You and your work-from-home canine companion have earned a vacation. So take a dog-friendly staycation in Chicago. Even if you don’t have a pup, you can still play tourist in our town with rewarding food and exploratory walks, without worrying about emergency travel quarantines.
As a Tribune Food & Dining reporter and dog guardian, I’ve created a leisurely itinerary across the North, West and South sides. Start Friday for a long weekend if possible, but use the guide whenever you have time to spare. Base yourself out of Hotel Lincoln in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, where I’ve stayed with my dog Kōl, and where I held his adoption anniversary party a few years ago.
Check in to the historic Hotel Lincoln, built in 1928. Once a tired Days Inn, the property was reborn as a colorful and whimsical design concept in 2012. They have implemented the Safe Stay guidelines created by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. While guests shouldn’t lounge in the lobby, the secret dog cookie drawer at the front desk is available for a quick treat.
Walk the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
Outside the hotel’s front doors, cross Clark Street to Lincoln Park, then continue across Stockton Drive. Follow the signs along the perimeter of Lincoln Park Zoo to the dog-friendly Nature Boardwalk, designed by Studio Gang, which was founded by renowned Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Stroll through to find the airy honeycomb pavilion, which frames a skyline view perfectly.
Dinner/drinks from The Kennison
Head back to the hotel for dinner at The Kennison, part of the Boka Restaurant Group, with modern American comfort food. A vacation is not a vacation to me without room service at least once. It’s available from the restaurant with real dishware, silverware, cloth napkins and those silver plate covers, but you have to pick it up yourself.
Coffee from Elaine’s Coffee Call
The lovely little lobby coffee shop at the hotel just reopened and is serving hot and cold brews plus pastries 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily for takeout only.
Brunch from Green City Market Lincoln Park
The crown jewel of farmers markets in the city pops up Saturday mornings right across the street from the hotel. Preorder pickup is available for not only seasonal berries and produce, but prepared foods, too, including Gayle V’s Best Ever Grilled Cheese.
Drive west on North Avenue to Humboldt Park, former home of Chance the Snapper, the baby alligator who delighted us last summer. Park at the boathouse, overlooking his lagoon. Follow the free self-guided audio tour and map on the park website, or just wander, with an eye out for wayward alligators.
Dinner and drinks from Lula Cafe
Follow the boulevards to the pioneering farm-to-table restaurant in Logan Square, currently offering takeout only. The beloved Monday Night Farm Dinner is available Thursdays through Sundays. Three constantly changing courses include your choice of classic, vegetarian or gluten-free menus. Get curbside pickup for dinner and drinks.
Go south on Lake Shore Drive to Sip & Savor, a Black-owned coffee shop in the Hyde Park neighborhood. You can order ahead on the app for curbside pickup of coffee made with beans roasted by Colectivo. Outdoor seating is also available.
Brunch from Lexington Betty Smoke House and Majani at One Eleven Food Hall
Take the scenic route along Lake Shore Drive past the South Shore Cultural Center, Rainbow Beach and South Works to One Eleven Food Hall in the Pullman neighborhood for barbecue, both meaty and vegan. Call ahead for curbside pickup of rib tips from Lexington Betty, and barbecue fried cauliflower from Majani.
Walk at Pullman National Monument
If you’re a National Park Service nerd like me, then make sure to get your NPS Passport stamped at the Pullman National Monument. Call ahead to reserve a short guided walking tour, available every 30 minutes 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. The tours are limited to 10 people each. Afterward, you can respectfully explore the fascinating residential neighborhood yourself.
Dinner and drinks from Virtue Restaurant
Head back to Hyde Park for dinner from award-winning chef Erick Williams at Virtue. He recently reopened the indoor dining room and added an outdoor patio. Neither is dog-friendly, so his refined Southern rations, including shrimp and Geechie Boy Mill cheddar grits, may be best enjoyed back at the hotel.
Other dog-friendly hotels
Chicago Athletic Association
The meticulously transformed Chicago Athletic Association in the Loop would be my first choice for a dog-friendly hotel in the city, but it stands across from Millennium Park where dogs are not allowed. It’s so tantalizing, but no selfies at The Bean. Plus no room service yet, since most of the hotel food and beverage service remains closed. Takeout is available from Fairgrounds coffee shop and Shake Shack burger restaurant.
When I stayed at the Thompson a couple of years ago, the staff effortlessly delivered that delicate balance of luxury hospitality and friendly informality. The rates reflected the high priced Gold Coast neighborhood, which wasn’t quite found in the rooms, though. No room service, but takeout and outdoor seating are available from the impeccable Nico Osteria.
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