15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in New Jersey

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dogs are having fun at the diamond spring brewing company in benville in a dog friendly vacation in new jersey

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, with 9.3 million people within 8,723 square miles giving it 1,263 people per square mile. It also has an estimated 1.5 million fur babies, making it one of the most pup-popular states in the US. It is located in the northeast, surrounded by New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Also known as the Diner Capital of the World, the state has more than 600 diners, more than any other place in the world. And many of these are dog-friendly. In fact, there are over 2,000 pet-friendly restaurants in New Jersey, so you will not have any trouble finding a place to eat. Most restaurants that have an outdoor seating area allow dogs. 

You will have plenty of places to stay, too, because the state has 2,900+ rental properties, including 300 hotels, motels, and resorts, as well as 75 campgrounds for nature lovers. Your pooch will love that there are over 100 off-leash dog parks and 25 dog beaches, too. Here are our top 15 choices for a dog-friendly vacation in New Jersey

Jersey City getaway

Jersey City is the second most populated city in New Jersey with close to 300,000 people and over 90,000 dogs. The city boasts over 40 dog-friendly vacation rentals too so you will have no trouble finding a spot for your getaway. There is so much to do in this city, you may need to extend your getaway. You can leave Fido at doggie daycare and visit the Liberty Science Center, Ellis Island, or the Statue of Liberty. 

Or, take your pooch with you to Liberty State Park where you can go fishing or crabbing to catch something for dinner, take a boat ride or ferry service to get out on the water, have a picnic along the coast, or visit the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial. But if your pooch needs to run off some excess energy, take him to one of the seven dog parks where he can play off the leash.

Afterward, enjoy a cold hand-crafted brew while your pupster enjoys a treat at 902 Brewing Company. They often have events and food trucks, too!

Manasquan weekend getaway

In the middle of New Jersey along the Atlantic Ocean between Point Pleasant Beach and Sea Girt, Manasquan is a wonderful place to spend a few days with your pooch. The best thing about the city, according to pups is the dog beach at Asbury Park. It runs from the Fisherman’s Parking Lot to the Deal Lake Drive entrance. Your pup is allowed off the leash from 6 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. from mid-May to mid-September. The rest of the year, your pup is welcome any time of the day.   

Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area is another dog-friendly recreational space to enjoy and your cuddle buddy is welcome all year long at the eastern end of the beach. However, you have to keep him on a leash and bring cleanup bags to pick up after him. The 55-acre park is also a great place for fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. 

Take your canine companion to get some new dog toys, treats, or food at The Hungry Puppy. They even have a dog park outside with all sorts of agility toys to play on. 

Seaside Park summer

If you are looking for a fun place to spend the summer with your pooch, Seaside Park is a small town on the Barnegat Peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay. You will not find many people here, with a population of just 1,436. However, if you happen to hit the beach while you are there, you will most likely see some of the pet parents with their pooches. 

Just south of the swimming beach at Island Beach State Park, dogs are allowed all year long as long as they are on a leash. From Memorial Day until October, you cannot take your canine compadre on the swimming beach. During that time, your pup can join you anywhere along the rest of the waterfront. It is perfect for fishing. 

Speaking of fishing, you and your little buddy can grab something to eat at Betty & Nick’s Bait & Tackle. They have plenty of dog-friendly outdoor seating and delicious food, including fish and chips, chicken sandwiches, burgers, and wraps.  

The Pinelands camping

With 1.1 million acres of parks, forests, rivers, fields, and lakes, the Pinelands is packed with dog-friendly outdoor activities. This includes Allaire State Park, Bass River State Forest, Byrne State Forest, Double Trouble State Park, Penn State Forest, Wharton State Forest, and several other forests and parks. Within such a vast area, you can find over 10 campgrounds with more than 550 campsites from basic tent camping to RVs and cabins. 

Bass River State Forest has the most sites with 176 tent and trailer spots as well as six group campsites. However, only 85 of them allow pets. They all have picnic tables and fire rings as well as restrooms with showers and laundry facilities. Although the campground is open all year, the sanitary station is only open from March to December. Also, there is a pet fee of $5 per night.

You can find all sorts of activities to enjoy with your pup, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking.

East Rutherford family

No matter what time of year it is, you can bring the family to East Rutherford for some incredible fun where they have the largest indoor amusement park and largest indoor waterpark. But first, you will have to drop off your pup at a doggie daycare like Riordan’s Kennel and Grooming Salon. Then, take the kids to Nickelodeon Universe where they have over 30 rides including five roller coasters and one water ride. They also have several dining options, games, and shopping. 

Want more water rides? Go to Dreamorks Water Park where you will find 15 awesome water slides as well as a swim-up food bar  And it is all indoors so you can play no matter the weather. If you are not too worn out, go pick up your pup and take him to Freedom Barks Dog Park. It features 26 acres with woods, a creek, and several fields.

Afterward, relax with a brew at Dr. Brewlittle’s Beer Company, where pups are welcome indoors and out. They have lots of beers to choose from and treats for your pooch.

Wildwood affordable

Who doesn’t want to save money? Well, if you are interested in a vacation on a budget, take your fur pupster to Wildwood. They have several dog-friendly hotels that start under $100, including Tide Winds Motel, which also has a gorgeous pool and is a short walk to the beach. After checking in, take Fido to Wildwood Dog Park Beach between Maple and Glenwood Avenue. Your little buddy can swim leashless, and they even have tunnels and other fun play items. 

It may cost you a few bucks but the most incredible thing in Wildwood is the pier. Morey’s Piers not only has an amusement park for people, but it also has a special section for dogs! Your pup is welcome from 12 pm to 2 pm at the fountain pool, the lazy river, and the activity pool. Also, he is welcome in most other areas all the time. They even have a dog beach bar called PigDog Beach Bar. 

For something different, take your cuddly canine out on the Cape May Whale Watcher where you can see dolphins and whales. 

Atlantic City couples with dogs

New Jersey was the second state to open casinos after Las Vegas when Atlantic City opened its casino in 1978. In fact, several casino resort hotels allow pups to stay, too, so you and your honey can bring your pooch along. Harrah’s Resort welcomes dogs up to 50 pounds for $50 per night per pet, the Sheraton allows dogs up to 80 pounds for $50 per stay, and the Showboat Hotel allows any size dogs for $100 per pet per stay.

If you are not into gambling, don’t worry, there are plenty of other fun things to do in this fine city. Take your canine companion to see the Absecon Lighthouse, which was lit in 1857, making it the oldest in the country. If you want to visit the beach with your dog, he is welcome from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. from mid-May to October. The rest of the year he is welcome anytime. 

Afterward, grab some burgers and fries from Johnny Rockets, where leashed pups are welcome on the outdoor patio. 

South Mountain Reservation Hiking

With more than 2,100 acres in northeastern New Jersey, South Mountain Reservation has more than 30 trails for you and your active pup to explore and enjoy. The nature reserve welcomes leashed fur babies, but you need to bring doggie bags to pick up anything he drops. One of the trails is the 36-mile Lenape Trail that connects 18 different parks in the county of Essex. For something shorter, try the Turtle Back Trail, which is 2.7 miles long. 

If you want to learn as you go, take Fido on the half-mile Interpretive Trail. Or you can see the lake from all sides on the 1.8-mile Orange Reservoir Loop Trail. For something a little more difficult, the 4.5-mile Overlook Trail Loop runs along the Crest, Openwood, River, and Lenape Trails. 

Let your pup run off those zoomies at Branch Brook Park Dog Park where they have a small dog section, plenty of shaded seating for pet parents, and a dozen equipment stations to play on. 

Seaside Heights weekend getaway

Seaside Heights may only have 2,200 residents and 350 dogs but during the summer, that number jumps up to 65,000! If you want a pup popular hotel close to the beach, the Boardwalk Hotel Charlee has its own beach within feet of the boardwalk. Although pups are not allowed on the boardwalk, they are allowed on the beach in certain areas. The hotel also has a top-notch restaurant, picnic area, sun deck, microwave, and fridge. 

Another fun place to go with your little fur ball is Ortley Beach Bay Park on the other side of the island. It has lots of waterfront where leashed dogs are always welcome, as well as a playground, basketball, handball, and tennis. Then, head over to Beachcomber Bar, where your pup can join you while you get a cold beer and some grub. 

They have live music on weekends, trivia on Wednesdays, and Bingo on Fridays. Just make sure you keep your pupster on a leash and bring baggies to clean up after him.

Vernon Romantic

Is there anything more romantic than skiing along a moonlit trail at night? If you and your sweetheart like skiing, visit Vernon where they have nighttime skiing at Mountain Creek. Although most of the lodges do not allow dogs including Mountain Creek Resort, you can find several dog-friendly hotels in town five minutes away. The Fox & Bear Lodge is 3.7 miles from the park and includes free breakfast and you can get a room for under $100 at Sussex, just 6.2 miles away.

If you do not want to leave Fido in the room while you play, drop him off at The Madison Dog Resort & Spa, where he will be pampered. Then, head to Mountain Creek to do some snow tubing. You will need reservations, though, so be sure to book a spot in advance. There are nine lifts and 45 trails rated from easy to difficult.  

After skiing the slopes, take your cuddly buddy to Vernon Dog Park, where he can run and play off the leash for a while. 

Hopatcong State Park Lake

The main focus of Hopatcong State Park is the lake, of course, making it a wonderful place for a lake vacation with your fur baby. You can find this park in the northern section of New Jersey between Parsippany and Blairstown. Swimming is a popular activity from Memorial Day to Labor Day as well as fishing for bass, pickerel, perch, catfish, trout, and sunfish. Just make sure you have a New Jersey fishing license before casting out that first line.

Boating is also fun and you can rent them at one of the private marinas on the lake. For the kids, there are two awesome playgrounds with swings, slides, climbing, and other interactive fun. If you get hungry, grill up some burgers and brats for a picnic with your pooch.

During the winter, the park is also a lot of fun with access to ice fishing, sledding, and snowboarding as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Just remember to bring lots of doggie bags.

Woodbine camping

Although Woodbine only has about 2,400 people and an estimated 400 dogs, you will almost certainly see some of them out and about in Woodbine enjoying some of the recreational activities in the Belleplain State Forest. One of the most pup popular things to do in the forest is camping. There are 169 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings as well as restrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and playgrounds for the kiddos. 

The campground does charge an extra $5 per night for your pooch and you have to fill out a registration form first. The campsites are all within walking distance of Lake Nummy and the picnic areas too. The forest boasts 21,320 acres with oak, cedar, pine, and a variety of other kinds of trees. You and your pooch can see some of them on the 40 miles of trails. 

Nearby, you and your pup can share some tacos at El Capitan’s Taco Shack or have a beer and burgers or oysters at MudHen Brewing Company. 

Jackson family

When you are ready to play a family vacation, consider Jackson, New Jersey. It may not seem like an interesting town at first… until you see Six Flags Great Adventure. The theme park has 58 amusement rides with 14 roller coasters and two water rides, as well as games, eateries, and shops. And if you cannot make it in the summertime, you can go to Fright Fest in October or Holiday in the Park in December. 

You will have to leave your pooch with a dog sitter like Pet Sitters Associates. They take the dogs for walks and let them play to burn some of that excess energy. If he still has a lot of energy to run off, you can go to Jackson Dog Park, about 10 miles east of the park. The fully-fenced off-leash park is perfect for all with a special section for small dogs and lots of seating for pet parents. 

Or, you can take him to Mercer County Park. The 2,500-acre park has everything from trails and picnicking to camping and an off-leash dog park. 

Ocean City romantic

If it’s romance you want, take your sweetheart and your pup to Ocean City, where you will find an adorable bed and breakfast called Ocean City Mansion. It is at the northeastern end of the island, right by Ocean City Beach. Speaking of beaches, your cuddly canine compadre will love that Ocean City Dog Park has a dog-friendly beach just a few minutes down the road on 45th Street. Wildwood Dog Park Beach is also nearby. 

Go ahead and leave your pup with a sitter and take your loved one to the famous Jersey Shore boardwalk shops, beaches, and the Ferris wheel. Afterward, head to Ruth Chris’ Steak House. They will light you some candles, serve wine or champagne, and make you steaks or seafood exactly how you want them. And you can bring the leftovers back to Fido in a doggie bag. 

Freedom Boat Club South Jersey has dog-friendly boats for rent, too, so you can get out on the water for a sunset cruise with your honey. 

Wawayanda State Park Winter Cross Country Skiing

Those who are not afraid of getting out in the cold love visiting Wawayanda State Park in the winter. The dog-friendly park has 60 miles of trails where you and your leashed pooch can do some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. About 19.6 miles are part of the Appalachian Trail, where you can get some incredible views. Be sure to bundle up your pup and protect his paws from the cold. Even snowdogs like American Eskimos and Siberian Huskeys get cold sometimes. 

Beginners will do well on the half-mile Little Bear Trail, 0.75-mile Black Eagle Trail, or the 1.5-mile Laurel Pond Trail. For more experienced skiers or snowshoers, the 1.7-mile Banker Trail through the Wawayanda Swamp is a good choice, or the 1.5-mile Cedar Swamp Trail. The Plymouth Trail is only a mile long, but it has thick vegetation and some uphill walking.   

If your pooch needs to run off some zoomies, take him to Greenwood Lake Bark Park or Vernon Dog Park. They are both off-leash parks where you can play fetch or just watch him run. 

The Final Woof

New Jersey really does have something for everyone. If you are looking for a family trip, East Rutherford has a huge indoor amusement park and water park to enjoy at any time of the year. And Jackson has Six Flags Great Adventure with over 60 rides and games. For couples with dogs, Ocean City has an adorable bed and breakfast, and Vernon has moonlit skiing. If you want to hike, South Mountain Reservation has 30 trails to explore. If it is camping you want, The Pinelands has 550+ campsites, and Woodbine has 169. For a winter wonderland, Wawayanda State Park has 60 miles of cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails. 

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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