Dog-Friendly Chicago Roadtrips for Peak Fall Foliage

So air travel is still a bit of a no-no, but thank dog-ness road trips exist. Unfortunately, your pup failed her driver’s test (holding the wheel is hard without thumbs!), so you’ll have to be DD for this one. We promise these destinations are worth it. Curious about where to see fall foliage near Chicago? Check out these dog-friendly autumn road trips.

Day Trips

Ottawa, Illinois

Ottawa is an easy 90-minute drive away from Chicago and a must-stop for every true Chicago dog. With three state parks in the vicinity, you won’t get more fall foliage opportunities than this. Buffalo Rock State Park features nearly 300 acres of trails and riverside views, and a short 20 minutes away are lush, wooded Matthiessen and Starved Rock State Parks. Fill your days with hikes and adventures and take a snoozle at the dog-friendly Starved Rock Lodge.

Naperville, Illinois

Pup’ll ruv going to Naperville for a day trip! Make your way to the Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve to experience fall in native prairieland with your buddy. Then, let them explore it themselves off leash in the enclosed dog park. It can get muddy, so don’t forget to bring a towel for later. Another perk of Naperville is its proximity to the granddaddy of fall foliage: the Morton Arboretum. Dogs are welcome on their special Dog Admission Days!

Afterward, take a trip to downtown Naperville for some snackies and handcrafted spirits on the Two Brothers Barrel House patio and get some shopping in at any of the dog-friendly stores.

Weekend Trips

Door County, Wisconsin

You know what they say, Explore the Door! Your pup will be giving you a million kisses as thanks for this fun trip up the Lake Michigan coast. The five-hour trip up north is made easier with a scenic drive of forestry and Wisconsin beaches. Once you get to Door County, we recommend the Ellison Bluff State Natural Area to get into the autumnal mood with their forested trails, rock terrace, and gorgeous views of the lake. Experts recommend visiting the third week in October for peak foliage.

Three Oaks, Michigan

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Over here at Sidewalk Dog Chicago, we love talking about Lake Michigan, so take a weekend trip to explore the other side of it. Less than two hours away, take your pup to Warren Woods State Park in Three Oaks to see autumn underneath towering tulip and beech trees. When you’re done marveling at Mother Nature, swing by Journeyman Distillery to marvel at the nature of their handcrafted spirits.

On the way back, of course you need to visit the Indiana Dunes National Park! There are plenty of trails, lakeshore, and of course dunes to explore, but if you’re on the hunt for fall foliage, be sure to stop by the Taltree Arboretums in the park.

Cleveland, Ohio

We’re not gonna say that Lake Michigan is overhyped, but let’s not forget that there are other lakes. This city is right on Lake Erie and is the home of several dog-friendly breweries such as Great Lakes Brewing and Terrestrial Brewing Company. You’ll find all the foliage you can ask for at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a short 20-minute drive away with 33,000 acres of forest to explore.

What are your favorite places to for autumnal vibes? Woof at us in the comments and be sure to tag #SidewalkDog in all your adventures! Oh, and pass this on to anypuppy wonderin’ where to see fall foliage near Chicago.

(Photo by Claudio Schwarz)

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