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Tracking Down Dog Fun

By Julia Lane, November 2009, Updated November 2022

Midwestern folks are often friendly (even in the big cities!) and love to talk about dogs. Don’t hesitate to ask people where they like to take their pups. With their help, you’ll discover new places to visit and make new friends on the way. Here is a list of dog-friendly activities in Chicago.

Grant Park

Start your day with a walk through Grant Park, located downtown and nicknamed Chicago’s “Front Lawn” for its lovely lakeside view. If it’s hot and humid, circle around the famous Buckingham Fountain and enjoy its cool, refreshing mist. For off-leash fun, head to Grant Park’s Bark Park. The 18,000-square-foot area is fully fenced and runs alongside Lake Michigan for more fantastic views; you must purchase a $5 permit and show proof of vaccinations in order to use this public dog park.

Montrose Harbor Dog Beach

After all that running around, you’ll both want to cool off. Follow the Lakefront Trail, which offers 18 miles of paved pathways along the lake, to the Montrose Harbor Dog Beach. There, your dog can frolic on the sand or splash in the freshwater off-leash while you dip your feet. (This area also requires a $5 permit and proof of vaccinations in advance.)

Riverwalk Gateway

Next up, take your dog through the Riverwalk Gateway, a walking history museum, and public art gallery. A lighted tunnel features narration on Chicago’s history and scenic panels of the city and the Chicago River. If you need a snack, grab a seat at nearby Crane’s, a French bistro where dogs may sit at outdoor tables and have a much-need drink of water.

Take a Ride

Want to explore the city even farther, but too tired to walk? Both Antique Coach & Carriage Company and Step in Time Carriages offer a variety of dog-friendly tours, including Lincoln Park, the Loop, and the “Miracle Mile.” If you're looking to spend some time on the water, there’s also the Mercury Canine Cruise which travels along the scenic waters of Chicago's waterways with views of the historical architectural.
 

Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.

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