Our pets are like family: we love them, we care for them, and we want them to be around us, even when we’re exploring a big city like Chicago. Savvy travelers and Windy City locals understand that just because a place allows dogs doesn’t necessarily mean that dogs are especially welcome or that the place is dog-friendly.
This guide will show you the best places to get around town with your four-legged friend, from neighborhood parks where Fido can run off-leash and socialize with other dogs, to top Windy City sights and attractions.
Having Fun at Chicago’s Public Dog Parks
From Roger’s Park north to south Chicago, along the Indiana border, and everywhere in between, several dog-friendly areas in the Chicago Park District welcome pets year-round and allow them to run off leash in the safety of a fenced area. Your fully vaccinated pet will need a permit and tag to enter ($10) and you will need to pick up after your dog (of course). Some of these parks have special areas for small dogs or shy dogs, pet water fountains, trash cans, and extra dog bags. Below are some noteworthy locations:
- Belmont Harbor Dog Beach: Located at Belmont and Lake Shore Drive in Lincoln (Abraham) Park, this dog park, in a great neighborhood within walking distance of the Lakefront Trail, is small but clean. During the warmer months, your dog can swim and chase balls.
- Puptown Dog Park: This spot, located in Chicago’s Margate Park, is very popular with locals. If you come here often, plan to volunteer to help maintain the park – people get together every other Saturday morning to rake the gravel, fill the poop bag dispensers and clean the park. Puptown is a great place for your pet to run around and be part of the community.
- Montrose Dog Beach: This beautiful park, also called Mon Dog, is open every day of the year. During the warmer months, in particular, this famous dog beach is exciting to visit. You’ll see your woolly pet bouncing in and out of the water, rolling around in the sand, and making new friends.
- Wicker Dog Playpen: Located in Wicker Park on North Damen Avenue, this park is tidy and relatively large. There is a water fountain for your puppies and benches to sit on. The park can be a social affair, for humans and dogs alike.
- Bronzeville Dog Park: The Bronzeville Association for Recreation with Canines (BARC) worked with the Chicago Park District to create three dog parks. Well maintained and supported by community volunteers, these parks are wonderful for pets who need some fresh air, sunshine and exercise.
Good to know: Chicago’s weather can often be temperamental in every season. Rain, snow, wind, ice, we have it all. Plan to dress up for the occasion and outfit your dog with Kurgo’s Halifax Rain Shell, available in white or yellow, or their colorful Loft Dog Jacket. Both choices will provide an extra layer of protection and warmth, perfect for unpredictable city weather.
Explore Chicago’s Lakefront Trail
The Lakefront Trail is an 18-mile-long bicycle and pedestrian path that runs from Ardmore Avenue on the north side of town to 71st South side street. Throughout, you can explore a number of neighborhoods including Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, South Loop, Bronzeville, and Hyde Park. Dogs on a leash can walk with their masters on the sidewalk.
Good to know: If you decide to burn off your dog’s seemingly endless energy via an extra-long walk, you’ll probably want to have your hands free while on the go. Mazama’s Tumalo hydration pack is the perfect size for hitting the city’s Lakefront Trail. The insulated tank compartment will prevent your water from freezing in the winter and getting too hot in the summer. Fill the bag’s pockets with extra waste bags and treats for your pooch and you’ll be on your way.
Navy Pier Boardwalk
Navy Pier is a dog-friendly place popular with tourists and locals alike. Admire the skyline from the pier as you stroll along the south quay. Take a rest on one of the benches in the East End Plaza and watch the boats. Explore the Polk Bros Park, located at the main entrance to the pier. Participate in a public event or two, including a plethora of free programs. Dine alfresco at the Harry Caray Tavern. The pier offers plenty of photo and background opportunities for you and your pup: Centennial Wheel, Wave Wall, and the USS Chicago Anchor.
Good to know: Keep your pet warm and fashionable with the Ellie dog jacket from Lolë. And, if you want to be match-y-match-y, you can get the versatile, packable Midnight Blue Jwp Atmos Jacket from Jack Wolfskin. Explore Windy City’s top sights and attractions in style.
Chicago River and Lake Michigan Cruise
Why not take your pet on a dog-friendly Chicago cruise? Mercury Cruises, the most pet-friendly, is hosting a dog cruise on Chicago’s waterways, starting in July. Guides on the lake and river cruise will teach you not only about Chicago’s history and architecture, but also about dog-friendly points of interest.
Leashed dogs are welcome on all Shoreline Sightseeing tours. Departing directly from Navy Pier, Seadog Cruises also offers a number of cruises that are ideal for leashed marine animals.
Good to know: You may want to bring a blanket, like Eddie Bauer’s We Wander Pet Throw, for the cruise to keep your pet comfortable while they sit on your lap or relax on the floor Of the boat. And, if you think your dog is going to catch a chill, consider the Mountain Pet Sweater for an extra layer.
Take your dog swimming indoors
Doggie Paddle, located in Wicker Park, is the ultimate indoor fitness center for dogs. From daycare to swimming lessons to round-trip transportation, they do it all. If it’s cold in Chicago and you don’t want to go outside, but your dog needs exercise and socialization, you might want to sign up for classes here.
Good to know: You will likely be transporting your dog to and from a vehicle. Why not create a safe and comfortable space in your car with a portable dog bed. The Second Cut K-9 camp cushion from Smartwool, made from recycled socks, has a washable cover and a multicolored design. The handle makes it easy to transport the bed from your car to your home.