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Exploring Northwestern University’s Dog Friendly Lakefill

Ruby is a Chicago dog that loves adventures around the city and outlying areas. Truthfully, I think for Ruby it is more about being included than the adventures themselves. Last week we toured Chicago’s Museum Campus and 12th Street Beach, but this week we are staying closer to home and exploring Northwestern University’s dog friendly Lakefill on its Evanston Campus. While Museum Campus is more of a special occasion walk, Northwestern is an everyday but still awesome walk, offering the same spectacular lake and city views without the crowds.

Evanston is a university town just north of Chicago. If you are visiting the city, Evanston is about a 30 minute drive from downtown (a 15 minute drive if you are on the far north side) accessible by Lake Shore Drive or 90/94.

exploring Northwestern University's dog friendly Lakefill

Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus offers lots of green space, benches for water breaks and reflection, beautiful landscaping, a variety of architecture and public sculpture, wide paths for biking and walking not to mention Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. The campus also includes the Lakefill, a large area of land reclaimed from Lake Michigan in the mid-sixties by creating a seawall of limestone blocks and landfill materials. The Lakefill increased the footprint of the campus significantly and now offers the perfect spot for a weekend, morning, or evening walk. While you will pass a few other dogs, there’s plenty of space to step aside if you are dog isn’t super social.

The google map shows our route, which took about 90 minutes (Ruby is not super speedy and we did take breaks). You can print the map or click on the letters for more information on locations mentioned in this post. The letters in the text below refer to points on the map.

walking a dog on Northwestern University's dog friendly Lakefill

Exploring Northwestern University’s Dog Friendly Lakefill

We usually park (A) north of Arrington Lagoon in Dawes Park (B) on Sheridan Road. The park has two fountains, public bathrooms, a picnic area, and a snack bar so it’s a great place to begin and finish up the walk. There’s also a Whole Foods on Chicago Avenue (about 5 blocks away) if you want to pick up snacks for a picnic.

Head north past Centennial Park, a lakefront park that includes a beach with volleyball courts & tranquil walking paths. Dogs are not allowed on regular Evanston Beaches during the summer season. There are several dog beaches, but season passes are pricey – $88 for non-Evanston dogs, and $44 for Evanston dogs. If your dog likes the beach and is good with other dogs, I would recommend Montrose Dog Beach in the city.

walking around dog friendly Northwestern University's dog friendly Lakefill

Keep walking north towards campus, you will pass the Clark Street Bird Sanctuary (D), no dogs allowed but you can enjoy some views over the fence. Veer right and follow the paved path onto campus, you will pass the Northwestern Sailing Center (E) which offers a variety of classes, certifications, and gorgeous lake views. Continue on the path and on your left you will  pass The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for Musical Arts (F), a stark five-story, 152 square-foot-glass structure with a grassy area where dogs can have a stretch or snooze.

taking a break on dog friendly Northwestern University

Next up you will cross a pedestrian bridge that leads east to the Northwestern University Lakefill. The peninsula is designed as a park-like area with paths for jogging, biking and leisurely strolling as well as lots of shady green space for studying, socializing, and sometimes Tai Chi classes. There are also multiple benches, some in shade for breaks and spectacular views of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

Head north up the peninsula and you will notice that the eastern shore of the Lakefill is lined with rocks, painted by students in shades of purple – some with inspirational phrases, marriage proposals, inside jokes, and even a few cartoon and pop culture characters. The grassy area between the paved path and the lakefront is wide and perfect for a picnic or a play/nap break for your dog.

taking a break on the rocks at Northwestern University's dog-friendly Lakeview

Continue north to the end of the Lagoon, just before you come to the North Stadium. For more ambitious dogs and peeps, you can continue north, but we turned left toward the Kellogg School of Management (h) and looped around the lagoon. On the west side of the lagoon you will see lots of butterflies and often hear the sweet sound of Red-winged blackbirds.

Taking a selife at Northwestern University's dog-friendly Lakefill

At the south end of the lagoon, continue on the path heading south between the three towers and geometric patterns of the Northwestern University Library on your right and the Norris University Center on your left. Here you will find a sculpture garden, Crowe Hall and Segal Visitor Center. Exit the campus, cross Sheridan Road and return to your car. Another option is to head west towards downtown Evanston and find a restaurant or a bar with a dog friendly patio.

hanging out at dog friendly Northwestern University

Have dog-friendly Chicago suggestions, please let us know!  If you don’t live in Chicago (or plan on visiting) and just want to enjoy photos of Ruby, that’s fine, too! Follow us on Instagram for more photos from dog-friendly Chicago adventures and and of course, lots of Ruby cuteness.


  1. August 6, 2018 / 11:48 pm

    we love this place, what a good idea to have a dog friendly university campus what has so much place to learn and to relax after doing your learning stuff (even math ha!)

  2. August 7, 2018 / 4:14 am

    HarI om
    What a fine walk… I could almost smell the fresh air! YAM xx

  3. August 7, 2018 / 7:54 am

    What a beautiful walk for you, Ruby! We love those beach roses!

  4. August 7, 2018 / 8:01 am

    Ruby what a wonderful adventure with your 3- favorite peeps. OMCs you are for sure a gal about town.
    You had a lovely day for the outing too
    Hugs madi your bfff

  5. Bobbi and Gracie
    August 7, 2018 / 9:52 am

    Wow, Ruby you are getting some nice exercise!! Gracie lasts for about a half hour these days and she’s done. She wishes she were a young pup like you again! ha! Thanks for sharing your beautiful self and your adventures.

  6. August 7, 2018 / 10:14 am

    You sure get to see lots of fun things sweet Ruby and you sure have a good time!

  7. August 7, 2018 / 10:28 am

    You sure get to see lots of interesting things sweet Ruby and you sure do have a fun time too! Hey, I’m trying to comment with my google account since I still can’t use my WordPress profile to comment.

  8. August 7, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    We enjoyed visiting Evanston many years ago, and took the El into downtown Chicago. My nephew is a graduate of Northwestern, and lives and works in Chicago…maybe it’s time to go for a visit!

  9. August 7, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    ruby….how kewl waz thiz add venturez N we hope ya taked a wee moe mint out
    ta due sum fishin 🙂 ♥♥!!

  10. Idaho PugRanch
    August 7, 2018 / 3:45 pm

    What a nice walk. we sure wish we had some better walking areas
    Hazel & Mabel

  11. meowmeowmans
    August 8, 2018 / 9:42 pm

    The Lakefill looks and sounds like a wonderful place for a day of fun, Ruby! 🙂

  12. August 9, 2018 / 11:00 am

    What a lovely place for a walk! We are making notes for future road trips!

  13. August 11, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    It looks like it was a beautiful day out! Ruby, you are just too cute in all your photos.

  14. August 12, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    Just wanted to let you know I remembered to go back and look for this blog and add it to my blog list. So now I can follow Ruby on all her adventures.

  15. August 13, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    That looks like such a beautiful walk, with a variety of different things to see. I love walks along the water; you’re so lucky to live so close to such a beautiful lake.

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