Dog-Friendly Guide to Chicago: Best Dog-Friendly Activities in Chicago
Is Chicago a dog friendly city? Where can I take my dog in Chicago? Where are the best hot dogs in Chicago? What can I do with my dog in Chicago? One of these questions doesn’t belong in a dog-friendly guide to Chicago, but we answer them all anyway because there are no shortage of dog-friendly activities in Chicago, and we want to try them all.
7 Best Things to do With Your Dog in Chicago
Are you visiting Chicago with a dog? Well you’re in luck. There are endless fun dog-friendly activities in the Windy City. All you need to enjoy them with your pooch is a leash, some water, and this guide to the top dog spots in Chicago.
- Go For a Walk
Chicago is a remarkably dog-friendly city, with no shortage of amazing walks that dogs and humans can enjoy together. Here are five fun places to walk your dog in Chicago.
Lake Front Trail - The Lake Front Trail in Chicago is nearly 20 miles of bike paths and walking trailers offering spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the city’s towering skyscrapers. Theres dozens of restrooms, vendors and water fountains, so be sure to bring your wallet and water bottle for a refill.
The Bloomingdale Trail (The 606) - The 606 park features 2.7 miles of the elevated concrete Bloomingdale Trail that connects to six ground-level neighborhood parks along Bloomingdale Avenue from Ashland Avenue to the east and Ridgeway Avenue to the west. The trail features plenty of water fountains, but little shade. So be careful that your dog doesn't overheat on your walk.
The Chicago River Walk - The dog-friendly Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian path along the river and through downtown that links with the Lakefront Trail. The Riverwalk parallels the Chicago River and Wacker Drive, between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. You and your pooch can walk through the Riverwalk Gateway, which to date, is the City of Chicago's largest work of public art.
North Branch Trail System - The North Branch Trail System offers paved and unpaved trails along approximately 20 miles of the North Branch of the Chicago River, making it a premier biking route in the northern suburbs. Connecting Chicago to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, the system includes trail loops through ecological restoration sites with diverse native wildlife.
Bunker Hill - Known for its popular picnic groves, Bunker Hill contains remarkable natural areas, including a floodplain forest, open savanna and the Sidney Yates Flatwoods. The site is part of the extensive North Branch Trail System and offers easy parking and natural play areas for kids.
- Go For a Swim
Situated right on the shores of scenic Lake Michigan, there are dozens of fun, safe places to swim with your dog in Chicago. Swimming is also a fantastic way to get your dog the exercise they need, strengthening their muscles and heart while being easy on their joints.
Montrose Beach - Montrose Harbor Dog Beach, located at the north end of Montrose Beach in Uptown, is open year round, during all regular Chicago Park District hours. The 3.83-acre area is the only off-leash beach for dogs in the city, where pooches soak in the lake and lay out on the rocks in the toasty summer sun.
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach - Halfway between Belmont and Addison on the north side of the harbor, this dog-friendly beach may be a bit harder to find, so keep an ear open for those happy yelps. At a mere .15 acres, the beach can get a little crowded, and because it is a harbor, the water isn’t pristine as swimming pools and free-flowing creeks.
Foster Avenue Dog Beach - Just north of Montrose Harbor Dog Beach, an officially sanctioned DFA checks in at a little less than an acre at the northern end of Foster beach. It’s much smaller than Montrose, but that makes it easier to keep an eye on your pooch. The entrance is double gated and the fenced area reaches the water, so your buddy can have free run of the place with no worries. Get there in the morning because afternoons tend to include a little canine congestion in the small beach area.
Evanston Dog Beach - Northwestern University’s Wildcats aren’t the only beasts in Evanston when the town’s off-leash dog beach opens from April to November. Although the lakefront along this stretch of land is beautiful, the beach is simple bare bones. Owners bring their own doggy bags and respect this space. Pooches here enjoy a little sand between their paws and cool Lake Michigan water.
Winnetka Dog Beach - People can’t swim here, but the word in canine circles is that dogs adore Winnetka Dog Beach, an off-leash area at Centennial Park in the North Shore ‘burb. You don’t have to be a resident to bring your bud to the beach, but you must have a valid pass that’s fairly pricey for out-of-towners. Still, this members-only dog beach boasts tons of fun for any pup.
- Go to the Park
Chicago is home to dozens of gorgeous parks and hundreds scenic city-scapes, and most of them are dog-friendly. You can bring your dog to any of these amazing parks in Chicago, just be sure to bring a leash and follow all park rules.
The 606 - A formerly abandoned stretch of elevated railway track that runs through Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown has found new life as the 606, after an extensive renovation that was completed in 2015. Named after the first three digits in every Chicago zip code, the 2.7-mile path connecting several parks and public art installations. Prepare to dodge strollers, bicycles and residents out for a very slow jog on this popular throughway.
Lincoln Park - Named for Illinois’s favorite son shortly after his assassination in 1865, Lincoln Park stretches six and a half miles along the lakeshore from Ohio Street Beach to Hollywood Beach. Inside the boundaries of the sprawling North Side park, visitors will also find attractions like the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. The park itself offers golf courses, baseball fields, a skate park and paths for walking, jogging or biking, as well as easy access to the nearby Lakefront Trail.
Garfield Park - One of Chicago's more prominent parks on the city's West Side, Garfield Park offers facilities for baseball, boxing, basketball, tennis and swimming and also has a fieldhouse (topped with a gold dome) playground, fitness center, lagoon and paths for jogging, walking and biking.
Jackson Park - Designed by famous landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Jackson Park became the chosen site for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 (it even contains a scale replica of the event's iconic golden Statue of the Republic). Today, the 600-acre park set along the lake shore on the South Side offers golf, baseball, a fitness center, basketball, a playground, and tennis courts as well as the Osaka Garden—a Japanese-inspired garden on an island in the park's east lagoon.
Humboldt Park - Humboldt Park was once the nation’s greatest public park, boasting acres of prairie-style gardens, grazing animals and a meandering river scene. Though the animals are long gone, the park still offers extensive rose beds as well as tennis courts, an inland beach, baseball fields and bike paths. Take a seat at the Humboldt Park Boathouse and admire the sights from inside a structure inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style architecture.
Douglas Park - This expansive North Lawndale park features gymnasiums, tennis courts, a football stadium, outdoor pool, basketball courts, an artificial turf soccer field, baseball fields and a small golf putting range. Designed at the same time as Humboldt and Garfield parks, the outdoor facility is named for Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas.
- Go Out to Eat
Chicago is home to some of the best food in the world. Fortunately for dog-owners, many of the restaurants in Chicago are also dog-friendly. These dog-friendly restaurants in Chicago all feature outdoor patios, or dog-friendly dinning rooms where dogs and diners alike can enjoy a delicious experience. Keep reading for our list of 10 best dog-friendly restaurants in Chicago.
O'Brien's Riverwalk Cafe - O'Brien's Riverwalk Cafe has been serving continental cuisine in an elegant historic Old Town atmosphere with outdoor seating available for dogs. A diverse menu offers crab cakes, Buffalo shrimp, Caesar salad with chicken, BBQ pork sandwiches, turkey burgers, ribeye steak, seared salmon, and shepherd's pie. Dogs are welcome at front sidewalk tables.
Harry Caray's Tavern - Harry Caray's Tavern boasts a licensed dog friendly patio on beautiful Navy Pier. They will serve your canine companion a souvenir water bowl and a treat while you enjoy a Holy Cow! Burger or one of their Signature Pizzas.
The Moonlighter - The Moonlighter has an extensive menu of bar food like waffle fries, nachos, and burgers, and all of those things are perfectly fine. But the real reason to come here is for the huge outdoor space that has plenty of room for you, all 12 of your friends, and your dog. In fact, your dog will have enough space to fall in love, steal a cheeseburger, and have her heart broken, all without you even noticing.
Parson’s Chicken and Fish - The patio at Parson’s is full of large picnic tables with oversized umbrellas, and you’ll find plenty of dogs underneath them taking advantage of the shade. Because unlike you trying to get a “base tan” before going to Cancun, dogs take the dangers of sunburn seriously. Food-wise, the fried chicken here is really good - and they make frozen negronis that you can grab at the outdoor bar, too.
Lost Larson - Lost Larson is an all-day spot in Andersonville. It used to just be a bakery and cafe (with delicious pastries and bread), but now it also serves dinner, with really good dishes like Swedish meatballs, agnolotti, and roast chicken. There’s even a hidden back patio, so you can quit your job and spend all day hanging out here with your dog. Which, let’s face it, has been the plan for a while now.
- Watch a Ballgame
The Chicago White Sox have multiple “Bark At The Park” nights every year, where fans are encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. You need to reserve your tickets well in advance, because the games sell out, but if you can get seats, this is a great activity for the whole family.
- Go Shopping
Though it's up to each individual store whether you can bring your dog inside, dog-owners will find dozens of dog-friendly places to go shopping in Chicago. Here are just a few places to shop with your dog in Chicago.
Magnificent Mile - Shop with your dog in Chicago along Michigan Avenue's famed Magnificent Mile at several pet-friendly stores including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, TJMaxx, Marshalls, Patagonia, Columbia Sportswear, Apple Michigan Avenue, Tails in the City, and others.
Shops at North Bridge - Dogs of all sizes are allowed at the Shops at North Bridge, as long as they're leashed. Be sure to stop by their pet comfort stations for a complimentary treat for Fido. Pets are not allowed in the Food Court which is on Level Four. Most of the shops allow dogs to enter too.
- See the Sights
If you’re visiting Chicago, then it’s only a matter of time until you make your way downtown to enjoy the iconic sights. Fortunately, dogs are allowed in most outdoor places in Chicago, so you can bring Fido along with you while you take in the skyline and enjoy downtown. Here are our favorite dog-friendly sights in Chicago.
Navy Pier - Navy Pier is often referred to as Chicago's lakefront playground. Bring your dog with you as you explore this popular dining, shopping and entertainment destination. The pedestrian south dock is one of the best boardwalks in America. Stroll with your pup along the 2,000-foot-long walkway connected to the Pier and you’ll pass several dog-friendly restaurants, bars and activities.
Seadog Boat Tour - Seadog is a dog-friendly boat tour company that will take you and your pooch for a ride on Lake Michigan. There is a short 30-minute tour that offers a great view of the city skyline, a longer 75-minute architecture tour that explores the lake and the Chicago River, and the “Seadog Extreme” ride for thrill-seekers.
Architecture Tour - Take in Chicago’s famed history and architecture along its infamous river and Lake Michigan with your dog who gets to ride free on your next Shoreline Sightseeing boat tour.
Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Chicago
Our list of top dog spots in Chicago is getting pretty big, but we’ve hardly scratched the surface of all the fun things to do with your dog in Chicago. The following list of dog-friendly activities in Chicago includes pet-friendly hotels, the best Chicago dog parks, and dog-friendly day trips you can take with your furry friend.
Dog-Friendly Hotels In Chicago
Hospitality in Chicago extends to all visitors, especially canine guests. Hotels across the city are ready to pamper your pooch with a variety of amenities, from dog treats and toys to doggie daycare, special menus and even spa treatments.
- Viceroy Chicago - Nestled in the Gold Coast, blocks away from the lake, among several fine-dining restaurants, the Viceroy Chicago is a luxurious stay. Dogs get a custom Viceroy dog bed, food and water bowls, plush pet toys and courtesy bags for walking your dog. Dog walking services can be booked through the hotel concierge and there is an amenity fee of $50 (25 lb. limit and two pets per room).
- The Hotel Zachary – The Hotel Zachary is a beautiful boutique hotel named after the architect who designed the next-door Wrigley Field. The hotel offers a Bark and Park Package that includes waived pet fee (normally $75), complimentary parking, branded accessories, toys and treats. To book the Bark and Park Package, use the promo code ZJ5 when making your reservation.
- The Thompson Chicago – The Thompson Chicago invites guests to bring their furry friends with the Posh Pups Package. One block to the east is the Lakefront Trail, perfect for morning walks. One block to the west are some of the mainstay restaurants in the city, such as Carmine’s and Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse.
- Hyatt Place Chicago/Wicker Park – Pets are welcome at the newly opened Hyatt Place Chicago/Wicker Park. For an additional fee of $75, bring up to two dogs to this fresh and modern hotel. Right in the center of Wicker Park, you’ll be blocks away from great restaurants and coffee shops, and other neighborhood furry friends!
- The Guesthouse Hotel - The Guesthouse Hotel in Andersonville has only 25 rooms, making it feel homey for you and your pet. Complimentary beds, food, and water bowls and baggies are available upon request.
Dog Parks In Chicago
There are so many dog parks in Chicago, it can be difficult to decide which one to go to bring your furry friend. Fortunately, we’ve listed the best dog parks in Chicago, including all the details you need to plan a visit.
- Pottawattomie Dog Park - Rogers Park’s premiere dog park is nestled in the northeast corner of Pottawattamie Park. It’s about .2 acres with asphalt and pea gravel. Amenities at this neighborhood favorite include a dog drinking fountain, a designated small dog area, two separate entrances and exits, benches, and lots of shade.
- Norwood Park Dog Friendly Area - This .13-acre Northwest Side dog zone is tucked within Norwood Park, just across the street from the Metra tracks. It includes a dog drinking fountain, plenty of shade and benches. The area is manned by the Norwood Dog Park Association, who raise funds to maintain and clean the park, as well as plan community events.
- Puptown Dog Park - This Uptown dog park is maintained entirely by the Puptown Dog Owners Group. The .38-acre park’s surface is asphalt and gravel. It’s a very popular spot, so expect your four-legged companion to make friends during your visit.
- Portage Park Dog Friendly Area - This dog-friendly area was merely a patch of asphalt when it first opened, but has expanded into one of the largest dog parks. It is managed by the Portage Park Dog Park Committee, who keeps the park clean and plans community events at the park. There are benches and dog drinking fountains, too.
- River Park Dog Friendly Area - Away from the L, highways, and the Metra, this Albany Park dog park is one of the quieter parks in the city and ideal for skittish pups. The park, also referred to as Paws Park, is situated within the idyllic River Park. It’s location within River Park, which has lots of trails and is near the new bike and pedestrian path, makes it an excellent destination for a day out with your dog.
- Lakeshore East Dog Park - This small oasis just north of Millennium Park is a perfect escape. The ground of Lakeshore East Dog Park is covered mostly in green turf, concrete sidewalks, and several trees that keep it nice and shaded. Additional features at this .1 acre park include a dog drinking fountain, a double gate entrance, and benches.
- Skinner Bark Park - This .4 acre dog park is one of the most beloved and unique in the city. Skinner Bark Park’s surface is a combination of green turf, pea gravel, and concrete, and its large size easily allows for games of fetch. The West Loop park is maintained by a community group, who also puts on monthly (or semi-monthly) social events for dogs and dog-owners.
- Wiggly Field Dog Friendly Area - Chicago’s first dog park remains one of its most popular ones, too. The Lincoln Park dog-friendly area, situated adjacent to the CTA’s elevated tracks. The park is .37 acres in size, easily big enough for a game of fetch. There are a few mature trees, but the surface is mostly asphalt and gravel.
- Wicker Dog Friendly Area - This dog park has long held its own as the center of the Wicker Park dog community. It is located in the southeast corner of the triangular of Wicker Park. Given its popularity and small size, it can get quite crowded in the morning and early evenings. There is a double gate entrance, dog drinking fountains, and plenty of seating.
- Bennett Park - Bennett Park, a two-acre privately operated public space, will has a sprawling dog park for neighborhood residents. Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates—the firm behind Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park and The 606 trail—Bennett Park includes two 24-hour public dog parks for large and small canines.
Dog-Friendly Day Trips from Chicago
Would you like to see more of Illinois? There’s no reason to leave your best friend behind on these dog-friendly day trips from Chicago.
- Indiana Dunes - Just 35 miles out of the city, you and your dune doggy will love exploring the park trails, lakeshore, and beaches at the Indiana Dunes. There are lots of pet-friendly accommodations, stores, and restaurants around town. The arboretum and European market are also worth a sniff.
- Starved Rock - Less than 100 miles outside Chicago, Starved Rock boasts 18 canyons, picturesque sandstone bluffs, fun local wineries and breweries with dog-friendly patios, and a rich cultural history. Fall is also paws down the best for high-tailing it to the trails for drool-worthy views.
- Amish Country - From locally owned shops to accommodations to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, there are so many pet-friendly things to do in northern Indiana’s Amish Country. Try the Shipshewana Trading Place, where leashed pups are welcome to peruse the Midwest's largest flea market by your side. Just a warning: after a weekend learning about the Amish way of life, you may find it hard to scoot back to the hustle and bustle of the city.
- Lake Geneva - Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is the perfect place to take lots of “cheesy” vacay photos with your dog! Most restaurants allow dogs on their patios, and many adorable bed and breakfasts welcome them as well. This resort town pampers pups as much as humans so the two of you can relax and rejuvenate together.
Dog-Friendly Guide to Chicago: Frequently Asked Questions
With so many dog-friendly things to do in Chicago, you’re bound to have a few questions. We do our best to answer them here. Please let us know in the comments if we missed any, or if you know of any dog-friendly places in Chicago that we missed.
- Are dogs allowed at Millennium Park?
- Unfortunately, animals are not permitted at Millennium Park, even though the park is predominantly outdoors. The only animals that are permitted throughout the park are service animals.
- Where Can I Buy Puppies For Sale In Chicago?
If you live in Chicago and you’re looking for a puppy for sale in Illinois, the best place to go is PuppySpot. Contact them today to connect with your very own Puppy Concierge, who will help you find your new best friend, or you can search by breed and take our Breed Match Quiz to find the perfect furry companion. Don’t forget to share your Wet Nose Moments on social media using #PuppySpot.