Pet Friendly Boston Massachusetts: Dog Friendly Activities in New England

 Dog sitting in front of a blue and red door in marblehead massachusetts

Dog Friendly Places Massachusetts

There are many fun things to do with your dog In Boston and New England.  We visited multiple Pet Friendly towns throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Even though there are many dog friendly activities in Boston, we focused on the small towns along the coast. Rent a car and check out all the dog friendly spots in the Boston area.

We recently visited Massachusetts and New Hampshire – the variety one can find in New England is awe inspiring.  From rural farmland, coastal towns, to big cities – New England seems to have it all. Although having a pet excludes you from visiting the museums in New England, all of the towns we visited were overall pet friendly – outdoor patios, water bowls for Fido, and lots of fun pet shops. If visiting with your pet, try to avoid the rainy seasons since pet friendly activities and patios are exclusively outdoors.

sunrise photo of a pet friendly beach in Massachusetts

When to visit Massachusetts with your Dog

Our favorite times to visit New England with the dogs are during the fall, and early summer.  During the fall, the whole family can enjoy all of fall’s best activities; apple picking, hot cider, leaves changing color. The winter is great for those who find peace and serenity in cuddling up in front of the fire place while snow falls outside.  As Californians, we are intimidated by the winter frost but love admiring its beauty from afar.  The early summer is great for visiting before the area fills up with tourists.  By early summer the rain has hopefully stopped and New England is left green and luscious.

dog standing on a rock at a pet friendly farm in massachusetts

Pet Friendly Hotels in Massachusetts

There are many pet friendly hotels in Massachusetts. For a more standard hotel experience, the Hampton Inn hotels allow pets for an extra fee ($50). We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Exeter, NH and had a great time.  We felt comfortable leaving Calvin alone while we attended a wedding and the front desk was very welcoming.

For a more pet friendly hotel experience, Kimpton Hotels are our favorite choice.  Check out their locations to see if they have one near your destination.  We will be staying at the Kimpton Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, MA when we visit again next year. They provide water bowls and even a bed for your pup with no extra charge!

This trip, we stayed in a hotel during out time in New Hampshire and an Airbnb during out quick stop through Boston, MA. We only book Airbnbs when we know Calvin will not be left alone since we feel uncomfortable leaving him alone in a house that is not his.  We know that in a hotel room he would not be able to escape even if he wanted to, but in a house he may be able to get creative (he’s never tried this but you never know).  It’s hard to predict what the security situation will be like in a house that you are unfamiliar with. Plus, hotels have constant staff to alert you of any types of issues that may come up with the dog if you step out. Ultimately, this decision is up to whatever feels most comfortable to you and Airbnbs tend to be more affordable.

dog laying on a king sized bed in a pet friendly hotel in Massachusetts

Are Massachusetts beaches dog friendly?

Many of the Massachusetts beaches are not pet friendly in the summer months. The Massachusetts beaches are refreshing and relaxing, especially in the early morning before the crowds come in.  Depending on when you visit, pets may not be allowed on some beaches especially during summer months.  Look for signs or designated pet friendly beaches – some cutoffs are April, May, or others are open to pets year round.  Even if the beach itself is not pet friendly, most beaches have a concrete walkway along the sand that you are welcome to walk on with Fido. In Nahant, MA we stayed off the main beach but were able to walk along the concrete path.  We then found a designated dog beach nearby that we could enjoy.

dog wearing a red and white striped polo in massachusetts beach

Map of places to visit in Massachusetts with your dog 

New England towns are known for their picturesque cobblestone paths, colorful houses, and water views. We checked out the following towns and farms along the way:

Pet Friendly Marblehead, MA – A quiet coastal town

Fresh off the cross country flight, we stopped by Nahant, MA to check out the Doggie Beach before heading to Marblehead, MA located about 45 minutes out of Boston.  We wandered through the cobble stone paths of Marblehead and found this town to be the quietest of all that we visited.  We enjoyed the peacefulness and small town vibes without feeling like we had fallen into a tourist trap.  We were able to take a moment to stock up on coffee after our red-eye and take in a breath of fresh air after our trip.

We parked on Atlantic Ave in front of Seaside Park and walked through the town.  This appeared to be the main street with all the cutest shops – check out the boutique pet shop “Pawsitively Marblehead.” We ate at Java Sun Coffee Roasters.  After walking through the small town, we realized this was one of the only places to get an early breakfast.

We took our coffees with us as we meandered through the quiet streets.  We found a lot of quaint, colorful houses and followed the Marblehead Rail Trail for a few miles before looping back into town.

Our last stop in Marblehead was to the Fort Sewall – a landmark built back in the 1600s.  We saw dogs wading in the water before the fort, but the fort itself is an on leash area.  Have a seat along the water and enjoy the sailboats coming in and out of the bay. Take a moment to relax and reflect.

labrador retriever sitting next to a stuffed dog in marblehead Massachusetts

pet store in marblehead Massachusetts
Salem, MA – Rich history and cobblestone paths

Salem Massachusetts its great for walking around with your dog. Salem, MA is most famous for the 1692 Witch Trials and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the town with your dogs. The town is appropriately adorned in spooky decor and most shops and bars reference witchcraft.  The creepy but playful vibe is perfect for a fun stroll through the town.

A great first stop is the Visitor’s center to use the restroom and get a map of the town.  The visitor’s center offers many souvenirs but you will find prices are better in town.

We walked to Salem Common, the town park on our way to the House of the Seven Gables.  Even though most activities in Salem are indoors and thus not pet friendly, the area around the landmarks are fair game and are fun to walk around.  We did not enter the House of the Seven Gables but our path there took us through the spooky Salem streets and shops and we admired the house from the outdoors.

Loop over to the Salem Maritime Park where you can wade in the water and walk out to the lighthouse. From there, make your way to the Salem Witch Village where you can enjoy more witchcraft imagery.  We finished our Salem visit by walking through the main street (Essex Street) up to the Bewitched Sculpture.

a view of the pet friendly maritime park in salem

Exeter, NH – Picturesque shops and trails

We traveled to New England to attend a wedding in Exeter, NH and we are so glad we got to stop by.  Exeter is a small town and home to Philips Exeter Academy, an elite boarding school.  The school was founded in the late 1700s and resembles a stereotypical ivy covered university.  The town is clean, quiet, and quintessentially New England with a river flowing through.  It takes less than an hour to walk through so have activities lined up nearby. For an additional activity, you can walk the Exeter trail along the river.

Hampton Falls, NH – Walk through Applecrest Farm Orchards and dine on the patio

After checking out Exeter, we drove to a nearby pet friendly farm. Applecrest Farm allows you to walk through the grounds and offers apple picking in the fall.  You can grab brunch on their patio overlooking the farm. We picked up some apple cider before heading to our next destination. Sometimes, their farm animals are out for petting.

Salisbury, MA – Check out the dog friendly beach!

The only stop we made in Salisbury was to the dog friendly beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation.  There is a caveat though – the “ocean” side beach is NOT dog friendly, only the “river” side beach.  The beaches are connected but dogs are only allowed off leash on the part that is in front of the campgrounds, not the main parking lot.  Both beaches are great but the “river” beach is the one that feeds into the ocean so you see land in front of you rather than never ending water. It costs $14 to get into the beach and we waited about 10 minutes in line.  The beach was crowded likely because of the long weekend and good weather.

Newburyport, MA – A smaller version of Rockport.  Grab some clam chowder.

After the beach, we drove up the road to Newburyport. Newburyport was very busy on the Saturday afternoon we visited.  We put our names down at the Sea Level Oyster Bar (great outdoor seating and clam seafood) and walked through the Waterfront Park while we waited.  The wait was about 30 minutes so we also explored the town.  In typical New England style – the cobblestone streets are lined with cute nautical themed shops.  Stop by Dolce Freddo Gelato across the street from the Oyster Bar to satisfy your sweet tooth. We wanted to explore the entire town so we meandered through the streets and made our way to Frog Pond before turning back. We didn’t see any frogs, but Calvin was mesmerized by the turtles.

Peabody, MA – Stop by Brooksby farm if you are driving through

We love visiting local farms so we made a pit stop in Brooksby farm.  The farm shop had all sorts of delicious freshly baked farm goodies (and homemade dog treats!). Pets cannot enter the farm shop but they are welcome anywhere else on the grounds. We spent a long time watching the animals and made some new friends. Check their website to see what types of crops are available for picking when you visit.


Concord, MA – Check out the historic revolutionary trail

Concord, MA is home to the Minute Man National Historical Park where you can follow the Battle Road Trail for as long as you want to walk.  The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first of the American Revolutionary War – the trail acts as an outdoor museum with information scattered along the walk.

labrador retriever sitting on the minute man trail
Rockport, MA – Iconic New England Town

Another iconic New England town, but a little out of the way if you are headed to Boston. Check out Rockport Harbor and stroll down Mt. Pleasant St. for the New England feel and great views of Rockport Harbor.  There are many cute shops and a lot of food options to choose from.

Cambridge, MA – Historical ivy covered college town

We headed over to Alma Mater in Cambridge for a night to catch up with friends and walk around campus.  Cambridge is a cute college town that is home to Harvard and MIT.  For off leash dog park options, we recommend Fresh Pond Reservation Dog Park.  In terms of food options, we stopped at the college favorites that offered outdoor seating – Felipe’s Taqueria in Harvard Square may be the best bang for your buck burritos you’ll ever find.  L.A Burdick’s is a great stop for grabbing drinking chocolate for the rest of your walk (pets not allowed inside so lead fido outside and get an order to go). Take a walk around the Harvard Square for more cute shops and Harvard Yard for some classic campus shots.  Calvin was very popular in his polo and got a lot of belly rubs. Cambridge is connected to Boston via bridges along the Charles River.  If you are staying in Cambridge, it’s a nice walk over to Boston….

dog wearing a harvard polo sitting in front of the harvard library

dog wearing a harvard polo sitting in front of a brick building

Boston, MA – Is Boston a Dog Friendly City?

Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States.  We like to think of Boston as a mini version of NYC or SF (but cleaner).  Boston is pet friendly, walkable, in general pristinely clean, and has a lot of cool neighborhoods to check out.  We walked down Commonwealth Avenue to get a feel for the old cobblestoned Boston homes.  Parallel to Commonwealth Avenue you will find Newbury Street – lined with cute shops that get progressively more upscale, ending at the Public Gardens (also known as Boston Common).  Boston Common is essentially the Boston version of NYC’s Central Park.  From Boston Common, you can walk the Freedom Trail through all the remaining monuments (about 2.5 miles).  We stopped by Quincy Market and finally made our way to the North End for some Italian food.  On a nice day, walking along the Charles River Esplanade is a relaxing dog friendly stroll.

dog wearing a harvard polo

 Happy traveling, 
Your Pal Cal

One Reply to “Pet Friendly Boston Massachusetts: Dog Friendly Activities in New England”

  1. Christiaan and Tyler says: Reply

    Glad you liked Boston. Every place you went I’ve been to many many times as I went to college in Boston. Next time, go to the River Charles. Exciting. Boston was home for me for two years. Also. Next time, Beacon Hill. Great commentary.

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