From Woofstock in Chicago to bocce ball games in Minneapolis, Bark readers know where to find dog-friendly summer fun in the Midwest.
Going on the sandbars on the Wisconsin River: boat for miles ’til you find a secluded sandbar for your group — dogs included — grill, swim, throw the Frisbee. Everyone has fun and stays cool. — Lisa Huber
Check out Chicago area neighborhood festivals, many of which are dog- friendly (not all, so be sure to check). One of my personal favorites is Custer’s Last Stand on Custer Ave. in Evanston in June. Besides dogs, I’ve also seen people there with parrots on their shoulders and carrying a pouch of ferrets. — Lizzi K.
Lake Superior Hiking Trail from Duluth, Minn., to the Canadian border. Tip: Leash up your dogs at trailheads, but if they’re friendly with people and other dogs, let them run free once you’re a quarter-mile out. I rarely run into more than a few people in 10 miles. — Karen Neal
Broad Ripple neighborhood in Indianapolis. Why? The Monon Trail is great for dog walking and Three Dog Bakery for starters. Best of all, numerous dog-friendly restaurants including Petite Chou, which serves frosty paws all summer; the Monon Food Company, with a large dog-friendly deck; Plump’s Last Shot, and the most popular local dog hangout, Flatwater. At The Monkey’s Tale/Jazz Cooker, you can listen to live music on the patio with your dog, provided that he or she doesn’t decide to join the band with a good howl. — Bunny Davis
We love to hang out at the leash-free Canine Country, near St. Louis, Mo., on lazy summer days. My three dogs and I take beautiful hikes and swims on 223 acres of farmland. My dogs don’t herd sheep, but there are some available to smell, along with some chickens. We even got into a tussle with a skunk. It’s truly an adventure! — Kristen Weber
We always loved Door County Wisconsin the state parks are great they all require leashes but so what there beautiful. — James Doorey
Bloomington, IN is a great place for pets and their people! With several State and National Parks within 20 minutes drive there is a ton to do, and all outdoors. Great hiking, kayaking, swimming, basically everything people and dogs love to do! There is even a local dog bakery in Nashville, IN only 20 miles away! —J Jenkins
My favorite travel spot with my dog and all previous dogs is Good Hart, Michigan. We stay in a cottage on the beach of Lake Michigan. — Patty Offenberg
We recently took a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota — the one million-acre area lies within the boundaries of the four-million-acre Superior National Forest. This is the largest designated wilderness in the eastern U.S. with 2,000 campsites, over 1,000 lakes — heaven for wilderness trekkers, paddlers and pooches. — Laura Reinhardt
Gunflint Lodge in Northeast MN. — Cathy Whitney
Here in Chicago, summer is doggie heaven. There are so many options of fun things to do here I couldn't ever list them all! Around here, they don't just call them the "dog days of summer" because of the heat. I'll list a few of my favorites. The summer mantra for Chicagoans is "cooler by the lake" and Lake Michigan is definitely the summer place to be. Unfortunately dogs are not generally allowed on the city beaches, but we make up for that by having several doggie beaches in Chicago and the suburbs. These are off leash play areas where your dog can take a dip or romp on the sand with their friends. Here is my girl Bianca at the beach. A fun and different lake option is to take a Canine Cruise! There is a cruiseline here which offers 1.5 hour cruises for dogs and their owners which go on the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan. They run on Sundays from July to September. Another fun thing to do in the summer is to go to one of the city's neighborhood festivals. We have tons of festivals scattered throughout the summer, many of which are dog friendly (not all, so be sure to check!). One of my personal favorites is Custer's Last Stand, which is held on a weekend in June around Custer Ave. in Evanston. Besides dogs, I've also seen people there with parrots on their shoulders and carrying a pouch of ferrets. The Andersonville Midsommarfest is another fun one I often attend with my dogs. There are also several pet-centered festivals and fundraisers during the summer such as Woofstock at Pooch Park. After a fun summer day, you might like to dine out with your dog. There are quite a few dog friendly patios at Chicago restaurants, where your dog is welcome to join you for dinner. If you are in the city limits you do need to check if the restaurant has a "Dog Friendly Dining" license, otherwise they legally are not supposed to allow dogs (and in all cases dogs are not allowed inside the restaurants.) This only applies to Chicago proper, I'm not sure what the rules are in the suburbs, if any. I have a list of these dog friendly restaurants on my website, Chicago Canine. Note that some may not allow dogs during certain busy times or may have other restrictions, so it is always good to call ahead and check. — Lizzi K.
In Minneapolis, there is a great dog-friendly bar. They hold dog specific events, like "Beer With Your Buddy". I will be spending the fantastic MN summer nights playing Bocce Ball and socializing with my dog. —Leslie
After our 5-month winters in Northern Wisconsin, where I live, my Newfoundlands and I look forward to the summer when we can get out on the unfrozen lakes! We have many lakes up here, but throwing a stick or ball has its limits. That's why I try to take my Newfs to the closest Water Rescue Training Workshop and/or Water Tests during our short summer. At these workshops or tests, you can actually see the Newf's face changing as he takes his job seriously, whether he is bringing out a line to someone he thinks is drowning, or pulling a boat in to shore. Whatever people do with their dogs in the summer, my opinion is that they should try to incorporate something fun that the dog was originally bred for (for mixes, finding what the dog is best at would be a fun challenge!) — Barbara Suozzi