All Paws on Deck for a Pet-Friendly Day Cruise With Fido

Posted by Billy Francis

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This article was updated in August 2021.

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.

Dells Boat Tours

Wisconsin Dells, WI
“I’ll do it! I’ll jump! After all, it’s my job.” Photo by @dellsboats

The Wisconsin Dells is a 5-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!

Hang with your hound at this homey cabin in stunning wooded surroundings in the Wisconsin Dells.

St. Augustine Eco Tours

St. Augustine, FL
“I would help cleaning up, but I can’t seem to move!” Photo by Facebook.com/StAugustineEcoTours

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.

Wake up to beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean from the large deck at Winston at Ruby Dog on B Street on St. Augustine’s coast.

Potomac Riverboat Canine Cruise

Alexandria, VA
"This is the life." Photo by Facebook.com/Potomacriverboatcompany

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.

Let Fido loose at Founders Park Off Leash Dog Area, then sleep it off in luxury at The Alexandrian Autograph Collection.

Mercury’s Canine Cruise

Chicago, IL
Now, that’s a view. Photo by Facebook.com/mercurycruises

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.

If you and your pooch are still in the mood for another cruise, see the Windy City on a Seadog Cruises speedboat tour. Departing from Chicago’s famous Navy Pier, the company offers four pet-friendly cruise options. If you’re short on time, opt for the half-hour Lakefront Speedboat Tour, which hits the highlights on a fast-paced cruise on Lake Michigan. With more time to spare, choose the 75-minute River & Lake Architecture Tour, which extends your trip through the Chicago River Locks. Cruises operate from April through October.

Back on dry land, kick back and relax at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Chicago.

Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips

Boothbay Harbor, ME
“This is way better than sticking my head out the car window!” Photo by @kymberlya

Begin your trip to Boothbay by embarking on an Audubon Puffin and Scenic Cruise with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises. The 2.5-hour tour will take you around Eastern Egg Rock, North America’s southernmost nesting island for the Atlantic Puffin. Onboard, marine biologists and naturalists will answer questions as you spot seals, herons, the occasional whale and, of course, puffins. The cruises are offered from mid-May through late August. Other tours are available through October. After your cruise, walk a block down the street to Two Salty Dogs Pet Outfitters, where good pups will receive a special treat. Leashed dogs are welcome on all trips, except music and fireworks cruises.

Rest your sea legs at The Coal Shack, a harborfront studio that's walking distance from Cap’n Fish's in the heart of downtown.

The Fun Zone Boat Company

Newport Beach, CA
Fun by name, fun by nature! Photo by @corgiswagger

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.

Located in the heart of Balboa, this bright beach house is close to plenty of pet-friendly waterfront eateries.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat

Frankenmuth, MI
Meet the fastest bone-slinger in the west. Photo by Facebook.com/BavarianBelle

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.

Sit and swing at Frankenmuth Hubinger Haus. This adorable downtown home has four adult-sized hammocks suspended from a pergola outside to relax in after a day of cruising.

Biloxi Shrimping Tour

Biloxi, MS
Always be prepared! Photo by @porticopup

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 you don't feel like cooking, visit Shaggy’s Beach Bar and Grill for BBQ shrimp on the pet-friendly patio facing the water.

Bottlebrush on Bowen is a charming home just a short distance from Biloxi Shrimping Trip.

Seattle Water Tours Sunday Ice Cream Cruise

Seattle, WA
“Where’s the ice cream?” Photo by BringFido/Darci

The Seattle Water Tours Sunday Ice Cream Cruise is a popular dog-friendly adventure around Lake Union. This 45-minute boat trip is a tasty guided tour that includes a narrated description of the waterway and surrounding areas, plus a complimentary cup of ice cream. Leashed dogs are welcome to join their owners on the water, but may spend more time staring at the tasty treat than the lovely view.

Push the boat out with a luxurious stay that combines beautiful views of the Space Needle and a covered patio, with a plush interior to share with your best friend.

Have you set sail on a pet-friendly cruise with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!