The annual family vacation is a tradition for many of us, as is growing up with a canine companion. While these two traditions seem perfectly natural to anyone that have enjoyed them, they don’t always work well together. All too often the places we want to go to for family vacations are not dog friendly.
But we are here to help with that.
Join us as we explore 23 Dog Friendly Family Vacations that the whole family will love.
While the post is focused on families, these dog friendly vacation locations can work equally as well for friend groups, couples or the solo traveler.
How we chose our dog friendly family vacations
In case you are wondering how we chose the places on this list, they are a mix of places we have been to and those we hope to one day visit. All have been researched to determine if they are truly dog friendly.
The main focus of this post is on family fun that also allows your dog to tag along. It is not focused specifically on your dog’s vacation. Here at Happyoodles.com we believe dogs are happiest wherever their family is.
In order to be selected for this list, the vacation destination needs to have:
- At least a few dog friendly hotels, motels, inns or vacation rentals homes in various price points.
- Family friendly and dog friendly places to eat.
- Lastly, it needs to have enough activities that allow dogs to accompany the family to keep everyone busy while on vacation.
Please confirm with all places listed here that pet dogs are still allowed prior to visiting. Information is subject to change without notice. While we strive to insure accuracy on Happyoodles.com, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Also, the mentioning of a business in this post should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Happy Oodles may earn a commission if you click through.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations
If this is the first time you are traveling with your dog or you are looking for ways to make traveling with your dog easier, you may want to read Traveling With A Dog: Tips For An Easy Trip.
We also have tips on staying in a hotel with a dog.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the Midwest
1. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Take a step back in time on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. Designated as a National Historic Landmark this small island offers a delightful mix of Victorian charm, historic parks, boating, biking and hiking. Oh, and gorgeous views of sunsets over Lake Huron.
Cars are not allowed on the island. The only way to get around is by foot, bike or horse drawn carriage. Thus, making Mackinac Island a truly unique vacation experience. Since cars are not allowed on the island, you need to bring everything over via a dog friendly ferry. Once on the island you can hire horse drawn carriage to transport your belongs to where you are staying.
Dogs must be leashed on the island. Don’t forget to clean up after them.
In addition to dog friendly restaurants, and hotels, the island offers more than a few dog friendly activities. Here is just a sample of what’s available:
- Take a horse-drawn carriage tour – Mackinac Island Carriage Tours offers tours that brings you to all the must-see places on the island. Small dogs are allowed to sit on a lap, but larger dogs may require you to purchase of a child’s ticket for them.
- Mackinac Island makes it easy to find dog friendly establishments. Just look for the “Dogs are Welcome” sticker in the window in participating restaurants, shops and places to stay.
- Go for a bike ride to explore the island. Both Mackinac Bike Barn and Mackinac Wheels rent Burley tag-a-long carts that allow your dog to come along on the ride with you.
2. Grand Haven, Michigan
If you are looking for a dog friendly beach vacation in the Midwest that you can drive to, Grand Haven has some of the best beaches in Michigan. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven offers a number of dog friendly activities, like shopping, hiking, or getting out on the water.
Dog friendly activities in Grand Haven, Michigan
- Go to the beach – Grand Haven City Beach allows leashed dogs on the very south end of the beach near Grand Avenue during specific times throughout the year. Dog are allowed between Memorial Day and Labor Day before 11am and after 5pm. Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, dogs are welcome on-leash at any time.
- Explore the trails at North Ottawa Dunes. This park offers 593-acres of wooden dunes located just off the Lake Michigan coast. Dog’s must remain on-leash and are not allowed on the dune stairs, building, off trial or as posted.
- Check out the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. You can enjoy the 25-30-minute water, light and music show from the Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the Northeast
3. Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes are best known for the long, thin lakes that covers the area. Renting a dog friendly vacation home on any one of the finger lakes will provide you with a fun and relaxing vacation. But there is more to do in the Finger Lakes then just be on the water.
The area is also home to vast hiking trails that lead to spectacular vistas and roaring waterfalls. Many are kid and dog friendly. We use Alltrails.com to discover the best trails wherever we are.
If you have never been to the Finger Lakes, Ithaca, NY and Tompkins County is a good place to start exploring.
Here are a few things to do in Ithaca, NY with your dog
- Visit the Cornell Botanic Garden – Enjoy the morning by walking around the beautiful Cornell Botanic Garden with your family. Leashed dogs are welcomed here.
- There are plenty of dog friendly hikes near Ithaca. Here are just a few of the available parks nearby:
- Cayuga Lake Creamery – After a day of exploring in the woods or on the lake, stop by Cayuga Lake Creamery to cool off with some ice cream. They even have a sundae for your dog. Dogs are not allowed inside, but there are picnic tables outside.
4. Lake George, New York
The Adirondacks is a great place for dog friendly family vacations. Located in upstate New York, the area is filled with hiking trails, lakes and plenty of dog and kid friendly activities.
If you are looking for a place with a lot to do, Lake George is a great place to start exploring the area. Here you will find historic parks and forts. There are also dog friendly homes, cabins and hotels.
Plus, you will find there are lots of dog friendly restaurants, many of them located with a view of Lake George.
Dog friendly things to do in Lake George, NY
- Go on a hike in one of the many forest preserves near the village. We use AllTrails.com to find kid and dog friendly hikes that fit our abilities.
- Go on a cruise on the lake – Lake George Waterfront Cruises offers kid and dog friendly cruises on the Horicon.
- Rent a dog friendly kayak from Lake George Kayak Co . It’s pet-friendly and just a few minutes away from Lake George Village in Bolton Landing, NY. To hear more about our experience, check out our review of the Lank George Kayak Co.
For more dog friendly things to do in Lake George, check out our post Lake George, NY: 14 Dog Friendly Things to Do
5. Lakes Region, New Hampshire
If your family’s idea of a perfect vacation is hiking, then New Hampshire should be on your list of places to see. Nearly 84% of the land is covered by trees.
But New Hampshire also has plenty of lakes, biking trails and family friendly fun. If you are planning to stay for a week, a dog friendly lake-front vacation rental will offer plenty of family fun for everyone.
Look for a vacation rental with easy lake access or a dock. If you can find one with a few water toys you may never need to leave the house.
Of course, lakes can be dangerous for young kids and dogs so use your best judgment when picking a house.
For times when you need to get away from the house here are a few family fun ideas.
- Take one of the many hikes in the area. You can use Alltrails.com to find dog friendly hikes that are a good fit for your family.
- If hiking is not your think take a scenic drive on the Lake Winnipesaukee loop. The total drive is 75 miles round trip. This scenic drive will take you all around Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake. You can find driving directions for the loop at Yankee Magazine.
- Enjoy a walk or bike ride on the Winnipesaukee River Trail. this rail to trail spot is dog and bike friendly.
6. Acadia National Park, Maine
You can find Acadia National Park on Desert Island in Maine’s “DownEast” region. The island is full of breathtaking views, clear lakes and rugged coast lines. It’s also one of the few National Parks that are truly dog friendly.
While there are a few areas that dogs are not allowed and a few more that may not be safe for every dog, most of Acadia is open to dogs and their people.
Here are just a few of the many dog friendly activities in Acadia National Park and the nearby town of Bar Harbor.
- First the Island Explorer, which has stops throughout the island, allows leashed or crated dogs on the bus. This makes getting around during the high season easy. Just keep them off the seats.
- The main reason most people go to Acadia National Park is to take in the beautiful scenery. You can do this by taking some of the many trails including the 45 miles of crushed stone paths.
- Take an Sightseeing and Nature Cruise with Acadian Boat Tours – The two hour, narrated cruise of Frenchman Bay will showcase the breathtaking scenery of coastal Maine and Acadia National Park.
7. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Next on our list of dog friendly family vacations is Cape Cod. It’s no surprise that Cape Cod has been a family favorite for close to a century. People are drawn to its natural beauty, miles of white-sand beaches, charming towns and its abundance of family friendly activities. It also happens to have a few dog friendly beaches for the whole family to enjoy.
Here are just a few of the reasons dog friendly Cape Cod a perfect choice for a family vacation.
- Go Kayaking or Paddle boarding on Bass River. Bass River Kayaks and Paddle Boards allows well-behaved dogs to join you in one of their Kayaks or Paddle Boards.
- Spend the day at the Cape Cod National Seashore – Dogs are allowed to join you at the Cape Cod National Seashore with the following exceptions; where lifeguards are present, when closed for shorebird nesting or other wildlife related issues and when closed for other reasons. To learn more about pet related closures visit Pets at Cape Cod National Seashore.
- Take a ride on the Cape Cod National Seashore Bike Trails- If you don’t have a bike and trailer you can rent them at Bike Shack or Gale Force Bikes.
8. Block Island, Rhode Island
Block Island offers something for everyone, even your dog. The Island is well known for its miles of free sandy beaches, cool, sparkling clear waters, high bluffs and friendly people. Add to that miles of hiking trails, dog friendly places to eat and drink and a feeling of instant relaxation the moment you step off the ferry, All of this combined makes Block Island a dog friendly option for a family vacation.
Block Island is located just off the coast of Rhode Island. This small island can only be reached via a ferry, plane or private boat.
Dog Friendly things to do on Block Island:
- The main attraction on Block Island is the beach. Most are dog friendly with the exception of guarded beaches.
- Meander along the 28 miles of walking trails at the Nature Conservancy. Trails offer views of the Clay Head Bluffs, ponds, meadows and the ocean. You can find a trail map at the Block Island Nature Conservancy.
- Check out the Mohegan Bluffs for an Instagram worthy view – Here you will find two-hundred-foot-high cliffs and spectacular views of the ocean, along with views of the wind turbines that power the island.
For more things to do and places to stay, visit our post Block Island – Dog Friendly Things to Do and Places to Eat
9. Cape May County, New Jersey
At the southern tip of New Jersey, you will find Cape May County. Within the county you will find two of the most pet friendly vacation spots in NJ; Cape May and Wildwood. The two towns are less than 20 minutes apart and both offer dog friendly activities. Cape May has awesome dog friendly family activities like whale watching tours and Wildwood has an awesome dog beach that human can go enjoy too.
Both areas offer dog friendly restaurants and places to stay. Here are a few of the dog friendly things to do in south New Jersey
- Spend a day at the Wildwood Dog Park and Beach. Here you will find every dog’s dream, a 26-foot tall fire hydrant. While leashed dogs are allowed on the beach year-round, they are not allowed on the boardwalk. Take the path near Maple Ave to go under the boardwalk to get to the beach. Unlike most other beaches in NJ, this beach is free.
- Catch a boat ride on the dog friendly Cape May Whaler Watcher. Well behaved, leashed dogs are allowed aboard the vessel, outside the cabin. Please contact them before purchasing a ticket as they reserve the right to change the policy. Also make sure your dog will be comfortable on a crowed boat for three or more hours.
- Visit the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum. Located inside a real World War II hanger, families can explore aviation and military history through hands-on exhibits and fun activities.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the Southeast
10. Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, NC is so dog friendly that are often referred to a “Dog City, USA”. As it turns out they are also very family oriented. While not everything is both dog and kid friendly, there is enough to do to make everyone happy.
The first place to start is the Dog Door in downtown Asheville. While the Dog Door is a Behavior Center and Dog Outfitter, they also house the Dog City Welcome Center. Here you will be able to get a list of Dog friendly shops and restaurants in Asheville.
Here are just a few of the things that you can do with your family and dog.
- Go for a hike in the DuPont State Recreational Forest. Here you will find trails for all experience levels that lead you to waterfalls, mountain tops, and lakes. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.
- Take a tour of Asheville with the Historic Gray Line Asheville Trolley. Small dogs up to 25 lbs, are welcomed to join the tour for free as long as they sit on a lap and are friendly. Dogs must be up-to-date on vaccinations and be licensed.
- Take time to explore the North Carolina Arboretum. Kids and dogs alike will enjoy wandering through the extensive gardens. Leashed dogs are welcomed outside, except during special events. They are not allowed in the buildings.
11. Outer Banks, North Carolina
Most young kids would be happy to spend their entire vacation just hanging out on the beach. If your kids are one of them than the outer banks is what you are looking for. Here you will find 175 miles of pristine beaches located on the barrier islands off the North Carolina Coast. Lucky for us many of the beaches are dog friendly.
- Duck, NC is considered the most dog friendly beach on the outer banks. Here well-behaved unleashed dogs are allowed on the town beach all year, but they must be keep under voice control. There is a catch, though. The town does not own public beach access. This means you need to rent a home in the area that provides dog friendly access to the beach. Dogs must be leashed while in town.
- Kitty Hawk, NC also has dog friendly beaches, but from the Friday before Memorial Day until the day after Labor Day between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. dogs must be on a 6-foot leash.
- In addition to dog friendly beaches, Corolla offers a great little village you can explore with your kids and dog. Dog are allowed on Corolla’s beaches all year long. While they need to be on a leash there are no leash length requirements.
12. Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island is well known for its incredible beaches and world class golf courses. Located in South Carolina’s Low-country it’s a popular area for travelers looking to relax. But beyond the beach and golf, Hilton Head offers families a place to explore nature with their dogs.
Unfortunately, the Hilton Head Island Dog Policy does not allow dogs on the beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please read the policy to discover when dogs are allowed.
Dog Friendly Island Vacation Ideas on Hilton Head.
- Take a dolphin cruise – Captain Mark’s Dolphin Cruise offers an assortment of cruises that allow friendly leashed dogs.
- Get out on the water with Outside Hilton Head Outfitter. They rent dog friendly kayaks and SUP’s.
- Go for a hike – The Audubon Newhall Preserve is a 50-acre nature preserve located on the south end of Hilton Head Island. Leashed dogs are welcomed as long as you clean up after them.
13. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia just might have the most dog friendly activities out of all the places on this list. But they are not just dog friendly, they are also very kid friendly. Here are just a few of the things your kids will love to do that are also dog friendly.
- Start your vacation in Savannah with a dog friendly tour of the city. Old Savannah Trolley Tours allows small dogs (up to 25 lbs.) to ride on your lap. If your pup is too big for this tour consider one of the many walking tours instead.
- Visit Old Fort Jackson – This National Historic Landmark is a fun place for kids to explore. The fort features interactive programs and self-guided tours. There is also the firing of a cannon.
- Take the kids to see the Georgia State Railroad Museum. Here you will take a step back in time and learn what it was like in the days of the steam engine trains. Leashed pets are welcomed to walk around the grounds with you as long as you clean up after them. They are not permitted on the train cars or inside the rail-cars.
14. Amelia Island, Florida
You will find Amelia Island off the eastern coast of Florida about 40-minute north of Jacksonville. The barrier island has a rich, colorful history and long beautiful beaches. There are less things to do on Amelia Island than some of the other places on our list, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a family vacation here.
- What Amelia Island does have is gorgeous dog friendly beaches. Dogs are allowed on Amelia Islands’ city and county beaches, but they must be on a leash at all times and you need to clean up after them. Failure to do so may result in a fine. Dogs are not allowed on the beach in Florida state parks (Fort Clinch and Amelia Island State Park).
- Explore the water surrounding the island on a Amelia River Cruise. They offer kid friendly cruises that include a family friendly sunset tour, and a Shrimp Eco tour. Pet dogs are allowed on all their boats.
15. Sanibel Island, Florida
Located in the Gulf of Mexico near Fort Myers, Fl, Sanibel Island offers miles of white sandy beaches that are dog friendly to leashed dogs year-round. Plus, they have an assortment of pet friendly rentals and restaurants to choose from.
Dog Friendly Vacation Ideas on Sanibel Island:
- You can’t go to Sanibel Island without checking out the dog friendly beaches. Gulfside City Beach Park is considered the most dog friendly. Dogs must be on an eight-foot leash or less at all times and remember to clean up after them.
- Visit the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This dog friendly nature preserve features the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US. Dogs are allowed on the Wildlife Drive (auto tour) and Indigo Trail. Dogs must be on a 6-foot or less leash and cleaned up after.
- Go boating with Tarpon Explorers Rentals. Tarpon Explorers allows leashed dogs in their rentals, but dogs must remain in the boats. Dogs are not allowed on guided tours
While Sanibel Island is dog friendly, the attached island of Captiva is not. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches on Captiva.
16. Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola is known for its white-sand beaches, emerald green waters and naturally-preserved coastlines. It is also a family favorite due to its affordable family-oriented activities. But people may not know that some of Pensacola’s beaches are also dog friendly.
- Dogs are allowed at the designated dog beaches located at parking lots 21.5 and 28.5 only. All other public beach areas and parks on Pensacola Beach are off limits to dogs. Dog Beach Hours are sunrise to sunset daily, except during turtle season (May 1 – October 31) when open 7 a.m. to sunset daily.
- Get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Pensacola. Nearby Topsail Preserve State Park offers 7-miles of trails that run along ancient dunes and a coastal lake. Pets are not permitted on beaches, playgrounds, bathing areas, cabins, park buildings or concession facilities.
- Spend the morning learning about the history of Pensacola with the Pensacola Scavenger Hunt. Your pup can join you as you and your family look for clues to find each location on the hunt.
17. St George Island, Fl
Referred to as the forgotten coast, St George has resisted the changes of time that took over more popular beach towns in Florida, leaving it as an unassuming oasis.
St. George Island is a barrier island in the Florida’s Panhandle. It offers 28 miles of unspoiled shorelines with many of them facing out to the warm Gulf of Mexico. Nine of those miles are within the protective boundary of the St George Island State Park.
St. George offers dog-friendly beaches, trails, shops, restaurants and rentals to their visitors.
Here are just a few of the things you can do with your dog on St George Island:
- St. George Island Public Beaches are dog friendly except for Julian G. Bruce St George Island State Park. Dogs must remain on a leash on public beaches and in town.
- You will also find plenty of dog friendly shops, eateries and outfitters to choose from.
- If you are looking to get away from the crowds, take the Dog Island ferry from Carrabelle to Dog Island where you will find miles of untouched beaches to explore with your family. Just make sure to bring everything you will need. There are no stores on Dog Island.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the Southwest
18. Galveston Island, Texas
This popular vacation destination hosts a historic downtown and 31 miles of sand beaches. Located only about an hour south of Houston, Galveston Island is a family and dog favorite. The main attraction of Galveston is the beach, but there are lots of other kid friendly activities to do with some of them dog friendly.
- Go on a Dolphin sightseeing cruise with Baywatch Dolphin cruise. the narrated tours are 45-minutes long. Along the way you will learn about the harbor and interesting facts about the Bottlenose Dolphins.
- If you are looking to shop or catch a bite to eat, Historic downtown Galveston welcomes dogs. Here you will find a few stores that will allow your dog to join and some restaurants where dogs are allowed on their outdoor patios
- If you are looking for something different to do, take the whole family for a ride on an iconic Galveston surrey along the Seawall. Surreys look a bit like a horse drawn carriage but they are human peddle powered. Coastal Bike Rentals located at 120 Seawall Blvd allows dogs to ride with you at no extra charge.
19. South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island is located on the southern tip of coastal Texas. Thanks to its beautiful beaches, and warm gulf water it’s a popular spot for families. Here will find miles of pristine beaches, dog friendly accommodations and places to eat.
Here are just a few of the dog friendly activities in South Padre Island.
- Soak up the sun at the South Padre Island Beaches. Dog are allowed all year long as long as they are on a leash.
- Visit the sea turtles at Sea Turtle Inc. Learn about the sea turtles on South Padre Island and the wonderful conservation efforts in the area while getting to view rescued sea turtles. Well-behaved, friendly and leashed dogs are welcomed.
- Go on a bird and dolphin tour with Fins to Feathers tours. Dogs are welcomed, but let them know before you book the trip.
For even more beach vacation ideas, check out our post on Dog Friendly Beach Vacations.
Dog Friendly Family Vacations in the West
20. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs might not be the first place you think of when looking for a family vacation. Compared to Denver, which is about an hour away, it is a small city. But if your kids like to be active and outdoors, Colorado Springs has some picture worthy locations that are also dog friendly.
Here is a sample of the dog friendly family activities in Colorado Springs:
- The Garden of the Gods is considered the number one attraction in Colorado Springs. Located at the base of Pikes Peak, this National Natural Landmark features stunning rock formations, and nature trails. Dogs are allowed on any of the trails in the park as long as they’re on a 6-foot leash.
- Visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum located in Manitou Springs, CO. Here your kids will learn about life as a native American in Colorado. Leashed dogs are allowed to go wherever you go including the ruins and museums. BTW: The ruins are replicas of the real thing.
- Take the kids and dog for a stroll over the highest suspension bridge in North America. The Royal Gorge Bridge sits more than 900 feet above the Arkansas River. The bridge is located at a park with the same name. It is about a 65-minute drive from Colorado Springs.
- Your pup may even be able to ride the Gondola while you are there. Dog policy: Dogs on the gondolas are at the discretion of the ride operator on duty.
- Your pup may also be allowed to ride the Gondola at The Royal Gorge Bridge Park. Dog policy: Dogs on the gondolas are at the discretion of the ride operator on duty.
21. San Diego, California
As we keep moving west, our next location is sunny San Diego, California. San Diego has been dog friendly long before the pandemic. It is also a great place to visit anytime during the year due to its tepid weather.
In addition to its warm weather, San Diego is also known for its fabulous beaches. While dogs are restricted at the local public beaches, San Diego offers a few beaches just for dogs.
Here are just a few of the many dog friendly activities in San Diego:
- As I just mentioned San Diego offers a few options for a dog friendly beach day.
- Take a stroll around the Seaport Village – Here you cannot only window shop, but a few of the stores will allow your dog to come inside. Just make sure to ask first.
- Go for a boat ride – Whether you are looking to go kayaking, boating or even sailing, San Diego has outfitters that will welcome your whole family.
22. Mendocino Coast, California
At Mendocino you will find some of the tallest redwoods in the world, glass-bottom beaches and the only oceanfront botanical garden in the USA. Kids will love exploring the tide pools and riding the skunk train at Fort Bragg.
Located about 3 hours north of San Francisco, the coastal town of Mendocino County is a nature lovers dream.
- Unfortunately, the public Redwood Forests in the area do not allow dogs on the trails. However, your whole family can see them while taking a ride on the Skunk Train. Dogs are allowed to join you on the scenic 7-mile round trip along the beautiful Pudding Creek Estuary and passing ancient redwoods. There is a separate cost for dogs to ride on the train.
- If you are looking for something a little different then a train ride, check out the Putin Creek Railbikes also in the Pudding Creek Estuary.
- Explore the tide pools at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. Glass Beach is located in the Noyo Headlands Park near the north entrance. The beach was named after the smooth colorful glass pieces that can be found mixed into the pebbly beach. It’s illegal to remove the glass from the beach, but people still do resulting in a lot less glass. Leashed dogs are allowed on the Beach.
23. Seaside Beach, Oregon
The main reason to visit the resort town of Seaside, Oregon is the beach. Located just up the road from the famous Cannon Beach, Seaside Beach offers one of the biggest and most beautiful beaches along the coast. The other reason it’s popular is its’ family friendly atmosphere.
- Let’s start with the main reason people chose to visit. Not only is Seaside beach family friendly, it is also very dog friendly. So friendly that well-behaved dogs, under voice control, do not need to be leashed on the beach. Just make sure to keep your dog away from other people and clean up after them.
- Take a stroll on the Seaside Beach Promenade. This 1.5-mile paved path is flanked by restaurants, breweries and the dog friendly Seaside Aquarium.