Saint Patrick's Day in Savannah Georgia
Savannah's Saint Patrick's Day Parade is just one of Savannah's many claims to fame. It is the second largest SPD parade in the country and you can actually feel the city's excitement as soon as the famous fountain in Forsyth Park begins to run green. River Street has many events and specials, along with the rest of the city, as early as March 1st. The weekend before Saint Pats is usually loaded with parties, specials, fundraisers, and live music. But this post is for the parade! For the big and grand event that takes place this year on March 17th! (Note that the 2020 festival will be from Friday March 13th at 6pm until Sunday March the 15th at 6 pm).When it comes to "where to sit", an entire article with asterisks and bullets and "see page 38, paragraph 9" notes would need to be written... it's that serious. Some families have been camping out nights prior for generations to claim their traditional spot every year. My husband's grandparents used to go to Clary's the night before and set up spots along the sidewalk for their family of 21 people for years! Some spots even have quite the reputation. "The party spot", "The family spot", "The dog spot", "The food spot", "That spot that brings a huge party bus"... You get my point. When I worked in Savannah, every year, it was completely clear that every single employee wanted off on that special day. Savannah natives take this day very serious, even putting in for time off a year in advance. There is so much magic you feel in the city on this day. It's almost as if the entire community puts their differences aside and all put an arm around each other while toasting with green beer.
Where to sit:
Like I said, "where to sit" is incredibly complicated so I will tell you this; where ever you plan on sitting, come EARLY. Road closures start as early as 6:30 am so be sure to know the alternative routes if you will be arriving after this time. I'm talking WAY before the sun comes up. Bring as many bag chairs that you can carry and make sure to label them all with your name clearly written where they can be seen. The parade does not start until 10:15 am, and depending on where you sit, you may not even see the beginning of the parade until 11am so this early start will make for a long day but that's just how it goes. Tip: Bringing a bouncy ball to throw around or corn hole boards (space allowing) would be a good way to pass the time.
What to bring:
A wagon. For real. Load that sucker up with a cooler, chairs, blankets, umbrellas, ect. Savannah's Saint Patrick's day weather is VERY unpredictable. We've had sun, rain, wind, cold fronts, scorching temps and even flurries (when I was a kid). So pack for all of the above if you are committed to staying for the entire day. My personal preference for the cooler is the following:
*Chicken salad, pre-made, in a large container.
*Uncrustables pb&j's for the kids.
*Roaring water caprisuns.
*A couple of dips
And in a large reusable bag:
*A bag of croissants (for the chicken salad)
*A box of donuts
*A few bananas
How to get there:
If you are planning on drinking, then you will either need to have someone drive you and pick you up, use a car service, or you can use one of the shuttle services offered that day. Be aware of Uber and Lyft price surge possibilities. We always bring our kids, so keeping up with them and watching the parade makes zero interest for drinking. That way we can take our own car and drive. There are so many parking opportunities for approximately $30 a car, give or take. If you arrive early enough, you may find a free parking space but be prepared for a long walk to the parade route. The Savannah Convention Center offers $20 parking that day and includes a free ferry ride across the river to River Street. Molly MacPherson's in Pooler Georgia offers a great shuttle service to and from the parade. They have teamed up with Kelly Tours and prices range from $10 for children to $20 an adult for round trip. Contact Kelly Tours about what they allow you to bring as far as strollers and coolers at 912-964-2010. Another bonus is the great food and drinks offered for purchase at Molly's while you wait for your shuttle or for after your return from the parade. My brother and sister in law have used this service for multiple Saint Patrick's Days and have always loved it.
Visit https://kellytours.com/tours/visit-savannah/st-patricks-day/shuttle-services/ for an up to-date list of shuttle schedules.
Saint Pat's inclusive packages:
Speaking of Kelly Tours, this year the company is offering a Saint Patricks Day Savannah package. It's a one stop shop that includes meals, seating, and music. At a $150 a person, you can enjoy two gourmet buffet style meals (one before the parade and one after), unlimited green punch and/or beer, use of clean restrooms, as well as bleacher seating. Visit https://kellytours.com/tours/visit-savannah/st-patricks-day/ for tickets and bookings. You can also visit this site for a reserved spot for bleacher seating only for $30 a person.
Another Shuttle Option:
Berwick Plantation on Highway 17 (at the corner of Sakura and Wells Fargo) will be offering shuttles to and from Downtown Savannah River Street. Pick ups will be every hour to downtown and every half hour FROM downtown provided by Excursions Unlimited. $30 offers unlimited rides to and from the festivities. Saturday, March 14th, will offer shuttles from 12noon to 1:30am and Tuesday, March 17th, from 7:30am to 12:30pm. I, myself, have never used this service so be sure to call 912-433-7966 for more details.
Where to stay:
One of my favorites on the actual parade route is definitely The Kimpton Brice Hotel. Located on Bay Street, you are within a close walking distance to River Street, The Pirate House, and access to a fantastic bar and restaurant just downstairs on the first floor! The hotel charges approximately $39 a night for parking. Remember when booking a hotel for St Pats, you must reserve two nights due to check in times and check out times interfering with the parade times. For example: The Brice check in time is at 4pm, the parade will be long gone and with so many roads being closed and an insanely large crowd, getting checked in at this time would be problematic. Check out is 11am sharp which would cost you your nice private room and bathroom and there is nothing better than having access to that during the parade. Therefore two nights is a must. Bring a friend or another couple and split the cost for a more affordable option. Another fun hotel on the parade route is the Homewood Suites by Hilton Savannah Historic District and Riverfront. The views of the parade are from a vantage point very few have witnessed since the rooftop of this hotel is fairly new. It is also where the party is at. With amazing views, a small rooftop party with access to a full bar option and some light eats for purchase, your saint pat's day will be one for the books! Parking is approximately $32 a night but well worth the convenience. Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street is another great option that actually includes breakfast, but a street view room to watch the parade is not guaranteed. Be sure to call and book over the phone to see if you are able to get a room with a parade view.
Public bathrooms to use are located throughout the parade/festival area. See https://www.savannahga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6960/2017-St-Patrick-Day-Portable-Toilets-Map?bidId= for a map of all public bathrooms available. But if port-a-potties are not your jam then consider making brunch reservations now at a restaurant that is along the parade route. This will guarantee you a great meal and access to a clean bathroom for at least the time you are there dining. A great idea would be to get your brunch/lunch reservations now and then the day of the parade, go early and sit your chairs out front (or nearby) as long as it is a parade observing/sitting zone. For a complete map of the parade route, visit https://www.savannah.com/st-patricks-day-events-savannah/savannahs-st-patricks-day-parade/
Where to eat:
There will never be a shortage of great places to eat in Savannah but for this special day, here are some of my favorites located on the parade route:
The Pirate House: Reservations are definitely recommended, however, waiting is an option as well. At approximately $11.95 a person for breakfast from 7am to 10am, a set menu is offered to guests and at approximately $14.95 a person for lunch from 11am to 3pm. If a quick bite is all you are after, a to-go station will be set up outside directly on E Broad street.
Tondee's Tavern: Directly on Bay Street (aka parade route) you can enjoy fresh local seafood and steaks while toasting to fellow patrons with fantastic beer.
McDonough's Restaurant and Lounge: With fantastic views of the parade, show your appreciation for Irish culture while dining in a true Savannah Irish pub. Near the famous Chippewa square, the location is perfect. Reservations are not taken and this fun spot fills up quick so come early and be ready to wait. Breakfast and lunch will be served from a limited menu. Enjoy a DJ and good eats/drinks while observing the parade.
Spanky's on River Street (not on the parade route) is a short walk from Bay Street (the parade route) and if hot delicious food is what you are looking for, then head down the stairs and grab a chicken tender and spuds plate to-go! Don't forget the honey-horseradish for dipping!
Want an after party but not into the St. Pats Savannah night life?
This year the Alida Hotel is hosting a St. Patrick's Day Green Pool Party! From 12 to 8pm on Saint Patrick's day, ticket holders will be given access to the Alida hotel's fabulous outdoor common areas, drink and food menu options, and a GREEN pool to swim in, along with a DJ who will be present to ensure this to be one truly epic pool party. At $20 a person, tickets will sell out fast so don't press your luck, you fantastic leprechaun, and buy your tickets now while you still can. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/st-patricks-day-pool-party-at-the-alida-tickets-96999848157?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR05yAifY_eGOzyC-GkUjSyi6dDQd--eEvFXClMGgPj9vSgFK88vXbZj8GY
Last thoughts: I do want to add two more crucial tips for the best Saint Patrick's Day experience... It is Savannah's MOST crowded day of the year. It will require patience. Be sure to go with the flow and to always be kind to one another. Most important: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. And last, but NOT the least, clean up behind yourself! If you brought it, take it. If it's trash, throw it IN the designated trash cans. Help us keep this beautiful city what she has always been and ought to be... beautiful.
The Adventurous Alfords