Stepping out with your canine pal for a day

by Jason Heidemann

There’s nothing quite like spending a day with your dog. Few traveling companions offer the same amount of eagerness, excitement, and willingness to conform to your agenda as (hu)man’s best friend. And nothing will please your “desperate housedog” more than giving her a day of warm sidewalks and cool summer breezes. The following is a suggested itinerary for a day of exploring Chicago doggie-style. Be sure to call ahead to these businesses first; dog-friendly policies change faster than you can say woof.


Start your morning off right. Both you and your pet will need a little energy booster to get the engines started. Uncommon Ground [3800 N Clark St, (773) 929-3680; www.UncommonGround.com] near Wrigley Field has an uncommonly delicious selection of caffeinated drinks and breakfast foods and welcomes dogs at its outdoor patio with biscuits and water bowls. Alternatively, you can break bread with your mutt in charming Andersonville at Kopi Café [5317 N Clark St, (773) 989-5674], where dogs receive similar treatment.


You and your dog are pumped and ready to go. If you’re on the North Side, you may want to consider burning off a little of that post-breakfast energy with a quick run. Margate Park, also known as Puptown [4921 N Marine Dr, (773) 275-8448; www.Puptown.org], is an expansive and well-maintained black-top surface close to the lake that often accommodates dozens of dogs at once. Likewise, you could let your pooch get soaking wet at Montrose Harbor Dog Beach [Montrose Ave and Lake Shore Dr, (312) 742-7529], the only offleash beach of its kind in the city and a great place for both humans and hounds to hang out and socialize. Before you unleash your loved one, remember that all dogs are required to have a $35 permit and proof of certain vaccinations.


Ready to settle down for a quick bite? Several lunch spots offer outdoor-dining opportunities for members of the canine persuasion. Kitsch’n on Roscoe [2005 W Roscoe St, (773) 248-7372; www.Kitschn.com] will satisfy your pup with a place to rest his post-workout body while you chow down on a lunch of Tails-approved favorites. Another solid option is Pauline’s [1754 W Balmoral Ave, (773) 561-8573], a dog-friendly neighborhood hangout tucked away on a leafy residential street.


By this point you’re probably wondering if you’re dog is tuckered out. Is he having fun or is he ready to go home? The best thing to do is just ask him. At Elevenzees, an eclectic boutique that just opened its doors in Wicker Park [1901 W Division St, (773) 772-1150], your pet can visit with Beverly, resident companion animal psychic. While Beverly picks Fido’s brain, you can stock up on gifts for the home or hip products for your pet from brands like Goode & Best or HOT Dog. If you’re dog is stressed out, you could also take him to Ruby Room [1743-45 Division St, (773) 235-2323; www.RubyRoom.com], a “spa for the spirit” just down the street. Ask for the Mini Ruby Blend, a combination intuitive exploration and energy-healing session for pets.


It’s time to hit downtown. The amount of activities geared to people and their pets is limitless, but here are a few of our favorites. Start with a little shopping. Several big-name shops are dog-friendly, including Neiman Marcus [737 N Michigan Ave, (312) 642-5900; www.NeimanMarcus.com] and the Harley-Davidson Store [66 E Ohio St, (312) 274-9666; www.HarleyDavidson.com], which has a line of dog toys, collars, and leather caps. Be sure to swing by Westfield North Bridge. Most of the shops are dogfriendly and check out the fabulous kiosks offering pet treats, doggie toys, outfits, and more.

Downtown Chicago offers a number of sightseeing opportunities, starting with the architectural boat tours. Shoreline Sightseeing Boat Tours [Navy Pier, (312) 222-9328; www.ShorelineSightseeing.com] allows dogs on its hour-long excursions down the Chicago River while Mercury Skyline Cruiseline [Michigan Ave and Wacker Dr, (312) 332-1352; www.MercurySkylineCruiseline.com] has special canine cruises (available on Sunday mornings only). Another terrific option is to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. The Antique Coach and Carriage Company [700 N Michigan Ave, (773) 735-9400] allows dogs and their people on its scenic tours of downtown.


If there’s time left for a relaxing dinner before calling it a day, Brasserie Jo [59 W Hubbard St, (312) 595-0800; www.BrasserieJo.com] rolls out the red carpet for canine guests. This traditional French restaurant’s outdoor patio offers front-row seating with a view of bustling River North. Dogs are given their own steak tartare while human guests can enjoy more traditional French fare. Likewise, Cucina Bella [1612 N Sedgwick St, (312) 274-1119; www.CucinaBella.com] offers doggie guests a bowl of pasta while enjoying the alfresco ambience of Old Town with their guardians.

Keep Chicago dog-friendly
New legislation is being enacted to ensure that Chicago restaurants remain dog-friendly. If passed, this ordinance will allow Chicago to retain its policy of accommodating customers and their canines at outdoor establishments. Keep Chicago dog-friendly by calling Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. at (312) 432-1995, and telling him you support the ordinance.


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