You might not think of this city of skyscrapers and chill winds as especially pet-friendly, but you would be off the mark. If you are whisking your dog to the Windy City, you’ll be glad to know that there is a plethora of activities to keep the two of you entertained. Parks, baseball, boating, gardens, dining: whatever your pleasure, you’re sure to find a way to enjoy it here with your dog. Let us help you sniff out some fun things to do.
Play ball! If you’re visiting Chicago in April, contact Comiskey Park to see if you can get tickets for the annual “Dog Day” game. It’s the one game of the year where dogs are allowed, seated with their people in a special section of the park. Remind your dog that the balls aren’t being thrown for him to chase.
Go for a cruise. Mercury Skyline Cruise Line schedules a 90-minute canine cruise of the river and lakefront every Sunday at 10 a.m. between July and September. Leashed dogs are welcome, and it’s a great way to become familiar with local dog parks, fire hydrants and other dog-friendly establishments. Tickets are $23 for adults, $10 for kids under 12 and $7 for pooches. Kids under 3 ride free. Worried about the, er, necessities? Never fear. Your dog will have access to newspaper-lined restrooms and water bowls. Oh, and there are restrooms for people, too.
Stroll or run the Lakefront Trail. On Lake Shore Drive, alongside Lake Michigan, are a good 18 miles of paved pathway. Go leashed on the pavement or let your dog run off-leash on the beach at Montrose Harbor. (Don’t take the leash off until you get from the parking lot to the beach or you’ll face a hefty fine.) Check out the Riverwalk Gateway, a lighted tunnel that currently holds title as Chicago’s largest work of public art. From it, you can access the Chicago Riverwalk, which takes you—natch—along the river and through downtown.
Experience the great indoors. Not everyone is lucky enough to visit Chicago when the weather is beautiful. To escape snow, ice or rain, or just for something a little different, duck indoors to a club called Of Mutts and Men. There you’ll find comfy sofas, TVs, chess boards and pool tables. No leash is required, for you or your dog, and if you’re feeling industrious, you can do a little obedience practice in a ring for that purpose, take a class, or consult an on-site trainer or behaviorist about Max’s issues with ladies’ underwear. Or just have a cup of free coffee and chill. Daily admission is $3 per person and $3 per dog, or you can purchase a monthly or annual pass.
Visit famous Grant Park. Grant Park’s Bark Park, that is. The fenced, 18,000-square-foot space is accessible from Columbus Avenue or from the 11th Street Bridge. Pools and fountains add to the ambience. You’ll need to get a $5 permit, which will give you access to this and all of Chicago’s other dog parks, including Montrose Beach. Be sure to bring proof of your dog’s vaccinations.
Hungry? If all of this activity has you both begging for food, look for one of Chicago’s many eateries with outdoor seating—at least in summertime. Two to consider are Cyrano’s Bistro and Wine Bar, serving up French bistro fare, and Wishbone Restaurant, offering what they call Southern reconstruction cooking. Based on the menu, we call it good eats.
Trip the light fantastic. Finish your summer day with the light, water and music show at Buckingham Fountain—one of the largest and grandest in the world—in Grant Park. The 20-minute show runs every hour on the hour from dusk to 11 p.m. Just don’t let your water dog go for a swim in the fountain during the display.
By Kim Thornton for Pet Airways