The rivers, lakes and coastal waters across the U.S. provide a colorful canvas for a floating adventure. You can meet the local wildlife and discover the sights with your leashed pup by your side on one of these awesome, pet-friendly day cruises.
Posted by Billy Francis
Barbary Ghost Tours
Gameday’s here! Time to pull out the boat and start tailgating. Not a phrase you usually hear, but at Barbary Ghost Tours you can do just that. Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, stands on the shore of San Francisco Bay. The Baseball by Boat tour gives you and your pooch the unique opportunity to hear the roar of the crowd and watch plays on the massive, recently upgraded scoreboard. Fido might even have the chance to catch one of the famous water-bound home runs from your boat. Between plays, hop on a pet-friendly paddleboard or kayak and explore the cove with your pooch. Niko, the boat’s canine captain, invites humans and dogs on board any of Barbary’s other adventures, too, including a two-hour San Francisco Bay Cruise, a three-hour Angel Island Bay Cruise and a four-hour Golden Gate Cruise.
Dells Boat Tours
The Wisconsin Dells is a five-mile gorge made up of epic sandstone cliffs. These huge rock formations were left behind by an ancient glacier and are truly a sight to behold. Dells Boat Tours offers two pet-friendly tours of the Dells from April through October, but only one of them includes a flying dog.
The Upper Dell Tour stops along the way for Fido to stretch his legs in the Witches Gulch. This gives you a chance to admire the rocky landscape up close and watch a phenomenon called the Witches Bathtub in action. It occurs when the water flow between the rocks changes rapidly from a gentle trickle to a roaring surge, as if by magic. The other highlight at this eerie attraction is a specially trained dog who leaps between two cliffs at Stand Rock. This death-defying feat pays homage to the world’s first stop-action photo by H.H. Bennett in 1886, in which Bennett’s son, Ashley, leapt over this very gap. Not quite a flying dog, but it’s still pretty impressive!
Mercury’s Canine Cruise
From the Riverwalk to the House of Blues, the Chicago River is lined with historical landmarks. You can point them out to your pooch as you sail past with Mercury’s Canine Cruise. Dogs can chill on the deck, get a better view on your lap or even sit in their own seat for the 90-minute tour of Chicago’s downtown waterway. Your guide will point out the sights while making special mentions of the dog-friendly parks and attractions, like Ward Park and Larrabee Dog Park, that you can explore on foot when you’re back on dry land.
Mercury hosts two Halloween-themed canine cruises in October as well. This is a great opportunity for Fido to put together his most horrifying mail carrier costume to freak out his friends.
St. Augustine Eco Tours
Manatees and dolphins love the warm waters of St. Augustine almost as much as Fido. You and your pooch can get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures on a St. Augustine Eco Tour. One of the company’s most popular expeditions is the Dolphin, Birding and Nature Tour. This 90-minute trip takes passengers around the rivers and streams of America’s oldest city, inhabited since 1565. The tour captains are not only safe hands at the helm but also experts in ecology. They’ll point out turtles, dolphins, manatees and seabirds that you might have missed.
Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruise
See the sights of the Potomac River on this short cruise for dogs and dog owners. The Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruise is 45 minutes long and navigates Alexandria’s historic seaport. It departs from behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center and makes a loop at Ronald Reagan International Airport and the National Harbor. Don’t worry if Fido has something else scheduled that day, people without dogs can join in the fun and just fuss over the other furry passengers on board instead.
Bow Wow Brunch Cruise
This annual pet-friendly cruise really takes the (dog) biscuit. In a genius move, the Bow Wow Brunch Cruise combines Fido’s adventurous spirit with his love of food. There are separate brunch buffets available on board for two- and four-legged customers to enjoy during their sightseeing. The two-hour trip includes free-flowing glasses of champagne or juice at your own private table and a fresh water bowl for your pup. Let the drinks flow, and when Fido needs a bathroom break he can head to the dog relief area set up on the yacht’s sun deck.
Just like any good cruise, entertainment is key. Not only will you be treated to gorgeous views of the bay, but you and your dog can take part in a Doggie Costume Contest for a coveted prize or try a paw at the Annual Dog Trick Contest instead. Chopper the Biker Dog, a Harley-riding Boston Terrier, is this year’s special guest. He’ll be making an appearance in his leathers and goggles for photo ops.
Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips
Maine is a dream destination for ornithologists (that’s birdwatchers, Fido). The craggy cliffs and rocky shores that make up the stunning coastline are an ideal habitat for a variety of seabirds. Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips specialize in tracking down one of the more unusual of these inhabitants—the puffin. On the way to discovering these unique birds, your skipper will pause in the water for the occasional whale and also let you know when to point your binoculars up to catch a glimpse of a heron on the hunt for lunch.
The tour winds up at Eastern Egg Rock, the southernmost nesting island in North America for the Atlantic Puffin. Watch in wonder as the circus of puffins entertains the crowd with their grunts and growls.
Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Hop aboard the Bavarian Belle Riverboat for an old-fashioned tour of the Cass River with your furry first mate. This authentic Stern Driven Paddlewheel riverboat in Frankenmuth invites dogs and their owners to embark on an open-air voyage of the historic region. Check out the quaint riverfront houses, and then cast your eyes to the sky where you might witness the launching of bright hot air balloons from nearby fields (Fido’s next adventure?).
During the Frankenmuth Dog Bowl, held every year in May, the Bavarian Belle hosts its own Canine Cruise. This 45-minute, dog-centric trip helps canine athletes wind down between heats at the world's largest Olympic-style festival for dogs. After the trip, check out the DockDogs Competitions, Disc Dog Competitions, Wiener Dog Races and much more. Grab a gourmet snack from one of the many vendors at the event while you’re there.
The Fun Zone Boat Company
Fun Zone Boat Company offers three different pet-friendly cruises during the day. The first will take you and your pup to the harbor entrance to check out native sea lions. Fido might even spot migrating gray whales along the way. You can also peek into the lives of the rich and famous from the water with the Celebrity Homes and Yachts Tour. The folks at Fun Zone have been running this trip for more than 60 years, so they must be doing something right. The narration features a rundown on Newport Bay’s multimillion-dollar homes and their celebrity owners. The third option is an extensive trip around the harbor.
Biloxi Shrimping Tour
Catching, preparing and cooking shrimp are all art forms according to the folks at Biloxi Shrimping Tour. Learn the many tricks of the trade as you sail down the Mississippi River. The crew of expert shrimpers will demonstrate the proper techniques for dragging the Mississippi Sound and catching some of the tasty shellfish. As well as live-action shrimping, you’ll hear about the history of the industry, learn interesting tidbits on the shrimp lifecycle, and even get the scoop on specialty dishes you can whip up at home. The grand finale is when the captain drags the net in and helps you identify what has been caught. If your culinary skills are lacking, visit Shaggy’s Beach Bar and Grill for BBQ shrimp cooked the right way on the pet-friendly patio facing the water.
Have you set sail on a pet-friendly cruise with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
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