Roadtrip activities with your dog through Nevada, Utah & Arizona

In November, we took a roadtrip with our dogs through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. We went through the Desert with a pit stop in Las Vegas. We got caught in a wicked storm passing through the region but were still able to enjoy the dessert and sin city with the dogs. Due to the heat throughout the Nevada, Utah, and Arizona desert landscape, October – April are the best times to visit with your dog. The weather in the desert changes quickly so come dressed in layers. Over our five day roadtrip, we experienced heat, rain, snow, hail, and cold winds.

Essentials to pack when visiting the desert with your dog

During the summer months, the heat in desert climates is brutal and reaches dangerous temperatures. It is best to visit in late fall, winter, or early spring to avoid heat related injuries, especially when hiking with a dog. At any time of year, when you visit the desert with your dog, be sure to bring a backpack with the following:

Is the Mojave Desert Pet Friendly? 

The Mojave Desert extends through Southeastern California into Nevada and has become one of the most visited tourism destinations in North America (due to its proximity to Las Vegas). The desert receives less than 2 inches of rain a year – which happened to be while we were visiting. The desert includes the major National Parks of Death Valley and Joshua Tree as well as multiple state parks and recreation areas. National Parks are always less dog friendly than state parks/national preserves so we did not visit National Parks on this trip. As a general rule of thumb, you can almost always find pet friendly alternatives to National Parks close by. We visited Joshua Tree National park in early 2019 but enjoyed the pet friendly options more on this road trip. Pro Tip: always opt-out of National Parks if you are visiting with your dog and look for alternative attractions. The top pet friendly destinations of the Mojave Desert are the Mojave National Preserve, Valley of Fire State Park, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Mojave National Preserve – California

The first day of our road trip, we drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas by traveling through the Mojave National Preserve. There are many pet friendly destinations throughout the preserve but we have highlighted the two most unique experiences. Before entering the Mojave, be sure to fill up your gas tank as there aren’t any gas stations once you are inside.

Kelso Sand Dunes with your Dogs

Our first stop in the Mojave with the dogs were the Kelso Sand Dunes. The dunes tower at over 600 feet so you can’t miss them – depending on the direction that you are traveling, you will turn off Kelbaker Road onto Kelso-Dunes Road where you will continue for 4 miles until the trail restrooms at the trailhead. Kelso-Dunes Road is unpaved and bumpy but is passable by most vehicles without 4WD.

The dunes cover 45 square miles and due to the shifting sand, there is no marked trail to the top. Keep your eyes on the tallest summit as your goal or follow the footprints in the sand. The trail trends upwards with up and down hills of sand until the final climb to the top. If you are walking upwards, you know you are going the right way. Luckily, it is impossible to get lost as you will always be able to see your goal (the highest sand dune) in front of you and the parking lot behind you.

As the crow flies, the entire experience covers around 3 miles, but the climb is strenuous – not a walk at the beach.  As you climb, each step becomes more difficult and you will find yourself falling into a 2 step forward, 1 step back pattern. The final summit is the hardest so rather than going up the largest dune, try to find an easier path (on the right side of the ridge). Walking along the ridge is easier than climbing the largest dune  head on. As you walk, your steps will create little sand avalanches below but eventually, you will make it to the top.

Once you make it to the top of the summit, have a seat and take in the views before you roll or run back down. When we visited, a sand storm started without warning once we reached the top. The storm made it difficult to see our way back down and the wind turned the sand into tornados. As we made our way back down, many of the hikers had to turn back as the winds continued picking up. We got back to the car covered in sand but satisfied with the beautiful views we enjoyed from the dunes.

Bring your dogs to the Mojave Desert Lava Tube (4WD Needed)

What is a lava tube?

A lava tube is an underground cave that has been formed by hardened lava. Lava tubes are made interesting by spotlights from above where holes in the molten lava let in light. Without the spotlights from the sky above, the tube would just be a dark cave.

When is the best time of day to visit the Mojave lava tube?

We visited the lava tube at sunset and found that the lighting was very dim compared to what we would have experienced around mid day (11am-2pm) with the sun higher in the sky. From research I have done online, the best time to visit the lava tube is right around noon. The strength of the light beams you experience from the holes in the ceiling of the tubes will depend on the sun’s strength on the day you visit.

The road to the trailhead

The pet friendly Mojave Desert lava tube is another unique desert experience – If you decide to go to the lava tube, make sure to look up the route beforehand and familiarize yourself with the path to the trailhead: the turnoff from Kelbaker Road is unmarked (about 15 miles from the Kelso Depot). If approaching on Kelbaker Road from the Kelso Depot, turn right on the unmarked Aiken Mine Road. Keep left when you eventually get to the fork to remain on Aiken Mine Road. Eventually, you will reach what appears to be a parking lot and the lava tube is about 1/4 mile from parking. The road to the trail head is very bumpy – do not attempt without a high clearance or 4WD vehicle. The sand is relatively deep in parts and there are alternating areas of rocks and holes on your way to the trailhead. We were perfectly safe with our 4WD Subaru Outback but would not have attempted with a normal sized Sedan.

Finding the lava tube entrance

Watch this 2 minute video from California Through my Lens for a look at how to find the lava tube.

Once you park your car, you will head up a path lined with lava rock. Keep to the right and within a few minutes, you will see a few mounds of lava rocks. Continue towards the mounds of lava rocks until you see holes in the ground. The holes indicate that you are walking over the lava tube! Those holes are where the light shines through from above once you are in the tube. Finding these holes in the ground means you are close to the entrance!

Steep staircase with a dog: the lava tube entrance

Once you reach the large hole in the ground with the metal staircase, you’ve found the lava tube! The entrance to the lava tube is to the left once you get down the steep (but stable) staircase. I was alone with the two dogs and luckily they were confident enough to make their way up and down the staircase. In order to stay safe,  I went down first and then called the dogs down one by one. If your dog is afraid of open back or steep stairs, you may have to carry them down. The staircase is very stable but is almost a 90 degree incline. Calvin and Samson were so ready to explore the lava tube that they nearly flew down once I called them to meet me.

Explore the lava tube with your dogs!

Once you reach the bottom of the staircase, you are almost to the final attraction! The tube begins to the left of the staircase – you need to walk down and into the darkness for a few moments (use your phone flashlight) before you find the wide, open cavern on the other side. The opening to the tube is only about 3 feet tall so you will crouch down (watch your head!) and walk a few steps into the dark. Don’t worry, it’s only a few steps to the main cavern. The main cavern isn’t particularly long – only a few hundred feet but the adventure to getting there was all part of the experience. Take a moment to enjoy the quiet peace-fullness alone with your dogs. We spent about thirty minutes enjoying the lava tube and by the time we emerged, the sun was setting over the desert. Our next stop – Las Vegas.

As we drove onwards to Las Vegas, we watched the sun continue to set over the desert. We were meeting up with the rest of our family in Vegas, so the day in the desert had been just me alone with the dogs. It was a strange experience spending the day with my two companions who asked for nothing but my presence. At first, I was worried that I would get lonely without speaking to (or seeing) any humans for a entire day. Instead, I felt far from alone even as we crouched into the darkness of an underground cave.

Las Vegas with Fido – Nevada

Is Las Vegas Pet Friendly? 

The top reason we stopped in Las Vegas during this road trip was to take a rest and explore the pet friendly attractions that are driving distance from the Vegas Strip. Many of the hotels in Las Vegas are pet friendly and have dog relief areas throughout the complexes. However, pets are only allowed to walk on the Las Vegas strip between the hours of 5am to noon so we do not consider Vegas to be particularly pet friendly. Pets are allowed to walk through casinos if they are going to and from their hotel rooms but not allowed for any other reason.  Additionally, pets are not permitted in the dining or shopping areas  If your dog is a legitimate service dog (ESA is not included), it is exempt from these regulations. We stayed in Las Vegas as we were passing through to Utah during our road trip and the hotel had no issues with two dogs in the hotel room. Calvin adhered to the rules and still had a lot of fun in the hotel room during out visit, while Samson (a service dog) accompanied us throughout the day.

This was my first time visiting Las Vegas and we stayed at the pet friendly Cosmopolitan right next to the Bellagio fountains on the Vegas Strip. I highly recommend staying right on the Vegas Strip during your stay – this will allow you to walk around but also take breaks throughout the day if necessary. The following hotels on the Vegas Strip are Pet Friendly: The Cosmopolitan, The Mirage, Bally’s, Delano, Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, Four Seasons.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Nevada

20 minutes from Las Vegas, your dog is welcome at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. During our stay, a massive storm was crossing through the region so we were unable to fully enjoy the red rocks. Start at the visitor center area to check out the trails, use the restroom, and fill up on water. Check out the available trails here to determine the right distance for you and your dog.

Valley of Fire State Park – Nevada

The Fire Wave is dog friendly!

The famous “Wave” at Coyote Buttes in Utah is breathtaking but unfortunately requires an almost impossible to acquire permit. Luckily, you can enjoy a smaller version of the famous wave for free and without permits in the Valley of Fire State Park! The Fire Wave’s orange and white stripes are wild – until you actually approach and walk on the sandstone you may be convinced that the stripes are painted on. The stripes are a natural phenomena found in sedimentary rocks accumulating in layers over thousands of years. Parking is available at the Fire Wave trailhead and the 1.5 mile out and back trail is well marked.

White Domes Trail

The White Domes Trail packs all of the magic of the Valley of Fire into a short 1 mile loop – sandstone formations, slot canyons, colorful rocks. The trail starts off with a steep rocky slope but flattens out after the initial descent. The trail leads to a wide slot canyon and then ends with a sandy path surrounded by red rocks. Ample parking and restrooms are available at the trailhead.


Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness – Utah

On what ended up being the last night of our road trip, we found ourselves in Hildale, Utah….in a snowstorm. We cuddled up in an airbnb that was essentially just a bed surrounded by 4 walls of wood planks…and a makeshift “roof”. We slept with all our winter gear on and woke up to a fresh layer of snow the next morning. This was Samson’s first snow, and he loved it!

Unfortunately, we were unable to complete most of the items on the list below due to the storm that followed us along the trip. We were only able to visit the Toadstools Hoodoos but wanted to include the other items as they were at the top of our list if we had been able to. The weather conditions were so sketchy, that when we arrived at the Bureau of Land Management visitor center, the rangers warned us not to try any of the more difficult to access trails. Slot canyons can become extremely dangerous during inclement weather as they can fill up with water and flood. Additionally, the clay along the canyons becomes very slippery in the rain so even the one trail we did complete was very dicey. We didn’t even attempt to try the sandy roads as those had turned into slush.

Toadstools Hoodoos

After checking out the Bureau of Land Management for trail information, the rangers recommended that we attempt the Toadstools Hoodoos trail down the road. The Toadstools Hoodoos trail is a 1.8 mile out and back hike that under good weather conditions should be relatively simple. Due to the storm passing through, the clay on the trail was especially slippery and we had to get on our hands and knees to get up some of the hills. The creek was flowing and our easy hike turned into quite an adventure over the soft clay soil. This trail starts at the wide canyon opening that eventually narrows and leads to the rock formations that resemble mushrooms.

White Pocket (High clearance vehicle needed)

White pocket is another destination that allows you to enjoy an alternative to the famous “Wave” at Coyote Buttes. Getting to the white pocket is part of the adventure but should not be attempted without a high clearance vehicle and/or 4WD. Check the current road conditions at the BLM office before attempting to get to White Pocket. The sand is very deep and the road sees little traffic in the event of your car getting stuck. See here for more information on how to access white pocket plus some additional landmarks to visit.

The Wave at Coyote Buttes (Lottery required)

Although we did not win the lottery to hike The Wave at Coyote Buttes, we do want to call it out as a highlight of the region. We have some friends who were lucky enough to visit with their corgi and documented their adventure here. If you are planning on visiting the region, try your luck with a lottery ticket to “Surf the Wave” at Coyote Buttes.

Lake Powell & Antelope Canyon (Dogs only allowed if kayaking into the canyon)

Antelope Canyon remains on our bucket list after this trip but we wanted to include it as it is a once in a lifetime experience with your dog if you are willing to kayak into the canyon. Dogs are unfortunately not allowed on the guided tours but with some online research and help from some great Dog Moms, we found that a good amount of the famous canyons can actually be explored as long as you kayak into an alternate entrance. If you are interested in this adventure, check out Born Wild & Fancy and Pawsitive Development as they have detailed descriptions on how to have a pet friendly adventure in Antelope Canyon with the dogs. Check out Amber’s great video of her Antelope Canyon Adventure below:

Horseshoe Bend – Arizona

Our road trip was supposed to extend further into the Grand Canyon, but as weather conditions worsened, we made the call to see Horseshoe Bend and then turn back to sunny Los Angeles. We are grateful to have been able to see Horseshoe Bend right before the hail began but definitely need to redo this road trip with better weather in the coming years.

Getting to the Rim of Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend refers to the beautiful aerial view of the Colorado River looping around Glen Canyon. To get to the trailhead, pay the $10.00 parking fee per vehicle and follow the crowds. To avoid the worst crowds, it is best to visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise. From the parking lot, it is about a 10-15 minute walk to the famous view over Glen Canyon. A lot of the viewpoints are not fenced so please exercise caution when taking photos or approaching the edge. Additionally, dogs must be kept on leash – the photos below have experienced some photo magic and are also taken from an angle that creates the illusion of being close to the edge while actually being very far from it.

Final Thoughts

It was a shame that our trip was washed out from the storm but we still managed to enjoy our time together as a family. The areas we visited were extremely dog friendly and we will definitely be back soon hoping for better weather conditions. Next time, we’re hoping to check off Antelope Canyon and White Pocket.

Happy Roadtrippin’
-Your Pal Cal

Northern California: Pet Friendly Mendocino

dog standing on rocking chair during sunset

A Pet Friendly Weekend on the California Coast

For our second trip to Mendocino, we were lucky enough to be invited to stay at the Little River Inn with the dogs. Mendocino County combines coastline, with redwood forests, and wine country for a perfect weekend getaway. Now that we’ve been able to fully explore the area, we put together a guide to our favorite pet friendly activities throughout Mendocino County.

dog wearing sunflower bandana sitting on porch

two retriever dogs with sunflower bandanas

Getting to Mendocino from San Francisco

Mendocino is the perfect weekend trip for anyone in Northern California. It is also a great stop for anyone driving up or down the coast to the Pacific Northwest. The town of Mendocino is located on the coast but the county has everything from wine tasting, hiking trails, to water sports.

If you are coming from San Francisco, be sure to leave before the start of Friday afternoon traffic. Without traffic, you can get to Mendocino from San Francisco in about 3.5 hours. If you leave early enough you will get to fully enjoy sunset over the coast when you arrive – We made the mistake of leaving during traffic on our first visit and missed the beautiful sunset drive. For our second trip, we did not make the same mistake and the trip was much more enjoyable.

little river inn mendocino ocean view

little river in mendocino ocean view room

Accommodations in Mendocino with your Pet

To get the most of your Mendocino experience, we recommend staying on the coast. The Little River Inn has a variety of pet friendly ocean front rooms to choose from – Being able to wake up to the sound of the ocean and drink morning coffee on the balcony allowed us to get the full Mendocino experience.

Besides the ocean view, our room had a fireplace, balcony, jacuzzi tub, king bed, and plenty of room for the dogs to zoom around. Explore all the available rooms here to find your perfect match.

Not only are the ocean views breathtaking from the rooms, but the food at the Inn was top notch from 5 star chef Marc Dym. We were able to enjoy breakfast from our ocean front balcony – hotcakes, eggs benny, and fresh OJ (it was amazing). For dinner, The oysters and fried calamari were spectacular. As an added bonus, there is a pet friendly dining area for breakfast and dinner with advance reservation. We will definitely be bringing out parents here next time we visit Mendocino.

dog with plaid bandana

two dogs wearing bandanas

dog wearing sunflower bandana at sunset

two retrievers wearing sunflower bandanas at sunset

two dogs wearing bandanas at sunset

When to Visit Mendocino with your Dog

Because Mendocino weather does not vary much throughout the year, it is always a good time to visit Mendocino with your dog. Dress in layers as the ocean pulls in a cool breeze throughout the day and the temperatures drop at night. You’ll dress lightly during the day, but will be bundled up in sweaters at night.

Map of Pet Friendly activities in Mendocino, California

Take your dog canoeing down Big River

Canoeing down Big River is a MUST when visiting Mendocino with your dog. Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too offers Canoes, Kayaks, SUPs, and bicycle rentals. If you are interested in biking, the 10 mile Big River bike trail begins at the facility. The most unique part about renting a canoe with Catch a Canoe is the “Canine Cruiser” which is designed specially for stability. These are the only human powered boats in the world that are specifically made for pets! Even with Calvin running around on it, we stayed dry and stable.

Calvin was so excited to get into the canoe that it took our full strength to keep him from jumping over the dock and into the water. Be sure to allow your dog to take breaks from swimming – On the other hand, Samson was happy to relax and enjoy the breeze.

As you canoe down the calm Big River Estuary, it is not uncommon to see harbor seals bathing on the shores and river otters playing in the water. We saw at least 10 harbor seals bobbing in the water. Don’t miss out on this unique experience in Mendocino.

canoe on river

dog in canoe looking up at camera

golden retriever sitting on canoe

dog looking out of canoe

yellow labrador wearing a red life vest perching off of a canoe on a river

Ride the Pet Friendly Skunk Train through the Redwoods of Fort Bragg

The Skunk Train is a best way to experience the Mendocino redwoods without having to break sweat on a hike. The pet friendly train leaves from Fort Bragg and travels for a 7 mile, one hour, round trip through the historical landscape of northern California. The experience felt AND looked like what you’d expect on a real life Hogwarts Express (minus the wizards). The dogs loved the breeze on the outdoor railcar and they all got plenty of attention from fellow passengers.  Before your visit, check out the seasonal activities like the Magical Christmas rides and Pumpkin Express.

golden retriever wearing a green toggle button sweater

golden retriever wearing a green sweater sitting on a train car seat

golden retriever sitting in a train

golden retriever dog on the fort bragg skunk train

Relax with some wine at Maple Creek Winery

The highway 128 route to Mendocino from San Francisco winds through the hills of wine country. We stopped by  “Artevino” Maple Creek Winery for a signature wine tasting. We sat with the wine maker for over an hour, learning about the history of the vineyard. Tom & his staff were so welcoming and stick true to their motto “enter as strangers, leave as friends”.

golden retriever at maple creek winery

three wine bottles at maple creek winery

dog sitting on red chair

Check out the Beaches

The “Glass” Beach at Fort Bragg
The glass beach was the most heavily trafficked part of Fort Bragg, but frankly did not live up to its expectation as a “glass” beach. We’ve chosen to include the Glass Beach here since it is a neat spot to check out after the Skunk Train in Fort Bragg. The disclaimer to add is that the shores are no longer lined with beautiful sea glass as they have historically. The smooth glass that is found washed up on the beach is a result of extensive dumping of trash into the ocean in the 20th century. Today, only small pieces of glass are still visible if you look closely enough – mostly in whites, greens, and browns. It was a fun search to collect the pieces of smooth glass, but definitely underwhelming and disappointing. Dogs are welcome on the beach but must be kept on leash.

sea glass

glass beach at fort bragg

Off Leash Big River Beach
The Big River Beach is located directly across from the Catch a Canoe rental facility. It’s a great place to visit after or before canoeing. The beach is relatively abandoned except for some dogs chasing frisbees and swimming in the gentle tides. The water is perfect for swimming as it’s right at the beginning of the estuary so it is clean but there are no waves.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

The pet friendly Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are a great way to enjoy beautiful flowers and ocean views all on one visit. We spent about 2 hours following the loop through the flower gardens and open fields to the coastal trail. We found the walk a lot more tranquil than we expected – we found our way to different gardens and sat on benches to enjoy the fresh air in each other’s presence. The gardens are scenic, inviting, and truly a hidden gem of Mendocino. The best part – the gardens are entirely dog friendly!

mendocino botanical gardens

Walk along the Mendocino Headlands Trail

The Mendocino Headlands trail is a 4 mile out and back stroll located along the coastal bluffs of the town. Even if you do not complete the entire trail, this is a great way to take in the coastal views. The trail follows the coast with the sounds of waves crashing below. The trail is overgrown at some parts, but we just trudged through without difficulty. The trail is best paired prior to or following a walk through town – we loved stopping into the cute shops and coffee bars.

mendocino headlands trail view of the ocean

pacific ocean from mendocino headlands trail

NorCALis CALling,
Your Pal CAL

Guide to Pet Friendly Activities in Seattle with your Dog

 golden retriever dog sitting in front of the seattle washington gum wall in post alley. He is wearing a bandana with bicycles on it

How to see Seattle with your dog in TWO days

Weekend Seattle trip with your dog? No problem. Find the best places to have fun in Seattle with your dog even if you are only visiting for the weekend. There are more than 20 dog parks within the Seattle Metropolitan area and countless off-leash dog trails through the forest. Most restaurants in Seattle have pet friendly patios where you and your pet will be treated like royalty. Even better yet, dogs are allowed on the bus, seaplanes, and boats throughout Seattle! From city adventures to nature, the Space Needle City will welcome your dog with open arms. We finally checked the fido friendly Seattle off our bucket list with a super quick trip. We were able to see the greatest sights but will be back for more in the years to come.

The best time of year to visit Seattle with your dog

As always, we recommend visiting the Pacific Northwest in the late spring and summer. The temperatures do not get too hot so you your dog will stay safe and the weather is generally sunny. It can be difficult to enjoy pet friendly cities during rainy winter months so we visited Seattle with our dog in August. The weather was perfect for being outside – sunny 76 degrees with a slight breeze.

Accommodations in Seattle with your dog

We wanted to stay in downtown Seattle so we could walk along the water and through Pike Place in the morning. We stayed at the Pet Friendly Kimpton Hotel Monaco. We had previously stayed at the Kimpton in Portland with our dog and had just as wonderful service this time around. The hotel allows dogs to stay free of charge without a pet cleaning fee. We got a free upgrade, were greeted with smiles and coffee each morning and found plenty of street parking around the hotel. Parking in Seattle was GREAT and easy (something we are not used to).

Map of Dog Friendly Activities in Seattle

golden retriever in front of pike place seattle market sign

Dog friendly activities in Seattle

The Pacific Northwest is known for its laid back, pet friendly cities and Seattle was no exception. We split up our time among different neighborhoods to take in the sights and vibes. We’ve organized this travel blog in order of our favorite activities by neighborhood. We arrived in Seattle from San Francisco on Friday evening, and left on Sunday night – this left us with less than 2 full days to visit so we tried to focus on the must see areas. Here’s how you can see Seattle with your dog in two days…..


Dinner in the the Hip & Artsy Capitol Hill 

We hopped off the plane at the Sea-Tac airport, grabbed our rental car and drove about 25 minutes into Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The neighborhood is known for its laid back vibes, artsy feel, and hip dining. This neighborhood is the LGBTQ epicenter of Seattle and a great place for nightlife. We enjoyed walking through the neighborhood to find a place to eat – unsurprisingly, most establishments were crowded on Friday night. We passed by the famous Salt & Straw ice cream (for dessert), and a Cat Cafe (with real cats!). Samson admired the cats through the window and we found an outdoor Mexican Restaurant for some tacos. We had plenty of dog friendly dining options to choose from in Capitol Hill so we recommend walking around to choose a place for your taste.

Catch some Coronas at the Barking Dog Ale House or the Voff Bark & Brew

We aren’t really into nightlife, but if there’s “Dog” in the name, we are THERE. The two famous pet friendly bars in Seattle are the Barking Dog Ale House or the Voff Bark & Brew.

The Barking Dog Ale House is off the beaten path and most known for its unique and rotating selection of beers on tap. They have a standard selection of bar snacks with a solid American style dinner menu. Dogs are no longer allowed inside but there is an outdoor patio with full service!

Voff Bark & Brew is essentially a bar in a dog park and therefore introduces the potential of issues with aggressive dogs. The bar owners are very strict in not allowing out of control, loud dogs into the bar and outdoor area.  Dogs are allowed to play off leash and socialize with each other while humans enjoy their drinks. We did not visit as we choose to stay away from dog parks. We did see lots of great reviews online so it may be worth checking out as long as the risks are clear.


Get an early morning start at Pike Place Market & The Gum Wall

We got an early start to our day around 8am and found the waterfront and Pike Place Market already bustling with activity. We strolled along the waterfront to the Seattle Great Wheel then walked 10 minutes to the Pike Place Market. Dogs are not allowed inside the market but there are still plenty of shops to walk by along Pike Place. Check out the Original Starbucks (order ahead), Piroshky Piroshky, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

The Gum Wall came next and took us a few moments to find – when in doubt, ask around. The best way to access the Gum Wall is at the corner of the market where Pike Place meets Pike St. Head down the stairs at the gold statue of the pig called “Rachel the Piggy Bank.”  The stair case looks grungy but leads tourists to the gum wall (equally gross, but awesome to see).

seattle public market sign at pike place

seattle post alley sign at pike place

fish at pike place market

berries at pike place market

golden retriever in front of seattle gum wall

Brunch with your dog at Norm’s Eatery and then check out Gasworks Park

Norm’s Eatery in Seattle may be one of the most dogified places we have ever visited – the food was great too! The speakeasy style bar has indoor and outdoor sections and is decorated entirely with dog memorabilia. Dog paintings, dog figurines, dog statues, dog beers, dog menus….everything dog is found at Norm’s. Even the bathrooms are dog themed.

We ate at Norm’s and then drove to the nearby Gasworks Park for views of the city. The actual Gasworks Park is nothing special and dogs must be kept on leash. The main reason to go to the park is for the best views of downtown Seattle. We made a quick stop, took in the views, then headed to Old Ballard.


dog signs at norms eatery in seattle

picture of labrador retriever puppies on a bench

dog menu at norms eatery in seattle

dog in front of seattle skyline at gasworks park

seattle skyline from gasworks park

retriever wearing a bandana in front of the puget sound

Take your dog to the Botanical Gardens & Old Ballard

Dogs are allowed on leash at the Carl English Botanical Garden. The garden was flowing with live music and the landscaping was beautiful. Walking through the garden leads to the Ballard Locks, a complex set of machinery that allows Boats to pass through areas of water that are at different levels. Even as an adult, I was mesmerized by the process – the nontrivial operation is run by US Army Corp Engineers. As boats enter through one side, they are locked into a waiting area as the water level changes to match the water on the other side. During salmon season, find the fish ladder to watch the Salmon jump out of the water against the current. We watched one lock switch and then headed to explore the Old Ballard neighborhood.

The Old Ballard neighborhood is where history meets trendy. We accessed Old Ballard by turning onto Ballard Ave NW from NW Market St. The neighborhood has a historical vibe paired with boutique shopping, thrifting, hip eateries, and coffee shops. We had outdoor pizza at Stoneburner and then grabbed an ice cream at the famous Salt & Straw. We found the Salt & Straw line to be shorter than any of the San Francisco locations. Although we stopped for pizza, there were countless pet friendly patios throughout Old Ballard. We saw the most dogs sitting on the Ocho patio at the beginning of the neighborhood.

On Sundays year round from 10am-3pm you will find the Old Ballard Farmer’s Market along 22nd Ave NW.

dog in front of yellow daffodils while wearing a sunflower bandana

Head to Discovery Park

Discovery Park is only 13 minutes from Old Ballard. We went to the park 2 hours before sunset to get to the beach front with enough time before dark.

The nicest part of Discovery Park is the West Point Lighthouse and Fort Lawton Beach. Dogs are not officially allowed on the beach (we did see some swimming) but the pathway along the beach is pet friendly. We parked at Discovery Park North Parking Lot since there was a full restroom nearby. Discovery Park South Parking Lot offers direct access to the main “Loop Trail” (unsure about bathroom access).

The trails are clearly marked and the best way to decide which trails to take will depend on your desired level of activity. There are shorter paths and switchbacks and luckily google maps works well throughout the park. We followed the main “Texas Way” paved path until it met the “Loop Trail.” The “Loop Trail” goes through the trees and eventually reaches cliffs over the Puget Sound where it meets the “South Beach Trail”. The “South Beach Trail” leads to the beach and turns into the “North Beach Trail” at the Lighthouse where it eventually gets back to the parking lot via the “Loop Trail”. We chose to take the long way back as the “North Beach Trail” kept us along the water for the longest time. Consider these trails when you visit Discovery Park:

  • Loop Trail
  • South Beach Trail
  • North Beach Trail
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Bird Alley
  • Texas Way

golden retriever standing in front of the puget sound during sunset

dog wearing a bandana on a cliff overlooking the puget sound

If you have time, enjoy the Kubota Gardens

Since we spent so much time at Discovery Park, we did not have a chance to see the pet friendly Kubota Gardens. The 20 acre Japanese Garden is advertised as a blend of Japanese styles with Northwest plants.


Sunrise at Magnuson dog beach

The 8.6 acre Magnuson Park Off Leash Dog Area has access to the Dog Beach on Lake Washington. The paths are well maintained and safe for dogs. With enough coffee, the views from the beach are not too shabby to wake up to.

Grab a biscuit in Belltown & walk to the Space Needle

We headed to the famous “Buiscuit Bitch” in Belltown for breakfast. This place was POPULAR! We waited nearly 30 minutes for our food once we ordered, but luckily the neighborhood is wonderful to explore. The Biscuit Bitch is a 10 minute walk to Space Needle Park and a 15 minute walk to the water front Olympic Sculpture Park. For those who like dog parks, there is also a dog park right in front of the restaurant for dogs to blow off some steam while the humans wait for breakfast.

We chose to enjoy a coffee while waiting for our food and managed to grab a table right outside. Afterwards, we waked to the Space Needle Park. Pets are allowed in the park, but not in the Space Needle itself. We were relatively underwhelmed by the Space Needle, but still had a great walk through the park (and another coffee).

biscuit bitch belltown menu

biscuit bitch belltown menu

seattle space needle

dog in front of the seattle space needle

dog in front of the seattle space needle

Stroll through the quiet Washington Park Arboretum

We love strolling through parks whenever we visit a new city. If that isn’t your jam, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post to get some more ideas for activities to do in Seattle. The Washington Park Arboretum is a well manicured green space in the heart of the city. Most of the paths are paved and the park was quiet and away from the crowds. The park is probably more breathtaking when the leaves start to change color for fall.

dog standing in the seattle arboreteum while wearing a bandana

dog standing behind a rock in front of autumn foliage

Bring your Dog to the Seattle Waterfalls or Rattlesnake Ledge

Off Leash Hiking Trails in Seattle are easy to find. If you are willing to travel 45 minutes outside the city, there are plenty of trails to choose from. We chose the off-leash Rattlesnake Ledge trail as a final stop before heading to the airport. The best time to hike Rattlesnake Ledge is at sunrise – we went midday and it was CROWDED all the way up. This 5.1 mile out and back trail is about 1500 ft uphill to the peak but worth the views. Afternoon was the only time that we could fit in this hike but our experience suffered from the crowds on the narrow (and steep) trail. It was impossible to get a peaceful view from the ledge but we got a bit of a view by squeezing ourselves in between the crowds.

Some of the other trails in the area that we didn’t get to try out are the Snow Lake Trail. The 6.4 mile out and back trail leads to a breathtaking lake at the Snoqualmie Pass. Dogs must be kept on leash.

The pet friendly waterfalls near Seattle are also worth checking out:

  • Twin Falls (3.6 miles out and back)
  • Snoqualmie Falls (1.3 miles out and back)
  • Panther Creek Falls (.3 miles out and back)

rattlesnake ledge view of mountains and forests

rattlesnake ledge lake view at the top

golden retriever at the top of rattlesnake ledge hike

dog sitting at the top of rattlesnake ledge

More Pet Friendly activities in Seattle for next time

  • Fremont Sunday Ice Cream Cruise – The Seattle Ice Cream Cruise departs on the house from 11am to 4pm on Sundays year round.
  • Boat rentals at Green Lake Park – The Green Lake Boat Rentals allow humans to rent out Kayaks, SUP, or rowboats with their pets.
  • Kennmore Air Flightseeing Tours – Seaplane tours on Kennmore Air are pet friendly! See their website for routes and prices. Pets are allowed for a fee as long as they are friendly and trained.
  • University Village Outdoor Shopping Center – If you want to shop, the University Village outdoor shopping center is a great place to visit with your dog.
  • Seattle Bakery Treat Truck – Check out a food truck just for your dog! See here for their most current location.


The PNW is Calling, 
-Your Pal Cal

Dog Friendly NYC: Bring your dog to New York City

dog in front of a new york yellow taxi

We love visiting NYC with our dog – its not hard to find Pet Friendly Hotels in New York City and there are plenty of dog parks to play in. We’ve traveled to New York City with Calvin during every season – I (humom) grew up in Manhattan and so we head back to the Upper West Side many times a year to see grandma and grandpaw.  To be perfectly honest, NYC is tough with a dog, especially a big dog. Be ready to do a lot of walking, and bundle up if you’re visiting during winter.  All in all, NYC is magical at any time of year but can be inconvenient if your pet doesn’t fit in a bag. Before visiting NYC with your pet, make sure that they are comfortable with the crazy sounds and crowds they will experience.  It can be extremely overwhelming if they are not used to being in such an environment.

Are dogs allowed on the NYC Subway?

NYC arguably has the best public transportation system in the country…..but pets are not allowed in the Subway unless they fit in a bag (strictly enforced). Your best option is to put on your walking shoes and explore the city by foot. Yellow cabs will sometimes allow you to ride but this is at the driver’s discretion – yellow cab seats are actually covered in plastic so shedding and seat damage is not a risk and easy to clean.  We take cabs when we go to the airport and lay a towel on the floor so that Calvin’s fur does not get onto the car.  Uber/Lyft is another great way to get around NYC but be sure to call the driver before hand to make sure they are ok with a dog getting into their car. We spend most of our time in NYC walking – sometimes 15 miles a day even in the dead of winter.

Pet Friendly Hotels in New York City

We wish we had recommendations, but we stay with family so we’ve never had an issue with accommodations. Our usual favorites are pet friendly AirBnBs and one of the many NYC Kimpton Hotels. NYC has a lot of cool boutique hotels – in general, we’d recommend staying in lower Manhattan (Chelsea, West Village, Greenwich Village) if you are looking to hit the town in the evening.

dog wearing a sweater on a bench in central park

Best Times to Visit NYC with a Dog

We are lucky enough to have visited NYC in all seasons – Our favorite visits have been in the spring and early fall.  In September, the heat has started to die down but you’ll still feel comfortable in shorts. In November, the weather starts to get chilly but the parks are painted in the most beautiful fall colors. We spent the Christmas Season in NYC last year and our California was showing terribly – We were NOT prepared for the blistering cold but once we got all the gear we needed, were able to enjoy ourselves.  Visiting in the winter can be especially beautiful if you are blessed with a magical snow storm. Central Park is breathtaking the morning after a snowstorm. The air is fresh, the snow is soft, and the dogs are allowed off-leash until 9am! The biggest issue with visiting in the winter is that outdoor seating is not available and so fido has to stay home during meal times. During the summer, NYC is brutally hot.  We visited in July and temperatures hit 100 during the day. We kept our walks to the early morning and evening and came prepared with all of Calvin’s cooling gear and water bottles.

dog on the steps of the met in NYC

New York City Dog Parks

Central Park is off leash before 9AM
Our favorite spots are Cedar Hill (79th St. East) and Great Hill (106th St. West).  Dogs will congregate off leash at these hills in the early morning.

Tompkins Square Dog Park

Madison Square Dog Park

Washington Square Dog Park

105th Dog Run (Riverside Park)

72nd Dog Run (Riverside Park)

Prospect Park in Brooklyn is off leash before 9AM

dog with bagels and mug in new york city. dog is wearing a red checkered bandana

Pet Friendly Restaurants in NYC

During the spring, fall, and summer you can certainly enjoy your time in NYC with fido by taking advantage of the outdoor patios.  You may melt outside during the midday summer heat, but at least the seating is available.  You’ll find that many parks have great outdoor food options available.

landscape view of NYC skyline from the great lawn of central park

Where to walk your dog in NYC

When we visit NYC, we walk all day. Please note that most of the indoor places are not pet friendly, so you will just have to enjoy them from the outside.  To be honest, the top of the Empire State Building is overrated anyway (coming from a native New Yorker). Here are some walks to check out:

Lower Manhattan – East Village, West Village, Greenwich Village, Soho, Chelsea, Union Square, Madison Square Park.
The lower part of Manhattan is home to some of the trendiest spots.  You can start down at the East or West village and make your way up to Madison Square Park. Most of the cute restaurants and cafés have outdoor seating available. Madison Square Park has a great dog park (and an outdoor Shake Shack!).  If you want to get some food from the famous Eataly across the street, you can enjoy the food with your pup at the picnic tables in Madison Square Park.

Tribeca & Brooklyn Bridge – Ground Zero, City Hall Park, Rockefeller Park, Brooklyn Bridge Promenade. 
Pets ARE allowed at Ground Zero but not inside the museum or inside the Freedom Tower. From Tribeca, you can walk to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Start on the Manhattan Side and make your way over to Brooklyn.  When you get there, you can walk along the East River, get some food, and check out the Hillside Dog Park.

dog sitting in front of New York hot dog stand

Midtown – Bryant Park, Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center Times Square, Grand Central Terminal.
Although hectic, the famous Grand Central Terminal is pet friendly. Check out the huge clock and look up to see the decorated ceiling. Times Square and Rockefeller Center are crazy but part of the NYC experience.  Overall, Midtown has a more hectic vibe to it so if you want to get a feel of what it’s like to be a New Yorker, spend some time there but don’t drive yourself crazy.

Central Park South – Columbus Circle, The Plaza Hotel, The Apple Store.
Columbus Circle Shops AND the Apple Store are Pet Friendly! You will find Columbus Circle at the West side, and then can walk along the park to get to the Apple Store and the Plaza Hotel. Bouchon Bakery in Columbus Circle even has Foie Gras Dog Biscuits. You can even find dog accessories at all the high end shops (for a price).

dog sitting on a bench in pet friendly central park. dog is wearing a pin bandana and the sun is starting to set

Central Park – Loeb Boathouse, Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge, Balto Statue, Strawberry Fields, Gapstow Bridge, Central Park Carousel, Belvedere Castle, Alice and Wonderland Statues, Model Boat Sailing Lake.
A Central Park tour can easily take up an entire day.  Luckily there are lots of outdoor eateries, classic NYC hot dog carts, and water sources to stay comfortable. Central park is located right in the center of Manhattan so you can access it from almost anywhere between 59th-110th st. Check out all the spots from your favorite movie scenes and wander around until you get lost.  Dogs are allowed off leash before 9am, but watch for cyclists.

dog sitting on the street on riverside driver in new york city. dog is a labrador retriever wearing a pink bandana

Upper West Side – Family Friendly Neighborhood, Lincoln Center, Riverside Park, Columbia University.
This is the neighborhood where I (humom) grew up but also went to College. It is a very family friendly neighborhood but also has a college town feel as you get uptown towards Columbia University.  Start at 66th st and Broadway to check out Lincoln Center – home to the Opera, Ballet, and Philharmonic.  Walk uptown along Broadway to fully experience the UWS. Towards the West, you’ll find Riverside Park and the Hudson river.  The UWS is very diverse so you will find a wide range of ethnic cuisine – the UWS local favorite is Zabar’s (79th St. and Broadway), home to the best pastrami and more cheese than you could ever imagine. At the tip of the Upper West Side (technically called Morningside Heights), you’ll find NYC’s oldest University & Ivy League Columbia University.  Snap a pic in front of the famous Alma Mater Status and enjoy the massive library from Low Library Steps.

dog sitting on the steps of the metropolitan museum of art

Upper East Side – The Met Steps, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue.
Channel your inner Gossip Girl on the Met Steps and stroll down Madison Avenue to plan what you’ll be spending your cash on when you win the lottery.  Park Avenue is residential, but worth a stroll since most of the buildings are beautiful and well maintained.

Need more ideas? The New York Times has a great article about visiting New York with your pet.

City so nice, they named it twice!
-Your Pal Cal

Summer Activities in Pet Friendly Lake Tahoe


dog on a dog friendly part of Lake Tahoe dock. The dog is wearing a blue bandana

Dog Friendly Places in Lake Tahoe (Summer Edition)

Lake Tahoe is so Pet Friendly that it is definitely one of the most heavily visited places from San Francisco in both summer and winter. Tahoe boasts unlimited pet friendly off leash hiking trails and dog friendly beaches for a cold swim. Lake Tahoe is a crystal clear alpine lake nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains – the largest lake by volume in all of North America.  Bring your dog and enjoy the panoramic mountain views of the Tahoe basin.

How to Get To Lake Tahoe

There are two ways to get to Tahoe – Drive or Fly.  If you live in Northern California, we recommend driving but don’t get trapped in the winter snow! You will need all-wheel-drive, snow chains, and snow tires to get up the mountain during winter.  We’ve had friends try to make it up without enough gear, and the story did not end well. Our Mini Cooper would certainly not survive the trip in the depth of winter.  During high ski season it can take over 6 hours to get to Tahoe from San Francisco.  The icy winding roads are also prone to accidents which makes the travel time longer (we’ve heard of 12 hour trips).  In the summer, we left on a Friday afternoon and with San Francisco and Sacramento traffic, made it in 5 hours.  Without traffic, you’re looking at a 3 hour trip from San Francisco.

There are some small regional airports in the area, but unless you have a private jet you’ll want to go to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport.  This is about a 45 minute drive to North Lake Tahoe.  See more about flying to Lake Tahoe here.

view of the blue lake tahoe from the dock. mountains are visible in the distance. The sky is blue over the lake

When to Visit Lake Tahoe with your Dog

Tahoe is a great destination year round but unless you want to hike in the cold, it is best to bring your dog to Tahoe in the warmer months. If you visit Lake Tahoe with your dog after the snow has melted, you will get to enjoy all the Tahoe off leash dog trails and hikes.  We visited in early summer just as the weather was getting warm.  July/August are warmest months to visit Tahoe, with highs of around 80 degrees. In the winter, expect temperatures in the 40s and snow.  We visited before peak tourist season and the trails were just finishing to thaw.  We hit some snow on our hike up Squaw Valley and the lake still felt glacial. Expect a lot of tourists from June to August as trails finally thaw and summer activities are in full swing. For the least busy time to visit, check out Tahoe from March to May or in September at the end of summer vacation. Winters in Tahoe, although snowy, are not actually as blistering cold as other winter destinations. Check out the region from December – February for great winter sports.

pet friendly hotels and accomodations are very common in tahoe. in this photo, the dog is sitting in front of the pet friendly airbnb

the dog is running through the backyard of the pet friendly airbnb in carnelian bay (lake tahoe)

Pet Friendly Hotels in Lake Tahoe

We found it easy to find pet friendly accommodations in Lake Tahoe. The lake is HUGE, so your biggest decision will be where to stay.   All parts of Lake Tahoe are pet friendly, so regardless of your decision, you will not have trouble finding pet friendly accommodations.  You’ll have to choose between North (Nevada Side) or South Lake Tahoe (California Side). We stayed in North Lake Tahoe’s Carnelian Bay. So…North vs. South? You can’t go wrong.

All parts of Lake Tahoe have great beach access for your dogs. North Lake Tahoe is known for being sleepier than its southern counterpart – and more “family friendly”.  For winter sports, North Lake Tahoe is home to 8 ski resorts and a variety of challenging hikes.  We also found that North Lake Tahoe has more dog beaches. South Lake Tahoe is where you’ll find all the “action” if you are looking to hit the town. It is home to a variety of bars and clubs that are open late and definitely the place to be if you’re looking to party.

yellow lab is panting during the hike up to squaw valley in tahoe

Lake Tahoe Pet Friendly Summer Activities

Kayaking, SUP board, rafting, hikes, and swimming are all available for a pet friendly Tahoe experience.  You’ll have to be cognizant of dog rules on certain beaches, but lakeside trails are all open for Fido.

Tahoe Dog Beaches

Dog beaches do exist in Tahoe, but make sure to look into where fido is officially allowed off leash before letting him loose. There are fewer pet friendly beaches than we would have liked but we still found areas for Calvin to take a dip into the water. Pups are allowed IN the lake, but just often not on the public sandy areas – this means they can be with you on paddle boards, kayaking ect but can’t frolic along the beach.  To find the best dog beach near where you are staying, check out the list here.

dog looking out at the pet friendly beach in north lake tahoe

Water Sports with Your Dog in Tahoe

Raft down the Truckee River with your furry friend, or take a Tahoe City Kayak onto the lake.

Tahoe City Kayak has a variety of rentals available, including kayaks with larger cockpits to accommodate a dog.  We rented a Kayak at Commons Beach.  Pets are not allowed onto the beach so please ask the associates where the dog pickup point is.  One person will wait with fido at the pickup point and kayak over from Commons Beach (about 1 minute away).

Truckee River Rafting is another very pet friendly activity – raft 5 miles down the Truckee River and bring fido along. You are even allowed to bring coolers along to enjoy some food along the way.


Pet Friendly Trails in Squaw Valley: Hike to High Camp

Tahoe has an unlimited amount of pet friendly hikes. We recommend checking out the trails in Squaw Valley and choosing your best fit from this list. The main decision you will have to make is deciding whether you want to start at High Camp or if you want to start at the Base Camp and make your way up to High Camp. We did the Shirley Canyon Trail hike from the Base of Squaw Valley up to High Camp.  We stopped at Shirley Lake on the way up (about 2/3 of the way up) and finally took the pet friendly Aerial Tram down free of charge for views of the entire valley. The Shirley Canyon trail is a great half-day hike that runs about 3.6 miles and considered one of the area’s best hikes. For a better understanding of the elevation: we visited in June and had to hike through snow by the end of the trail.  Wear layers for the changing temperatures, and sneakers or boots with good traction.  The trail was not always clearly marked, but there are enough hikers passing by to keep from getting lost.  As another rule of thumb, online guides suggest making sure to always keep the flowing creek to your right to eventually find your way to Shirley Lake.  When you reach areas of steep slabs of rocks, you know that Shirley Lake is right over the top of the hill.

the view near the top of the hike to high camp at squaw valley

snow at the top of squaw valley in the summer

Swim in Shirley Lake

About 2/3 up the Shirley Canyon Trail, you will come upon Shirley Lake.  You can also get to this lake by taking the Aerial Tram up to High Camp and then hiking down the last part of the trail to the lake. We came upon families having picnics on the rocks overlooking the lake, and lots of dogs taking a refreshing swim.  Locals told us that by the end of the summer the lake heats up enough for a more enjoyable swim.  In early June, the water was glacial. Calvin didn’t mind one bit.

yellow lab swimming in shirley lake during a hike up squaw valley

The Squaw Valley Aerial Tram is Pet Friendly!

The pet friendly Aerial tram leaves from the base of Squaw Valley and drops off at High Camp.  The tram allows for a breathtaking view over the valley and you can catch trails from the top. Here’s the catch – the tram costs $40 a person to ride up, but is free on the way down.  If you complete the long hike up to High Camp, you can save a lot of money and still get to experience the Aerial Tram on your way back down to the base of Squaw Valley. You’ll be so tired that you may even enjoy it even more! view from the squaw valley pet friendly gondala


Walk Through the Village at Squaw Valley

During summer months, you’ll find various pet friendly outdoor activities at the Base Camp of Squaw Valley. Walk through and pop into the cute shops, enjoy live music, lawn games, and refreshing summer energy from fellow visitors. You’ll run into many friendly pups – grab your pup his own Pupacino from the Starbucks and enjoy strolling through.

dog sitting on a wood chair at the squaw valley village

Check out Tahoe City

Tahoe City has a walkable main street lined with shops, food, and activity.  It’s worth strolling down main street for the summer energy. Poppy’s Frozen Yogurt offers many refreshing flavors. If you visit during the Tahoe City Wine Walk you’ll be able to walk around town sipping wine and checking out fun booths.

Pet Friendly Restaurants in Lake Tahoe

We ate lunch at Mo’s Original BBQ in Tahoe City.  The restaurant is pet friendly, lakefront, and out of the hot sun. Portions are generous, affordable, and lip smacking delicious. After lunch, we walked off lunch on the lakeside trail.

We also ate a meal at Moody’s in Truckee, but would NOT recommend it – overpriced and mediocre food. Thank you, NEXT.

Tahoe was a great weekend trip for early summer – the air is fresh, the views are amazing, and Tahoe accommodations are very pet friendly. We’ll be sure to come back next year!

-Your Pal Cal





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