51 Dog-Friendly Ideas for Summer Fun & Travel

Where to go and what to do, from Alabama to Wyoming.

by Susan Tasaki
June 1, 2021
Man backpacking with his Golden Retriever puppy in a state park
Spencer Gurley // Pexels

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Planning a ‘hot pup summer’ escape? We’ve got a dog-friendly itinerary for every state, plus D.C.: 

Alabama

On-leash dogs are welcome everywhere at Little River Canyon National Preserve, including in the visitor center, where we’re told treats are often available at the information counter.

Alaska

The glaciers and ice fields of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park are perfect for thick-coated, snow-loving creatures such as bears, harbor seals and Malamutes. Answer the call of the wild in an area as big as six Yellowstones. (Note that while unleashed dogs are allowed on trails, bears and moose are also on the loose here.)

Arizona

Sedona is the center of the state’s legendary Red Rock Country. The area offers much to marvel at: red-rock spires, sandstone cliffs and postcard-perfect views. Several companies offer dog-friendly jeep tours.

Arkansas

Try canoeing down sections of the Ouachita River. One of the most popular trips is the journey from Oden to the Rocky Shoals; the 10-mile stretch features deep pools and shady banks.

California

Carmel, with its leash-free, pristine white sand beach and 37-acre Mission Trail Nature Preserve, is a canine paradise. Cafes, inns, shops all cater to dogs.

Colorado

Aspen has everything from fine dining with your dog to miles of trails, including Smuggler Mountain Road. If you’re dogless but yearning for some canine attention, spend a day with an eager companion courtesy of Aspen Animal Shelter’s “Rent-a-Pet Program.”

Connecticut

The folk tale of the Black Dog of West Peak haunts the Hanging Hills. Hikers explore the deep gorges and clear waters of Merimere Reservoir, watching out for the legendary dog that foretells danger or joy.

Delaware

Cape Henlopen State Park, one of the few places in the state where (with some restrictions) dogs are allowed year-round. The American Discovery Trail begins here; hike its first few miles.

Florida

Key West (aka Bone Island) is historically one of Florida’s most dog-friendly tourist destinations. An abundance of inns, guest cottages and restaurants welcome pups.

Georgia

Take a leisurely stroll along the Eastside Trail, the first leg of Atlanta’s Beltline project. This 2-mile path is part of a huge “railsto- trails” revitalization effort to transform 33 miles of vine-covered railroad into parks, multi-use trails and transit around Atlanta.

Hawaii

While canine visitors are subject to quarantine, shelters on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island invite you to check out approved dogs for day-long field—or beach —trips. Even better, sign up for a shelter pet transfer program and give a homeless pupdog a shot at a new life on the mainland.

Idaho

Ketchum offers Bald Mountain Trail and alpine walks and lakes throughout Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Famous for skiing, Sun Valley is also a nature (and dog) lover’s delight in summer.

Illinois

Chicago-based Camp Dogwood utilizes facilities at nearby Lake Delton, Wisc., 600 acres of fields, woods and lakefront. The focus here is on bonding rather than competition.

Indiana

Walk the rolling dunes of Indiana Dunes State Park with your dog, where 10 trails pass over tall drifting mounds of sand, across miles of lakeshore beach, along marshes and through 1,800 acres of woods.

Iowa

One of the best states for rails-to-trails and a great place to try out dog-friendly bicycle gear. Bike the 63-mile Wabash Trace Nature Trail (Council Bluffs to Blanchard).

Kansas

At Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery, a family-owned and pesticide-free winery in Kansas City, your dog is welcome to join you as you explore the 8,000 vines, enjoy live music, and help harvest grapes.

Kentucky

Daniel Boone National Forest is a birder’s mecca—bring your binoculars in search of hooded mergansers and scarlet tanagers. Dog-friendly accommodations, plus homegrown bluegrass and bourbon, are close by in Lexington.

Louisiana

New Orleans offers legendary history, architecture and gardens, best explored on foot (or paws). Your canine companion will be welcomed at 80-plus eateries with outdoor seating, including Chartres House Café, Café Beignet, Parkway Tavern and The Bulldog.

Maine

Acadia National Park encompasses more than 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and rugged coastal shoreline; its 100 miles of easy-to-challenging trails offer adventures and respite for both dogs and their humans.

Maryland

Catoctin Mountain Park features miles of on-leash, dog-friendly trails that wind through the rugged hardwood forest of this Appalachian highlands park. Picnic and camping areas are available.

Massachusetts

Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod, has much to offer, both old and new. Stroll down its main street; explore its beaches (the city-managed beach is leash-free), marshes and dunes; or run off some energy at Pilgrim Bark Park, one of the top five in America. Your pup can even travel with you via public transportation on Bay State Cruise Company’s ferry service between Boston and Provincetown.

Michigan

Agility, flyball, backpacking, boating, herding, tracking all await you and your dog at the Dog Scouts Camp in the beautiful Northern Lower Peninsula.

Minnesota

The Twin Cities’ long list of off-leash parks includes the crown jewel Minnehaha Dog Park in Minneapolis on the Mississippi River, and four in St. Paul, notably High Bridge, a fully fenced 7-acre site.

Mississippi

Explore the path of a former rail line on the Longleaf Trace, a 44 mile paved trail that follows a portion of the abandoned Mississippi Central Railroad. Thanks to local preservationist efforts, the once-bustling rail line is now a scenic walking path complete with campgrounds, rain shelters, and vending machines.

Missouri

Dip toes and paws in Bliss Spring for cool relief, just one of the many natural wonders to be found along White’s Creek Trail in the Ozarks’ Irish Wilderness area, part of Mark Twain National Forest.

Montana

Whitefish loves its dogs. In town, visit the 5-acre Hugh Rogers Wag Park. Just outside of town is the Whitefish Trail, miles of stacked loops, scenic overlooks and gated logging roads.

Nebraska

Hike or bike along one of the many trails in Nebraska, the “Historic Trails” state. The Lewis and Clark, Mormon Pioneer, Pony Express, Oregon, and California National Historic Trails crisscross the state.

Nevada

Spend a day rafting a peaceful 5-mile stretch of the Truckee River, near Tahoe City. Check in with Truckee River Rafting for details. Pups have to be under 50 pounds and on leash to ride along.

New Hampshire

Great North Woods state parks offer many dog-friendly parks and natural areas. Swimming holes and waterfalls abound, and keep an eye out for covered bridges.

New Jersey

Sunfish Pond, formed 15,000 years ago, is the southernmost glacial lake on the Appalachian Trail. The rock formations and hardwood forest host an abundance of flora and fauna that your pup will appreciate.

New Mexico

Wonderful discoveries await you and your pup, from Taos’ Rio Grande Gorge area, with its stunning vistas and many small hot springs, to Carson National Forest.

New York

Explore the natural beauty, small towns and tranquility of the Catskill Mountains with your doggo, including rummaging at the many flea markets and unmatched hiking and fishing.

North Carolina

Asheville provides mountain hikes (nearby Lookout Trail) and a number of (leashed) dog-friendly festivals, from traditional folk music to regional crafts.

North Dakota

The tall-grass prairie on the rolling hills of the Sheyenne National Grasslands is a significant contrast to the stark badlands found in the Little Missouri National Grasslands. Or, visit the leashed-dog-friendly International Peace Garden in Rugby.

Ohio

The Buckeye Trail circumnavigates the state and is the longest loop trail in the country. Hike the wild 25-mile stretch in Hocking Hills State Park, and camp at one of its dog-friendly campsites.

Oklahoma

One of historic Route 66’s longest stretches goes through this state. Look for roadside attractions like the Totem Pole Park in Foyil or the giant Blue Whale of Catoosa. Stop by White Dog Hill restaurant outside of Clinton for some home-style cooking.

Oregon

The state’s tallest peak, Mount Hood, provides hiking and cycling for you and your pup in a Cascade Range forest. Explore long stretches of secluded coastline at Cannon Beach and Lincoln City.

Pennsylvania

Is Philadelphia America’s most dog-friendly city? Their chamber of commerce thinks so, and pup-welcoming establishments Hotel Palomar and restaurants like the White Dog Cafe and Honey’s Sit ’n Eat support their claim.

Rhode Island

Well-behaved dogs are welcomed on Gansett Cruises in Newport, plus get treats and a special blanket to sit on. Take a scenic harbor tour or sunrise cruise on Narragansett Bay.

South Carolina

Congaree Swamp National Monument has 20 miles of trails (dogs must be leashed on trails and are not allowed on boardwalks). Nature abounds with old-growth cypress and tupelo, woodpeckers, cardinals, and hawks.

South Dakota

See the landscape as Lewis and Clark may have along the Native American Scenic Byway from Chamberlain to Pierre, as it passes through two American Indian reservations.

Tennessee

The only state declared a Civil War National Heritage Area by Congress, which makes it a prime spot for al fresco history lessons. Dogs are welcome at several historic battlefields, including Shiloh National Military Park.

Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park allows leashed strolling along the famous River Walk, and around the grounds of the 18th-century Spanish missions, including the Alamo.

Utah

Best Friends, in picturesque Angel Canyon outside of Kanab, is the nation’s largest sanctuary for abused and abandoned cats and dogs. The dramatic setting and humane mission are inspiring. Plan a working holiday: arrange a sleepover in one of the cabins and host an appreciative animal for some snuggling.

Vermont

At Dog Mountain, 150 acres of private mountaintop in St. Johnsbury, artist Stephen Huneck’s Dog Chapel celebrates our spiritual bond with canines. There’s no leash law here—dogs are free to run, play and swim (don’t miss the new agility course).

Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway allows dogs on more than 100 trails, ranging from easy valley strolls to strenuous mountain hikes. Check out the many festivals and music events in the area that enliven the Shenandoah Valley. Stay at Big Meadows Lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Washington

Ferry to the San Juan Islands (75 miles north of Seattle) for hiking, kayaking and cycling amidst some of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife.

Washington DC

Rock Creek Park, more than 1,750 (dog-friendly) acres, lies north of the National Zoo and has hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Plus, the K9 Corps at the Historic Congressional Cemetery has a private dog-walking program permitted by membership only.

West Virginia

The New River Gorge offers multisport delights, from rafting and rock-climbing to hiking past old grist mills and waterfalls—all in the heart of Southern Appalachia.

Wisconsin

Sheboygan is a dog-loving sportspersonman’s paradise—swim, kayak or fish on Lake Michigan or nearby Elkhart Lake.

Wyoming

Try your hand at cowboy life at one of the state’s many dude ranches. If you yearn for fresh mountain air, open spaces—and if your dog is horse-friendly—check out listings on duderanch.org

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Susan Tasaki

Susan Tasaki, a freelance editor and writer, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Husky, who wishes they both got out more.