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Top Dog Friendly Vacations in the South USA!

Planning a getaway with your furry friend can be both exciting and a bit daunting, especially when you want to ensure they’ll enjoy the trip as much as you do. One of the first things you need to decide when planning a dog friendly trip is where to go.

You’ll want to pick a dog-friendly vacation location that has ample accommodations, eateries and enough activities for everyone to enjoy. Even if that activity is sitting on the beach doing nothing.

This is why looking at dog friendly vacations in the south can be the perfect option. The South is an especially welcoming region for dogs, thanks to its generally mild climate, which makes it pleasant for outdoor activities most of the year.

Plus, did you know that many Southern beaches are dog-friendly? Beyond the beaches, the region offers a variety of dog-friendly activities, such as hiking in expansive national parks, exploring historic sites, and participating in outdoor festivals where pets are warmly welcomed.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the top dog friendly vacation destinations in the Southern U.S. Some places on this list are places we have been to and others are places we hope to visit in the near future, but all are perfect for visitors looking to share a memorable vacation with their dogs.

But before you start packing check out our helpful guides to Hotel Stays with a Dog: 23 Tips, Tricks and Hacks, Traveling With A Dog: Tips For An Easy Trip and our Practical Guide To Packing For a Dog.

Title on page Shenandoah National Park, VA. Pic of a gray dog with mountains in the background

If you are looking for a vacation spot in Florida, check out our post: Unleash the Fun: 7 Dog-Friendly Florida Vacation Ideas

1. Shenandoah National Park, VA

First up is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. This park is one of the few national parks in the U.S., along with Acadia National Park in the Northeast, that allows dogs on its trails. We visited Shenandoah with Bella during the early spring. It was the perfect time of year to enjoy hiking during the cool mornings and warm, crowd-free afternoons. One drawback of visiting at this time was the weather and landscape. As you can see from the picture of Bella above, the trees haven’t bloomed yet and the skies were hazy.

You can find Shenandoah nestled in the northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. This area is a great destination for families who love the outdoors. With about 500 miles of hiking trails leading to stunning vistas and beautiful waterfalls, it’s a hit with both kids and dogs.

While hiking and vistas are Shenandoah’s main attractions, there’s plenty more to do if you’re looking for a change of pace. You can explore one of the nearby underground caverns (they allow dogs to join you in a carrier), visit a dog-friendly winery, or take a kayak ride down the Shenandoah River.

Accommodations in and near Shenandoah range from large corporate hotels to campgrounds to cozy B&B’s. There is something to fit everyone’s needs and budget here. If you want to learn more about visiting the Shenandoah region, you can read about our trip at Dog Friendly Shenandoah National Park & Vicinity

Title on page Asheville, NC - Aerial view of downtown Asheville with tall buildings and the sun-setting

2. Asheville, NC

Another place we have visited in years past with our pup is Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is so dog friendly that they are often referred to as “Dog City, USA”. A great first stop in this city 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 can pick up a copy of their list of Dog friendly shops and restaurants in Asheville.

As you would expect from any area that’s located in the beautify Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s all about hiking here. You can enjoy a day of hiking in the DuPont State Recreational Forest, where you and your leashed dog will find trails for all experience levels.

When you are ready for a break from hiking, consider taking a tour of the city with the Historic Gray Line Asheville Trolley. Small dogs are allowed to join you if they can sit on your lap. Another option to explore the city is the Asheville Urban Walking trail. This 1.7 mile walking tour through downtown, welcomes dogs to join in on this historical and cultural exploration.

Asheville is also renowned for its vibrant craft beer scene, which includes several dog-friendly breweries. Wicked Weed Brewing, for example, welcomes dogs at their outdoor patio, where you can enjoy a variety of local brews alongside your four-legged friend.

Asheville is home to a variety of pet-friendly lodging options. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels, many places offer special amenities for pets, including dog beds, treats, and dog-walking services.

The Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown, for example, provides pet-friendly rooms and easy access to nearby walking areas, ensuring that your stay is comfortable for both you and your pet. We stayed in a dog-friendly vacation rental that felt like we were sleeping in the trees, just three minutes from downtown Asheville.

Title on page Corolla, NC Pic of three wild horsed on the beach with sand dunes in the background.

3. Corolla, NC

Corolla, North Carolina, nestled on the Outer Banks, is a prime destination for dog lovers looking for a beach getaway. This tranquil town boasts wide, sandy beaches, where dogs are welcome to play and splash in the waves. You may even see some of the famous wild Spanish Mustangs that roam this area. Dogs are required to be on leash at all times.

The area is also home to several dog-friendly activities, including:

  • Historic Corolla Park: This park is home to the Whalehead Club, a historic 1920s-era mansion set on a vast public estate. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore the grounds with you, (but not inside the buildings) and it’s a great spot for a picnic or a leisurely walk with waterfront views.
  • Corolla Village: This quaint, historic area is very welcoming to dogs. You can stroll through the village with your leashed pet and enjoy the historic atmosphere.

After a day of fun, you can unwind at one of the local restaurants offering dog-friendly outdoor seating. Accommodations here are mainly vacation rentals.

Title on page Savannah, GA. Pic of a fountain in a park with trees and gray walkway.

4. Savannah, GA

Savannah, Georgia, is a delightful destination for dog owners seeking a blend of Southern charm and pet-friendly hospitality. Known for its beautiful historic districts, picturesque parks, and well-preserved architecture, Savannah offers a laid-back atmosphere where both visitors and their dogs are welcomed.

The city’s numerous squares, draped in Spanish moss and surrounded by stunning antebellum homes, provide ample space for leisurely walks with your dog. Many of Savannah’s outdoor cafes and restaurants in the historic district feature dog-friendly patios, ensuring that your pet can join you for meals.

For accommodations, you’ll find plenty of pet-friendly options ranging from charming inns to luxurious bed and breakfasts, making it easy to find a comfortable place to stay.

Savannah offers several dog-friendly activities that allow you to explore the city with your furry friend. For instance, Old Savannah Trolley Tours welcomes small dogs (up to 25 lbs.) that can comfortably sit on your lap as you enjoy a tour of the city. If your dog is larger, Savannah Pedicab provides pet-friendly tours that accommodate both small and larger breeds.

Additionally, Blue Orb Ghost Tours is another great option for dog owners. They allow well-behaved, friendly dogs on their walking tours, giving you a chance to explore Savannah’s spooky side together.

Title on page Charleston, SC - pic of colorful houses with window planters and a tree.

5. Charleston, South Carolina

Another dog friendly vacation spot in the south is Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston draws visitors with its rich history, well-preserved architecture, and welcoming Southern charm, making it an ideal destination for dog owners. This picturesque city offers a plethora of pet-friendly activities and amenities.

Start your visit with a scenic stroll through Waterfront Park, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the harbor. For a unique experience, take a horse-drawn carriage ride with Charleston Carriage Works, which welcomes small dogs on your lap for free, while larger dogs may require a child’s ticket.

If you and your dog are beach enthusiasts, head about 20 minutes out to James Island County Park. It boasts an expansive off-leash dog park and a dog-friendly beach. Another great outdoor venue is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, which welcomes pets with some restrictions.

Dining in Charleston is a treat, with numerous dog-friendly restaurants featuring outdoor patios. A notable spot is Poogan’s Porch, where dogs are warmly greeted on the porch and can enjoy sitting alongside you as you sample the local cuisine.

Title on page Dauphin Island. AL pic of a beach with a dune and sea-grass and the ocean.

6. Dauphin Island, Al

Dauphin Island, located off the coast of Alabama, is a charming barrier island celebrated for its stunning beaches, rich history, and quaint small-town ambiance. The island is accessible via the Dauphin Island Bridge or by a delightful ferry ride across Mobile Bay, each offering a picturesque start to your vacation.

The beaches here are a major draw, especially since they are mostly dog-friendly, allowing your furry friends to enjoy the sand and surf alongside you. Beyond the beach, history enthusiasts and their dogs can explore Fort Gaines, a notable Civil War fort famed for Admiral Farragut’s rallying cry, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” The fort still houses original cannons, a blacksmith shop, and kitchens, and welcomes leashed dogs to explore its historic grounds.

Accommodations on Dauphin Island primarily consist of vacation rentals, many of which are dog-friendly, ensuring that you and your pet can find a comfortable place to stay.

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Wishing You A Wonderful Dog Friendly Vacation

Have you been to any of these locations?

Tell us about your dog friendly vacation in the comments