Lake and riverfront vacations provide wonderful opportunities for you and Fido to relax and play hard, but not all of them feature dog-friendly shorelines. From world-famous Lake Tahoe to smaller, more intimate destinations in the American heartland, these lakes and rivers with beaches welcome you and your waterdog to play in the sand and swim in scenic surroundings. Enjoy even more fun in the sun at the best dog-friendly beaches on the East, West, and Gulf coast.
Posted by Erin Ballinger
1. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe may be most well known for its exceptional skiing, but the actual namesake lake is a wonder all on its own. Situated between California and Nevada, this massive freshwater lake is also the largest Alpine Lake in North America. Fido is welcome to join you for playtime at North Zephyr Cove Beach. This dog beach is pretty popular on the weekends, which is great if your pup is a party animal. If you prefer to spend a quiet day with Fido, visit the beach during a weekday or try a pet-friendly SUP trip out on the lake. Bring water shoes because even though the beach is sandy, the ground is rocky past the shoreline. Pack a picnic (watermelon pupsicles, anyone?) to enjoy after your pup has worked up an appetite playing in the water.
For relaxing and budget-friendly accommodations, check out the Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly, where they offer spacious dog-friendly suites with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. The pet fee is $45 per pet.
2. Montrose Dog Beach
Let your pup splash in the waters of Lake Michigan at Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago's first legal off-leash beach, where Fido can run free and play with other pups. Located on the Northwest corner of Montrose Beach, this area is fenced and offers free waste bags and a dog wash area. Montrose Dog Beach is free, but DFA tags are required for all canines, and these cost $10. Kayak Chicago rents dog-friendly SUPs (standup paddle boards) or kayaks if you want to get a workout on the water. They have a rental office at Montrose Beach and will even start you off with an orientation teaching paddle strokes, safety and rules of the water. BYODLJ (bring your own doggy life jacket).
Stay in the River North neighborhood at the Kinzie Hotel, which accepts two pets for an additional fee of $50 per stay. Your dog will be greeted with treats and other pet amenities like bowls, beds and bandanas.
3. Bow Wow Beach
Bring Fido to Stow, Ohio’s Bow Wow Beach for an uncrowded, sandy day out on a lake that spans 3 acres. Your dog will love playing off-leash with new four-legged friends. When it’s time to leave, utilize one of the convenient dog washing stations on-site before stopping for a frozen treat at Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt.
Stay in nearby Akron at this loft apartment, which allows pets for no additional fee.
4. Stodder’s Neck Dog Park
Located on a peninsula at the mouth of Weymouth Back River, Stodder’s Neck Dog Park is a “pawfect” swimming hole for your pup. Canines can splash and play in the crisp waters of the river, run on the rocky beach, and then hike the harborside walking trails to be rewarded with amazing hilltop views. Dogs are allowed off-leash in designated areas of the park.
Nestled on George Lane Beach, you and your pooch are invited to enjoy oceanfront living at this modern home with a fenced space.
5. Lake Havasu
Arizona may be landlocked, but Lake Havasu is a massively popular vacation destination in the state. This large reservoir attracts vacationers from all over to take in its natural beauty. Take your furry friend for a swim at the dog beach at Cattail Cove State Park, which offers over 2,000 acres to wander and enjoy. Stop for drinks at the dog-friendly Mudshark Brewery. May we suggest the Vanilla Caramel Porter for you and a bowl of water for your pooch?
Enjoy the sunset and sleep under the stars with your dog by your side in your tent or RV at Lake Havasu State Park, just north of the dog beach at Cattail Cove. Or, book a room at the waterfront Heat Hotel, which welcomes dogs of all sizes for an additional fee of $50 per stay.
6. Lake Washington
In Seattle, Fido can swim in Lake Washington at the Magnuson Off-Leash Dog Area, one of the nation’s best dog parks. This fully fenced, 6-acre park is divided into several smaller areas with beach access. You’ll often find friendly dog owners wading next to their swimming pups here. After you’ve had your fill of the water, treat Fido to some eggs on the covered patio at Portage Bay Cafe. The dog-friendly eatery serves breakfast all day in addition to burgers and sandwiches.
Spend the weekend in the Emerald City near Plymouth Pillars Dog Park at Hotel Max. Two pets of any size are permitted for an additional fee of $25 per stay, and they’ll receive treats and a plush pet bed upon request.
7. Lake Placid
The famous Lake Placid is a playground for pups. Spend the day hiking around the nearly 3-mile trail at Mirror Lake, a clean and crisp body of water. Then dive in from the dog-friendly beach to cool off. Finish your day with a hearty pub-style supper in the beer garden at The Great Adirondack, where Fido will be greeted with a bowl of water.
If you want to stay overnight, the dog-friendly Crowne Plaza Resort Lake Placid welcomes two dogs for an additional $20 per dog, per night.
8. Performance Pups Freshwater Dog Beach
Your canine is free to run, play and swim off-leash at Performance Pups Freshwater Dog Beach in Dania Beach. This fenced lakeside beach is a pay-to-play area, so expect a fee of $5 per dog. Once your wet friend has worked up a thirst, head to the patio of The Field Irish Pub & Eatery for drinks and good pub grub.
Rest up for another day of fun at this Tiki Retreat Beach House with a pool. Dogs of any size are allowed for no additional fee.
9. Minnesota Point
The 7-mile long beach at Minnesota Point (also known as Park Point) separates Lake Superior from Superior Bay and the Duluth Harbor Basin. Park by the Sky Harbor Airport, and then take a walk in the sand or go for a swim with your leashed pup. Dogs are welcome on the beach year-round, but in the summer it’s really a fun place to be. Concessions and showers are available as well as drinking fountains. Keep an eye on the flag colors for safety reasons: green indicates calm conditions, yellow means moderate surf and possible rip currents, a red signifies strong rip currents (stay out of water). After a day at the beach, cool off at Canal Park Brewing Company, which serves brewpub fare and microbrews.
10. Mead Park
Located along the bank of the Wisconsin River in Stevens Point, Meade Park welcomes doggie paddlers to swim in the river and play off leash on the large sandy beach. The dog area is fenced to keep Fido safe, and waste bags are available for quick clean up. After his swim, take him to Belts’ Soft Serve for an ice cream puppy cup, and stop by The Companion Shop to pick up treats and toys for your good boy.
Explore more of historic downtown Stevens Point and the Wisconsin River when you stay at this Jefferson Street home where dogs are permitted for no additional fee.