15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Ohio

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dogs are posing in the scientific center of north america in a dog friendly vacation in ohio

Ohio is one of the oldest states, being settled in 1803. The population is over 11,000,000 and there are approximately 1.8 million dogs living there. Its nickname, The Buckeye State, was given to it because of the number of buckeye trees in the area when it was settled. Ohio is also known as the Birthplace of Aviation because of its connection to the Wright Brothers. It made the first airport in the world and was where the Wright Brothers tested their plane. 

With the state having so many fur babies, it is a good place to do some canine research. For example, the five most popular dog breeds in Ohio are the Golden Retriever, Shiba Inu, French Bulldog, Australian Shepherd, and Cane Corso. In fact, the Cane Corso was the winner in the country as well taking the number one spot in 46 out of 50 states. 

Ohio has cold winters and hot summers with mild spring and fall weather. That means there are both summer and winter sports in abundance there. From swimming and boating to skiing and sledding, you can do it all there. To enjoy these activities, the state has 81 state parks, 20 state forests, one large national forest, one national park, and 27 state wildlife areas. 


With a population of about 351,000, the city of Cleveland also has an estimated 60,000 dogs. One of the things that makes Cleveland a major attraction is its waterfront along Lake Erie. It has several beaches along the south side of the lake, with over 15 miles of coastline. Edgewater Park is the main beach, and it offers a dog beach where pooches can play and swim off the leash. That makes Cleveland the perfect vacation place for summer. 

Bow Wow Beach is another place where pooches can swim, but this one is on a different lake. It has 7.5 acres of fenced space with a five-acre Silver Springs Lake. If the weather is not cooperating, take your fur buddy to Taps & Tails. This is a dog park bar with indoor and outdoor play spaces where you can enjoy a brew while he plays. 

For something different, take Fido on a scavenger hunt with A Ball Round the Mall. You are led by an app on your phone so you do not have to worry about time restraints. 


Between Cleveland and Erie, you can find Geneva in the middle of the southern shores of Lake Erie. It is a small city with just under 6,000 people and approximately 1,000 pups. A lot of the city is part of the Geneva State Park, which has about 700 acres of waterfront as well as hiking, biking, picnicking, and camping. If you plan to stay at the campground, book early because there are only 133 sites. 

Geneva is a good place for a winter vacation because it has six miles of cross-country skiing trails and snowmobile trails. There is also a two-mile paved trail that you can walk with your pooch. The park also has ice fishing sites you can enjoy when the conditions are right.  You can also visit one of the dog-friendly vineyards like M Cellars or Laurello Vineyards.   

Then, let your pooch off the leash for a while at Geneva Dog Park. Located between Cowles Creek and Mark Brace Memorial Field, the fenced space has seating for pup parents and lots of room to roam.

Wayne National Forest

Want to go for a hike? The Wayne National Forest has over 244,000 acres of woods with 20 trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and ATVs. In fact, there are over 300 miles of trails, including the 84.5-mile Monday Creek Trail, 56.8-mile North County Trail, and the 27.6 Hanging Rock Trail. There are also some short and easy trails that you and your pooch can enjoy, like the half-mile Ora Anderson Nature Trail and the quarter-mile Rock House Trail.

If you plan to stay the night, reserve a spot in advance because although there are nine campgrounds, there are only 120 campsites. When hiking, you can enjoy a lot more camping with the dispersed camping areas. There are 20+ trails with over 100 places to camp. However, these are backwoods rustic campsites without any amenities, so be prepared. 

Nearby in Logan, you can take your fur puppy to play at Cedar Falls or let him play off the leash at West State Dog Park in Athens. 

Chapin Forest 

If you love to ski, Chapin Forest Pine Lodge Ski Center is where you want to go with your pooch because they are the only ones who allow pets to stay and play. Located in Kirtland, which is in northeastern Ohio, the city has about 7,000 residents, and you will likely see some of them and their fur babies on the mountain. Whether you are there for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or sledding, you can do all that and more at Chapin Forest. 

In Girdled Road Reservation, there are 942 acres with some incredible trails. There are nine trails ranging from flat and easy half-mile trails to the more difficult four-mile Oak Leaf Loop Trail. Make sure your pup is protected from the cold, especially his delicate paws. Also, do not forget the doggie bags and extra water. 

There are quite a few dog-friendly hotels and cabins nearby including Red Roof Inn, Mentor Home Inn, and the Skylight Inn and Suites. 


It may be a small town but Mason, Ohio is the most popular family vacation town in the state because of its famous amusement park, Kings Island. But before heading off to the park, you first have to drop your pup off at one of the doggie daycares in the city. PetSuites, Red Dog Pet Resort, and K9 Country Club are just a few of the awesome places that will keep your pooch happy while you are out. 

Then, head to the 364-acre Kings Island, where they have 49 different attractions, including 14 roller coasters and three water rides. There is something for everyone here from kiddie rides for preschoolers to exciting coasters and thrill rides for the older kids. The park also has live entertainment, restaurants, gift shops, and special events. 

After you pick up your pup, take everyone to Lucky Dog Grille, where your pooch gets his own menu! You and the family can choose from burgers, wings, fish, and sandwiches, while your fur baby can dine on chicken, a beef patty, or a peanut butter sandwich. 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park 

For a weekend getaway with your pooch, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has 33,000 acres of fun on the river or in the snow. No matter whether you are visiting during the summer or winter, there is plenty to do and see with your fur baby. You can go sledding, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing during the winter. There are more than 125 miles of trails to explore with your leashed pup.

During the summer, the Cuyahoga River offers all kinds of activities including tubing, kayaking, and paddling as well as swimming, fishing, and boating. There are five different river access sites with about 100 other places where you can fish and swim. The park has a lot of historic sites to see as well including the 1825 Frazee House and the 1814 Brandywine Village.

Don’t miss the Everett Covered Bridge. It is the only one in the county and was built in 1877 and then rebuilt in 1986.


The largest city in Ohio, Columbus, has over 905,000 residents and they have approximately 150,000 pups. The best thing about visiting a big city is that they have a lot of options for those on a tight budget. In fact, there are 17 hotels with rooms under $100, nine free dog parks, and about two dozen free family parks. The largest one is Scioto Grove Metro Park with 620 acres that includes seven miles of trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas. Your pooch is welcome on a leash.

Another inexpensive way to spend the day is at Flint Station. The market has an outdoor patio where pups are welcome as long as they are leashed. There is often live music at the bar and a BBQ food truck, so you can get some food. 

Finally, take your cuddly buddy to the lots of Scioto Audubon Dog Park, where he can play without a leash. There is a special small dog section, agility stations, water, waste stations, and benches for pet parents. 


Couples with dogs can get a luxurious room with a whirlpool tub at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Toledo. The hotel also has a heated indoor pool, fitness center, free breakfast, and a spa with a hot tub and jacuzzi. Although your fur baby cannot join you in the pool, spa, or fitness center, take him to Middlegrounds Metropark Dog Park, where he can run and play off the leash. It has a separate small dog area as well as water, waste stations, and seating for pet parents. 

You can also take a walk at Swan Creek where you and your honey can take Fido to enjoy some hiking. There are seven trails, including the 3.3-mile Swan Creek All Purpose Trail, the 1.7-mile Big Woods Trail, and the romantic 1.3-mile Meadow Trail. Remember to bring doggie bags and plenty of water. 

After working up an appetite, take everyone to Blue Pacific Grill for an amazing meal. Pups are welcome on the patio.

Shawnee State Forest

The Shawnee State Forest is the largest in Ohio, with more than 63,000 acres. One of the most popular things to do in the forest is to camp at one of the campgrounds. Turkey Creek has 107 dog-friendly campsites, 86 of which are electric sites that can host RVs. Some of the features include a heated shower house, camp store, hiking trails, mini-golf, playgrounds, and boat rentals as well as basketball and volleyball courts.

The Ohio River Campground has 80 campsites as well as a store, marina, showers, disc golf, archery, playgrounds, outdoor fitness area, and even a dog park. The kids can also enjoy the splash pad during the summer. Other park activities include fishing, boating, and swimming at one of the two lakes or the Ohio River. 

Don’t miss the mini-golf and geocache activities, log cabin and nature center. Just remember to always keep your pup on a leash and bring baggies to pick up whatever he puts down. 


In northeastern Ohio, Akron has about 190,000 residents with an estimated 30,000 fur babies. If you are looking for a cozy and romantic weekend with your honey, Akron is a great choice. First, you can get a pup popular room at the quaint Berrodin Bed & Breakfast where every room has dark wood floors and walls for a homey look. Then, take your sweetheart to The Winery at Wolf Creek for some drinks in the gorgeous countryside. 

After, you can visit the Akron Art Museum after you drop off your pup at doggie daycare. The building itself is worth the visit. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday so keep that in mind. You can also check out some of the cool wildlife at Akron Zoo. They have more than 700 species!

Finally, pick up your pup and take everyone to dine by the lake at Picks at PLX. They have a huge patio for dog parents and some delicious food for everyone. 

Cincinnati dog 

You and your fur baby can enjoy a getaway in Cincinnati any time of the year because it has lots to do no matter when you visit. The first thing to do with your dog is to visit the off-leash dog parks. Red Dog Park on Madison Road has three acres including agility equipment to play on. For even more space to run, Diamond Dogs Park at Heritage Park has five acres of fenced play space with waste stations and water access. 

Washington Dog Park has 10 acres and a creek to play in and boulders to climb on. To give your pooch even more space to play, Simmonds Family Dog Park has 11 acres with agility equipment and four separate play areas on Hamilton-Cleves Road. 

If the weather is bad or you just want some gaming time, take your cuddly canine companion to 16-Bit Bar & Arcade. You can choose from 48 different video games including Donkey Kong and Pac Man while you enjoy an adult beverage and your pup hangs out with you.

Alum Creek State Park 

Your pup will never forget his trip to Alum Creek State Park if you take him to Mutt’s Paradise while you are there. You have to book an appointment in advance, but this AmuseMutt Park for Dogs is six acres of nothing but fun. It is completely fenced and has six acres, including a swimming pond. For just a few bucks, your pup can have the place to himself for an hour, perfect for dogs that do not play well with others. 

Afterward, you and your pooch are free to play in the 4,630-acre Alum Creek State Park, where there is a 3,387-acre lake for swimming, boating, fishing, and waterskiing. If you visit during the winter, you can enjoy ice fishing, ice boating, and cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing and sledding. There are 38 miles of trails as well as a campground with 286 campsites. 

If you plan to fish, be sure to bring an Ohio fishing license. You will also want to bring a net because there are some whoppers out there. 


In the southwestern corner of Ohio, you can find Dayton and its 137,000 residents with about 22,000 dogs. If you plan to do some hiking and camping, your best choice for camping is Caesar Creek State Park. It has 285 campsites with showers, a beach, a boat ramp, a playground, and lots of trails In fact, there are 10 different dog-friendly hikes you can explore with your leashed pooch. 

Bill Yeck Park also has some fantastic trails you and your canine compadre can try. The 0.9-mile Green Trail is the easiest and shortest, with a peaceful stroll around the soccer field. If you want something a bit more difficult, take the Yellow Trail Loop. It is about one mile and takes you through McGuffey Meadow and over Sugar Creek. The park does not have a campground, but there are over 50 pet-friendly hotels in town.

Then, you can let Fido off the leash for a while at Montgomery County Bark Park. With several acres and lots of agility equipment to play on, your pooch will have a blast. 


Another city that is perfect for families is Sandusky because it is home to Cedar Point Amusement Park. It is located on a peninsula in Lake Erie and is one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, opened in 1870. The 364-acre park is huge, with 72 attractions, including 16 roller coasters, three water rides, dozens of games, and even live shows. Mansfield

Another place for snow fun is Snow Trails in Mansfield. 

Not only does it have a lot of things to do but it also has places to stay. Your pooch can stay at the cabin or RV if you stay at Lighthouse Point. There are 156 cabins and 145 RV sites you and the family can rent just feet from the park. It has a pool, store, showers, shuttle service, and fun activities.

Let your pooch get rid of some of that excess energy at Erie Metropark Park. It has three acres with a fun doggie playground, shaded seating, a small dog section, and water fountains.  

The Final Woof

There are plenty of awesome places in Ohio for pups and their parents to visit. We listed our top 15 and which ones are best for what activities. For example, if you are taking the whole family, go to Mason, where they have Kings Island Amusement Park, or Sandusky, where Cedar Point Amusement Park is located. Couples with dogs will love the romantic Country Inn with a spa in Toledo and the cozy bed & breakfast in Akron. For a hiking trip, the Wayne National Forest has hundreds of miles of trails. If you want to camp, Shawnee State Forest boasts 187 campsites, and Alum Creek State Park has 286.

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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