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Hikes & Hops: 8 Great Dog-Friendly Spots in the Midwest

Travel destinations for you and your co-pilot.

by Daniela Lopez
July 3, 2021
Man hiking with his dog in the forest at dusk
Isaac Lane Koval / Stocksy

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It’s time to trade those thick winter jackets for some much-needed vitamin D. There’s no better way to explore the Midwest than to hit the trails with your dog. At the end of the day, when your pup’s all tuckered out, there’s nothing more rewarding than a cool drink, a bite to eat, and some much-deserved relaxation. From endless hiking trails to a unique topiary park, read our list of dog-friendly summer fun in the Midwest.

1. Duluth, Minnesota

Just over two hours north of the Twin Cities is the Lake Superior Hiking Trail, which runs from Duluth, Minnesota, to the Canadian border. This popular hike follows Lake Superior and is over 300 miles long, with easy access to parking and amenities along the way. Stop by Blacklist Brewing Co. for some craft beers and a bite of pizza on their dog-friendly patio. And for a lighter taste, Blacklist produces amazing small-batch hard seltzers with water from Lake Superior.

2. Tofte, Minnesota

Near Tofte is another dog-friendly trip in Minnesota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This huge one-million-acre area is located within the Superior National Forest. The Wilderness contains 12 hiking trails, 2,000 campsites, and 1,200 miles of canoe routes perfect for paddlers and their pups. It’s a certified paradise for outdoors enthusiasts and their dogs. Along the coast of Lake Superior, Voyageur Brewing Company is a great dog-friendly pub to pick up a drink.

3. Minneapolis, Minnesota

A must-visit dog park, taproom, and eatery in Minneapolis is Unleashed Hounds and Hops. Pet parents and pet gawkers alike can enjoy fantastic food and drinks with dogs zooming about. The environmentally controlled indoor park is a great spot for people and pups regardless of the midwestern weather. Pre-registration and vaccination records are required for dogs. Winchell Trail, Midtown Greenway, and Lake Nokomis Loop are good options for outdoor hikes, weather permitting.

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4. Madison, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin River offers visitors miles of beautiful dog-friendly waters to swim in and sandbars to explore. It’s the perfect location to find a spot to grill, swim, and hang out with friends. Back in Madison, stop by The Boneyard for a drink from the dog-friendly bar while dogs enjoy the large, attached dog park.

5. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

In Door County, Wisconsin, the five State Parks are dog-friendly and offer plenty of open spaces for hiking, kayaking, boating, and exploring with dogs. Near Sturgeon Bay at the Whitefish Dunes is a wonderful dog-friendly beach for water-loving pups. After fun on the beach, visit Door County Brewing Co. for a good selection of microbrews on tap, great vibes, and live music in the afternoon.

6. Columbus, Ohio

It might be hard to believe, but Columbus does have lots to offer. At the Topiary Park on the grounds of the former Ohio School for the Deaf, dogs are welcome to visit the work of sculptor James T. Mason. Trees here are trimmed into a living representation of Georges Seurat’s famous post-Impressionist painting, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Columbus is also home to a fantastic dog-friendly brewery, Brewdog DogTap, and the first-ever craft beer hotel, The DogHouse.

7. Bloomington, Indiana

There are tons of dog-friendly activities in Bloomington, Indiana. With multiple State and National parks within a short drive, you’ll find plenty of hiking trails, kayaking, and swimming spots. If you’re in the mood for sweets, head over to dog-friendly Bruster’s Ice Cream, and afterward, you can visit Upland Brewing.

8. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a dog paradise. Home of the dog days of summer, there are several dog-friendly beaches in Chicago, including Montrose Beach in the Uptown area, where dogs can romp around and dig in the sand. For drinks, Ravinia Brewery, Eris Brewery, and Pilot Project Brewing are great dog-friendly spots in Chicago. Empirical Brewery is a must-visit dog-friendly spot known for its two cats, Raymond and Venkman.

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daniela lopez

Daniela Lopez

Daniela Lopez is a digital media specialist and long-time contributor to The Bark.