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  • Writer's picturejanaejean

A Year in Dog-Friendly Chicagoland

Updated: Jan 21

There are plently of opporutinies to get out with your best friend in Chicagoland.

White German shepherd, beagle, and Labrador retriever at the parl
Summer Days at the James O. Breen Dog Park in St Charles

Over 2023, our pack "embarked" on a yearlong journey across the dog-friendly Chicagoland that has been an absolute joy for me as a "dog mom." From discovering scenic parks and cozy pet-friendly cafes to other canine-centric events celebrating the profound bond between humans and their furry companions. In this article, I'll take you on a closer look at "A Year in Dog Friendly Chicagoland," sharing our experiences, places, and moments that have made this region a true paradise for those of us who share our lives with humanity's best friend. Whether you're Chicagoan seeking new spots to explore or a visitor in search of the perfect dog-friendly getaway, join me as we list some of 2023's tail-waggingest adventures.


Before we begin, this post is written in loving memory of Kodiak ("Kody"), our white German Shepherd Dog, a cherished companion and loyal friend, who we lost to degenerative myelopathy on Nov. 27. 2023. Kody brought boundless and unconditional love into our lives. Though he may no longer be here by our side, his gentle nature and unwavering devotion have left inedible pawprints that will forever remain on our hearts.

The adventures and excursions as well as any businesses or events listed in this article were chosen by me and in no way endorsed.


Woof Wash

After the long dark and cold months of of an Illinois winter, your pet has probably grown a bit "ripe" and is ready to be refreshed. I recommend the self-service tubs at Batavia's Woof Wash,, who offered a large or small service tub for you to wash your dog yourself for only $12 for the first 30 minutes and $1 for each additional 10 minutes up to another 30. And, that's not per dog, it's based on time only, so you can wash as many dogs as you can in an hour (within reason of course!) In the first picture above, my parent's dober-wo-man. Mittens, showing off her post-ablution smile at Batavia Bulldogs Pawprint wall (a fantastic photo spot) adjacent to Water Street Studios in Batavia, While Water Street Studios itself is not pet-friendly, they feature many outdoor murals around their building that you can view while strolling with your dog.

Illinois Prairie Path

With the greenery returning and the first flowers of the year blooming, Spring is the perfect time to take your dog on a scent walk. A scent walk may be different from your typical foray around the block with your furry friend. Allowing dogs to focus on scents is crucial for mental stimulation and well-being. Dogs possess an exceptional sense of smell, which is about 40 times than that of ours! This sensory stimulation is a mental workout for dogs, as it activates their brain and encourages problem-solving skills.

If you are in Chicagoland, the Illinois Prairie Path,, is an top-notch trail system for you and your dog to explore. If you are in the TriCities, check out the stretch of path along Rt. 25 in Geneva north of Rt 38, like Hank and I (see second photo), where daffodils and other early spring blooms pop up each year usually in March but occasionally as early as February or as late as April depending on the temperatures.

Fox River Bluff (West) Forest Preserve

Fox River Bluff straddles the Fox River in St. Charles, IL. The portion along Rt 31 is the Fox River Bluff West Forest Preserve Kody is exploring their riverfront trails in the third photo above. Unlike most other forest preserves in Kane County, this preserve is an approved off-leash dog area! Humans are welcome to walkup to three dogs at one time here. We ask owners to kindly keep dogs on leash while walking to/from vehicles, and while crossing the bicycle bridge over the Fox River. There are also areas accessible for swimming/wading in the river for the dogs. I highly suggest putting on an appropriate life vest on your pooch before they enter the water and to keep them on a long leash for safety reasons. It should be noted that this park is not fenced, other great local dog parks that are fenced include James O. Breen Bark Park,, in St Charles (seen in the pictures at the top of this post) and Batavia West Main Community Park Bark Park in Batavia,


Paws in the Park Days

Starting in June, each year, Mondays in summer and fall are designated as “Paws in the Park Days” (excluding holidays like Labor Day and Indigenous People’s Day) at Cantigny Park,, in Wheaton , IL. On these Mondays, and only these Mondays, you can bring your furry best friend and walk the garden for FREE! The garden s change throughout the seasons the gardens change, so with every visit you can see something new. In 2023, we went in mid-simmer with "King Henry"—I mean, Hank (first photo)—and then again in late summer with Daisy (second photo). They do have a few common sense rule for their doggy guests: All visiting dogs should be social butterflies, dog and human friendly, have proof of up-to-date vaccinations, remain on leashes and accompanied by their humans at all times. I recommend making sure you have your own poo bags, while they do offer some, they are not everywhere throughout the park but trash bins are available. Buildings are not just off-limits but are closed on Mondays, so if you would like to tour the house or museums, you may wish to return at a later date.

Concourse D'Elegance in Geneva

Nearly every summer Geneva hosts the Concours d'Elegance,, on the last Sunday in August. Hank loved strolling and posing for many a photo op (photo three) between the cars in this beautiful collection of antique, classic and modern automobiles.


Walk 4 Animals

In October, Anderson Humane,, hosts their annual walk-a-thon, Walk4Animals. Walk4Animals helps funds Anderson's essential rescue efforts and programs which include finding homes for 4,000+ pets and provide care for 3,000+ injured and orphaned wild animals in 2023! Daisy (and us) have participated on team Brave Beagles for 2022 (photo 1 and 2) and 2023 (photo 3) with fellow rescued Envigo Beagles,, and their humans who were adopted out from Anderson Humane. Mittens as an Anderson alumni joined the team this year as an honorary "beagle."

While the 4k Envigo beagles are now in homes, the battle to unnecessary end animal testing, especially testing on dogs, still wages on. Follow Daisy's fellow Enivgo survivor Cedric,, and his humans as they travel the US, protesting and podcasting in 2024 to bring attention to this ongoing issue.


Stroll Third Street in Geneva

The first weekend of December each year marks the Christmas Walk in Geneva, a festive and family-friendly event that ushers in the holidays in the TriCities. The County Courthouse on Third Street features an enchanting holiday display, including the decorated Norwegian pine, stays up until January, providing an ideal backdrop for memorable holiday photos (see Kody's photo from New Year's Eve 2022 above). As you continue on your leisurely stroll, consider a visit to Preservation further on Third Street, where you can sip and sup on their dog-friendly and HEATED! patio (Hank and Sigrid in photo 3).


Additionally, for a taste of German-inspired holiday charm, the Christmas market at offers multiple locations in Chicagoland, welcoming both visitors and their canine companions to partake in the festive atmosphere. Hank loved all the attention from adoring dog-lovers as well as brat bites in 2023 at Daley Plaza (photo 2)!

Sigrid is home!

While we lost our beloved Kody this year, we also welcomed a new canine companion, Sigrid. Sigrid came to us rescued from a high-kill Dallas city shelter by Kindred Spirits Dog Rescue Texas, Kindred Spirits is donation supported and could use help saving dogs lives, especially German Shepherd dogs, in Texas. She loves her "sister" Daisy and "brother" Hank and loved adventures, we will have to create an updated list of dog-friendly Chicagoland based on out 2024 adventures.

Kodiak. always in our hearts
Kodiak. always in our hearts

While I am a creative professional and music educator and blogger. I also own a pet-sitting business and lovingly care for dogs and cats in Geneva, Batavia, and St. Charles, IL. View reviews, rates, and more at and use code JANAEWALKIES20 for $20 off your first booking.

Labrador retriever, white German shepherd, and beagle
Hank, Sigrid, and Daisy are ready for 2024 adventures!


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