Banner Elk, North Carolina
You’ll find parades and parties in Raleigh and Charlotte, but head northwest to Banner Elk for a real taste of Ireland—rolling green hills and all. The Mast Farm Inn serves a rich spread that marries traditional Irish fare with Appalachian staples—Irish potato pancakes topped with smoked Carolina trout, for instance, and lamb chops served over kale colcannon.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Dubbed the World’s Shortest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the Hot Springs bash spans a spectacularly stunted ninety-eight feet of Bridge Street. This year, organizers are thinking big, though: They’ve invited the World’s Largest Leprechaun, a marching crew that includes dozens of Irish Elvis impersonators, and a pack of green-dyed Irish wolfhounds. NASCAR great and Arkansas native Mark Martin will serve as grand marshal.
New Orleans, Louisiana
As the Mardi Gras beads are swept from the streets, the Crescent City begins gearing up for yet another party. The city’s Saint Pat’s celebrations might have a more relaxed reputation, but some would argue that the packed parade schedule, which starts on March 13, is just as spirited. Paraders swap kisses for roses and toss the ingredients for a traditional Irish stew—garlic, potatoes, and carrots. Beware the flying cabbage.
By far the biggest bash in the Southeast, Savannah’s parade on March 17 and multiday festival draw thousands of green-garbed party-goers. Swing by Kevin Barry’s Pub overlooking the Savannah River and order a Black Velvet, made with Irish stout and champagne. The city’s open container laws mean you can take your drink to go.
Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
It might still be a bit chilly for a dip in the Atlantic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t revel on the beach. The restaurant corridor along Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island halts traffic for a giant block party. Head to Dunleavy’s Pub for a properly poured Guinness and a plate of shepherd’s pie.