15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Michigan

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dogs are feeling happy at the tahquamenon falls state park in paradise in a dog friendly vacation in michigan

Located in the upper midwestern section of the United States, Michigan is split into two sections. The upper peninsula is connected to Lake Superior, Wisconsin, and Lake Michigan, and the lower peninsula is surrounded by Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Indiana, and Ohio. With so much water around it, Michigan is one of the most popular states for fishing, boating, and swimming. That is also how it got the nickname, the Great Lake State.

The state also has more than 64,000 lakes and ponds, so even in the middle of the state, you can find some water to enjoy. The winters are cold, with temps in the teens and lots of snow, while summers tend to be relatively hot. The lakes make a big impact on the temperatures and the snowfall, with an average of 35 inches of precipitation annually. 

With a population of more than 10.1 million people and 1.6 million dogs, the state has plenty to offer any pup parent. There are more than 5,400 dog-friendly vacation properties, almost 2,000 pup-popular eateries, 120+ dog parks, and 35 dog beaches. Here are our top 15 choices for dog lovers for vacations in Michigan.  


You will find plenty of dog-friendly activities in Detroit, which is in the southeastern corner of the state, perfect for a vacation getaway. It is the largest city in Michigan and has a population of 640,000 people and around 106,000 fur babies. It has the most dog parks in the state too including Grand Circus Dog Park, which has all sorts of events like Canine Karaoke and Doggy Prom. If you want to drink beer while your pup plays, take him to Barkside, the off-leash dog park beer garden. 

The city also has beaches along the river and lake, including Belle Isle Beach on Belle Isle. It is not a dog beach, so he has to stay on a leash, but it is a dog-friendly space where your leashed pup can play and swim. For something different, take your pup on a scavenger hunt. Detroit’s Roll Through Motor City Scavenger Hunt Tour is pup popular and a lot of fun. 

You can even take your pup shopping with you at the Mall at Partridge Creek. They have lots of dog-friendly shops and four doggie relief stations. 

Grand Rapids 

Looking for a nice affordable place to stay with your fur baby? Grand Rapids has more than 10 dog-friendly hotels that start at under $100 including the Country Inn, Comfort Suites, Baymont by Wyndham, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, and Sheraton Inn, which all have swimming pools too! Saving all that money means you can take your pooch out to dinner at one of the 85 pet-friendly eating establishments in Grand Rapids. 

The Sundance Grill & Bar, Tupelo Honey, and Electric Cheetah are just a few of the places where Fido can join you for a meal. Then, take your pooch to one of the four off-leash dog parks like the Downtown Westside Dog Park. This colorful place has a multicolored fire hydrant, yellow ramp, and blue tunnels to play with and benches and baggies for the pup parents. 

If that park is too busy, try Hillcrest Dog Park in Fuller Park. It has a fenced off-leash park, and the rest of the park is leash-free, too. 


It is not a huge place, but Manistee is a wonderful place to have a lake vacation with your cuddly buddy. It is located on the northeastern part of Lake Michigan and has a gorgeous stretch of beach from one end of town to the other. With only 6,260 residents and an estimated 1,000 dogs, you will probably see them out and about, especially during the summer. 

When the locals say they are taking their fur baby to the dog beach, you will likely find them at Douglas Recreation Area Beach, also known as First Street Beach since it is at the end of First Street. Dogs are welcome to dig in the sand and swim in the water but they have to be on a leash until you get them into the fenced dog park area. 

You can also take your fur puppy on the Manistee Riverwalk, where leashed dogs are welcome all the time. Just make sure he is on a leash and you can walk along the water while learning more about the area. 

Silver Lake State Park 

Silver Lake State Park is the perfect weekend getaway for you and your fur baby because it has nearly 3,000 acres of sand between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan. In fact, there are more than three miles of waterfront for you and your pooch to play in, whether you are swimming, sunbathing, fishing, or just sticking your toes in the sand. Your pup will have to stay on his leash but there is still plenty of fun to be had here. 

If you and your fur puppy want to go off-road, Silver Lake Buggy Rentals has dog-friendly buggies you can rent for some fun in the dunes. Be sure to pack plenty of doggie bags and water. Don’t forget to bring some goggles for your cuddly canine so the sand does not get in his eyes. 

Let your fur puppy get out and play off the leash for a while at the Bark Park in Shelby just a few minutes from the dunes. The agility course here is awesome with ramps, an A-frame, tunnels, and jumps as well as weave poles, pedestals, and platforms. 

Traverse City 

In the northwestern corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan, Traverse City is a pup-loving place to live, according to the 153,000 people and 25,000 dogs living there. Although there are over a dozen hotels that allow dogs, camping under the stars is a nice way of getting back to nature. One of the top campgrounds around is Timber Ridge Resort and it has over 400 campsites for RVs, tents, yurts, and cabins.

Traverse City KOA is also pup popular and they have 125 sites. However, they also have a dog park as well as a train station, gem mining, mini golf, pool, a gaga ball pit, a playground, and much more. Ranch Rudolf is the other campground and it has 195 acres but only 25 campsites. That is because they also have a large hotel and cabins as well as horses and trails.

Be sure to take Fido to Mission Point Lighthouse while you are in the area. He has to stay on a leash, but there is even a place to swim.  

Mackinac Island 

What better place for a romantic getaway than an island? On Mackinac Island in Michigan, you can get one of the most luxurious rooms at the Mission Point Resort with their Sunrise Side Bed & Breakfast Package. It includes a free breakfast, ferry tickets, and admission to the Mackinac Art Museum. Your pup will have to stay in the room for some of these but he gets his own special bed, bowls, and treats, too!

Then, go pick up your pup and you can all take a romantic horse and carriage Tour around the island. Or, if you are more adventurous, take a kayak tour with Great Turtle Kayak around the bay. Afterward, take your pooch and your partner to Little Luxuries, where dogs are always welcome. They have jewelry, clothing, and food, as well as flowers and other items. +

Finally, let your two best friends cool their feet (paws) in the water at Windermere Point. The current is too strong for swimming, but wading is fine. 

Manistee National Forest 

Both hikers and backpackers love this forest because it has over 100 trails and hikes to explore. If you are just interested in a day hike for beginners, the 1.1-mile long Bowman Lake Trail is short, easy, and lets you enjoy the beauty of this stunning lake. The Silver Creek Pathway is also easy with 4.4 miles along the Pine River. 

For something a little more difficult, the Manistee River Loop Trail is just over 19 miles and takes about seven hours to complete, so it is considered a backpacking trail. There is a waterfall, suspension bridge, and lots of hills and valleys, creeks and lakes. The campsites are dispersed so you can choose one near the river at the halfway point. But make sure you are in the high and dry areas, especially if rain is in the forecast.

Let your pupster run around leashless with the other pups at Brutus Dog Park in Big Rapids. They have a special small dog section, agility equipment, and lots of seating for pup parents. 

Auburn Hills 

In the southeastern section of the lower peninsula of Michigan, you will find the small city of Auburn Hills. You may have never heard of it but once you visit there with your family, it may become your favorite vacation place from now on. That is mainly because of the Legoland Discovery Centre. You can go on a chariot to Kingdom Quest, become Merlin’s Apprentice, or watch a movie in 4D.

Legoland does not allow dogs, though, so your fur baby will have to stay at a doggie daycare like Pet Pals in Waterford or Camp Bow Wow in Clarkston. They both have fun things to do like outdoor play, walks, and personal attention. After you finish at Legoland, you can shop or eat at Great Lakes Crossing Mall, where the indoor park is located. There is even a Peppa Pig World of Play for the little ones.   

After picking up your pup, take him to Orion Oaks Dog Park where they have a dog dock for swimmers and a fenced area with a small dog space, trails, a picnic area, and a lake.


Being on Lake Michigan is reason enough for a lake vacation, but it also has Kalamazoo Lake for those who want to get away from the crowds. The town is small, with just under 900 residents, but it has a lot to offer pet parents. First, the Starlight Resort is a beautiful place with dog-friendly rooms and it even has a pool. That is good for those who do not like to swim in the lake. 

You can choose between Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo Lake but why not visit both? They both have dog-friendly beaches where you and Fido can catch some sun and play in the water. The Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area is another place your pup is welcome so you can enjoy the Kalamazoo River and Oxbow Lagoon as well! Don’t let your pup swim in the lagoon though.

Finally, stop by the Tails N Trails Dog Park, where there are six acres of fenced off-leash space for your pooch. They even have a small dog area for dogs with big-dog anxiety.

Highland Recreational Area 

Located in White Lake, the Highland Recreational Area is perfect for couples with dogs. If you want to stay in a cozy bed & breakfast, they have several of those to choose from. Or you can camp at the park. There are two campgrounds as well as Tentrr safari tents, cabins, and a lodge. The 5,900-acre park has 10 lakes for swimming, fishing, and boating as well as a designated swim beach for humans only. 

The park also has dog trial areas where you can test your pup’s ability to hunt or just watch the other fur babies show off their skills. The whole park is dog-friendly but there are also some off-leash areas that are marked in certain places. In addition, there are 44 miles of trails, an RC plane flying field, and picnic areas as well as playgrounds for the little humans. 

Just outside the park, there are several off-leash parks like the Milford Dog Park. It is a newly built recreation area with lots of grassy space, waste stations with baggies, water fountains, and trails. 

Ann Arbor 

If you are on a tight budget, Ann Arbor has more than a dozen hotels with rooms under $100 that allow fur babies, including the Quality Inn and Suites on Highway 23, where they even have a pool. In such a big city with over 130,000 residents and about 21,000 dogs, you expect to see lots of pet-friendly places. And you will not be disappointed here, where your pup is allowed at more than 80 restaurants, a dozen parks, and six hiking trails. 

Gallup Park on the Huron River is one of the favorites because you can take your pooch out on the river in a kayak or canoe, enjoy a picnic, or walk around the 69 acres to see the flora and fauna. There are also several dog parks for off-leash play including Olson Park and at the Argo Nature Area of Broadway Park.

For some cheap eats that are also delicious, stop in at Fleetwood Diner on Ashley Street. They are open 24 hours and serve everything from steak gyros to omelets for under $10.  

South Haven

It seems that the people of South Haven are all dog lovers because their downtown area is full of pup popular places where your pup can join you. The Old Harbor Inn area has a variety of dog-friendly shops like Shooting Star, Rambling Rose, Harbor Toy Company, Flamingo Island, Gliks, and dozens more. Even the restaurants here love pooches, but only if they have an outdoor eating area (because of USDA laws). 

You can also take Fido to Black River Preserve, where you can both explore the 3.8-mile trail along the river or the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, where you can play at the beach or walk the short trail. Then, take your cuddle buddy to South Haven Bark Park, where he can romp and run amok without a leash. There are hoops to jump through, tunnels to run through, and ramps to run over. 

Need a glass of wine? Your pup can join you at Cogdal Vineyard’s Little Man Wintery. They have a variety of homemade wines to try. 

Hiawatha National Forest

With shores on three of the Great Lakes, the Hiawatha National Forest is the absolute best lake vacation you can find in the Midwest. It has 894,836 acres of recreational space in the upper peninsula along Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. If three giant lakes are not enough for you, the forest is divided into six different wilderness areas and has five National Wild and Scenic Rivers, including Whitefish, Tahquamenon, Sturgeon, Indian, and Carp Rivers. 

If you don’t want to stay in a hotel, you are in luck because the forest has 26 different campgrounds with over 500 campsites to choose from. There are rustic sites with pit toilets, basic sites with restrooms and water, and luxury RV sites with showers, playgrounds, and picnic areas. In the surrounding areas, you will find waterfalls, beaches, boat launches, parks, and over 1,000 miles of trails. 

Be sure to visit the Kitch-iti-kipi. It is the largest natural spring in the state, is 200 feet around and 42 feet deep. You can even ride a raft across the water. 


If you are bringing kids, you should not pass up a chance to visit Michigan’s Adventure and Wildwater Adventure Park in Muskegon. It has 250 acres of fun and excitement all summer long and is the biggest amusement park in Michigan. There are 37 rides with seven roller coasters and four water rides to enjoy here, from a tame carousel for little kids to thrilling drop towers for the older crowd. 

The Wildwater Adventure Park is another park, but it is included in the price of the ticket to Michigan’s Adventure, so you get two for the price of one! Since Fido is not allowed in the park, drop him off at Dog Star Ranch, where he can play with other pooches while you are out playing with the kids. He will get to run around outside, play on agility equipment, and even get a trip to the park. 

Afterward, take Fido to Kruse Park Dog Beach, where he can swim and play if he is not already worn out from playing at the Dog Star Ranch. Here, you can all get wet and have a barbecue or picnic.

Crystal Mountain 

Ready to hit the slopes? Whether you want to travel down the hills on a sled, skiboard, or some skis, Crystal Mountain is the place to go in Michigan. First, you can get a luxurious hotel room at Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa. It has a spa, wellness center, two pools, and a restaurant. Your pup will have to stay in the room while you are on the slopes because he is not allowed to ski with you. However, he is allowed to go on the snowshoe trails and disc golf course.

The resort has eight lifts and 59 runs in three terrain parks on 100+ acres of snowy land. You can try any of the trails, depending on your skill level, because they have something for everyone from beginners to experts. There are even some fat tire bike trails and cross-country trails for those who would rather do that. 

If you like art, take your pup to Michigan Legacy Art Park where leashed dogs are always welcome. They have more than 50 sculptures to enjoy. 

The Final Woof

Whether you are visiting in the summer, winter, spring, or fall, Michigan has something for everyone during every season. Pups included! If you just want to get away from it all, Silver Lake State Park has almost 3,000 acres of sand and three miles of beach. For a romantic trip, Mackinac Island has a bed & breakfast package for lovers. Those on a tight budget can benefit from Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor’s affordable hotel rooms. Outdoor enthusiasts can try Traverse City for camping and Manistee National Forest for hiking. And families with kids will love Auburn Hills Legoland and the Michigan Adventure Park in Muskegon.

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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