Top Saint Patrick's Day Destinations

Celebrated every year on March 17, Saint Patrick's Day is a religious holiday commemorating the day that patron saint Patrick died, in the year 461. In Ireland, it's celebrated with a day in church followed by an evening of drinking, dancing and a traditional feast of bacon and cabbage. While it has Christian roots, the holiday has become known for green beer, parades, and partying in the streets (for most Americans.) No matter how you plan to celebrate St.Patrick's day, there's a U.S. destination ideal for your vacation.

New York City

 New York City

New York City is home to the oldest and largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. It started in 1762 and occurs every year on March 17 (or the Saturday before when the holiday lands on a Sunday.) The parade features up to 250,000 marchers, though no floats, cars or other commercial vehicles are allowed. The parade begins at 11 a.m., continues down 44th street and Fifth Avenue to pass Saint Patrick's Cathedral, then it goes along 50th street before ending at 79th. A New York City bed and breakfast is the perfect place to watch from the comfort of a porch, or hit the streets and celebrate among the crowds.

Once the parade comes to an end, head to an authentic Irish pub in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Keep in mind that things can get pretty rowdy downtown during the Saint Paddy's festivities. If you're looking for a bar with less crowding and shorter lines, head to the lesser-known but still charming spots along 2nd and 3rd avenues..

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you can't make it to Ireland for Saint Paddy's, head to the best option in this country: Philadelphia. It has a rich Irish heritage, and the settlers who came here in 1771 were among the first to introduce the nation to this celebration. The residents have been commemorating St. Patrick's day for more than 240 years. There's a massive parade held the Sunday before the big day (March 16 in 2013), attracting more than 20,000 people along the parkway to watch floats, bands, city workers and, of course, the grand marshal go by.

Once the parade passes, the locals hit the bars. Join in on a pub crawl in downtown Philly. Start at Fergie's Pub, where you can sit down for a barbecue feast and listen to some live music, then make your way to Downey's Restaurant, which has an authentic Irish decor—the mahogany bar and wood paneling were imported directly from Cork.

Boston, Massachusetts

 Boston, Mass.

Boston also has a rich Irish heritage and was among the first cities to hold a Saint Patrick's Day parade. In 2014, it will take place Sunday, March 16, when up to 1 million people will watch it in-person and on television. The parade takes place in South Boston, starting on West Broadway and looping around onto 4th and 5th streets to end at Dorchester and Southampton Streets. Afterward, the parade-goers fill the bars and eateries throughout the neighborhood, such as the Corrib Pub, Kitty O'Shea's, and the Brendan Behan Pub.

Visitors staying at a Boston inn can also use this opportunity to take the city's Irish Heritage Trail . It's speckled with 20 historic sites that reveal the city's intriguing past and the role that European settlers played in the formation of its culture. You'll walk the 3-mile path to see landmarks such as the Rose Kennedy Garden, the Boston Massacre Memorial, Massachusetts State House, and Fenway Park.

Savannah, Georgia

 Savannah, Ga.

Visitors staying to Savannah may be surprised to find that this Georgia city is home to some of the wildest Saint Patrick's Day fun in the country! The parade has been running since the early 1800s and, today, it's one of the top events, attracting some 300,000 visitors each year. The parade route leads up to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist , where mass is held immediately after. While you're walking around town during the after-parade bar crawl, take a minute to notice the fountains—the city dyes the waters green.for the festivities. Make sure to hit the traditional Irish establishments, including McDonough's, Murphy's Law, and Kevin Barry's pubs.