How to Find Dog-Friendly Stops While Traveling

Melinda smiling holding her black, brown, and white dog close to her face.
Melinda Benbow
Melinda and her dog at the back end of a car with the trunk open.

It’s time to plan a road trip with your dog and you can’t wait to hit the open road! Imagine being able to enjoy a vacation where you get to dine out with your dog, enjoy excursions that appeal to you both, and end the day in a suite big enough for you and your canine companion. With strategic planning, it’s completely possible! In this article, we will discuss how to plan and safely execute the stops you want to make during your adventure. Following these steps will help you travel in comfort and enjoy a safe, memorable, dog-friendly trip.

Dog food being poured out of an orange travel container into a blue travel bowl


When hungry on the road, it’s easy to find a fast-food restaurant for a quick bite to eat, but when you arrive at the final destination, you want to be able to dine out with your dog. Before your trip starts, search online to see what restaurants may accommodate dogs on their patios. Health codes in most areas do not permit dogs to be inside traditional restaurants unless they are service dogs. Please do not purchase a fake service dog vest to pass your dog into establishments. Establishments like breweries and distilleries that serve limited food may be good options. After you narrow down the options, contact the location directly to make sure that your pup will be welcome.

A black-and-white setter looking up at its owner inside a home


There are many different options when it comes to finding lodging accommodations. You may want to camp or stay at a hotel, cabin, Airbnb, or other location, but remember that not all locations are dog-friendly. Online services like Airbnb, Expedia, or BringFido will allow you to select “dog-friendly” or “pet-friendly” to narrow down suitable options. Checking the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website for the state you are traveling to will help you find parks with dog-friendly campsites. Call these places directly to ask questions and make reservations. No matter which dog-friendly overnight accommodations you choose, be respectful and follow dog-related rules.

A black-and-white setter sitting in the front seat of a car

Rest Stop

Planning potty breaks can be more difficult because we don’t have any control over when nature calls. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking where to stop for relief.

  • Most rest stops along interstates and highways have dog potty areas that are convenient for road-trip stops. Avoid these high-traffic dog areas if your dog is not up-to-date on their vaccinations, is reactive, or is a puppy. Keep your dog on a leash and stay within the designated dog areas.
  • Truck stops or gas stations off a nearby exit are also good options. Try not to stray too far from your original route, and make sure your dog is on a leash to prevent you and your dog from getting lost in an unknown area.

You can’t predict when your dog has to go potty but listen to your dog. They may start to become restless or give other signs to let you know it's time to plan your next stop. Whenever you stop for food or gas, give your dog a chance to stretch and relieve themselves.

Melinda and her dog walking down a wooden path in the woods

Trails & Adventures

Fun excursions with your dogs could include hitting some trails at national and state parks, creek stomping, and other water-related fun. These are relatively easy adventures to participate in with your dog, but there are things you’ll need to know to make it possible.

  • Not every state and national park is dog-friendly. Most national parks do not allow dog visitors, whereas others have specific trails that the dog must stay on. Log onto the park's website to see available options.
  • Apps like AllTrails can help you find other dog-friendly hiking and walking areas. Map out the area to see where trails start and where creeks and rivers allow some fun stomping around for your dog.
  • Most state parks with rivers and lakes work with other companies to provide boating excursions like kayaking, canoeing, tubing, etc. Some of these services are also dog-friendly; call ahead to schedule your excursion and ask about dog accommodation.
  • Visit to find other excursions and activities specific to your destination that could be safe for your dog (i.e., local festivals, tourist locations, etc.) Always call ahead and ask the appropriate questions to ensure your dog is allowed and would enjoy the experience.

Now that you know how to make your plans, it’s time to secure your stops for your time away. Remember that planning is key; do your homework on where your dog will be allowed and accepted. Remember that issues may arise even on the most well-planned vacation, so have some backup plans. Respect and follow the rules of the places you visit. Don’t forget to pack treats and reward your dog while being a model citizen in these travel situations to increase their likelihood of enjoying and behaving in these environments. Check out other articles to help you with training while on the go and packing the correct supplies. Don’t forget to stay safe and have fun!