Chicago: Get Out There and Play!

Montrose Dog Beach.

Montrose Dog Beach.

By Lara Jackson

It’s been a long, cold, rainy (and even snowy) spring in Chicago, and I’m sure we’re all ready for some sunshine and warmth. Well, so are our dogs. Chicago and its suburbs offer a variety of parks as a reprieve from the concrete jungle—whatever your needs, you can be sure you’ll find the perfect park for you and your pooch!

Here’s a look at some of the various dog parks you can visit in the area:


Dog parents who want to take their dogs to an off-leash dog friendly area (DFA) now must have a permit for each dog. Permits cost $5 and are available at participating veterinarians’ offices. Those patrons using a DFA without a permit will be fined $500. Click here for more information about this new mandate visit.

Chicago has DFAs scattered throughout the city—in neighborhoods and along Lake Michigan. You can view a listing of these DFAs at ChicagoParkDistrict.com.

A popular DFA, the Montrose Dog Beach, is located along the scenic northwest corner of Montrose Beach. The dog park is kept very clean due to strict dog waste guidelines. Pooches are allowed in Lake Michigan, but must stay on a leash until they’ve entered the park. The park adheres to a three dog limit per family to avoid overcrowding.

Another cool spot to let your dog run free is Logan Square’s Churchill Field Playlot Park at 1825 Damen Avenue, four blocks away from Armitage Avenue. Churchill Field measures a little over an acre and has a doggie drinking fountain in case your pooch gets thirsty. In addition to the dog park, it also houses a junior baseball field and community gardens. The park will be one of many access points for the Bloomingdale Trail, a planned multi-use recreational trail being built along the elevated railline along Bloomingdale Avenue and Ashland to Ridgeway.

Coliseum Park at 1466 South Wabash Avenue is a quaint and picturesque .62 acre park with walking paths, a playground for toddlers, and a DFA with a doggie fountain and a waste bag dispenser. True to the park’s name, it is surrounded by columns and pillars on 14th and Wabash. One thing to note though is that the park is located under elevated train tracks, so if your dog is sensitive to noise this may not be the best choice.


Dog parks aren’t just for urban dwellers—suburbanites and their pooches can enjoy the great outdoors with their furry friends too.

Many of the North Shore suburbs have dog parks on the lake, including the Evanston Dog Beach, which is located at Church and Davis Streets, just north of Church Street where it meets the lake. The beach is open April through November (weather permitting) and is restricted to dog handlers with a dog beach pass. ($60 annually for Evanston residents, or $120 nonresident annually). Neighboring suburbs Winnetka, Wilmette, and Highland Park also have dog parks.

Glenview’s Community Bark West located at 1001 Zenith Avenue is a 6 acre off-leash park that features walking paths, fountains for dogs and people, benches, swipe card entry, and waste disposal bags and receptacles. You must have a dog pass to use Community Bark West.

If you call the south suburbs home, check out the Friends Forever Dog Park located at 966 Rudy Road in Freeport. This park was recently named one of the top ten dog parks in the United States by Dog Fancy magazine and is divided into a fenced in regulation-size agility course, a double-fenced small park for dogs under 30 pounds, and an 8 acre park with several resting areas, picnic tables, and a pond. Open all year, annual passes can be purchased, or, for those occasional visitors, a one-day pass can be purchased for $2.

No matter your location or your needs, there are plenty of dog parks in the Chicago area, and throughout Illinois for you and your best friend to enjoy. Visit TAILS Resource Page for a complete list!

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