15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Maryland

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terrier is feeling joyful at ocean city in a dog friendly vacation in maryland

You will find the small state of Maryland in the northeast section of the United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Virginia. It is one of the smallest states at just over 12,000 square miles with a population of 6.1 million, making it one of the most densely populated. 

Also known as the Old Line State because of the Maryland 400 Regiment, which protected the line from the British forces in 1776, the historic state was named after Henrietta Maria, the Queen of Ireland, Scotland, and England. Although it was settled in the 1500s, it was not admitted to the Union until 1788. 

Today, the state is one of the most diverse places with a varied topography of mountains, pine groves, oak forests, marshlands, and dunes as well as beaches. It has six national parks, 76 state parks, eight state forests, 24 county parks, and over 100 city and community parks. It is cold in winter and hot in summer so you can enjoy both snow and water sports here. These are our top 15 dog-friendly vacation spots in Maryland.


As the largest and most populated city in Maryland, Baltimore boasts more than 585,000 residents and close to 100,000 dogs. It is located in north-central Maryland on the Patapsco River, which leads to the Chesapeake Bay. With 10 hotels featuring rooms under $100, you will have no trouble finding a place to sleep that will not break your bank. In fact, the Hampton Inn has a swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, a gym, free breakfast, and free shuttle service. 

If you want to get out on the water, you don’t have to leave Fido behind. Cruises on the Bay by Watermark Baltimore welcomes leashed pups on many of their cruises, including the City Lights Cruise, Music Cruise, and Fireworks Cruise. Or try a Wine and Cheese Sail with SeaAffinity Boat Tours. 

Then, take your best bud to Bark Social Dog Social Club Park. Your cuddle buddy can join you while you enjoy an adult beverage and some food. No leashes are needed, and he is welcome inside and out. They even have doggie ice cream and pup-sicles.

Ocean City 

Pack up the kids and the dog and head to Ocean City this summer for a beach vacation with an amusement park. No, make that two amusement parks! Yes, there are two large amusement parks with rides, games, and carnival food right on the island within a mile of each other. Trimper Rides is the smaller of the two, located on the southern tip of the island. It is mainly for young children under 12 years old. 

Jolly Roger Amusement Park is in the middle of the island along the boardwalk. It lauds 43 rides including four roller coasters and 18 water rides. There is a ferris wheel, bumper cars, and carousel as well as thrill rides like the Slingshot, Drop & Twist, Freestyle 360, and the Kraken. You will also find arcade games where you can win prizes and delicious carnival food. 

Since your fur baby is not allowed in the amusement parks, you can take him to Ocean City Beach afterward to play on the beach and in the water. He will have to stay on the leash though. 


Annapolis is the capital of Maryland located right on Chesapeake Bay and surrounded by Weems Creek, Severn River, College Creek, and South River. This is the perfect spot to take Fido for a summer vacation because they have their own dog beach. Quiet Waters Park Dog Beach has 340 acres of space with a sandy beach just for canine companions. They have to keep the leash on unless they are inside the Dog Park area though. 

A little bit further up the sand, there is another dog beach at Downs Park. This one is leash-free and very shallow, perfect for newbies. It is located in the northeastern corner of the park by the pond and picnic areas. Then, take Fido on a Haunted Harbor Tour, where you and your pup can join the Maiden Voyage Walking Tour. Learn all the spooky history and interesting tales. 

After, stop at the first doggie ice cream bar in Annapolis. Salty Paws serves lactose-free ice cream and baked goods in flavors like maple bacon, vanilla, and pumpkin. 

Catoctin Mountain National Park 

Pack up your RV or toss your tent in the trunk and head for Thurmont with your pooch for a camping trip at Catoctin Mountain National Park. With 6,200 acres that include the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as Cunningham Falls State Park and Monocacy Valley, there is so much to do here you will need to stay for a week. Cunningham has the most campsites with 142 spots for tents and RVs. 

The Owens Creek Campground in the Catoctin Mountain National Park has 50 basic tent sites with water, restrooms, and showers. And the Ole Mink Farm nearby has 80+ sites that include a playground, cornhole, game room, fishing pond, pool, and even a dog park! There are also a number of cottages and cabins in the area that allow pups. 

Pack plenty of bags and water so you and Fido can go explore the 25 miles of trails. There are 16 trails in all, from the easy half-mile Charcoal Trail to the strenuous 3.9-mile Gateway Trail. 


With a population of 68,000 humans and an estimated 11,000 dogs, Bethesda is an awesome place to visit with your pup. After all, with that many fur babies, they have to have some fun for dogs and their humans. If you like to hike, you are in luck because there are over a dozen trails that are dog-friendly in this small town. First of all, the Bethesda Trolley Trail is four miles from Edson Lane to Old Georgetown Road and Charles Street. 

Another fun hike, the Rock Creek Trail, has 16 miles of hiking from Beach Drive (at Washington, D.C.) to Needwood Lake Circle at Rock Creek Regional Park. The winding path goes mostly through Rock Creek Regional Park from Needwood Lake to the Washington, D.C. border. 

After working up a thirst, take Fido to Bark Social on Prose Street, where you can enjoy a cold beer while he plays with the other fur babies. There is an inside play area where he can play if the weather is not good, and you can choose from over 20 beers. There is also a fantastic dog park at Cabin John Regional Park that has its own trail as well as climbing structures. 

Garrett-Potomac State Forest 

Located in the northwestern corner of the state, Garrett-Potomac State Forest is found in Oakland, Maryland. Between the Garrett and Potomac Forests, there are 19,577 acres of woods, waters, and wildlife to explore with your cuddly buddy. During the winter, there are lots of trails with cross-country skiing that are perfect for you and your pooch if he likes the cold and snow. In fact, he can even pull you so you can do some skijoring if he is up to it. 

You can also use the trails for snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and sledding. There are cranberry bogs, beaver ponds, and some awesome views along the 40 miles of trails. You will need to bring doggie bags to pick up anything your pup drops and extra water for both of you. There is also what they call a Kindness Demonstration Area, which is 387 acres of modern forest management techniques for the public. 

To let your dog run off-leash for a while, take him to Oakland Dog Park. The large fenced pooch playground has a small dog area as well as gym equipment like ramps, pedestals, hoops, tunnels, and more. 


The city of Frederick has just over 78,100 residents with about 13,000 fur babies in the northern section of Maryland where the Catoctin Mountains meet the Piedmont Hills. Gambrill State Park is also in Frederick and features 16 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. The White Oak Trail and Red Maple Trail are both just one mile each and are easy to enjoy. The 28-mile Catoctin National Recreation Trail is the most difficult, with lots of steep climbing and rough terrain. 

If you want to take Fido shopping with you, there are quite a few dog-friendly shops like the Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts, Rock & Roll Graveyard, Fetch Thrift Shop, and Sky’s The Limit. There are also several breweries in town that welcome dogs like Flying Dog Brewery, Idiom Brewing Company, Attaboy Beer, Monocacy Brewing, and Steinhardt Brewing Company.

The city also has three off-leash dog parks including Ballenger Creek Dog Park with four acres and trails, Othello Regional Dog Park with one acre and a walkway, and the Urbana Dog Park with one acre and space for all dogs. 


The city of Swanton may be tiny but it has an incredible natural resource for everyone to enjoy called South Savage Mountain National Area. Between the Savage River Reservoir and Big Savage Mountain, there are about 2,000 acres of rugged rural space. You will not find any fancy campgrounds, marked trails, or restrooms here. This is wildlife undisturbed and ready to be explored by careful people who love nature. 

Also in Swanton, Deep Creek Lake State Park has 1,800 acres with a 3,900-acre lake to enjoy. You can fish from shore or the docks for pike, perch, walleye, bass, and trout. Just be sure to have a fishing license. You will also find seven nice trails around the lake where you and your pup can explore.

You will have to keep your pooch on a short leash at all times here. The woods are home to black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, deer, and the rare Appalachian cottontail rabbit. Remember to pack plenty of doggie bags and use them. 


One of the most populated cities in Maryland, Germantown has over 91,000 residents with about 15,000 dogs so there is plenty to do for everyone here. Probably the most important place for your pup and pup parent getaway is Black Hill Regional Park. Not only does it have over 2,000 acres of recreational space but it also has a lake, trails, and a dog park. The fenced area for pooches has a half-acre where he can run off the leash with other fur babies. 

Another fun place to visit with a dog park is Ridge Road Recreational Park. It has a fenced pup play area just like the other one for dogs to just be dogs. The park also has baseball, basketball, volleyball, hockey, inline skating, soccer, football, tennis, and playgrounds. Bring some food, and you can also have a picnic there!

After working up an appetite, take your cuddly canine companion to Picca Pollo A La Brasa or Sabai Sabai Simply Thai for some food. There is also a Moby Dick House of Kabob, Jersey Mike’s Subs, and Five Guys there. 


Looking for a great place to take the family this summer? In the middle of Maryland, you can find Six Flags America in the small town of Woodmore. There are 43 rides to enjoy, including eight kiddie rides, 11 thrill rides, eight roller coasters, and 16 water rides. They even have 20 places to eat and drink, nine shops for souvenirs, several shows, and many other entertainment experiences. 

Although your pup cannot join you at the park, you can leave him with one of the fun doggie daycare spots in the area. Dogtopia has spacious indoor play spaces as well as an outdoor park for your pooch to play unleashed with the other pups. If he is not too worn out, take him to Bowie Dog Park after you pick him up. The one-acre fenced park is fun for all sizes. 

Everyone will probably be hungry by then, so take them to DC Charcoal Chicken, Panera Bread, or Chipotle Mexican Grill. They all have pup-friendly outdoor seating. 

Havre de Grace 

What makes a city romantic? Small town charm? A cozy bed ‘N’ breakfast? A beautiful park to explore? Havre de Grace has all of those and more. The Vandiver Inn is a boutique motel in a historic mansion with unique rooms that have their own names. The O’Neill on the first floor is pet-friendly and has a fireplace, porch, and garden. The Cockburn is also dog-friendly and has a fridge, microwave, and daybed.

The tiny town only has 12,000 residents and is located between the Chesapeake Bay and Susquehanna River. In fact, it was named one of the 20 Best Small US Towns to Visit by the Smithsonian Magazine. Share a quaint picnic on the banks of the river at Susquehanna State Park with your sweety and your pooch. Then, stop at K-9 Cody Dog Park to let your pup run around for a while. 

Finally, wrap up the night with a drive-in movie. Bengie’s Drive-In Theatre is pup popular and shows double features every weekend. They even have a snack bar with food, beverages, and souvenirs.

North East 

Another small town, North East, only has 3,570 residents, and it is a tiny place in the northeastern corner of the state. What makes it so special is that it is located in Elk Neck Lake State Forest, which is a 3,300-acre wooded area with marshlands, rolling hills, and thick forests. Plum Creek and Plum Creek Pond are just two of the water features to enjoy in the forest, along with many more unnamed bodies of water. 

The forest is separated into four tracts of land set out for fishing, hiking, riding horses, hunting, camping, swimming, picnicking, and biking. There are several campgrounds with more than 250 sites but be sure to reserve it in advance. Take your two best friends on a walk along the shore to see the Turkey Point Lighthouse while you are there. 

In fact, there are five trails from the easy 1.5-mile Lighthouse Trail to the difficult 3.1-mile White Banks Trail. You can take one of the trails or drive to the beach area for swimming, fishing, boating, and picnicking too. 


What is so awesome about Berlin is its amusement park with its own dog-friendly campground. Sure, Berlin is a nice little town of 4,485 people in southeastern Maryland, but Frontier Town is the main attraction for families with kids of all ages. First of all, there are more than 600 campsites to choose from and they are all set in this Old West town to make it the largest and most unique wild western experience in the world. 

You can ride a stagecoach or let the kids ride the ponies, pan for gold, or even watch a bank holdup or jailbreak. There is also Native American dancing, old-style eateries, and saloons. But that’s not all. They have a water park, mini-golf, a marina, trails, a swimming pool, a ropes course, an arcade full of fun games and prizes, jet ski and boat rentals, and other daily activities.

Another thing Berlin has is the Assateague National Seashore, which is dog-friendly for leashed dogs. You can swim, play in the sand, or just hang out and watch the boats. 

Wolf Den Run State Park

Pack up your pup and spend a weekend together in Kitzmiller, Maryland, where you can find Wolf Den Run State Park. The city itself is no more than a spot on a map with just 321 residents but that is because there is because it is just the closest town to Wolf Den Run State Park. The park has 2,039 acres for hunting, ORV riding, birdwatching, fishing, biking, and hiking. There is a large expanse of trails you and your pooch can explore as well as three miles of river.  

Camping is available here but limited. They have 10 primitive sites with tables and fire rings. You do have to reserve a spot way in advance. The Potomac River offers lots of fishing, swimming, boating, and floating opportunities for a weekend visit. 

Be sure to pack your fishing gear and get a Maryland fishing license because there are three brook trout streams that are well-known for their awesome fishing opportunities. Also, pack plenty of doggie bags to pick up after your pup.

Greenbelt Park 

If you really want to camp with your cuddle buddy, get the RV ready or pack your camping gear, and head to Greenbelt in southwestern Maryland. The city only has about 25,000 people and approximately 4,100 dogs but you will probably see some of them at Greenbelt Park, which is the largest park in the area. The park has 1,176 acres and is only 10 miles from Washington, D.C. so if you want to see the nation’s capital, you can get there in minutes.   

The park has 172 campsites open all year long. Each site has a tent pad or RV slab, picnic table, and fire pit, as well as restrooms with hot showers and potable water.  You can reserve your space in advance, and it is advisable to do so. However, there are other campgrounds nearby, including the KOA DC/Capitol Campground with 115 sites, and the Duncan’s Family Campground in Lothian with 265 sites. 

Don’t miss the Greenbelt Dog Park while you are in town! This fantastic fenced play area has a bunch of agility equipment and toys as well as benches, water, and waste stations. 

The Final Woof

Maryland has a lot to offer pups and pup parents, including more than 2,200 dog-friendly vacation rentals, over 1,200 pet-popular restaurants, 52 dog parks, and nine dog beaches. If you are on a budget, Baltimore has lots of different hotels with rooms starting under $100. And if you are bringing the kids, Ocean City has two amusement parks and a beach, Woodmoor has Six Flags America, while Berlin has Frontier Town Park with dog-friendly camping. For a romantic trip at a cozy bed and breakfast, check out Havre de Grace. Those who like to camp and hike would be happy at Greenbelt Park, Frederick, Bethesda, or Catoctin National Park. 

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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