Chicago, Illinois, a vibrant city on the shores of Lake Michigan, welcomes tourists and their furry companions with open arms. Known for its dog-friendly attitude, the Windy City offers a plethora of pet-friendly parks, including the sprawling Montrose Dog Beach, where your four-legged friend can frolic in the waves. Many cafes, restaurants, and even hotels in Chicago warmly accommodate dogs, ensuring that your canine companion can be part of your urban adventure.
Chicago’s extensive network of dog-friendly trails and paths makes it a paradise for pet owners. The Chicago Lakefront Trail, stretching 18 miles along the lake, provides breathtaking views and ample space for leisurely strolls with your dog. Don’t miss the chance to explore Millennium Park or visit the bustling Navy Pier, both of which welcome well-behaved dogs. With its picturesque scenery and welcoming atmosphere, Chicago is an ideal destination for travelers looking to share their Windy City experience with their beloved pets.
Should You Travel with Your Dog?
Whether or not you should travel with your dog depends on your dog’s personality and health. If your dog gets anxious easily, bringing them on a trip isn’t ideal. However, some dogs are great at adapting to new situations and love exploring different places, so those dogs would probably do well on the go.
Regardless of your dog’s temperament, there may be times when they need to travel with you, such as if you’re moving to a new location. If that’s the case, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. That could include stopping more frequently during a long drive or asking your vet about whether or not medications could help.
What to Pack When Traveling with Your Dog
Your dog may not need as much stuff as you do for a trip, but they still need the essentials. Plus, bringing items that look and smell familiar to your furry friend can help them feel more comfortable.
Here’s a list of supplies you should bring for your dog:
Up-to-date identification tags
Collar, harness, and leash
Plenty of healthy dog food
Medications (if they have any)
Pet first aid kit
Food and water dishes (collapsible bowls are the most convenient)
Vet records (some airlines, hotels, and events may require them)
Crate (if you need to confine your dog in the hotel)
Dog seat belt for car (unless you’re keeping them in a crate)
Airline carrier (if you’re flying)
Treats, toys, dog bed, and anything else that could help your dog feel more comfortable
This list is just a general guide of things you may need. Your packing list may vary based on where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what activities you have planned. If you have space to spare, it can’t hurt to pack extra pet supplies out of caution.
What to Include in a Dog First Aid Kit
A dog first aid kit should include essential items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, a thermometer, and a muzzle for safety. It’s also important to have saline solution for eye washing and a blanket for shock or cold. For a complete list of everything you need, see a comprehensive dog first aid guide here!
Finding a Dog-Friendly Hotel
While planning your trip, make sure you find a dog-friendly place to stay. Many lodging options, whether they’re a large hotel chain or a small local property, are willing to allow pets with some restrictions. The best way to know if your dog is welcome is to call the property before booking.
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Other Lodging Options
Even though most popular hotel chains allow pets to some extent, they still might not be the right choice for you. Many prevent large dogs or more than two dogs at a time. Some may also prevent you from leaving your dog alone in the hotel, which can be difficult if you have some plans that aren’t pet-friendly. In this case, consider finding your pup a pet sitter who can take care of your dog while you’re enjoying a quiet dinner, seeing the sights or even taking in a show.
Book a Rover dog sitter and give your dog the best day ever!
So, if you’re struggling to find a good hotel, you may want to check other types of lodging, such as campgrounds or booking sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Those options are often more flexible with pet restrictions because they don’t need to follow the policies of big chain hotels. Like with hotels, you should always contact the property to get the most detailed information on their pet restrictions.
Dog-Friendly Transportation Options
For most dogs, the scariest part of going on a trip is getting there. Dogs who aren’t used to riding in a car are likely to be anxious during a road trip and even more so on an airplane. So, here are some tips for how to keep your dog safe and comfortable when heading to your destination.
Driving with Your Dog
If possible, driving long distances with your dog will usually be easier and more comfortable than flying, especially if you have a large breed. However, you should make sure your dog is okay with riding in the car before you bring them on a road trip. If they don’t ride in the car much on a regular basis, start by taking them for short drives in preparation for the trip.
Here are some tips for taking a road trip with your dog:
Get your dog’s energy out before the long drive (take them for a walk, play fetch, etc.)
Make sure your dog is secure and comfortable (use a crate or dog seat belt, and make sure they have a cozy bed)
Stop more often than you need to so your dog can stretch their legs and do their business
Offer your dog fresh water every time you stop
Never leave your dog alone in the car on a warm/hot day
Flying with Your Dog
Most dogs have ridden in the car at one point or another, but flying with your dog is a much different experience. If your dog is under 20 pounds, they can ride in the cabin on most airlines, but if your dog is larger than that, they may have to fly in the cargo hold. Not being able to see your dog during the flight can be stressful, which is why families with larger dogs typically prefer to drive when possible.
Almost every airline allows dogs, but some have stricter rules than others. Always check an airline’s pet policy before planning to fly on it with your pup.
How to Travel with an Anxious Dog
If you have an anxious dog, driving and flying might both seem tricky. Luckily, there are things you can do to help a stressed-out dog feel more at ease while on the go.
Get your dog familiar with travel – take them to places they enjoy, such as the park, instead of only the vet.
Bring familiar items, such as their favorite beds and toys.
Keep their feeding times and bathroom breaks as close to their normal routine as possible.
Give them lots of exercise before getting in the car or entering the airport.
Stay calm – your dog may pick up on if you’re stressed and become more worried as a result.
Try anti-anxiety products, such as ThunderShirts and heartbeat toys.
While the above tips may reduce your dog’s anxiety, extremely anxious dogs will likely still show some fear in unfamiliar situations. Pet CBD Products, such as those made by Cannanine, can help calm down nervous pups during travel. Cannanine offers CBD oil and soft chews, both of which effectively calm dogs while being THC-free. Plus, every Cannanine product purchased donates meals to shelter dogs.
Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois, offers a diverse range of popular tourist attractions and events that cater to various interests. Here’s a comprehensive list of attractions and events you shouldn’t miss:
Art Institute of Chicago: Home to over 300,000 artworks, this museum is a cultural landmark. Famous paintings like Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” are must-sees.
Lincoln Park Zoo: This free zoo in the heart of Lincoln Park is home to over 1,000 animals, including lions, bears, apes, and red pandas.
360 CHICAGO: An observation deck atop the 875 N Michigan Avenue building, offering panoramic city views and the thrilling “TILT” attraction.
Garfield Park Conservatory: One of the largest conservatories in the U.S., it showcases 600 species of plants.
Field Museum of Natural History: Known for its extensive collection of dinosaur bones and artifacts, including the famous T. Rex named Sue.
Millennium Park: A popular outdoor space with public art and events like free concerts and movie screenings.
Museum of Science and Industry: Features interactive exhibits, including a mirror maze and a WWII-era submarine.
Wrigley Field: The iconic baseball stadium of the Chicago Cubs, known for its vibrant atmosphere.
The 606: A 2.7-mile elevated pedestrian path connecting several neighborhoods, adorned with art installations.
Shedd Aquarium: Houses a vast array of aquatic species, including rockhopper penguins and sharks.
Riverwalk: A 1.25-mile pedestrian trail along the Chicago River, lined with cafes, shops, museums, and theaters, offering various activities like kayaking and boat tours.
Willis Tower: Formerly Sears Tower, this skyscraper features observation decks providing breathtaking views of Chicago.
Taste of Chicago: The world’s largest food festival, offering a wide range of cuisines, from street food to elegant dishes, alongside entertainment like concerts and art galleries.
Wabash Arts Corridor: A vibrant neighborhood transformed by student artists from Columbia College Chicago, filled with murals, graffiti, and dynamic street art.
Centennial Wheel: A historic Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, offering an iconic Chicago experience with modern amenities.
Untouchable Tour: A unique tour exploring Chicago’s gangster history, visiting famous mob sites and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre location.
Bobby’s Bike Hike: A food-based tour allowing visitors to sample some of Chicago’s best eats while exploring the city.
These attractions and events highlight the rich cultural, historical, and artistic diversity of Chicago, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.
Picking Activities Your Dog Can Join in Chicago, Illinois
If you’re traveling with your dog for vacation, you should make sure they can join you for most, if not all, of your activities. Since dogs aren’t allowed indoors in many places, you should travel when the weather is nice to ensure you can spend time outside with your furry friend.
Chicago offers plenty of dog-friendly activities for both locals and tourists looking to explore the city with their furry companions. Here are some popular options:
Montrose Dog Beach: Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, this off-leash beach is a dog’s paradise. Dogs can run and play in the sand and take a dip in the lake.
Maggie Daley Park: This downtown park features a dedicated dog-friendly area where dogs can roam off-leash. It also has an agility course for some extra fun.
The 606: This elevated trail, also known as the Bloomingdale Trail, welcomes leashed dogs for scenic walks. It’s a great way to explore the city while enjoying some fresh air.
Chicago Riverwalk: Leashed dogs are welcome along this picturesque riverfront path. It’s a relaxing spot for a leisurely stroll with your pup.
Lincoln Park: This expansive park has several designated off-leash areas, including the famous Wiggly Field, where dogs can socialize and play.
Canine Cruises: Enjoy a boat ride with your dog on the Mercury Canine Cruise, which offers pet-friendly tours of Chicago’s architecture along the river.
Paws Chicago Beach Party: If you’re visiting in the summer, consider attending this annual dog-friendly beach party with live music, dog-friendly vendors, and contests.
Dog-Friendly Patio Dining: Many restaurants and cafes in Chicago have outdoor seating areas that welcome dogs. You can enjoy a meal or a coffee while your pup relaxes by your side.
Pet-Friendly Events: Keep an eye out for pet-themed events like dog-friendly movie nights, pet expos, and charity walks that often take place throughout the year.
Dog-Friendly Breweries: Some local breweries, such as Begyle Brewing and Half Acre Beer Company, allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas, making for a fun outing for both you and your dog.
Remember to check specific rules and regulations at each location, as leash laws and other policies may vary. Chicago’s dog-friendly atmosphere ensures that you and your canine companion can make the most of your visit to the city. This is just a list to get you started because the dog-friendly activities will vary based on where you’re visiting. While most outdoor events welcome pets as long as they’re well-behaved and you clean up after them, it’s always a good idea to check the event’s details to be sure. With enough planning and good weather, you can hang out with your dog the entire vacation!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Chicago a dog-friendly city?
Yes, Chicago is known for being a dog-friendly city with numerous parks, beaches, and pet-friendly establishments.
2. Can I bring my dog on public transportation in Chicago?
Yes, dogs are allowed on Chicago’s public transportation system, including buses and the “L” train, but there are some rules to follow, such as using a leash and paying a reduced fare for your dog.
3. Are there off-leash dog parks in Chicago?
Yes, Chicago has several off-leash dog parks where your dog can play and socialize safely. Popular options include Montrose Dog Beach and Wiggly Field in Lincoln Park.
4. Which hotels in Chicago are pet-friendly?
Many hotels in Chicago are pet-friendly. Popular options include The Drake Hotel, Kimpton Hotel Allegro, and Hotel Lincoln, but it’s recommended to confirm pet policies and any associated fees with the specific hotel.
5. Can I dine at restaurants with my dog in Chicago?
Yes, many restaurants in Chicago have outdoor seating areas that welcome dogs. Some even offer water bowls and dog-friendly menus.
6. Are there any restrictions for dogs at Millennium Park?
While dogs are welcome in Millennium Park, they must be leashed, and access to the Great Lawn and Lurie Garden is restricted. However, the Chase Promenade is a dog-friendly area where you can enjoy the park with your pup.
7. Are there dog-friendly tours or boat rides in Chicago?
Yes, you can enjoy a dog-friendly boat ride with your pet on the Mercury Canine Cruise, which offers tours along the Chicago River.
8. What are the rules for using the Chicago Riverwalk with a dog?
Dogs are welcome on the Chicago Riverwalk, but they must be on a leash. Be sure to clean up after your dog and dispose of waste in designated bins.
9. Can I bring my dog to Navy Pier?
While Navy Pier doesn’t allow dogs inside most of its attractions, you can walk your dog along the outdoor areas, enjoying the scenic views of Lake Michigan.
10. Are there any pet supply stores or veterinary clinics near downtown Chicago?
Yes, you’ll find several pet supply stores and veterinary clinics in downtown Chicago, ensuring you have easy access to any pet-related needs during your stay.
Traveling to Chicago, Illinois with your dog can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it’s essential to plan ahead for a smooth trip. Here are some final thoughts and tips for traveling with your furry friend to the Windy City:
Research Pet-Friendly Accommodations: Choose pet-friendly hotels or vacation rentals in advance and confirm their policies, including any pet fees or restrictions.
Pack Essentials: Don’t forget to pack your dog’s essentials, including food, water, bowls, medications, leash, collar with ID tag, and waste bags.
Check Local Regulations: Be aware of Chicago’s leash laws and pet regulations. Most public places require dogs to be on a leash, and some areas may have specific rules.
Visit Dog Parks: Explore Chicago’s dog parks, beaches, and designated off-leash areas to let your dog burn off some energy and socialize.
Dine Mindfully: When dining at pet-friendly restaurants, be considerate of other patrons and keep your dog well-behaved. Bring a blanket or mat for your dog to sit on.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Take advantage of Chicago’s beautiful parks, riverwalk, and lakefront areas for long walks and outdoor activities with your dog.
Stay Hydrated: Ensure your dog has access to clean water throughout your trip, especially on warm days. Carry a portable water bowl for on-the-go hydration.
Clean Up After Your Dog: Always clean up after your dog and dispose of waste in designated bins. Being a responsible pet owner helps maintain the city’s cleanliness.
Plan for Pet-Friendly Activities: Look for dog-friendly tours, boat rides, or events to enjoy with your furry companion during your stay.
Check for Seasonal Considerations: Be mindful of weather conditions during your visit. In winter, protect your dog from the cold, and in summer, avoid hot pavement during walks.
Emergency Preparedness: Know the location of nearby veterinary clinics in case of any emergencies, and carry your dog’s medical records and contact information.
Respect Others: Remember that not everyone may be comfortable around dogs. Keep your dog under control and respect the comfort of other travelers and locals.
By planning ahead and being mindful of your dog’s needs and the city’s rules, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable trip to Chicago for both you and your beloved pet. Chicago’s dog-friendly culture and numerous pet-friendly amenities make it a fantastic destination for pet owners.
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