15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Connecticut

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labrador is having fun at the devils popyard state park in east haddam in a dog friendly vacation in connecticut

Located in the northeast, Connecticut has 3.6 million residents with an estimated 600,000 fur babies. With so many dogs in the state, there are countless places for a Connecticut vacation whether you want to swim, ski, boat, hike, or fish. Whatever you want to do, you should be able to find it here. And dogs are as welcome as people (maybe even more welcome) in many of the places you will go. 

Bordered by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the Atlantic Ocean, it is the most southern state of the New England group. Being the third-smallest state in the US, you would not expect there to be so much to do but there is. In fact, there are over 140 state and national forests and parks as well as hundreds of county, city, and community parks. 

Since Connecticut gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer, you can enjoy all types of sports here, from water skiing to cross-country skiing and hiking to swimming. There are lots of beaches, some of which are dog-friendly. Take a look at our top 15 favorite vacation destinations for dog parents here. 

New Haven

Being a coastal city has its advantages. Like lots of beaches. In New Haven, you will find several beaches, but the best one to bring your pup to is Long Wharf Park on the New Haven Harbor. Your fur buddy is welcome here all year as long as he is on a leash and under control. Also, bring plenty of doggie bags to pick up after him. And with a population of 135,000 people who have about 22,000 dogs, you are likely to see some of them there. 

For some off-leash fun, take your cuddle buddy to East Rock Dog Park, which has a small dog section, lots of trees, plenty of seating, and water to drink. You can always find a few canine companions for your dog to play with here. If they are too crowded or not crowded enough, try Edgewood Park Dog Run. Your puppers can play for hours in this fenced area with ponds and playgrounds.

After you work up an appetite, Trinity Bar & Restaurant will welcome you and Fido at their outdoor tables, where you can grab some grub and a cold brew. 


Middlebury is a small town in northwestern Connecticut with just 7,500 people and about 1,200 fur babies. The most exciting thing about this city is that your canine companion is welcome to join you at the best attraction in town, Quassy Amusement Park. It is one of only a handful of amusement parks in the whole country that welcome pets so you and your family should take advantage of that!

The family fun park has been in action since 1908 and has 38 rides including two awesome roller coasters, 15 fun water rides, and a bunch of games on 20 acres. And the food is pretty good too. Especially the funnel cakes! There is a restaurant and cafe too where they have just about everything you could want from burgers to calamari.

The water park is included in the ticket for the amusement park so you really get two parks in one. The park also has a beach on Lake Quassapaug, an arcade, riverboat rides, and laser tag. You can even rend pedalboats and kayaks. 


Take your sweethearts to Mystic for a romantic stay at the House of 1833. Located in the historic section of Old Mystic, the Greek Revival mansion was built in 1833 by Elias Brown, and it is the most charming place you have ever seen. You can enjoy a candlelight gourmet breakfast, a swimming pool, and stunning gardens with fountains and sun loungers. They even have homemade chocolate chip cookies in the parlor for everyone to enjoy.     

Another romantic way to spend the day with your two best buds is on a private yacht tour. Dogs are welcome as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. You will get about 90 minutes of relaxed sightseeing with a glass of wine and a captain who can tell you all about the place. 

Then, take your own little tour of the grounds at Mystic Seaport Museum, where you can see the 1800s shipyard village with nine gardens along the river. Want to shop or dine? Do both with your pooch and your love at Olde Mistick Village outdoor shopping center.                                             

Mohawk State Forest 

In Litchfield, you will find the Mohawk State Forest with 4,016 acres including the Mohawk Mountain Ski Area. They have 115+ acres with 26 runs and eight lifts with an elevation of 1,683 feet, a vertical drop of 650 feet, and a base elevation of 960 feet. And the best part is that dogs are welcome to join their humans as long as they are leashed and not on the slopes. There are lots of trails where you can bring him for hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. 

You can bring your fur baby snow tubing too. It is a fun place for the whole family, and they even have a conveyor that takes you back to the top of the hill so you do not have to get worn out while walking back up. This is great for parents with little ones. 

But Mohawk State Forest also has trails, a pond stocked with trout, the Cunningham Lookout Tower, and the Black Spruce Bog. You can hike, fish, and explore all you want. 


The city of Stamford can be found in southwestern Connecticut and has 135,000 people living there with an estimated 22,500 dogs, making it the second most populated city in the state. Looking for a place to get away where there is a lot to do but not too many tourists? Stamford is for you. You can take your little fur buddy on the Metro-North Railroad to explore the area, which is really fun for those who like trains. 

Another fun thing to do with your cuddly canine compadre is walking through the gardens at Bartlett Arboretum. There are 12 miles of trails so wear your walking shoes and bring doggie bags. You could also take a hike in the Mianus River Park where you can see bald eagles fishing in the river.

Don’t forget to let Fido off the leash! There are two awesome dog parks in Stamford. The main one, Stamford Dog Park, has a small dog section, shaded seating, and lots of space. Also, Triangle Park has a fenced area for off-leash fun where all dogs play together. 


If you want a place where you and your fur baby can take a hike, Fairfield has an awesome trail called the Lake Mohegan Walk. The lake has 170 acres of space around it and the trail is about two miles long, depending on where you start and finish. It meanders through the open fields under the trees with a variety of obstacles like rocks and logs. You may see some wildlife like deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and foxes so keep Fido on a leash. 

You can also find lots of places to walk with your dog along the Southport Harbor such as Southport Park, Sasco Hill Beach, Jennings Beach, Penfield Beach, and South Pine Creek Beach. Most beaches only allow dogs from October to April while others allow them all year at certain times of the day. 

After you work up an appetite, take Fido to Flipside Burgers & Bar where you can get burgers and beer. They even have a doggie menu with chicken and scooby snacks. 


In the southeastern corner of Connecticut, Greenwich is a fairly large city with around 63,000 people with approximately 10,000 dogs located on the Long Island Sound. But Greenwich also includes several islands including Calf Island, which is almost 30 acres, and Great Captain Island with 17 acres. But Greenwich Point Park is a lot of fun too with several trails and lots of fishing opportunities.

Babcock Preserve is a nice place to go if you are here in the winter because they have several cross-country skiing trails and lots of wildlife. But if you are there in the summer, take in a game of polo at Greenwich Polo Club or visit the Greenwich Botanical Center in the spring. You can even go shopping at Greenwich Avenue Shopping Mall. 

Your fur baby’s favorite place will be Grass Island Dog Park though. It has almost an acre of fenced space with a small dog area, a trail, and a waste station. 

Macedonia Brook State Park 

Kent has two dog-friendly state parks as well as Pond Mountain Natural Area to enjoy with your cuddly buddy. At Macedonia Brook State Park, there are over 2,300 acres for exploring your Fido and a campground with 51 sites. Be sure to reserve your spot early because it is a popular place. If you like waterfalls, get some selfies with your puppers at Kent Falls State Park. The 250-foot falls are incredible to see here.

Pont Mountain Natural Area has 800 acres with a pond, a mountain, and a trail that takes you up to Caleb’s Peak and the St. John’s Ledges. Not far away, Lake Waramaug State Park also has a campground with 76 sites to pick from. If those are full, there are several privately owned campgrounds nearby as well. 

After all that hiking, you and Fido are going to need to refuel. Instead of cooking your own food, take your fuzzy friend to Bull’s Bridge Inn. They have everything from burgers to fried calamari.


In western Connecticut, Norwalk is a large city with over 91,000 people and 14,000 dogs. What’s more, it also has several hotels that welcome dogs with rooms under $100! The Red Carpet Inn is only $87 and has a golf course, free Wi-Fi, and whirlpool tubs. For $90, you can get a hotel with a gym, restaurant, bar, and laundry service at Even Hotel. And Extended Stay has pet-friendly rooms with a golf course, fitness center, restaurant, and free breakfast for $94!

Rowayton Dog Park is a large fenced area with a small dog space for pooches under 25 pounds as well as seating, waste stations, and water for pup parents. And it is free! Bayley Beach is also free for dogs but they are only allowed from November to April. Cranbury Park is also free and has 227 acres to explore with some areas that are off-leash. 

Since you saved all that money, you can take Fido with you to 314 Beer Garden for a brew while he plays with the other fur babies. 


Surrounded by water on three sides, Milford has access to the Housatonic River, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Pond, and Milford Harbor. With so much water around, you know there are lots of beaches. However, dogs are not allowed at most of them during the summer from May to November, with a few exceptions. One exception is Silver Sands Beach at Silver Sands State Park. The 300-acre park has a salt marsh, woods, dunes, and a bird sanctuary as well as a beach and trails. 

If you want to get out on the water, rent a paddle board for you and your pup to check out the area around Charles Island. They do tours and lessons too. Afterward, go get a beer or another adult beverage at Tribus Beer Company where the taproom and beer garden welcome leashed dogs. 

Be sure to take your cuddly canine companion to run around leashless before going back to the hotel. Eisenhower Park has a large, fully fenced space for pooches to play without a leash. 


One of the most populated cities in the state, Danbury has about 86,000 residents who have an estimated 14,000 canine companions. Its nickname, Hat City, comes from being the leader of the hat industry in the 1800s. Today it is more well-known for its education, historic areas, and natural spaces. Walking in the cemetery may not be your idea of fun but it is a great place to see some historic tombstones and a cute pond along a paved trail. 

Bear Mountain Reservation is also a great place for walking the trails. The short loop is two miles long and is considered to be a moderate challenge. The long loop is just 2.2 miles long and is also considered to be moderate. You get an awesome view of Candlewood Lake from this one. 

Tarrywile Park also has several hiking trails including the one-mile easy Parks Pond Hike, the 3.2-mile long Mootry Peak Lookout Hike, which is steep and challenging, and the 3.3-mile long Hearthstone Castle Hike, which is also challenging but takes you to a castle. 

West Rock Ridge State Park 

In Hamden, Connecticut, West Rock Ridge State Park is also dog-friendly for leashed dogs and has a variety of fun activities all year long. The main draw is the park’s namesake, the 627-foot ridge where you can get some incredible views of the Long Island Sound and the New Haven Harbor. After hiking up to the ridge, there are six miles of ridge to explore and enjoy with your pooch. But be sure to bring water and doggie bags.

The other trail in the park, the Regicides Trail, you can see Lake Watrous and Dawson along a 5.6-mile ridge walk. On both of these trails, you will pass several ponds as well as Lake Wintergreen. There are many other unnamed trails to enjoy as well. Sleeping Giant State Park is also nearby and has several trails to walk along with Fido.

Afterward, let your pooch off the leash at Hamden Dog Park in town. The large grassy area is fully fenced and has trails, benches, trees, water, and a small dog area. 


The most populated city in Connecticut with almost 150,000 residents who have an estimated 25,000 fur babies, is also home to an awesome park. Spend a weekend with your puppers in Bridgeport, where you can take him to Seaside Park with its 325 acres of beauty. There you can enjoy walking along the three miles of beaches and even swim if it is warm enough. At one end of the park, Fayerweather Island is a nice wildlife area with a historic lighthouse. 

If you want to get a bite to eat, there are over a dozen dog-friendly restaurants including Ralph N Rich’s. You can get anything from snow crab to lasagna here, and they even have a few items your pooch can eat. Harborview is another great place to have a meal with your pup. The outdoor patio is dog-friendly. 

Then, take Fido to Alice Street Dog Run, where he will enjoy running around leashless for a while. 


Couples with dogs tend to love Simsbury because of its small-town atmosphere and quaint architecture. First, get a luxurious hotel room at the Simsbury Inn. Some have mahogany sleigh beds while others have four-poster beds. It also has a gourmet restaurant, quaint cafe, and a modern bar as well as a fitness center, indoor pool, and room service. They even offer free breakfast!

If you come during the winter, you are within seven miles of Mohawk Mountain Ski Resort. Otherwise, you can enjoy one of the state parks. Your fur baby will love Paw Meadow Dog Park within walking distance. It has a huge area with a lot of open space for playing fetch or tossing a doggie disc around. If you are interested in a picnic by the water and a romantic covered bridge, check out Stratton Brook State Park. 

Take your sweeties to get some sweets at Popover Cafe & Bakery in downtown Simsbury. They welcome pups out on the patio and serve some amazing food. 


Take the kiddos and your pup to Bristol this summer to visit a fantastic and historic park. However, you will have to leave your cuddly canine at the dog sitter because fur babies are not allowed at the park, unfortunately. Lake Compounce Amusement Park has been open since 1846, making it the oldest amusement park in the US still running. The park has 332 acres with 44 rides including five roller coasters, 13 water rides, and lots of other entertainment. 

In fact, the Boulder Dash roller coaster was voted the number one wooden roller coaster in the world, so you have to check that out. It is also the largest water park in the state. They also have nine eateries in the park, including The Croc Pot, Pizza Palace, and Snacks on Main Street. +

After playing with the kids all day, it is time to pick up the pup and take him to the park. BARK Park Off-Leash Dog Park is the place to go to let Fido off the leash for a while. There is a separate small dog section, a hill to wear them out, and lots of benches for pup parents. 

The Final Woof

You will not have any trouble finding a place to stay either because more than 1,200 vacation rentals welcome dogs, including almost 200 hotels, motels, and resorts. Connecticut is full of fun things to do with your fur baby, too. There are 850 pup-friendly restaurants, 70+ dog parks, and 10 dog beaches as well as hundreds of pup-popular trails. Looking for a romantic tryst? Take your sweetie to Mystic, where the local inn has candlelight breakfasts and a pool. You could also go skiing or snow tubing at Mohawk State Forest if you are planning a winter trip. And for those who love the outdoors, Macedonia Brook State Park has camping as well as hiking, fishing, and other fun. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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