Washington DC

The Best Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in DC

The District might as well be Dublin.

Courtesy of Plaid Photo
Courtesy of Plaid Photo
Courtesy of Plaid Photo

As precautionary measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, please note that many events are subject to cancellation. Please check back frequently as we’ll be updating stories as changes occur.Whether you’re actually Irish or are just planning to don a green ensemble for the day, the best way to celebrate what was once a simple religious holiday is with plenty of debauchery (in honor of Saint Patrick, of course). The District may be far from the rolling hills and rowdy taverns of the Irish homeland, but it has parties and pubs that are perfect for celebrating — so get ready to guzzle Guinness, toss back shots of Jameson, and take in other staples of Irish culture.

St. Patrick's Day Parade of Washington, D.C.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Washington, D.C.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Washington, D.C.

What’s the deal with the parade?

DC doesn’t have street-filling extravaganzas like NYC or Boston for St. Patrick’s, but the District is going all out for the 50th iteration of its St. Patrick’s Day parade this year. The celebration will be held on Sunday, March 15 when starting at noon, marchers will take off from 7th Street and stretch down Constitution Avenue to 17th Street. After DC’s festivities wrap up and you retire your green until the big day, you can join a group from the parade on a bus trip up to NYC for Tuesday’s party.

Where should I say sláinte?

You can’t go wrong parking yourself at any old Irish pub or brewery on St. Patrick’s Day. But if you’re looking to score the best deals, you don’t need the luck of the Irish on your side — we rounded up the best food and drinks specials all weekend for you right here.

Logan Tavern
Saturday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 17
Logan Circle
Some spots just can’t wait until Tuesday to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re part of that set, look no further than Logan Tavern. The bar will offer shots of Jameson or Tullamore Dew, tallboy cans of Guinness, and a green-hued version of its Stoly Doly cocktail with pineapple-infused vodka for $7.50 each alongside food specials like a hearty Guinness and beef stew and corned beef and cabbage. These specials will be available both Saturday and Tuesday, so there’s no excuse not to say sláinte.

Duffy’s Irish Pub
Saturday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 17
H Street Corridor
Saturday is St. Practice Day at Duffy’s Irish Pub. The bar is opening up at 9am to screen rugby games (including the Ireland vs. France match-up) and will offer discounted pours of Guinness. The pub will tap its green beer kegs once the games wrap up at 6pm and after the free toast, you can continue drinking the green brews for just $5 each. If you’re one of the first 30 through the door at Duffy’s Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be treated to a free corned beef, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito. If you miss out on that deal, don’t worry. You can spend the day drinking $5 green beer and watching music and dance performances.

Port City Brewing
Sunday, March 15

Alexandria
Port City Brewing’s celebration lasts from noon to 8pm with plenty of entertainment. You can start off the day participating in trivia with a team of six others from 2-4pm before enjoying performances by Morris Men and Irish Dancers. Hops N Shine, a local restaurant famous for slinging beer and moonshine, will serve Irish cuisine that you can enjoy with Port City brews all day long.

The Dubliner
Tuesday, March 17

Capitol Hill
Start counting your coins. At The Dubliner, you can get a pour of Guinness for just 46 cents from 9 to 10 am in honor of the number of years that The Dubliner has been running. Throughout the rest of the day there will be live music on two different stages, and you can continue toasting Saint Patrick at the oldest Irish pub in DC.

Red Derby
Tuesday, March 17

Columbia Heights
Red Derby isn’t offering green beer for the holiday, but you won’t miss it when you hear about the slate of specials the dive bar is offering instead. You can swap cheap beer for $5 shots of Tullamore Dew, $6 Guinnesses, $10 beer and shot combos, and $15 sets of two Irish car bombs.Kirwan’s On The Wharf
Tuesday, March 17

Southwest Waterfront
As one of the sponsors of Ireland at the Wharf, Kirwan’s will be throwing down a huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Performers from the Boyle School of Irish Dance will show off their jigs during the day and live music from Irish natives Danny Burns Band will provide the soundtrack for the night.

Union Pub
Tuesday, March 17

Capitol Hill
It’s not all Irish at this sports bar on St. Patrick’s Day. Union Pub will be offering $15 buckets of Bud and Bud Light, $14 pitchers of the green version, and $13 buckets of Carlsburg. If you want to stay on theme (as you should!) you can toss back $6 shots of Slane Irish Whiskey or drop Slane Whiskey and Brady’s Irish Cream into a stout for $7 with the bar’s Irish Slammer.

Dacha Beer Garden
Tuesday, March 17

Shaw and Navy Yard
DC’s most popular beer garden is going green for St. Patrick’s Day. The bar is dyeing their Weihenstephaner Vitus, which they dub “the king of wheat beers,” bright green at both locations in the District in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. You can get a hearty .5L for just $12, and you don’t even need the luck of the Irish.

Courtesy of Plaid Photo
Courtesy of Plaid Photo
Courtesy of Plaid Photo

What other events are going on?

Party all weekend at the only Guinness brewery in America
Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15

Guinness Open Gate Brewery
The trip to Halethorpe, Maryland is worth it to spend St. Patrick’s Day at the only Guinness brewery in the U.S. After a quick MARC train ride and a free shuttle, you’ll be transported to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration that includes more than 30 booths of Guinness beer, Irish food, and music and dance entertainment. In addition to the brand’s traditional stout, you can sample brews that were made especially for the event and can only be found at Open Gate Brewery while touring the facility and watching beer brewing right in front of you. For an extra $30, you can sit down to a full Irish breakfast to start off your day, and all attendees will get $15 off a Lyft ride home using the promo code “GuinnessGetHome.”
Cost: $20 in advance or $25 at the gate

Don’t limit yourself to just one bar by going to LepreCon
Saturday, March 14

Multiple bars
St. Patrick’s Day is practically synonymous with pub crawls. At LepreCon, you can hop between participating bars for a full 12 hours without running into cover charges. Your wristband will get you discounts, live entertainment, an opportunity to compete for cash prizes in the costume contest, and the chance to pose in professional photographs at every bar. Watch the event’s website for a full list of participating bars.
Cost: Tickets are $10-$20

Attend DC’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day Festival
Saturday, March 14

The Wharf
Ireland at The Wharf has it all. You can toss back Guiness drafts in the festival’s beer garden or sip on Irish whiskey all afternoon while being entertained by Irish dancers and live music from a local Celtic band and other performers. You’ll cover the bill for your food and drink but the rest of the festival is free, unless you upgrade to VIP status for exclusive barrel-aged beers from Guinness Open Gate Brewery, access to private balconies for performance viewing, and other perks.
Cost: Free (or VIP tickets are $75)

Decorate ‘big ass’ cookies at DC’s most beloved bakery
Tuesday, March 17

Baked and Wired
You can pick up St. Patrick’s Day sweets like green rice krispie treats and a chocolate cupcake with Jameson ganache and Bailey’s buttercream frosting. Or, simply take matters into your own hands at Baked and Wired’s cookie decorating event. You’ll get two giant cookies and all the materials (and expert advice) you need to make confections worthy of being sold in DC’s favorite cupcake spot.
Cost: $13Sign up here for our daily DC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Liz Provencher is an editorial assistant and former DC dweller, and she doesn’t need St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to drink pints of Guinness. Talk to her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Washington DC

15 Totally Free Things to Do in DC

A full itinerary, completely free of charge.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Washington DC is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and for those of us who call the District home, it’s easy to see why. With dozens of world-class museums, murals that transform streets into galleries, and sites brimming with history, DC offers a full agenda-completely free of charge. Whether you want to try a new farmer’s market, explore a new hike, or polish off your roller skating or canoeing skills, here are some of our favourite free things to do in the District.

Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco
Flickr/gawnesco

Hike, bike, or stroll along the C&O Canal

The historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is one of the most accessible nature escapes from the District. Thanks to a multi-year restoration project, the first mile of the canal is an idyllic walk that’s easy to access in Georgetown. Stick to a short stroll there, or grab a bike or lace up your hiking shoes for a longer adventure along the 184.5-mile canal.

Jump on the pickleball craze

Pickleball is working its way up the ladder past kickball and softball as one of America’s favourite games. Jump on the craze and practice your paddling at one of the District’s pickleball courts in Takoma Park, the Palisades, and more. Plus, Washington DC Pickleball invites guests to drop in to beginner sessions to try their hand at the sport before signing up for a $30 annual membership.

Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion
Flickr/mcfeelion

Bike the Mount Vernon Trail

DC is incredibly bike-friendly, and luckily that applies to the land immediately outside of the city as well. Start in the city and bike along the Mount Vernon Trail, a scenic route that hugs the water and cuts through the woods. It’s about a 10-mile trip from DC to Mount Vernon, but you can cut the trip slightly short and end at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront-just make sure to factor in time for ice cream before pedalling home.

Explore a sculpture park

While not located in the District proper, Glenstone, an expansive sculpture park in Maryland, is worth the 45-minute drive. Tickets to the park are free (just be sure to reserve several weeks in advance), and the 300-acre space offers stunning art, architecture, and open land. In addition to its indoor gallery spaces, you can spend hours walking on paths that wind through sculptures, meadows, and forests.

Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston
Flickr/Geoff Livingston

See the monuments at night

When the sun goes down-and the summer humidity somewhat dissipates-head to the National Mall for the rare chance to see the monuments without busloads of tourists. Moonlight will give you a different perspective as you traverse the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial or gaze up at the Washington Monument set aglow with lights.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery

Museum hop the day away

One of DC’s greatest strengths is its world-class Smithsonian museums that are open to the public free of charge. There is no shortage of options, from the intimate Renwick Gallery, to the sprawling National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonians offer something for everyone. Pro tip: Some of the museums are open late in the evenings, making for an ideal date night.

muralsdc
muralsdc
muralsdc

Explore the city’s murals

Washington is home to hundreds of murals that are becoming as much a part of the city’s landscape as the monuments on the National Mall. Take a self-guided tour of these colourful creations no matter which neighbourhood you happen to be in. MuralsDC, the organization behind 150 of the District’s public artworks, is a great resource for mapping out a route to explore the city’s street art.

Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington
Hotel Washington

Take in a birds-eye view of the city

Washington looks pretty stunning from up high, and there are few spots within the city that make for phenomenal vantage points. Rooftop bars and restaurants offer epic views for the price of a drink or two, but there’s no more iconic sight than seeing the city from the top of the Washington Monument, which is completely free. Book a ticket ahead of time and ride an elevator all the way to the top of the monument and step out on the 500-foot observation deck.

Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond
Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Wander through a garden

DC is home to some of the most beautiful urban gardens in the country, and many of them are open to the public for free. There is nothing like an afternoon spent strolling through, or picnicking, at the expansive 446-acre United States Arboretum or wandering through the Botanic Garden on the edge of the Mall. For something a bit smaller, explore the grounds at Tudor Place or Dumbarton Oaks (free in the winter), both of which are in Georgetown.

Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien
Flickr/ehpien

Hike the Billy Goat Trail

You can catch one of the District’s most popular hiking trails, the Billy Goat Trail, from the C&O canal. The full trail is 4.7 miles and ranges from easy to strenuous, so hike a section in and back or make the full loop for the variety.

Pay your respect at Arlington National Cemetery

Just across the Potomac from DC, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 veterans. The cemetery is an expanse of 639 hallowed acres and the ANC Explorer allows visitors to locate graves, notable sites, and take self-guided walking tours to spots including the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy.

Lace up your roller skates

When was the last time you went roller skating? Chances are it’s been too long. So get back into this nostalgic activity at the Anacostia Park roller skating pavilion. You can rent skates for free, just show proof of a government-issued ID, and the skating pavilion is open from 9 to 5 every day.

Help clean up the Anacostia River

We all know there’s a lot of work to be done to keep our waterways clean. Do your part, and have some fun, by participating in the city’s Green Boat initiative. On select weekends, DCers can join a two-hour guided paddle along the Anacostia River to collect trash and monitor the river’s progress.

Eastern Market
Eastern Market
Eastern Market

Stroll your local farmer’s market

DC’s close proximity to the farms of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond mean that the city’s farmers’ markets always have something to offer. Check out the year-round markets like Eastern Market in Capitol Hill and the Sunday market in Dupont Circle or head to seasonal markets like the pop-up in front of the White House that draws vendors like Cucina al Volo and Call Your Mother Deli.

The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress

Play tourist all around the city

It’s easy to forget that all those traditionally touristy activities can be fun for locals too. If you haven’t been on a tour of the White House, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or the Capitol, this is your sign. All are free with advanced reservations. Plus, tucked in the northern quadrant of NW, the Washington National Cathedral is free and open to all. Tour the cathedral’s impressive architecture, 215 stained glass windows, 112 Gothically-inspired gargoyles, and enormous pipe organ. See if you can spot the sculpture of Darth Vader.

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Madeline Weinfield is a Thrillist contributor.

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