The Run Down

For all you dog owners, you know that sinking feeling you get as you hear your dog whimpering while you walk out of the house.  Well, for this guide, we're not leaving your best pal behind. In fact, we're taking them on an adventure around the city. We start by kayaking through an 894 acre forest preserve with your dog at the helm of the kayak. We then make our way back into the city for cocktails, whiskey, and a backyard bbq at a dog friendly bar. Lastly, we end the day with an ice cream for you and an ice cream for your good boy/girl.  Here are the details.

1. Kayak @ Skokie Lagoons

2. Cocktails and Patty Melts @ Ludlow Liquors

3. Ice Cream @ Pretty Cool

1. Skokie Lagoons

The Skokie Lagoons is massive nature preserve on the far North side. It’s 894 acres of natural space with seven lagoons and a maze of waterways that connect them all. Those waterways are one of the best ways to explore, and that’s where we’ll start.

Chicago River Canoe and Kayak operates watercraft rentals all around Chicago and they have a trailer set up right in the middle of the lagoons where you can rent a canoe or kayak. Here are a few notes to get us going.

– Open May – October
– Hours of operations change depending on the month. Check hours here.
– $20/hour for single kayaks and canoes ($60 all day)
– $25/hour for tandem kayaks (then $20/hour after; $65 all day)
– Free parking is available right in front of the rental trailer.
– No reservations required

As you pull into the parking lot, you’ll notice the trailer that Chicago Canoe and Kayak operate out of.  It took less than 10 minutes to go from from renting to getting out on the water.  We rented the tandem kayak which gave us plenty of room for the tiny dog we brought along with us. If you have a big dog, then the canoe might be a better option.

This is the little guy that we took out on the water. There are a couple of different routes you can go depending on how long you want to be out there. From the boat launch there’s an island across the way that you can circumvent. That island is known for having a lot of snapping turtles along its shores.

If you want to keep exploring, there is a waterway you can follow that will take you under a bridge and to a different lagoon. If you keep going, you’ll eventually see a dam that signals a dead end. From there, you’ll need to turn around to make your way back.

If you keep close to the shore line, you can give your dog a close up view of new creatures and new friends they can make.

2. Ludlow Liquors

After a day at Skokie Lagoons, you’ve probably worked up an appetite. We’re headed back towards the city to hangout at Ludlow Liquors in the Avondale neighborhood. The bar itself has a got a 70’s retro style, but with a modern twist to it.

While the the bar is nice, we’re really here to hang out on their dog-friendly patio.

Walk your dog straight through the front entrance to get to their patio in the back.

As you make your way to the patio, you’ll see dogs casually lounging around at the feet of their owners. There’s about 8 or so long communal picnic tables in the back, and stadium style bench seating along the wall. Grab an open spot wherever you can.

That patio is like dog-heaven. Lots of chill dogs hanging about, new smells, and friendly people always coming around to pet you (the dog, not you).

Now onto the food and drink. In terms of food, this place does goes way beyond your typical boring bar food.  There’s a lot of inventiveness in the menu that mix and matches Asian, European, Mediterranean, and Chicago style food.  Think things like a beef brisket and cheek meat patty melt with giardinera aoli, Filipino egg rolls, and fancy chicken pitas.

3. Pretty Cool

Similar to the end of any good meal, we end this guide with dessert.  We’re walking 15 minutes straight south to Pretty Cool, an ice cream shop in Logan Square. This isn’t just any normal ice cream shop, this shop is the brainchild of Dana Cree, a two-time finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Pastry Chef, and Michael Ciapciak, founder of Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits.

Pretty Cool is like a new-age version of the corner ice cream shop. It’s nestled about a block off the California Blue Line stop.

When most people think of ice cream shops, the traditional scoop shop comes to mind. Pretty Cool does it a bit different. They do artisinal frozen treats on a stick. It’s a mix of juice pops, chocolate dipped ice cream, and buttermilk bars. On top of that, they also have a line of vegan, dairy free, and gluten free treats, that cover everybody.

Not to leave your doggy pal out, they also have a line of frozen doggy ice cream.  With the sun dipping low, bask out in the last moments of light with you and your best friend.