If gearing up for St. Patrick's Day finds you inspired to reconnect more deeply with Irish culture, you don't have to fly to Ireland to do so.
With approximately 33.3 million Americans tracing their lineage to the Emerald Isle, there are myriad destinations right here in the U.S. with concentrated populations, festive local establishments and historical attractions.
Here are five destinations to keep on your list:
Boston, Massachusetts: Credited with hosting the first St. Patrick's Day celebration in America, Boston's Irish pride runs deep. In fact, census data analyzed by Trulia confirmed it as the most Irish city in America, with more than 20% of the population claiming primary Irish ancestry. The best way to soak in the local culture is with a guided tour along The Irish Heritage Trail, featuring 20 sites in downtown Boston and Back Bay, and more than 50 other landmarks with historical significance. Follow up the three-mile walk with a pint at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain, one of the oldest pubs in Beantown.
Syracuse-Finger Lakes, N.Y.: Winter's chill can't keep this town from going green. Its annual “green Mardi Gras” celebration for St. Pat’s Day, features popular attractions such as an 18-wheeler filled with green beer provided by Coleman’s Authentic Irish Pub, open since 1933. Other eye-catchers are available year round, including the upside down traffic light located on Tipperary Hill, which has been permanently inverted to represent the “Irish green” over “British red.”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: With 14.2% of its population claiming primary Irish heritage, it's no surprise that the City of Brotherly Love is a beloved destination for immersive experiences. Consider stopping by The Irish Memorial, erected in 2002 by Glenna Goodacre to honor the lives lost during Ireland’s Great Hunger of the 1840s, for some sobering historical perspective. Or, if you're looking for something to lift the spirits, check Philadelphia Fleadh, the city's largest Irish festival, which takes place this year on May 2, 2015.
Chicago, Illinois: If the annual tinting of Chicago River to transform it into a shimmering green canal doesn't convince you of this city's passion for Irish spirit, nothing will. But if you can't make the St. Patrick's Day festivities, check out Kitty O’Sheas at Hilton Chicago any other day of the year. Founded by employees of the original location in Dublin, and family run since, Kitty O’Shea offers an ‘Old Ireland’ experience and flavors, such as potato leek soup, pretzels with Guinness mustard, corned beef & cabbage, and more.
Breezy Point-Rockaway Beach, N.Y.: Despite the Irish-American population in New York City making up just 5% of the total population, the waterside neighborhood of Breezy Point/Rockaway Point has long been considered a mecca for Irish immigrants, with Ireland directly reaching out with aid to the area following Hurricane Sandy. To sample the local flavor at its most saturated, check out the Irish Festival on May 30-31, which will boast bands, food and entertainment all in a beachy atmosphere.