10 Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations on the East Coast
Whether you’re looking for a cozy log cabin or stretches of sandy beach, there are dog-friendly spots all along the Atlantic that you and your dog can enjoy together.
#1: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Several Rehoboth Beach rentals and some hotels also allow dogs, such as the Atlantis Inn, which is two blocks away from the beach. Dogs are permitted on all unguarded beaches! Take your dog to the movies at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and enjoy “Cinema by the Surf,” which hosts a free outdoor movie showing at dusk. The Big Chill Surf Cantina has an outdoor area in which you and your best four-legged friend can enjoy some food, drinks, and live music. Right next door in Dewey Beach, dogs are allowed on beaches before 9:30 am and after 5:30 pm in the summer and at any time during the rest of the year. The Junction and Breakwater Trail, which used to function as a railroad, is a nearby path that’s great for dog walking.
#2: Sanibel Island, Florida
Sanibel Island, famous for its variety of shells and breathtaking Gulf Coast sunsets, has several dog-friendly beach house rentals and hotels (try the Tropical Winds Motel & Cottages, located right on the Gulf). You can lounge with your pup at Bowman’s Beach, Lighthouse Park Beach, and Tarpon Bay Road Beach at any time, as well as the JN (Ding) Darling National Wildlife Refuge—you can even take your dog on the Wildlife Drive tour through this mangrove forest. Be sure to take your dog to brunch at the Over Easy Café (try their cinnamon buns) and the Island Cow. At neighboring Captiva Island, you can enjoy food, drinks, and the beautiful sunset while dining with your dog at the Mucky Duck’s outdoor picnic tables.
#3: Golden Isles, Georgia
The Golden Isles include the islands along Georgia’s Atlantic coast: Jekyll, St. Simons, and other smaller islands. About 65 percent of Jekyll Island is natural and untouched, so you and your dog have access to most of its beaches at any time. Latitude 31’s “Rah Bar” patio welcomes friendly dogs—this is the perfect waterfront spot to enjoy a sunset and seafood with your canine companion. St. Simons Island’s East Beach and Massengale Park are great spots for dogs to run along the shore and swim in the salty ocean. Frederica Park, on the north end of St. Simons Island, is a dog park where your pup can let loose and socialize with some new furry friends. Dog-friendly lodging is available on both islands.
#4: Nantucket, Massachusetts
Nantucket is sprinkled with historic lighthouses, museums, pristine beaches, a bustling downtown, and a ton of dog-friendly beaches. If you and your pup would rather avoid the seasonal beach crowds, check out Steps Beach and Nobadeer Beach, where you’ll have plenty of room for some shore-side shenanigans. Dogs are also permitted at Francis Street Beach, which is known for its more tranquil waters. The Wave shuttle can take you and your pup to these beaches for free, as long as he’s in a carrier. You can also take this shuttle to the airport, ferries, and downtown Nantucket. Cisco Brewers is a brewery, distillery, and vineyard that does tours and has outdoor seating—both of which are open to dogs. Don’t forget to check out the Milestone Cranberry Bogs, where you and your dog can walk alongside acres of rich red cranberries.
#5: Bar Harbor, Maine
You and your pup can explore the rocky, cliff-lined coast of Maine side by side in Bar Harbor. It’s the perfect New England town for furry family members because it’s surrounded by Acadia National Park, which encompasses more than 50 square miles of mountains, lakes, hiking and biking trails, and picturesque views of the coastline. Leashed pets can join you on the Acadian’s boat tours, too—treat your furry companion to a two-hour cruise along Frenchman Bay. The Island Explorer is a free, pet-friendly shuttle that you can take to Acadia National Park and many other popular sites. You can find a great dog park between Seal Harbor and Northeast Harbor, which has a pond for the “sea dogs” and trails for the land lovers.
#6: Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks is a 130-mile stretch of barrier islands off the North Carolina coast, which are made up of quaint beach towns, each with their own character. Most of the beaches are dog friendly all year long. Take your dog to Bonzer Shack in Kill Devil Hills, a little surf shack with great food and live music—you can play corn hole and nosh at their picnic tables in their “backyard.” Cape Hatteras National Seashore is another perfect place to take your pup where you can admire the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. You can even drive your car onto certain sections of this park and spend the day fishing with your dog. John’s Drive In lunch spot in Kitty Hawk offers special ice cream “puppy cups” for fur kids. The Duck Trail is a seven-mile long, multi-use path that traverses the entire length of the town.
#7: Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park has quickly become one of the most popular destinations at the Jersey Shore. With a bevy of trendy restaurants and shops on the boardwalk and all along Cookman Avenue, there’s something for everyone. You’ll find plenty of dog-friendly beach rentals nearby, and the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel accommodates pets up to 30 lbs. From October 1st through May 15th, dogs are allowed on the boardwalk and on the 8th Avenue Dog Beach all day long. During the summer, dogs are welcome between 6 pm and 8:30 am. Attending Yappy Hour at the famous Wonder Bar is a must on a Thursday afternoon! They have a fenced-in outdoor area so dogs are free to socialize while their humans enjoy some drinks at the same time. Grab brunch the next morning at Toast, Johnny Mac’s, or Cross and Orange, where there’s outdoor seating for you and your dog. The Asbury Park Convention Hall also hosts many dog-friendly events, including flea markets, all year round (www.apboardwalk.com/events/). They hand-pick awesome vendors, some of which sell doggy products.
#8: Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid’s setting in the Adirondack Mountains is perfect for outdoorsy dog/owner duos in any season—you can go skiing, biking, fishing, and hiking all in one trip. Stay at the Lake Placid Lodge, which welcomes well-mannered dogs and has beautiful waterfront and mountain views, porches to enjoy your morning coffee, and wood-burning fireplaces for cold nights. They provide your pup with his own bed and homemade treats. You’ll find several dog-friendly lakes and trails nearby where you and your dog can explore the great outdoors side by side. Also visit Mirror Lake, where you and your fur kid can admire the lake on a 2.7-mile paved trail. Then take a stroll on the west side of the lake, where several shops will welcome your dog inside while you browse.
#9: Block Island, Rhode Island
Block Island is a conspicuously dog-friendly place that boasts 17 miles of sandy beaches. It’s best explored on foot or a bike, which is ideal for active dog parents. Most of the beaches are quite lenient about furry visitors, but you may want to avoid the main beaches on the east side of the island, which get pretty crowded in the summer. Leashed dogs are even allowed on the Block Island Ferry, which is a fun route to the island from the main land. Several inns on the island welcome doggy visitors, along with many vacation rentals. Grab a smoothie at Juice ‘n Java—they have water and treats on hand for your fur kid, too.
#10: Stowe, Vermont
Check the fall foliage maps—the grand Green Mountains of Vermont are best viewed when the trees are erupting with color. The quaint village of Stowe offers miles of hiking trails for all skill levels and several camp sites with rustic log cabins, some of which are dog friendly. Our favorite are the Muddy Moose cabins in Morrisville, which is slightly off the beaten path of the quaint shops and restaurants in Stowe village. These cabins allow up to 2 dogs for just an extra $15 per night, and they provide dog bowls and treats for your pups upon arrival. There are several hiking trails surrounding these cabins, as well as a recreation room filled with games, a wood-burning stove, and doggy art—you can really tell that the owners are dog people. Cozy up on the porch with your pup by your feet and coffee in hand while revelling in your mountain view. Smugglers Notch State Park also has incredible views of ponds, streams, and waterfalls for you and your four-legged traveler.