Looking for a quick getaway with your pooch? We’ve sniffed out eight amazing island adventures for you and your dog. And part of the fun for your furry friend is getting there, whether by ferry, sternwheeler or boat! From picturesque beaches to dog-friendly activities, these island escapes make perfect day trips for you and Fido.
Posted by Erin Ballinger
Sneak away from mainland Rhode Island for a day or two and visit Block Island, a featured destination in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States. Hop on the Block Island Ferry for a 55-minute ride from Point Judith to the scenic destination. Round-trip rates start at $20 for adults and $8 for children. Dogs ride free of charge. After docking, make your way to the Mohegan Bluffs, a strip of secluded beach sandwiched between impressive clay cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. You can make the 4-mile round trip by foot, or rent a bike and trailer from Beach Rose Bicycles. If you want to get there quickly, hail a taxi (both McAloon’s Taxi and Block Island Taxi and Tours are dog friendly). After enjoying your time at the beach, check out the Southeast Lighthouse before taking a leisurely walk back to Old Harbor, or head in the opposite direction to complete a 13-mile bike ride around the island.
If one day isn't enough on Block Island, check into The Blue Dory Inn for the night. Nestled on pristine Crescent Beach, it offers close proximity to the ferry, charming Victorian-style guest rooms, and fresh-baked cookies each day. Pet-friendly accommodations feature porches with stunning ocean views. Dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $50 per pet, per stay.
Alabama's Dauphin Island offers visitors on two legs and four an exciting Gulf Coast getaway. Bring your binoculars and take your furry friend on over 3 miles of dog-friendly trails at the 137-acre Audubon Bird Sanctuary. Look for some of the 420 different bird species that have been spotted on the island, as well as butterflies, turtles, fish, and the occasional alligator. Audubon Bird Sanctuary is open daily and is free to enter. Next, visit Fort Gaines, where your pup is welcome to explore a key site of the Civil War’s Battle of Mobile Bay. The fort is open daily. Admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children, and free for dogs. For sand and surf, head to Dauphin Island Beach, one of the best in the Gulf. Leashed dogs are welcome everywhere except the west end. Admission is $6 per car and $2 for pedestrians. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, sample local seafood on the pet-friendly patio at Islanders Restaurant & Bar.
With so much to see and do, you might want to extend your stay. Dauphin Island Harbor House, a favorite among four-legged beach bums, is a fine choice of pet-friendly lodgings. Humans will love the complimentary full Southern-style breakfast each morning, and your water-loving pooch will appreciate the proximity to miles of dog-friendly beaches. Up to three dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per stay.
Drive to dog-friendly Jekyll Island for a charming day trip along the Georgia coast. Start your adventure at Jekyll Wharf on a cruise with Jekyll Island Dolphin Tours. Furry friends are welcome to join you on a boat ride in search of bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the East River and Jekyll Sound. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children and free for dogs. Private charters are also available. After your cruise, chow down on delicious coastal cuisine on the pet-friendly deck at The Wharf at Jekyll Island Club Resort. In the afternoon, hop on a trolley tour with Mosaic Jekyll Island Museum, during which you’ll learn more about the Jekyll Island Club, once the winter escape for industry icons like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Pulitzer. Finish the day with a swim at picturesque Driftwood Beach, where leashed pups can romp around a unique seaside landscape of gnarled, weather-beaten trees.
If Fido begs for another day on the island, book a room at Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island. He'll be able to walk to the beach from his room and explore plenty of grassy spaces nearby. The resort also offers access to more than 20 miles of pathways, including the North Loop Trail and the Ocean View Trail. In the evening, get cozy around the fire pit with your canine as the sun sets over the water. Dogs of any size are welcome at the Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night.
San Juan Island
Hop aboard a Washington State Ferry in Anacortes for a trip to San Juan Island. When you arrive at Friday Harbor, ditch the car in favor of a ‘Scoot Coupe’ from Susie’s Mopeds, which will serve as your transportation for the day. Scoot 2 miles to Jackson Beach, where your pup can run free in the sand. Continue on to San Juan Island National Historical Park to learn about the history of the island and the Pig War. Make a pit stop at Pelindaba Lavender Farm to let Fido roam the fragrant fields and try a lavender-flavored dog biscuit. Then, check out Lime Kiln Point State Park, where whales are commonly spotted between May and September. When you complete your loop around the island, refuel with a hearty sandwich on The Market Chef’s patio. There’ll be enough to share with your hungry hound!
If you want to keep exploring San Juan Island with your dog, spend the night at Earthbox Inn & Spa. Located just four blocks from the Friday Harbor Ferry Landing, the dog-friendly property offers clean, modern accommodations. Enjoy complimentary use of the hotel’s beach cruiser bikes to explore the charming island, schedule a hot beach stone massage, or relax in the heated indoor pool. Two dogs up to 75 lbs are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night.
Escape to Blennerhassett Island State Park in Parkersburg, West Virginia, for a special day out with your pup. Located in the middle of the Ohio River on the border between West Virginia and Ohio, the park is home to numerous trails, manicured grounds and a reconstructed Palladian mansion that offers visitors a historical glimpse at colonial plantation life. To reach the island, climb aboard the Island Belle sternwheeler for a short 20-minute riverboat journey. Upon arrival, stretch Fido’s legs on a self-guided walking tour. Along the way, you’ll see volunteers in period costume and horse-drawn covered wagons carting visitors around. The park is open from early May through mid-November, with ferry service offered Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children, and free for dogs, and includes transportation. Afterward, explore charming downtown Parkersburg and stop for dinner at the dog-friendly Parkersburg Brewing Co.
Located just a few blocks from the ferry, The Blennerhassett Hotel is the “pawfect” pet-friendly hotel if you decide to spend the night. Fido will be welcomed at this Gaslight-era hotel with complimentary dog treats, food bowls to use during his stay, and waste bags. One dog of any size is welcome for an additional fee of $50 per stay. Add $25 for a second pet.
Bald Head Island
Off the coast of North Carolina, Bald Head Island is a pretty destination with plenty to see and do. Start your adventure at Deep Point Marina in Southport, where a scheduled ferry service will take you and your pooch on a 20-minute trip to the island. Round-trip tickets are $23 for adults, $12 for children and free for dogs. Upon arrival, take a short walk to the pet-friendly Cary Cart Company and rent a golf cart, which will serve as your mode of transportation on this car-free island. Daily rentals start at $75. If you prefer to pedal instead, daily and weekly bike rentals (with bike trailers or baskets for Fido) are available from Riverside Adventure Company. After securing your wheels, cruise the cart path and explore 14 miles of sandy beaches, hit the surf for some fun on the water, and take a hike with your canine companion on one of the lovely trails running through this island community.
Extend your visit to Bald Head Island by renting a dog-friendly vacation home from Bald Head Island Limited. All rentals are fully furnished with expansive living rooms, gourmet kitchens, and luxurious master retreats. Many of them are also oceanfront with screened porches, outdoor showers and direct beach access. The use of a golf cart is included for free with every rental. Dogs of any size are welcome in select homes for an additional fee of $200 per stay.
Located in Lake Huron, Michigan's Mackinac Island is filled with fun activities you can enjoy with your pup, and nearly all of the historic sites and buildings allow leashed pets. Your adventure begins with a 15-minute ride aboard Shepler’s Ferry. Round-trip fares start at $27 for adults and $16 for children. Dogs ride for free. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island, so you’ll have to get around on two (or four) legs. With a circumference of only 8 miles, it is possible to explore the entire island. However, if you’d prefer not to “hoof it,” you can pay a horse to do it for you! Mackinac Island Carriage Tours offers fully narrated two-hour tours with stops at Arch Rock, Fort Mackinac, and several other points of interest. Tickets are $30 for adults and $11 for children. Lap dogs are free, and larger dogs ride for the price of a child’s ticket.
Mackinac Island is well worth a longer stay. Spend the night at Mission Point Resort and book the hotel’s “Pooch at the Point” package, which includes accommodation in the resort’s historic Straits Lodge, round-trip transfers on Shepler’s Ferry, an assortment of welcome amenities for pups, and daily breakfast for humans. Two dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $100 per stay.
Get away from the stress of everyday life with your pooch on a day trip to Keewaydin Island in southwest Florida. Located along the coast between Naples and Marco Island, this 8-mile-long barrier island boasts sugar sand beaches and some of the finest shelling in the Sunshine State. The area is accessible only by boat, but if you don’t have one of your own, you can rent a powerboat from the marina at Naples Bay Resort & Marina. Rates vary depending upon the season, but full-day weekday rentals start at $149. All boats come with a sun top, cooler, GPS, and map of the local waters. Because Keewaydin Island is a conservation area, dogs must remain leashed during your time on the beach. If your sea dog wants some off-leash fun, return to the mainland and head north to Lee County Dog Beach, located on the south end of Lovers Key in Fort Myers Beach.
After a full day of island fun, kick back and relax at the Naples Bay Resort & Marina. Dogs up to 40 lbs are welcome for an additional fee of $75 per stay.
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