National Dog Day, or International Dog Day worldwide, is celebrated annually Aug. 26. But as countless social media posts note, every day is a dog day. It is not, in fact, a federal holiday with paid time off though, leaving most of us to work for more than treats and pets.
When you and your dog do take some well-deserved time off together, here are some of the top iconic walks, with people food pairings, around Chicago. According to my dog Kol, whom I adopted from the PAWS Chicago animal shelter, a tiny taste can’t hurt, but that remains at your discretion and subject to puppy dog eyes.
The dog walks and food pairings are listed from south to north, in the city and the suburbs.
Walk the historic grounds of the Pullman National Monument on the South Side and around the former company neighborhood. You can park for free in the visitor center lot but do note that pets are not permitted in park buildings.
Go to the Lexington Betty Smokehouse and get the classic Chicago-style barbecue combo of rib tips and hot link sausage, or a vegan pulled jackfruit sandwich. It’s the second location by pitmaster Dominique Leach. They’re normally counter service, but there’s a free parking lot with a dog-friendly, off-street patio, and they will bring your order out to you and your dog if possible.
Walk through the sprawling Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown along the Chicago River. You might find Chinese elders practicing tai chi under the open-air pagoda early in the morning. You can park for free at the field house lot, but only if you remain on site. If you leave to visit the dog statue at the zodiac plaza in Chinatown Square, there’s metered street parking, but it can be chaotic.
Go to the flagship location of Hello Jasmine, the Taiwanese street food restaurant that started out in the influential basement food court long known as Richland Center. Get their stellar popcorn chicken and boba tea (with customizable sweetness), plus they have the rare Chinatown combination of a free parking lot and an outdoor sidewalk patio. They’re normally counter service, but they will bring your order out to you and your dog if possible.
Ping Tom Memorial Park, 1700 S. Wentworth Ave., 312-225-3121, chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/Ping-Tom-Memorial-Park; Hello Jasmine Chinatown, 2026 S. Clark St., 312-988-0920, hellojasmineus.com
Walk through the stunning Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio neighborhood in Oak Park west of the city. Remember they’re private homes, even though some look as big as museums.
Go to Johnnie’s Beef for the hottest food of the summer: Italian beef. Get your beef how you like it, but I prefer juicy hot, which is their love language for dipped in beef juice with hot giardiniera. They’re counter service, but there are a few free parking spaces, plus dog-friendly off-street picnic tables.
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Remember your sunscreen and wade out to the Montrose Dog Beach in Uptown. It’s technically free, but officially you need a Dog Friendly Area permit and tag from the Chicago Park District, so plan ahead. Remember to check for daily swim bans due to weather, surf conditions or water quality.
Go to the Argyle Street area and grab banh mi from Ba Le Sandwiches or Nhu Lan Bakery, or really plan ahead and order a Chicago-style caramelized crust pan pizza at Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, possibly an Updog, given the canine celebration, with sausage and pepperoni. They do sell out, and it’s street parking only, but there’s a dog-friendly sidewalk patio.
Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area, 601 W. Montrose Ave., 312-74-BEACH (312-742-3224), chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/montrose-beach; Milly’s Pizza in the Pan, 1005 W. Argyle St., instagram.com/millys_pizza_in_the_pan
Walk the unpaved Des Plaines Trail along its namesake river through Potawatomi Woods, named for the Indigenous people forced from this land north of the city. You can park for free near the picnic grove you’ll find off Dundee Road, just east of Milwaukee Avenue.
Go to the Superdawg Drive-In in Wheeling, where the eternal hot dog couple Maurie and Flaurie await. Get a classic Superdawg dressed Chicago-style (except for their unique pickled green tomatoes) by drive-thru, drive-in carhop or park in the free lot, then sit at a picnic table outfitted with menus and speakers. You can also walk through Caldwell Woods near Devon Avenue, then go to the original Superdawg across the street in Chicago.
Potawatomi Woods; East Dundee Road, east of North Milwaukee Avenue, near Northbrook; 800-870-3666; fpdcc.com/places/locations/potawatomi-woods. Superdawg Drive-In; 333 S. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling; 847-459-1900; superdawg.com.
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