8 Amazing Dog-Friendly Activities in Chicago

A dog in front of Chicago's cityscape, representing dog-friendly activities in Chicago

One of the best ways to bond with your pup is by making awesome memories together. Luckily, in Chicago, there are numerous dog-friendly activities that you can try with your pup. From attending events for dogs near Chicago to going on dog-friendly cruises to kayaking with a dog, there are plenty of ways to spend quality time with your pup.

In this complete guide, our team at Sploot Veterinary Care rounds up the best dog-friendly activities and events for dogs near Chicago.

What’s in This Guide?

1. Events for Dogs Near Chicago

Chicago is undoubtedly one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States. There are a wide variety of events for dogs near Chicago happening all year round. Some of these events are free while some may require a nominal entrance fee.

It may be challenging to find one single resource talking about all the events for dogs happening in Chicago. Most of the time, it’s a matter of knowing what to look for. Here are examples of the most common events for dogs near Chicago:

a. Puppy Adoptions

If you’re looking for a fur baby to adopt, then look out for a variety of adoption events for dogs near Chicago. These events are typically organized by rescue organizations and animal shelters; they may also be sponsored by vet clinics like Sploot Veterinary Care

b. Photo Booths & Paint Your Pup

Photo booths and paint your pup events are common types of events for dogs near Chicago. Attending this kind of dog-friendly event allows you to socialize with other pet parents and the best part is you get either a pet painting or photo as a souvenir. 

c. Sploot’s Dog-Friendly Holiday Events & More

At Sploot Veterinary Care, we love bringing like-minded people together. This is why we regularly organize events to engage the community. All year round, we organize holiday-themed events and ‘paw-ties’, clinic grand openings, puppy adoptions, photo booths, paint your pet events, and more. 

Note: Join us in celebrating the paw-sitivity and joy of having a furry family member! Keep up with our latest dog-friendly events near Chicago by following us on EventBrite and Instagram (@splootvets).
A happy dog enjoying one of Sploots events for dogs in Chicago

2. Visiting Off-Leash Dog Parks Near Chicago

From time to time, dogs relish the freedom to run, play, and mingle with their furry peers. Off-leash dog parks in Chicago serve as an ideal and convenient setting for these joyful interactions.

a. Horner Park Dog Park | Off-Leash Dog Park

Nestled within a cherished neighborhood park, Horner Park Dog Park offers a picturesque environment for canine interaction. Despite its modest size of less than an acre, Horner Park Dog Park is meticulously planned. 

Enclosed entirely, its surface is layered with wood chips, a preference among pet owners for its paw-friendly cushioning and insulation against extreme weather. There are also separate areas for large and small dogs, promoting secure social engagement. 

Last but not least, dogs can enjoy a water play area that offers a refreshing splash during warmer months.

b. Logan Square Dog Park (aka Park 556) | Off-Leash Dog Park

Although compact, Logan Square Dog Park (aka Park No. 556) earns its spot among Chicago's best dog parks thanks to its thoughtful features. There are separate areas for large and small dogs, ensuring each size group has its own designated space. The park's concrete surface prevents muddy paws. 

Amenities include drinking fountains for hydration and, in summer, the community may arrange for a small pool for playful pups. Nearby benches provide a resting spot for pet parents while their furry companions enjoy their playtime.

Note: For more dog parks near Chicago, check out our article: The 4 Best Dog Parks in Chicago, IL

3. Swimming or Kayaking with a Dog

Does your pup love the water? If so, swimming or kayaking with a dog can be awesome dog-friendly activities in Chicago for you. Here are some dog-friendly destinations to check out:

a. Kayak Chicago | Kayaking with a Dog

Kayak Chicago is a business that offers kayak and paddle board rentals as well as organized group tours. There are a variety of kayak and paddle board tours happening in different locations as well as different times of the day.

Kayak Chicago allows dog parents to go kayaking with a dog, as reflected in various customer reviews. As with any sport or activity with a dog, we advise pet parents to take measures to ensure their pup’s safety while kayaking.

b. Dog-Friendly Swimming Pools in Chicago

There are numerous dog-friendly swimming pools in Chicago — however, most of them are for dogs and staff ONLY. A few note-worthy dog swimming pools include the ones in:

For pet parents who would like to swim with their pups in a heated pool, there are currently no aquatic centers that offer this service in Chicago. One of the ways to swim with a pup in a pool is to rent a dog-friendly pool from platforms like the following:

  • Sniffspot — a platform that curates rentable ‘private dog parks and pools’; and
  • Swimply — a platform that curates rentable private spaces, including dog-friendly swimming pools.

c. Montrose Dog Beach

Montrose Beach, a well-known spot for boating, picnicking, swimming, and biking, also has a dedicated dog beach. Montrose Dog Beach is an off-leash dog beach where canines can play, swim, and socialize. Additionally, Mutt Jackson provides nearby self-serve dog washing stations equipped with essentials like shampoo and blow dryers for post-swim clean-ups.

Note: Interested in more destinations for dog-friendly swimming? Check out our article - The 4 Best Dog Beaches Near Chicago, IL.
A dog enjoying Montrose dog beach, an awesome dog-friendly activity in Chicago
Source: www.instagram.com/mondogbeac

4. Going on Dog-Friendly Cruises

Dog-friendly cruises are one of the best dog-friendly activities in Chicago. So if you’ve ever dreamed of taking your furry friend along for a scenic boat ride, here are some boat tour providers to check out:

a. Seadog Cruises | Dog-Friendly Cruises

Seadog Cruises is a boat tour provider offering dog-friendly cruises in Chicago. According to Seadog Cruises, as of the writing of this article, their Lakefront and Architecture tours, in particular, are dog-friendly. Other types of tours may not allow dogs due to safety reasons.

The Lakefront Speedboat Tour lasts for 30 minutes, offering fantastic views of the Chicago Skyline. Meanwhile, the River and Lake Architecture Tour lasts for 75 minutes, sailing from the lakefront, along the Chicago River, and to Willis Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

b. Shoreline Sightseeing | Dog-Friendly Cruises

Shoreline Sightseeing is yet another boat tour provider that offers dog-friendly cruises in Chicago. They welcome leashed dogs on their two tours: the Architecture River Tour and the Skyline Lake Tour

The Architecture River Tour by Shoreline sightseeing focuses on world-famous landmarks, with two options for departure: from Michigan Avenue (along the Chicago River) or from Navy Pier on Lake Michigan. Meanwhile, the Skyline Lake Tour focuses on Chicago’s vibrant lakeside skyline, departing from Navy Pier.

c. Mercury Cruises | Dog-Friendly Cruises

Mercury Cruises is another boat tour provider that offers dog-friendly cruises in Chicago. Mercury Cruises’ Canine Cruise is a dog-friendly boat ride along Chicago’s scenic waterways, departing from the Chicago Riverwalk — and sailing towards and around Lake Michigan. Mercury Cruises’ boats have plenty of outdoor seating and has water bowls for pups.

A dog enjoying the Canin Cruise by Mercury Cruises, a dog-friendly cruise and fun dog-friendly activity in Chicago to try
Source: www.mercurycruises.com

5. Hanging Out in Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Seeking relaxed dog-friendly activities near Chicago? Consider treating your pup to a meal out! Here are some spots worth exploring.

a. Park & Field | Dog-Friendly Restaurant (w/ Dog Menu)

Park & Field in Logan Square is a popular dog-friendly restaurant with an all-weather, dog-friendly patio. 

Patrons can enjoy the restaurant’s savory dishes such as burgers, tacos, and steaks, along with a diverse drinks menu featuring craft beers, wine, cocktails, and more. Meanwhile, pups can enjoy their own treat from Park & Field’s dedicated dog menu.

b. Barrio | Dog-Friendly Restaurant (w/ Dog Menu)

Barrio, situated in River North, is a vibrant Mexican-inspired, dog-friendly restaurant in Chicago. They have an outdoor seating area where dogs are more than welcome.

Barrio patrons can indulge in flavorful cuisine crafted with fresh ingredients and bold flavors — from traditional tacos and enchiladas to modern twists on Mexican favorites. Complementing the food is a diverse drinks selection featuring cocktails, tequila, mezcal, and more. Meanwhile, pups can also indulge in their own feast, straight from Barrio’s dedicated dog menu.

Note: For more awesome dog-friendly restaurants near Chicago, check out our article: The Best Dog Friendly Restaurants in Chicago, IL 

6. Dog Friendly Shopping

Looking for enjoyable but laidback dog-friendly activities in Chicago? Perhaps you’ll enjoy taking your furry friend along for a dog-friendly shopping spree. Chicago is home to a variety of dog-friendly stores — here are a few interesting ones to visit:

a. City Lit Books | Dog-Friendly Bookstore

Step into City Lit Books, a cherished Logan Square bookstore that warmly welcomes book lovers and their leashed, well-behaved pups. 

Enjoy this dog-friendly bookstore’s curated selection of titles and their cozy reading area with a fireplace — all while having your furry best friend by your side. This dog-friendly bookstore also offers various book clubs for a more immersive literary experience.

b. Terrace| Dog-Friendly Store

Terrace is a dog-friendly furniture and plant store just 9 minutes from Roscoe Village, Chicago. Here, pet parents can take their leashed, well-behaved pups along while discovering curated botanicals, candles, rugs, furniture, and home accessories. There is also an option to join engaging workshops for added inspiration.

Note: Looking for more dog-friendly stores to visit? We got more. Head over to our article: Top Dog Friendly Stores in Chicago IL

7. Going on a Dog-Friendly Staycation

Looking for a truly rejuvenating dog-friendly activity? You may consider going on a staycation with your pup; it’s the perfect opportunity to unwind and cherish precious moments together. 

In Chicago, you'll find a plethora of awesome dog-friendly hotels. Here are a few great options worth exploring for a pup-friendly staycation:

a. Claridge House | Dog-Friendly Hotel

Nestled in Chicago's Gold Coast, Claridge House is a dog-friendly hotel that warmly welcomes both you and your pup. Close to attractions like Navy Pier, Lincoln Park Zoo, and Magnificent Mile, it's one of the city's top dog-friendly hotels. Enjoy exceptional hospitality with a free pup cup, a stylish House bandana, and thoughtful gift bag upon checking in.

b. The Guesthouse Hotel | Dog-Friendly Hotel

Situated in the serene Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago, The Guesthouse Hotel is a dog-friendly hotel that offers a tranquil escape. Guests are within easy reach of attractions like The Swedish American Museum and Anderson Farmers Market, while also having access to nearby amenities such as Lakeshore Trail and Montrose Dog Beach. This pet-friendly hotel extends a warm welcome to furry companions, with free dog treats provided upon arrival.

Note: Looking for more amazing dog-friendly hotels in Chicago? Check out our guide: The 5 Best Dog Friendly Hotels in Chicago, IL
Source: www.theguesthousehotel.com/woof

8. Catching a Movie with Your Pup

Catching a movie with a pup can be a fun and novel dog-friendly activity. The only challenge is that most conventional theatres do NOT allow dogs. Drive-in movie theatres, however, tend to be more dog-friendly. Luckily, Illinois is home to a handful of dog-friendly drive-in theatres.

a. ChiTown Movies | Dog-Friendly Theatre

The drive-in movie theatre that is closest to Chicago is ChiTown Movies. This dog-friendly drive-in movie theatre shows a variety of blockbuster and classic movies. In this little-known gem, movie goers can watch awesome films with their leashed, well-behaved pup. Snacks like popcorn, tacos, wings, pizza, and kids meals are available from ChiTown Grille and are delivered to one’s car.

b. Other Dog-Friendly Drive-In Theatres in Illinois

There are other dog-friendly drive-in movie theatres in Illinois that offer novel and memorable experiences. These include the McHenry Outdoor Theatre, 49-er Drive-In, and Route 34 Drive-In. These drive-in theatres are also cherished as among the last few drive-in movie theatres in the USA. However, all of them are at least an hour’s drive away from Chicago.

Final Thoughts on Dog-Friendly Activities Near Chicago, IL

That wraps up our detailed list of dog-friendly activities in Chicago. Visiting any of these spots is sure to provide your furry friend with mental stimulation and joy. As you plan your next trip with your pup, remember to keep them safe by ensuring they have up-to-date canine vaccinations and preventives.

Sploot Vets: Primary & Urgent Care in Chicago

For information on required or recommended dog vaccines for dog-friendly activities in Chicago contact our team or visit Sploot Veterinary Care in Chicago for vaccination updates any day of the week.

To refill heartworm preventives prescribed by our vets, use the medication refill feature on the Sploot Vets app; enjoy same- and next-day deliveries.

For any other concerns about your pup's health, Sploot Veterinary Care is here for you! Our primary and urgent care vet clinics are open 365 days a year. Book your appointment online or via the Sploot Vets app.