The Scene

Dog-friendly destinations dot Starved Rock Country

Parks and restaurants perfect for Fido abound

With all the accommodating restaurants, hotels, parks and dog runs, Starved Rock Country is the perfect place to take a trip with your furry friend. Here’s a convenient guide to some of the best hiking destinations, al fresco dining options and dog parks near Starved Rock State Park.


River Run Dog Park

1930 N. 2753rd Road, Ottawa

This new dog park, located inside Ottawa’s Heritage Harbor, features two separate sections for small and large dogs, bags for clean-up, water to keep your pooches hydrated, and plenty of rolling hills to run and explore.

Rotary Dog Park

2837 E. Fifth Road, La Salle

Conveniently located off Interstate 39, the dog park boasts ample room for your dog to run and play, benches and plenty of shade. The park is only a 10-minute drive from the entrance to Starved Rock, and is even closer to the I&M Canal. You’ll find several restaurants in nearby La Salle and Peru that offer dog-friendly patio seating.

Hardscrabble Lions Club Dog Park

820 James St., Streator

The dog park features a large shelter, picnic tables, benches, a waste station and water fountain to keep your furry friends hydrated. There’s also a separate area of the park to accommodate smaller dogs.

Wiggly Field Dog Park

2600 Plank Road, Peru

The spacious dog park has running water during spring and summer, lights, benches and complimentary doggie bags to clean up any messes. You’ll also find a large dog ramp inside the run.


Starved Rock State Park

2668 E. 875th Road, Oglesby

Many blogs cite Starved Rock as one of the top destinations for hiking with your dog in the Midwest. The River Trail, conveniently located off the recently restored Parkman’s Plain lot, is one of the more popular canine hikes. The dog-friendly outdoor Veranda at the Lodge even offers a special “doggy menu.” Canines must be leashed inside Illinois state parks.

Matthiessen State Park

2500 Illinois Route 178, Oglesby

Matthiessen State Park offers plenty of fun locations for leashed dogs to explore, including a series of dells filled with enough water to cool off in, prairie-lined trails and a large waterfall. If you’re bringing your dog, consider parking in the north parking lot, conveniently set next to the stairs down to the park’s dells.

Spring Lake Park

1389 E. 1569th Road, Streator

Spring Lake is the perfect destination for a briefer hike with your dog. The park features a system of 12 trails, most of which are half-mile loops or shorter, along with beautiful Spring Lake Falls and a stable wooden rope bridge. Keep your eyes peeled: The wooded areas are home to more than 85 bird species, as well as deer, foxes, coyotes, beavers, snakes, frogs and wild flora.

Buffalo Rock

1300 N. 27th Road, Ottawa

Buffalo Rock sports sweeping vistas and over 290 acres of scenic prairie. The park’s trails wind among massive earthen art sculptures, heavily forested paths, water pumps and open grassy areas. Be sure to take your dog past the buffalo pen, where they can see two live bison, a sight they likely won’t spot anywhere else.

Dayton Bluffs Preserve

2997 Illinois Route 71, Marseilles

The five-mile trail system of Dayton Bluffs Preserve offers a fairly rugged hike, with some narrow trails, steep treks, ridges and ravines. However, the trails pose only a moderate challenge, and should be a suitable hike for most dogs and owners. A portable restroom is available in the parking area. The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.


The Lone Buffalo

812 La Salle St., Ottawa


The Lone Buffalo by Tangled Roots Brewing Company is a great dog-friendly restaurant to grab a plate of farm-to-table food and an artisan craft beer. The relaxed, airy brewpub offers hearty pub classics and new American fare, all incorporating local farm produce and the freshest of ingredients. You can indulge in The Lone Buffalo’s self-proclaimed “slow food,” savoring the tastes at one of the many outdoor tables alongside your pooch.

Thyme Craft Kitchen

405 Fifth St., Peru


Parlaying years of experience in some of Chicago’s most respected kitchens and social clubs, Thyme Craft Kitchen founders Rob and Anthony have created a restaurant that truly exemplifies the spirit of farm-to-table dining. Partnering with more than 25 local farms and businesses, Thyme offers ultra-seasonal menus and craft cocktails infused with regional flavors. You and your travel companions can dine with your furry friends at an outdoor patio area, directly next to the hidden-gem restaurant.

Starved Rock Lodge Veranda

2688 E. 875th Road, Oglesby


The Starved Rock Lodge Veranda, part of Starved Rock’s historic lodge, is a casual bar and grill for the al fresco dining terrace that serves up a variety of delicious drinks and food. Dogs are welcome to join you at one of the many pet-friendly outdoor tables overlooking the scenic Illinois River Valley.

Uptown Grill

601 First St., La Salle


Uptown Grill presents dog-friendly casual sidewalk seating, complementing a delicious fine-dining menu. You’ll find plenty of delicious fresh options like smoked trout, crab Rangoon, truffle fries, pork tenderloin, fish tacos and center-cut filet mignon. Uptown goes the extra mile, using house-baked breads.