Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Be a Tourist with Dogs: Chicago "In One Day"

We've written before about how E and I aren't really museum people, and most of our vacations are spent walking around, eating, and exploring the city we're visiting. We always talk about how much more fun things could be if we included the pooches, though we suspected some things might be limiting. On our latest downtown adventure, we found the perfect balance of exploring Chicago with our pups. In true Frommer's style, here is our version of the "In One Day" tour:

Hotel Home Base:
When people asked us about dog-friendly hotels in Chicago, we never really knew what to recommend. Though after a recent experience with the James Hotel Chicago, they have become our go-to dog-friendly hotel. The gladly accepts all sizes and breeds of dogs and the staff is beyond friendly always giving the pups a friendly pat and running to grab the door for us. They provide dog beds and food bowls. The hotel is also in a really convenient location near north Michigan Avenue across from the Trader Joe's (perfect for picking up extra dog treats, people snacks, and inexpensive late-night bottles of wine). It's also near Chicago Avenue which is the entrance to the lakefront path and within short walking distance to all the activities described below so you can always make quick trips back to rest at the hotel.

Morning Walk to Navy Pier:
Start with an early morning walk to Navy Pier. Since things were less crowded downtown at this time, you can walk down Michigan Avenue taking the Illinois underpass over to Navy Pier. Usually Navy Pier can be unpleasantly filled with crowds, but if you go in the early morning you will be able to beat the crowds with plenty of photo opps and views.
You can pick up an (overpriced!) Chicago hot dog from a cart and check out some of the best skyline views in the city. See more of what our pups did at Navy Pier here, including a video from Mr' B's camera. 

Lakefront Walk:
After spending the morning at Navy Pier, take the lakefront path back towards your hotel. The lakefront spans over 18 miles passing along several neighborhoods along with skyline views. If the weather is nice out, you can even plan for this. 

Mag Mile Shopping:
If your dogs are tired, spend some time resting back at the hotel. Otherwise, you can do some dog-friendly shopping along Michigan Avenue. The Nordstrom's building is dog-friendly (with the exception of the 4th floor with the food court) and it even has a water bowl and treat stand in the back near the Nordstrom's entrance. We've also seen dogs walking through the Bloomingdales building at 900 North Michigan, we just need to doublecheck their dog policy.

After all of the new experiences, walking, and mental stimulation, our dogs were exhausted and they were happy to eat in the hotel while we went out to dinner by ourselves. If you aren't comfortable leaving your pups alone in the hotel room, head over to Portillio's for the best Chicago-style hotdogs, or  M Burger . Knowing how dangerous it can be to leave our dogs outside a store unattended, one of us always stays with the dogs while the other picks up food. (We wrote more about it here).
Or it's always fun to stay in the hotel with movies and room service.

City Lights:
Head out for one last night walk with the pups to see the city all lit up. Stop by Ghirardelli's for some caramel salted hot chocolate or ice-cream and check a less crowded Michigan Avenue. If your pups are interested in meeting people, walk by the Rush and Division street area. At night the area is known for drunken debauchery; someone even tried to grab Miss M's tush when she was walking there!
We also wrote more about nighttime adventures, here.

These are our recommendations for a 1-night downtown stay with your pups.
What would be your favorite part? And any locals have any other must-see's?

What we learned about staying in a hotel with dogs.
If you had a second day... 
Winter (with hats!)
We always love these staycation ideas


Anonymous said...

That last photo is such a husband/wife look!

Two French Bulldogs said...

What a dog friendly city. Love it
Benny & Lily

Mel said...

We will definitely need to hit up all the food places mentioned in this post during our next visit. Yum!

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