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 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.
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.
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 architecture 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.
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.
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.
1. 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.
2. On Saturdays at Augie’s Front Burner in Springfield, Chef Augie is known for whipping up special dishes for his canine customers. Past dinners have included pasta with ground beef and hashes made with chicken and veggies. The pup-friendly portions are always generous and usually set humans back just $2.50.
3. Also in Springfield, pet parents enjoy small-batch beers while the dogs snack on healthy biscuits made from spent grains at Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery.
4. Trendy doggos can see and be seen outside Chicago’s first and only pet-friendly food truck. Fido to Go serves up handmade, “gourmutt” cookies, ice creams and frozen yogurts throughout downtown. Check online for the truck’s location each day.
5. People and pets have to work for treats at Wooded Wonderland Country Store in Galena. Outside, visitors and their dogs pick fresh blueberries and tomatoes. Inside the shop, find homemade spreads, jams and honeys.
6. Pastries abound at the upscale Bonjour Cafe Bakery in Chicago’s Hyde Park. Humans come for the ultra-flaky croissants while pets enjoy fresh biscuits.
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.”
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.
Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest and its surrounds provide an under-t...
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