Tips + Trends

Dog-Friendly Chicago: Where to Go When Traveling With Man’s Best Friend

(Photo: Kichigin/Shutterstock.com)

When your dog’s your bestie and your travel companion, staying in a pet-friendly hotel is a great start — but you can go even further to make your stay in Chicago fun for everyone, including the fur ball. Here’s where Windy City natives know they’ll be welcome with Rover in tow.

Hit the Beach

Craving a little fun in the sun? The Chicago Park District has designated dog-friendly zones at dozens of the city’s parks and beaches. You’ll mingle with all breeds of Chicagoans and their pets at popular spots like the nearly four-acre Montrose Beach play area. It’s a few miles north of downtown but worth the trek for free parking, lots of room to roam and some of the best dog swimming in the Midwest. Bring a towel — things are gonna get messy.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

One of the Mag Mile’s biggest malls, The Shops at North Bridge, welcomes canines in need of retail therapy. Tip: stop by the “pet comfort stations” on levels one and two for treats, fresh water and waste baggies. Want to branch out to the neighborhoods? In hip Wicker Park there’s a Dr. Martens store with a dog-friendly photo booth, and leafy Lincoln Park’s high-end stationery and gift shop, Elizabeth Grace, always keeps treats at the ready.

Feel the Burn

If your dog is also your workout partner, grab a leash and hit Chicago’s scenic Lakefront Trail — it’s 18 miles of glorious people and pet-watching. Just be sure to keep your dog close on the crowded parts of the path, where bikers fly past and children are known to dart.

Get Out on the Water

Your dog’s an avid sightseer, so take her on a Mercury Canine Cruise aboard the Skyline Queen. As you glide down the Chicago River, your tour guide will point out the city’s architectural gems and its dog-friendly attractions. (July 11 – October 4 on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:15 a.m.; adults $31; dogs $8)

Grab a Bite (or a Drink)

Order a Negroni slushy and settle in for some serious dog-and-tattoo-spotting at Parson’s Chicken & Fish, a spot in the happening Logan Square neighborhood that’s known for its frozen cocktails, ping-pong tables and expansive patio (not to mention its crave-able fried food). In Wicker Park, Big Star is a perennially popular honky-tonk taco bar with a big, dog-friendly outdoor area. Pups love the patio and coffee snobs love the cups at local roaster Intelligentsia‘s bustling Lakeview outpost. And, May through October, there’s no better doggie meet-and-greet than the Green City Market, a twice-weekly farmer’s market held in Lincoln Park where the crepes are made fresh, the rainbow of produce is irresistible and the well-behaved dogs are everywhere.