choose a hotel near the parade route. Top choices near the beginning of the parade include the Palace Hotel, the St. Regis Hotel and The Westin San Francisco. Top choices near the Civic Center festival include The Hotel Majestic, Queen Anne Hotel and Renoir Hotel.
Are you more interested in being close to the nightlife rather than the daytime action? The Union Square and Civic Center hotels are still good but you might want to also explore your options in North Beach and the Fisherman’s Wharf area. That will put you close to Kennedy’s Irish Pub and within walking distance of the bars on Grant Street. Top choices here include San Remo Hotel, Hyatt Fisherman’s Wharf and The Marriott.
Would you rather be out near the ocean for some of the family-friendly activities? Top choices there include Days Inn at the Beach, Oceanview Motel and Sunset Motel. Another good lodging option on the west side of town is Stanyan Park Hotel. It’s not as close to the beach as the others but puts you in fairly close proximity to the Irish bars in the Sunset neighborhood (such as Ireland’s 32) as well as the west coast family activities. Laurel Inn is another option in this area.