Have you heard of Dublin, Ohio? About 20 minutes northwest of Columbus, Ohio, the city revels in its Irish roots. For St. Patrick’s Day, the revelry is even more amped up. We headed to the city to check out what goes on and what’s new in town and it turns out here’s a whole lot. From food to a fun boozy trail, here are six reasons to love the Dublin, Ohio St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.
Yes, we did visit Dublin, Ohio, a couple of years ago. Yes, it was a huge surprise that the city, filled with all-things Irish, exists only a few minutes from Columbus. And, yes, the second we left I already wanted to make a return visit.
In mid-March, I got my wish. So, with bags packed and filled with St. Patrick’s Day accessories, Mr. Locke and I hit the road to see what’s new in town.
Happily, the town is thriving and the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration only adds to its likeability: Trips to Discover named Dublin one of the top 15 best places to celebrate in the U.S. Here’s my favorites moments from our visit.
1. Inflation Celebration
Such a cute title, but it’s well worth getting up and out before the parade begins to check out Dublin’s Inflation Celebration. Here’s the scoop: local families step up each year and volunteer to carry the giant inflatable shamrocks and top hat.
This year, I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the families (check out my Facebook live for the interview) and it was lovely to learn why they volunteered. Not only is it something for the family to do together, it’s a good way for kids to volunteer and give back. LOVE that!
2. Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The annual parade is a huge draw no matter what the weather, but when the weather is lovely, fans come out in droves. We stayed about 3/4 of a mile from the Dublin Visitors’ Bureau, so why not walk the parade route (it passed right beside our hotel but I wanted to see the CVB updates) and see all of the folks, right?
The walk was just lovely and so were the parade goers.
Aptly named the Greenest, Grandest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, we watched everything from giant balloons to pipers to dancers in the hour-long parade.
3. Blarney Bash
After the parade, folks head over to the Annual Blarney Bash for more Irish-infused fun. Basically a giant heated tent, there’s a stage with live music and dancing in the front and food and drink along the sides.
And, while that’s a very basic description, it’s really so much more than that. Top notch bands including The Ladies of Longford and the Prodigals took to the stage and were brilliant!
In between the music, “The Best Legs in a Kilt Contest” was a huge draw. City officials, local businessmen, and locals don authentic kilts and strut their stuff on stage. All in good fun, the three judges were bribed with liquor and food and it was a hoot to watch.
The winner for this year? Rick Mailr, owner of City Barbeque. It definitely helped that he matched donations, up to $2500, to the worthy cause, Syntero and Strides for Sobriety to fight opioid addition.
4. Irish Food
If we’re going to “do Irish”, we’re diving in 100% – and that includes food. When we asked the locals where we should have lunch, the answer always included one spot: Dublin Village Tavern.
If you visit during the celebration, chances are you’ll be waiting for a table. And waiting. But, the wait was so worth it.
With an rustic interior and classic Irish dishes including Shepherd’s Pie and Fish and Chips, lunch was heart and delicious.
5. Celtic Cocktail Trail
Having arrived in Dublin the night before the celebration, we had to go and checkout the sight and sounds of the city on a Friday night. The best way for us to do that? The Dublin Cocktail Trail.
The Trail has 11 locations around Dublin, Ohio, and the creative cocktails are not only delicious, it highlights the city’s craft cocktail scene.
Note: drinking 11 cocktails in one night is definitely not recommended, but once you do make your way around to each of the 11 locations, turn in your official Celtic Cocktail Trail passport at the Dublin Visitor & Information Center and you’ll get a cool t-shirt. Thee’s two ways to score a passport: visit the center on S. High Street or download it on the official site.
6. Dublin Fairy Door Trail
A fun, family-friendly activity in Dublin is to make pit stops on the Fairy Door Trail. This year, there are seven locations and, to score a really cute Fairy Door Trail t-shirt, you need to jot down the name of each of the fairies. Turn it into the Visitor’s Center and you’re good to go.
Tip: you can visit any time of year and check out the trail!
Where to Stay in Dublin, Ohio
Hands down, my choice is Home2 Suites by Hilton. An all suites hotel, it’s highly affordable, and the suites are downright huge. Each has a full-sized fridge, sink, microwave and necessary cookware. Want to cook for yourself? Ask for a hot plate at the front desk.
What we loved: Free parking, free wifi, and free breakfast. The breakfast was not the usual free hotel breakfast, either. It has artisan breakfast sandwiches that can be heated up, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, drinks, and even small omelettes. There’s coffee and tea in the lobby 24/7, too.
As for amenities, there are plenty. Not only was the hotel the only one on the official parade route this year, it offered a Celebration package filled with Irish decorations, beads, and glasses.
Two additional cool things to note about the hotel: Spin2 Cycle and the pool. The fitness center and laundry room are combined so you can run on the treadmill and do a load of washing at the same time. We loved the fact that there were complimentary earbuds to use for the treadmills, too.
As for the pool, it’s an indoor saline pool. As a gal that cannot handle indoor chlorinated pools, it was a literal breath of fresh air.
Disclosure: I was hosted by the Dublin, Ohio CVB to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes the city so fun for visitors. All opinions are my own! #SoDublin #OhioFindItHere