15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Indiana

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dog is posing at the george rogers clark national historical park in a dog friendly vacation in indiana

In the midwestern section of the country, Indiana is one of the most populated, with 6.8 million people and just over 1.1 million fur babies. With a nickname of The Hoosier State, some people living in Indiana consider themselves Hoosiers. Although the name sounds derogatory, it actually means a tough countryman (woman) in this case. It is surrounded by Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Lake Michigan, and the Ohio River and Wabash River in the south and west. 

There is a lot to do in Indiana, especially for those who enjoy spending time outdoors. The state has four national parks, one national forest, 26 state parks, 15 state forests, and countless rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. Most of the parks are dog-friendly, and some have leash-free dog areas where your pup can play off the leash. 

The state has cold winters and hot and humid summers, so you get to enjoy both summer and winter sports in Indiana. During the spring, the rain and fall are mild with some rain and snow that can total between 40 to 80 inches per year. Here are our choices for the best dog-friendly vacation destinations in Indiana. 


Indianapolis is the capital, with close to 900,000 residents. This may be why there are so many dog-friendly things to do and places to go. With more than 25 dog-friendly hotels that have rooms starting at under $100, Indianapolis is one of the most affordable places to stay in Indiana. In fact, there are 10 that have swimming pools, eight that also have a gym, and five that add on a free breakfast.

You will find the capital city right in the middle of the state, making it the perfect home base for those who plan to make some day trips to the surrounding areas. Although the speedway is not dog-friendly, it is worth a mention for its popularity. But why not take your fur baby to Fort Harrison State Park, which has 1700 acres of fun that includes trails, picnic areas, fishing, and an off-leash dog park?  

Afterward, take your pooch with you to 16-Bit Bar + Arcade where they serve alcohol while you play video games and leashed dogs are always welcome. He can cheer you on while you try to beat the high scores. 

Fort Wayne

Where can you find such a dog-friendly town that has places like Fido’s Forest, Camp Canine, and Pawster Park? Fort Wayne, Indiana, is that place! Located in the northeastern corner of the state, this large city has 266,000 residents and approximately 44,000 dogs. It was founded in 1794 and has a variety of interesting places to visit, including more than 80 parks on 2,805 acres with 60+ playgrounds, several pools, and three off-leash dog parks. Perfect for your getaway.

First of all, you have to take your pup to Fido’s Forest. The five-acre dog park can be rented by the hour and gives you private access, perfect for dogs that are less social. Pawster Park is a more traditional dog park where lots of dogs can play together on play equipment and there is a special small dog space. Camp Canine has 60,000 square feet divided in two with dog fountains and fire hydrants. 

If you want to play out on the water, go to Fort Wayne Outfitters. They rent canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for everyone. But bring your own doggie life jacket. 

Santa Claus 

Another perfectly-named place, Santa Claus, in southwestern Indiana, is a city that thrives on holidays. The largest and main attraction here is Holiday World with 48 rides including six roller coasters and three water rides. The whole town screams “family fun,” no matter how old your kids are. Unfortunately, Fido cannot join you at the park. However, Santa Paws Ulti-Mutt Retreat will keep your pet safe and let him play while you are away. 

You will not have to worry about it being too hot to visit the park because they also have a Splashin Safari Water Park with 10 waterslides and rides as well as a lazy river, wave pool, and a little tykes area. You do not have to worry about getting too hungry either because they have more than 30 restaurants and kiosks like Candy Cane Confectionary, Goblin Burgers, and Hot Diggity Dogs. 

Afterward, take your fur puppy to Huntingburg Bark Park at Southside Park. There is a fully-fenced one-acre space for all dogs to play together. 

Hoosier National Forest

Spread over nine counties with more than 200,000 acres including 10 campgrounds with over 400 campsites. The largest is the Hardin Ridge Recreation Area where you will find 203 campsites. Some of these have utilities while others are primitive with just portable toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. Several camping loops also have modern restrooms with showers as well. 

If you like hiking, there are over 265 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. They range from easy walks under a mile to strenuous and lengthy hikes of more than 48 miles. If that is not enough for you, you can also visit Spring Mill State Park and Cave River Natural Area nearby. There are caves, a boat tour, a memorial, and a pioneer village as well as picnic areas, concessions, a store, nature preserves, and 223 campsites. 

There are several areas along the trails and at the dispersed campsites that allow your pup to be off the leash for a while. Just remember to bring baggies to pick up his poop. 


Lake vacations are the best, especially if you have a water dog. If you are planning a summer trip and want to do some lake fishing, boating, or swimming, Bloomington has several lakes. But the largest and most popular is Lake Monroe. If you want to stay at the lake, there are several campgrounds, including Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park with 120+ sites, Paynetown with 224 sites, and Lake Monroe Village with more than 300. They both have lots of amenities, including hot showers and playgrounds.

You can also take your pooch to explore one of the many trails in the lake area like Turkey Trot and Bluebird Trails. You can also go fishing, swimming, or boating, have a picnic, or just relax by the water. It is a great place for a lake vacation.

Last but not least, enjoy a movie or two with your love and your pooch at the Starlite Drive-In Theater. Dogs are welcome but they have to be on a leash if they get out of the car.

South Bend

The Oliver Inn Bed & Breakfast will set a romantic tone for you and your two best friends. There are actually two to choose from. The Oliver Inn is an adorable Victorian home with private bathrooms, TVs, and a snack bar. The Scottish Bed & Breakfast has a variety of rooms including one with a fireplace and another with a spa bath, and it has an indoor pool too. They both serve homemade breakfasts and have free Wi-Fi. 

Then, take everyone to the stunning hills of Hickory Creek Winery where you can enjoy a glass (or two) of wine they make right on the grounds. They use locally-grown grapes to make small batches so it is as fresh as can be. You can also get a charcuterie plate to share with your pup and your honey. 

Finally, stop at Howard Park Public House for dinner where they have delicious sandwiches and their famous upside-down burger as well as steaks and chops. They even have a dog menu for Fido to pick from!


In the southwestern corner of Indiana, Evansville is a large city with almost 120,000 people and 20,000 fur babies. It is located at a bend in the Ohio River near the Kentucky border where you can find Ellis Park Horse Racing Track. If you are just staying for the weekend or even a week, you will love the prices of the hotels. There are over a dozen places with rooms under 100 bucks that allow dogs. 

For something even more rewarding and free, Central Bark is a dog park with two acres where all pups can play off the leash. It is full of lush trees, grass, agility equipment, benches, and a portable toilet for humans. After, take your cuddly canine companion with you to see the historic Indian mounds at Angel Mounds State Historic Site. There are miles of trails and 11 structures from 1000 AD.

Since you saved all that money, you and Fido can go to Barker Brewhouse, where you can drink some brew while your pup hangs out with the other fur babies. 

Indiana Dunes National Park 

With 15 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes National Park has more than 15,000 acres of recreational space that includes 15+ hiking trails from the short and easy half-mile Calumet Dunes Trail along the shore to the rugged 4.7-mile Cowles Bog Trail featuring savannas, swamps, marshes, and beaches. Always be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for your pup as well as doggie bags to pick up after him. 

One of the most popular trails is the easy Portage Lakefront Riverwalk Trail. It is just under a mile long and takes you along Lake Michigan. Another favorite is the 2.2-mile Hobart Prairie Grove Trail that takes you through a bur oak savanna, through forested ravines, and around the beautiful Lake George. Of course, you can also do some boating, fishing, and swimming at the lake or on the river. 

If you want to stay at the park, the Dunewood Campground only has 78 campsites so you have to book your spot way in advance. 


In the tiny town of Nashville where there are only about 800 residents, couples love the quaint bed and breakfast called the Lil Black Bear Inn. Surrounded by woods and a pond, you get a free country breakfast and your pooch gets treats from the front desk. The cute city also has the Brown County Winery with award-winning wines. Your pup is allowed to join you on the patio while you enjoy the scenery. 

For something really romantic, take your two cuddle buddies on a horse and carriage ride. Pups are welcome to join you in this traditional carriage pulled by one of the horses, Levi or Hugo. They are only available on Saturdays and it is first come, first served so get there really early. Another way to hitch a ride is aboard the Nashville Express train tour where leashed dogs are welcome. 

Last, but not least, take Fido to Polly’s Bark Park to get his off-leash exercise. It is the best way to get rid of some of that excess energy all dogs seem to have plenty of. 


Monticello is a small resort town in northwestern Indiana on Lake Shafer, where you can find the Indiana Beach Amusement Park and Resort. But, what’s better than going to the amusement park is staying at the park overnight. They have a dog-friendly campground with 1,000 sites where your pup can stay with you. Although he is not allowed inside the park, he can stay at the campsite or you can take him to doggie daycare nearby.

The park boasts 10 acres of fun with 43 rides, six roller coasters, four water rides, dozens of games, live entertainment, and shows, as well as restaurants and shops. Some of the major rides are the Flying Bobs, Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, bumper boats, Sky Coaster, and the Cyclone Coaster. The water park has a lazy river, a large pool, splash pads, and five waterslides. 

After picking up your pup, take him to Riley Park, which has a fenced dog park where dogs can romp around leashless. There is a small dog area, shaded seating, and waste stations.


Those who love the snow will really enjoy Paoli in the winter. Even if there is no snow in the forecast, Paoli Peaks Ski Resort makes its own snow, so you do not have to worry. Although your pup cannot go on the lifts or slopes, he is allowed on some of the cross-country and sledding trails. Or, you can just leave him at doggie daycare and enjoy the 15 runs on your own. There are eight lifts, two terrain parks, 15 runs, and a 300-foot vertical drop. 

After skiing all day, you can enjoy a hot bath before taking your cuddle buddy out to the park so he has a chance to play. The large park has a large modern playground for kids with slides and swings, several trails, tennis, baseball, basketball, a picnic area, and a clean restroom with water. 

Don’t miss taking your fur baby to one of the only dog-friendly caves in the country, Marengo Cave. The national landmark has an awesome tour as well, but you have to be able to carry your pooch for the whole 40 minutes. 

Salamonie River State Park 

Located in northeastern Indiana in a small town called Porter, you and Fido can spend a weekend or two at Salamonie River State Park, where they have 35+ campsites. However, they are on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early, or you may have to go somewhere else. Luckily, there are several campgrounds nearby including the Salamonie Lake Campground with 335 campsites. Dogs are welcome as long as you keep them on a leash at all times. 

The park has about 850 acres including the miles of riverfront on Salamonie River and waterfront on Salamonie Lake. There are several parks and recreational areas in and around the river and lake so you have plenty of sites to fish, swim, go boating, or just hang out and enjoy the view. 

Nearby, you can let your fur puppy play with other pups off the leash at Ultimutt Dog Park behind Unity Christian Church in Marnon. It is fully fenced and has some really cool play equipment.


With almost 64,000 people and an estimated 10,000 dogs, Greenwood is a fantastic place to take your pup and the family for a summer vacation. There may not be a huge amusement park for the kids but there is a large waterpark with four waterslides, a lazy river, a lap pool, diving boards, and a special area for little kiddos. However, dogs are not allowed. Luckily, there are several dogsitting services around like Northside Pet Services or Happy Tails Pet Sitting. 

Back at the waterpark, you and the kids can rent a cabana and spend the day swimming, sliding, and eating until the kids get worn out. Then, pick up Fido and take him to Craig Park. It has 27 acres of recreational space with several awesome playgrounds for the kids, a few trails, and picnic tables if you want to have a meal. 

Speaking of a meal, if you did not bring food with you, head to Main Street Grille, where your pup can join you on the patio for burgers, pizza, and even adult beverages. 

Terre Haute 

There are so many hotels in Terre Haute that are under $100 a night, and you can stay for more than just a weekend. For example, La Quinta by Wyndham is just $95, and they have free breakfast, an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and huge rooms. The city is pretty well average sized with approximately 58,000 residents running along the Wabash River. 

You can save even more money by taking your fur baby to one (or all) of the free dog parks in Terre Haute. The Vectren Bark Park has shaded seating for pup parents, a separate small dog area, and a water fountain. You can also take him on a hike at Dobbs Park. It has three miles of trails in a 25-acre nature preserve. Just remember to pack lots of doggie cleanup bags and keep your pup on a leash. 

You can afford to spend a few bucks since you saved so much on the room, so take your pup to Bar-Botics where you can play games and drink beer while your pup samples the delicious food. Some of the games include Centipede, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man. 

Summit Lake State Park

In east central Indiana, Summit Lake State Park is a 2,680-acre recreational space near New Castle. This includes an 800-acre lake where you can swim, fish, boat, and hang out all summer long. The park is dog-friendly as long as you keep your fur buddy on a leash and pick up after him. With a mixture of prairie, wetlands, fields, and woods, there is a variety of flora and fauna to see if you are quiet.

In the southwestern corner of the park, the Zeigler Woods Nature Preserve also welcomes leashed dogs and is a great place to do some hiking. There are four named trails for a total of 5.2 miles. Three of them are moderately challenging but the Beach Trail is an easy one-mile walk with a flat surface. You can also camp at one of the 120 campsites. 

Remember to let Fido play off the leash for a while so he can get rid of the zoomies. The Baker Park Bark Park is over an acre and split into two sections for large and small dogs, with water, benches, trees, and waste stations. 


The city of Carmel has almost 100,000 residents and an estimated 15,000 dogs, so you will probably see some of them out and about during your visit. Just north of Indianapolis, the city is within minutes of all the big city amenities and places while still keeping the small-town feel. One of the city’s most popular attractions is Clay Terrace. The dog-friendly outdoor shopping mall has more than 80 stores as well as a dog park. 

Some of the most pup-popular stores include Eddie Bauer, Claire’s, Altar’d State, Lululemon, Old Navy, and American Eagle. The fenced dog area is located behind Kona Grill. It has agility fun for all dogs, including A-frames, ramps, tunnels, and lots of space to run and play fetch. There is also plenty of seating for pup parents, water fountains, waste stations, and shade structures. 

Also, at Clay Terrace, you can grab a bite to eat with your cuddly canine at Bella Pizzeria, Whole Foods Market, Pies & Pints, or one of the other dog-friendly eateries. 

The Final Woof

Indiana boasts about 1,800 vacation rentals that welcome dogs, 1,400 dog-friendly restaurants, 110+ dog parks, three dog beaches, and more than 250 pup-popular trails to explore. For those on a budget, several of the cities have hotel rooms under $100, including Indianapolis and Terre Haute. The city of Carmel has a shopping spree that is dog-friendly at Clay Terrace, with over 80 shops and eateries. For a summer getaway, check out Summit Lake State Park, Bloomington, or Monticello. Take the kiddos and your pup to Santa Claus, Indiana, to visit the huge amusement Park, Holiday World. Finally, couples with dogs will enjoy the quaint bed and breakfast, winery, and horse and carriage rides in Nashville. 

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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