Fun times and new adventures are almost always better with your furry friend in tow. On this trip, there’s no need to leave Fido behind. We’ve dug up the best pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and activities in Chicago and beyond, all of which score two paws up.
At the Virgin Hotel in downtown Chicago, dogs stay for no extra charge and receive a cozy bed, food and water dishes—stocked with treats, of course—and a fetching bandana.
On Michigan Avenue, pooches also stay for free at the Chicago Athletic Association. The hotel’s on-site Shake Shack offers a special dog menu complete with pup-friendly burgers and baked goods.
At Chicago’s Kimpton Hotels (the Allegro, Gray, Monaco and Palomar), the director of pet relations—yes, that’s a real title—greets you and your pooch by name. They also hook your pet up with a luxe bed and plush toys.
Additional pooch perks include pet-bed loaners for your room, food, water bowls, mats and courtesy bags. They’ll also clue you in to dog-friendly restaurants, dog parks and groomers. You can even take your guest dog to the hotel’s nightly wine reception.
Paw parents in the mood to splurge can foot a $75 fee to house Fido at Chicago’s James Hotel. There, the room service team will fetch your fur baby entrees including a filet mignon and cow hooves for about $10 each.
For those who feel like “ruff”ing it, Rim Rock’s Dogwood Cabins in the Shawnee National Forest give dogs—and their humans—space to roam. The nearby hikes and lakes are all pooch-approved. Your dog might even make friends with the friendly on-site llamas and goats.
For a $75 pet access fee, you can tap into the downtown James Chicago hotel’s partnership with luxury retailer Shinola. That means plush dog beds, colorful leashes and toys. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel’s VIPup package includes gourmet treats, a welcome toy, and a dog bed and dishes.
Galena’s Cloran Mansion, a bed-and-breakfast inn, welcomes two dogs of any size to stay at its Antonio’s Cottage for a fee of $25 per stay. Pet parents appreciate the in-room whirlpool. Nearby, Galena Log Cabin Getaway offers four dog-friendly cabins for guests. Kishauwau Country Cabins in Tonica has pet-friendly cabins, too.
Forget the car window. Your canine will have a blast sticking his nose out the side of a speedboat on Chicago’s Mercury Cruises. The 90-minute boat ride along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan covers city history and offers cool architectural views. Dogs enjoy water bowls and newspaper-lined restrooms.
Kayak Chicago invites you and your dog to get out on the water by paddling a kayak on Montrose Beach. Before you push off, experts give a safety lesson and provide a pup-sized life jacket. The boats are ultra-stable, so your dog can sit or stand inside. When you’re ready to get back on land, head a few miles south to Navy Pier, where most outdoor areas are pet friendly. Harry Caray’s Tavern has a dog-friendly patio, in particular.
Take Fido out to the ball game on special pet-friendly nights at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the Chicago White Sox. During the pre-game dog parade, pooches are allowed to play on the field. Check online for dates. You can also mix and mingle with other dogs and owners along the lakefront at Bark in the Park (May), billed as Chicago’s largest dog party. It takes place at Soldier Field Stadium Green.
During the dog days of summer, don’t miss these limited-time, dog-friendly excursions. Every Tuesday through August, The Morton Arboretum in Lisle opens its doors to pets and their owners (reserve tickets for both online), who can explore 16 miles of trails. The Joliet Slammers host Dog Day on August 1 at the Duly Health and Care Field in downtown Joliet. And because the game is on a Tuesday, purchase your tickets in advance for $2.
For the extra-adventurous pet, all 150-plus miles of trails at the Shawnee National Forest near Harrisburg are dog friendly. Just don’t forget the leash. Pups are also allowed inside Garden of the Gods where you can explore the ancient sandstone cliffs and formations. At Starved Rock State Park in LaSalle County, you and your four-legged bestie can navigate steep canyons, wooded trails and majestic waterfalls. You might even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle.
People and pets who crave a quiet, leisurely adventure head to the Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Rockford. You and your leashed canine are welcome to enjoy the arboretum’s eight gardens which feature hundreds of colorful species, bubbling fountains and vegetables that feed area food pantries.
For an even more relaxing trip, hop aboard an air-conditioned trolley for a tour of Galena’s Historic District. Pets are allowed aboard the Galena Trolley Tours where you’ll travel the area’s rolling hills and valleys while learning about the town’s mining history. The tour stops at three of the city’s state historic sites including former president Ulysses S. Grant’s 1868 home and the Dowling House, the oldest stone structure in Illinois. Leashed pets can explore the sites with you.
Downstate, pop in with your pup at Urbana’s Sipyard, a hip beer garden and music venue featuring recycled shipping containers inside a graffiti gallery. Meanwhile, at The Grove Memorial Park in Grafton, dig the dog-friendly Music in the Park concerts on Thursday nights.
Dogs dot the patio and enclosed run (with faux fire hydrant), plus they lap water at the outside bar and chew handmade biscuits made with spent brewery grains.
The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel’s restaurant offers B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Dog) on Wednesdays. Humans enjoy happy hour on the patio while pets scarf down a Bad to the Bone burger and slurp Frosty Paws ice cream.
Dog-friendly tables fill the porch, and canine couches ring the fire pit.
Dogs relax on the riverfront with free bones and a beef and rice combo.
Dogs eat from their own menu during Waggin’ Weekends. Entrees include chicken pasta and salmon with rice. Peanut butter biscuits and beefsicles await for dessert.
Despite the feline name, pups love the mini dog park on the patio at Ten Cat Tavern in Chicago’s North Center. Don’t be surprised to see pooches perched on stools inside, too.
In Chicago, Michigan Avenue’s famous Shops at North Bridge welcomes dogs on leashes. Nordstrom, the mall’s anchor store, lays out water bowls next to special bathrooms for pooches. The designer department chain also provides complimentary bags for your pup’s bathroom business.
You don’t have to be the only one traveling in style. Chicago’s swanky pet boutique Tails in the City sells chic dog collars and leashes, plus super-durable carriers. Or, treat your friend to a fancy new toy from brands such as “Chewy Vuitton” and “Chewlulemon.”
In Downers Grove, Happy Dog Barkery is the ultimate pit-stop for a dog-friendly pick-me-up. Fido can start with a hearty meat-and-veggie stew and finish with a canine-approved cake.
Geneva Commons, located in one of Chicago’s western suburbs, boasts more than 75 stores and restaurants in a beautiful outdoor setting. Dogs are allowed inside most locations, especially Wet Nose. This pup-tastic boutique focuses on your bestie’s health and wellbeing. There, find nutritious treats, all-natural shampoos, and non-toxic, allergen-free toys.
Explore the former home of the 18th President during an idyllic Galena getaway.
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