The kids are buckled up in the van, lunches are packed in the
cooler, and everyone has been slathered in sunscreen. You are ready
for a great day out with the family. But as you are pulling down
the driveway, you look back and are suddenly filled with an
overwhelming feeling of guilt, because staring back at you with
those sad puppy dog eyes is just that-the sad puppy dog you have
But taking along Fido isn't just as simple as throwing her in
the car and packing up a bowl of water and a few treats. Many
places aren't exactly rolling out the red carpet for you, your kids
and your pets.
However, more places and attractions are becoming "pet
friendly," making planning a fun family day out even easier.
When you think top tourist attractions, you immediately assume
dogs aren't allowed. But it is quite the opposite at Chicago's
biggest tourist attraction, Navy Pier. While animals are not
allowed inside the shops or attractions, they are more than welcome
to accompany you on the pier itself, and can even join you for a
bite to eat at the outdoor food court seats. And if a walk and a
bite to eat are just not enough, your family can head out on the
Leaving from Navy Pier's Ogden Slip, Shoreline Sightseeing boat
tours allow you to bring your pet along for its one-hour
architectural cruise. Pet owners are encouraged to call ahead and
make reservations (as are all riders) due to space limitations. shorelinesightseeing.com, (312) 222-9328.
If your family and your dog are more adventurous and would
rather take a speedboat ride across Lake Michigan, then get on
board with Seadog Cruises at Navy Pier. The captain cranks up the
turbo-charged motors and cruises back to the pier at 45 miles per
hour across the lake. Dogs are permitted when room allows, so it
may be best to call ahead and check before putting a pair of racing
goggles on your dog. seadogcruises.com, (888) 636-7737.
Rather keep your two feet (and their four) on the ground? Head
up to the north side and check out Of Mutts and Men at 2149 W.
Belmont Ave. This Roscoe Village hangout is the perfect place for
you and your pup to play. For your furry companion, it offers a
leash-free play zone (think indoor dog park), and for your
entertainment there are pool tables, TVs, chess boards, and even
free coffee in case you need a pick-me-up. Not only is the coffee
free, but you are, too (there is a $3 per dog charge to enter, or
buy a monthly pass for $40). (773) 477-7171.
Taking your pet to Petco or PetSmart is easy enough, but let's
face it, there isn't much at these stores for you and your family.
If you want to go shopping for the day and don't want to leave your
dog behind, there are more than a few places your family and your
leashed friend can hit.
Bloomingdale's (both downtown and in Skokie) welcome
well-behaved, leashed dogs into their stores, as do the
Harley-Davidson locations downtown on Ohio Street and up on Western
Avenue. All of the area Anthropolgie stores (anthropolgie.com) also welcome dogs.
If your dog is more of the outdoorsy type, hike on over to the
Orvis Company Store at 142 E. Ontario, or if they would rather wear
a cool graphic tee and see the latest fashionable home décor, you
can peruse any of the area's Urban Outfitters with your leashed
Sun and sand
After some sightseeing and shopping, it is probably time for
you, the kids and your pooch to kick back and relax a little bit.
What better place to do that than at the beach? While Chicago is
generally a pretty pet-friendly town, don't even think about trying
to take your dog with you to popular lakefront stops like Oak
Street or North Avenue beaches. Instead, head to the dog beach in
either Evanston, at Belmont Harbor, or the best one for both play
area size and ease of parking, Montrose Harbor.
In order to use the beach at Montrose Harbor, you do need an
annual permit ($5 per dog), and you must keep your dog leashed
between your car and the fenced-in beach area. Owners who do not
obey will be ticketed (minimum fine is $75).
Whatever you do on your day out with the entire family, you know
not only will your kids enjoy bringing along their furry best
friend, but your dog also will enjoy not being left alone at home
for once (although part of me thinks they probably enjoy the alone
time a little too, just like mom and dad).
Chris Thomas is a freelance writer and dad living in
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