15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Maine

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terrier is posing at the lions gate in ellsworth in a dog friendly vacation in maine

Maine is the easternmost state in the United States, surrounded by Canada, the Gulf of Maine, and New Hampshire. It is one of the smallest states in the US, with a total population of just 68,000 people and an estimated 11,330 dogs. The large coastline on the Atlantic Ocean makes Maine a popular tourist town in the summer when the population can top 300,000. It also means incredibly fresh seafood like lobster and crabs.

It is nicknamed The Pine Tree State and Vacationland for obvious reasons. With more than 30 state parks and hundreds of county, city, and community parks, there are a lot of wooded areas as well as beaches, gardens, and lakes. Baxter State Park is the largest with over 200,000 acres and the famous Mount Katahdin. 

Acadia National Park is also pup-popular, with 160 miles of trails and many places for swimming, fishing, boating, and floating. Being so far into the northeast, the climate is cold in the winter and mild in the summer. The low temps in January range from 10 to 15 degrees F but can reach temperatures below zero as well. Summers are typically in the 80s. Here are our top 15 vacation spots for pet parents in Maine. 


Located in southeastern Maine, Bangor is one of the top three most populated cities with about 31,000 people and 9,000 dogs. Even though it is not on the ocean, it is a popular tourist attraction due to its miles of Penobscot River, several parks, and the Hollywood Casino Hotel. Where else can you do some gambling, go fishing, and get your picture taken with the 31-foot-tall Paul Bunyan? 

Take the time to bring your pooch to Bangor City Forest for a walk around the trees. It has almost 700 acres of wildlife with nine miles of trails. When you are on the main roads and East Trail, your pup has to be on a leash. But on the other trails, he just has to be voice-controlled. Waterfront Park is another fun pooch-popular park with picnic areas and a boardwalk. 

Let your cuddle buddy play off the leash with other fur babies at Bangor Dog Park while you are in town. The Essex Woods Park has lots of room for fetch and several agility stations. 


The number one most populated city is Portland, with almost 70,000 residents and 11,000 dogs. The city is right on the Old Port Waterfront, which is how it got its name. It is also surrounded by the Fore River, Casco Bay, Portland Harbor, Presumpscot River, and Back Cove. With so much water around, it is hard not to want to get out there on it or in it. Jump on Casco Bay Lines to get a view of the islands of Casco Bay where leashed dogs are welcome. 

You can also take a Discovery Land and Sea Tour where you get to tour the historic downtown and lighthouses and see lots of wildlife. Your fur baby can even take a ride on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad at Casco Bay. Another kind of tour you both will enjoy is the Portland Fire Engine Company Tour, where you can visit the cobblestone streets and landmarks. 

Finally, take your canine companion to cool off in the water at East End Beach Off-Leash Area. It is Portland’s only public beach and gets crowded, which is why he is only allowed off the leash before 9 am and after 5 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Old Orchard Beach

Pack up the kiddos and the dog and head to Old Orchard Beach, where you can find Palace Playland. And if you are an outdoorsy people, you can stay at one of the 388 campsites at Paradise Park Resort, just a few minutes away. They even have a pond, pool, playground, and dog park. Another campground called Ne’re Beach is also nearby but only has 57 sites. But you will need to drop off your pooch at a doggie daycare before you hit the park. 

Palace Playland has five acres of fun including 28 rides with three roller coasters and one water ride. The little ones will love the Dizzy Dragon, Dumbo, and Carousel, while the older kids and adults enjoy the Sea Viper, Wipeout, and Riptide. The arcade has over 200 video games, skeeball, and other kid attractions. 

The Memorial Park Dog Park is the perfect place to let your pooch play off the leash after being cooped up all day. They also have a playground for kids.


Sugarloaf Mountain Base Lodge in Kingfield has several pet-friendly resorts, hotels, and motels. Mountain View Motel is just a few miles from the slopes and offers free Wi-Fi, cable, and kitchens. The Inn on Winter’s Hill is dog-friendly and has two restaurants, a bar, free Wi-Fi, and family rooms. The Spillover Motel and Inn welcomes dogs, too and has three restaurants, free Wi-Fi, and family rooms, and it is just seven miles from the ski lifts.

Sugarloaf is the biggest ski resort in the state with 1,360 skiable acres with six terrain parks, 176 runs, a vertical drop of 2,820 feet, and a top elevation of 4,237 feet. However, all the areas are not typically open at the same time due to weather conditions so check in first. Dogs are not allowed on the slopes or lifts. 

Some places to visit with your fur baby include the Narrow Gauge Pathway, Kennebec Valley Trail, and the 5,000-acre Mount Blue State Park. 

Rangeley Lake State Park 

Located in nearby Rangeley, you can find Rangeley State Park. Although it only has 870 acres, which is kind of small for a state park, the lake itself is 6,000 acres. Also, the park is full of trails, camping, fishing, and swimming. The campground has 50 campsites with picnic areas, a boat launch, a playground, showers, a beach, boat rentals, and an RV dumping station. Your pooch is welcome, but he has to stay on a leash at all times. 

While you are there, take your leashed pooch on the trails to see some of the local flora and fauna. The Moose Corridor Trail is about 0.7 miles running from the park entrance to the ranger station. The one-mile Forested Trail runs along the lake from the South Cove boat launch to the campground. 

Always bring baggies for easy cleanup of anything your pup drops. Also, bring extra water for both of you. 


Spend a summer vacation with the kids (including your fur baby) in Ogunquit where they have over two miles of sandy beaches and an amusement park/zoo called York’s Wild Kingdom. First, choose a dog-friendly hotel like The Admiral’s Inn with two pools, a gym, a bar, and a spa with a hot tub and sauna. It is right on the beach, so all you have to do is grab your pup and some doggie bags and walk across the street.

Fido will have to stay behind when you go to York’s Wild Kingdom though because they do not allow dogs. But they have over a dozen rides including go-karts, bumper cars, and a roller coaster as well as mini-golf, a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and a slide. The zoo has a monkey exhibit, pony rides, camel rides, a petting zoo, and wild animals like lions, gators, wallabies, zebras, and more.

When you get back, take your fur puppy to Ogunquit Dog Park, where he can romp around without a leash. They have plenty of seating, shade, and water for pup parents too!

Bar Harbor 

Located on Mount Desert Island with a population of just over 5,000 people, Bar Harbor is a vast area with lots of natural space. It is perfect for a weekend trip with your cuddly canine compadre because the whole area is dog-friendly and has lots of pup-popular hotels and campgrounds. If you want a hotel, there are a dozen that welcome dogs, including the Atlantic Eyrie Lodge, Gallagher’s Travels Motel, Holiday Inn, Bell Isle, The Bayview, and several more.

Take a tour of the island with the Island Explorer Shuttle. They take you through the national park, Jordan Pond House, and other attractions. Or get out on the water with Acadian Nature Cruises for a two-hour tour of Frenchman Bay. Another fun way to see the sea is on the Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines Ferry. See the islands and have an adult beverage while your leashed pooch enjoys the view by your side. 

If you would rather do your own exploring, take a walk along the Bar Harbor Shore Path with your leashed fur baby. The path goes from Frenchman Bay to Wayman Lane East Shore.


Home to Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine and second-largest in New England with a surface area of 75,451 acres. It is 40 miles long and 10 miles across, with more than 400 miles of shoreland. It is the best city in the whole state if you want to spend a vacation on the lake. The town itself is not large, with only 1,500 residents and an estimated 250 fur babies. But it has some incredible spots to fish, swim, go boating, and just hang out at the waterfront.

If you want to camp, the Moosehead Campground has 30+ sites for RVs and tents and Moose Creek RV Resort has 130 RV and tent sites with a pool, playground, and dog park. Or you can stay indoors at Moose Mountain Inn or Leisure Life Resort. The lake is full of beaches, parks, and recreational areas as well as restaurants, bars, and shops. 

Always keep your fur buddy on a leash, and make sure you ask before bringing him into any establishment. 

Baxter State Park 

In central northern Main, Baxter State Park is a dog-friendly recreational space with over 209,000 acres of parkland donated by Percival Baxter, which is where the park got its name. The park contains the tallest point in the state, Mount Katahdin, which means Great Mountain. It is home to many wild animals like black bears, moose, and deer, as well as bobcats, lynx, and coyotes. You may even see a wolf or two. However, that is why it is important to keep your pup on a short leash. 

One part of the land you should not miss is the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument. It is a great place for hiking. The park has over 220 miles of trails including 13 easy trails with less than five miles each. The easiest is the Caverly Pond Trail, which is only about a third of a mile. For something a little longer, try the Abol Stream Trail, which is about 2.5 miles long. 

If you want a challenge, try the 6.3-mile Chimney Pond Trail or the 5.6-mile Howe Brook Trail. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and doggie bags.


If you want to save some money, getting an affordable hotel will give you extra money to spend on more important things. Wells has several dog-friendly hotels with rooms starting at under $100. The Ne’r Beach Motel is only $80 and has a pool, free Wi-Fi, and family rooms. The Beach Rose Inn has a fridge in each room as well as room service and free Wi-Fi for $90. Holiday Inn has an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, a gym, and a free breakfast for $95!

If you are visiting during the summer, take your pooch to the beach after 6 p.m., where he can dig in the sand and play in the surf. After September 15th, he is allowed on the beaches anytime. The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Area is a great free place to take Fido. You can hike the one-mile Carson Trail, do some kayaking, or check out the tide pools.  

Afterward, take your cuddle buddy to the Rollover Cafe for some sandwiches or to Gravy, where they have several outdoor areas to enjoy some poutine and chicken. 


Skl enthusiasts flock to Bethel during Maine’s long winters, so make sure you book a room way in advance for Fido and you. The Snow Cap Inn is within walking distance of the slopes and has a golf course, hot tub, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi. The Bethel Inn Resort is just a few minutes from the ski lifts, and they have a restaurant, spa, bar, and free breakfast. Sunday River has 139 slopes on 884 acres with 53 miles of trails, 19 lifts, and a vertical drop of 2,340 feet.

Although dogs are not allowed on the ski trails at Sunday River, they are welcome on the skijoring trails. Even if your dog is not a skijoring type, you and your fur buddy can get a snow dog ride from the professionals on a Maine Dog Sled Trip. 

Another great dog-bonding experience you can share with your pup is Valentine Farm. They have several dog-friendly trails where you can do some snowshoeing or just take a walk. 

Sandy Pines 

In the southwestern corner of Maine along the coast, the Sandy Pines Campground is dog-friendly and has a variety of different experiences for those who enjoy camping. It is located in Kennebunkport, which is a small resort town with 3,600 residents and approximately 600 dogs. The Sandy Pines Campground has over 175 campsites for RVs and tents. Some have electricity and water while others have no hookups. 

However, all of the sites have picnic tables, a fire ring, and either a tent pad or RV plat. The park also has a pool, lodge, general store, pump station, playground, volleyball, badminton, and restrooms with hot showers. You can also explore the trail and visit the beach. However, you will need to keep your pooch on a leash. 

Dogs are not allowed in the pool, general store, or lodge area and you will need to keep him off the playground equipment and out of the volleyball and badminton areas when someone is playing. And always bring doggie bags to pick up after your pup. 


Located right next to Kennebunkport, Kennebunk is a favorite for couples with dogs because of its small-town charm, historic homes, and sandy beaches. It also has an adorable bed and breakfast called the Waldo Emerson Inn. Each of the five rooms has its own name and distinctive decor but they all have a wardrobe, comfy bed, and garden view. You will also enjoy a free delicious breakfast, room service, and a bar.

For something unique and special to enjoy with your two best friends, take them on a whale watch. The First Chance Whale Watch is dog-friendly and takes you out on a 1.5-hour boat ride to see whales and learn about lobstering. Then, stop by Gooch’s Beach or Mother’s Beach anytime after 6 p.m. for a romantic walk in the sand. 

After, take your poochie to Kennebunk Dog Park so he can be a dog with the other pups. He can run around off the leash or enjoy a game of fetch with you.


Funtown Splashtown USA is another fantastic amusement park that the family will love. This one is in Saco, just a few minutes northwest of Old Orchard Beach. So, if you want to, you can visit both of these incredible places during your visit. Funtown is more of a water park with 20 waterslides and two pools. But it also has 25 amusement park rides including two roller coasters, a log flume, and a drop tower called Dragon’s Descent.

If that is not enough fun for you, there is a second waterpark in Saco. Aquaboggan Water Park has waterslides, wave pools, bumper boats, and other water rides to enjoy. They also have go-karts and mini-golf. Be sure to stop and grab your pup to take him to Saco Dog Park between water parks. The off-leash park is fun and good exercise. 

End the evening with a drive-in movie for all. The Saco Drive-In Theater is dog-friendly and offers two movies almost every night during the summer. 

Acadia National Park 

Acadia National Park is a dog-friendly park with almost 50,000 acres of recreational Space near Bar Harbor. There are mountains, ponds, lakes, woods, and even oceanfront space to enjoy with your leashed canine companion. The best thing for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts is that the park has over 300 trails, with 248 being pet-friendly. One of the shortest and easiest is the half-acre Cadillac Summit Loop Trail. It is mostly paved but a little bit bumpy in spots.

If you want something a little longer but still easy, the six-mile-long Eagle Lake Carriage Road is a crushed gravel path around the lake. The Gorham Mountain Trail is a little more challenging with steep climbing in spots. You will get some incredible views of the ocean on this three-mile trip. For something really challenging, try the 5.7-mile Penobscot Mountain and Bubbles Loop. 

If you plan to try a challenging hike, make sure you are both up for it, and be sure to bring plenty of water. 

The Final Woof

Maine has nearly 4,000 vacation properties that welcome pets, 585 dog-friendly restaurants, 30 dog parks, and 20 dog beaches. We listed our top 15 vacation spots above. If you are interested in camping or hiking, check out Rangeley Lake State Park, Baxter State Park, Sandy Pines Campground, or Acadia National Park. For some family fun, Old Orchard Beach has Palace Playland and Saco has Funtown Splashtown USA and Aquaboggan Water Park. If it is romance you are looking for, Kennebunk has a cozy bed and breakfast, boat tours, and beaches to explore. Try Kingfield or Bethel for winter fun and Portland or Ongunquit for a summer trip.

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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