Bar Harbor, Maine & Acadia National Park *RECOMMENDED*

Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Route 3
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


Activities: Hiking, walking, dog swimming

Last Visit: 2017

Notes: Beaches in Maine and Acadia National Park are open to dogs mid-September through mid-May. Check the town or Park Service websites for more info.

Acadia National Park bills itself as one of the few dog-friendly National Parks. Neighboring Bar Harbor also has a reputation as a dog-lover’s Mecca. Neither disappointed.

We decided to take a vacation our dog could join us on and settled for Acadia and Bar Harbor. We love hiking and exploring with our mutt and this seemed like the perfect destination. With a little planning and research we found activities and destinations for the entire trip that were all dog friendly.

We headed out in mid-September when the beaches in Maine and the National Park were closed to swimmers but open to dogs. In addition, the summer crowds had thinned substantially and prices were cheaper. Traveling in “shoulder season” has it’s perks. The weather was perfect: high 70’s during the day, cool-crisp evenings perfect for sitting by the fire pit.

The drive is long but can be broken up with stops at many of Maine’s picturesque sea-side towns. Many had coastal walking trails or great little downtown shopping areas (though some were a bit tourist-y). We made stops in York, Ogunquit, Kittery, Freeport and Kennebunkport.

Bar Harbor is, as mentioned, super dog friendly. We had no issues finding a hotel that allows pets. Most restaurants have outdoor seating on a patio or deck where you can eat with your dog. There was even a dog-themed coffee shop.

The park and the surrounding islands are filled with miles upon miles of trails for hiking or walking – including the famous carriage roads. You can test your dog’s sea-legs on one of the mail boats that goes between Northeast Harbor and the Cranberry Islands. And, if you go off season, there are some amazing beaches to stroll down.

Not to be missed: Stopping at Jordan Pond House Restaurant inside the park for one of their world-famous pop-overs. There is outdoor seating that is dog-friendly. Lollipop lucked out the day we visited: it was windy and a tray of pop-overs got blown onto the ground. The servers split them up among the many happy visiting dogs.

Not to be missed: Sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Due to fog / overcast weather, it took us three pre-dawn trips, but on the last day it cleared and was spectacular. Get there well before sunrise as it gets quite crowded at the summit parking area.

Taylor Farm Dog Park (Calf Pasture Beach)

Calf Pasture Beach Rd
Norwalk, CT 06855

Website: ???

Activities: Walking, off leash, dog swimming

Last Visit: 2015

Notes: On our last visit the off leash area was mostly unfenced and uncomfortably close to traffic.

Admittedly it has been a long time since we visited here, but we had a negative experience and never returned. The off leash area is large and beautiful – with a big pond at one end dogs could swim in, a rolling meadow in the middle and some woods along the north side.

Unfortunately, the lack of fencing and surrounding busy streets lead to some issues (the day we were there even the streets through the park were busy and traffic tended to move uncomfortably fast through them).

The final issue was the adjacent picnic area – some unfortunate young souls tried to have a bbq which every dog in the vicinity immediately swarmed as soon as the meat hit the grill.

All told, it was not a very relaxing off leash dog experience. We left fairly quickly and made the trip to Cranbury Park which was much more enjoyable for us.

I will make it a point to re-vist this location in the near future to see if conditions have improved.

Greenwich Dog Park & Grass Island

Grass Island Road
Greenwich, CT 06830


Activities: Off leash, dog socializing, dog swimming, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Please review Dog Park rules here. Keep an eye on your dog – both to pickup waste and to make sure he or she doesn’t start digging. The park is built on top of an artificial berm that was made with construction rubble and trash in the mid-20th Century. Dogs that dig may turn up broken glass, porcelain or re-bar.

The Greenwich Dog Park at Grass Island was our first dog park experience and we have many happy memories here.

Yes, the dog park is dirty.
Yes, the dog park is too small.
Yes, it’s built on top of a literal hill of 50 year old garbage.
Yes, it overlooks the sewage treatment plant (though it rarely smells too bad…)

But this dog park has heart! Most people you meet here are super friendly and sociable. There is also a dedicated group of volunteers that spruces the place up and lobbies the towns for improvements.

There is a large dog and a small dog side. Bags are provided, as is water in the summer (a spigot is located by the front gate) and usually an assortment of balls and toys. There are several benches to sit on inside the dog run.

Behind the dog park are some trails leading down to the water by the boat club. You can walk all the way around the loop that takes you to a scenic point at the tip of the marina. Be careful of fishermen.

Many people take their dogs for a quick dip (to cool off or wash off) after a visit to the dog park. You can either do this in the park area by the boat club or at the boat-launch in the marina.

PS. Remember to bring bug spray in the summer!

PPS. Here’s a tip… can’t get tickets to the Greenwich Town Party? You can get great views from both the Grass Island Marina and the Dog Park!

Byram Park & Byram Beach

4 Ritch Ave W.
Greenwich, CT 06830


Activities: Walking, Dog swimming

Last Visit: 2021

Notes: Open to dogs Dec 1 – March 31.

We rarely go here, it’s fairly small compared to the other beaches nearby (Tod’s Point and Playland). We did see some off-leash dogs on the beach on our visits, but it doesn’t seem well suited to it and may not be advisable. The surrounding park is nice for walking.

If you do go, don’t miss the statue of Greenwich’s first police dog, “Yogi.”

Greenwich Point Park (Tod’s Point) *RECOMMENDED*

Tods Driftway
Old Greenwich, CT


Activities: Walking, dog swimming, dog socializing, off leash

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Open to dogs Dec 1 – March 31. Leash required inside the park except on the beach (up to high-water mark). *PARK CLOSED TO DOGS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 2019-2020 DOG SEASON DUE TO RACCOON-BASED DISTEMPER OUTBREAK!*

Greenwich Point Park is considered the crown jewel of Greenwich’s parks. 147 acres of beautiful park land with a large beach at one end and walking a path with spectacular views of New York City at the other.

Leash-laws are a controversial issue at the park. There is no question that you must leash your dog inside the park, in the parking lots and on the walking paths, as with any other park in Greenwich. It is not uncommon to see the town’s ACO there, so please be a responsible owner and use a leash anywhere off the beach. On the beach itself is less clear. The town posts signs implying leashes are required, but even when the ACO is there very few people leash their dogs on the sand (below the high-tide mark) and there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement.

One thing to note: on unusually warm weekend days you should expect a large crowd, which can mean running into lots of pups that have been exposed to varying levels of socialization and a similar mix of owners. It’s important to maintain your situational awareness on days like that and don’t expect other dog owners to be monitoring their puppers as closely as maybe they should be. Full disclosure: our dog was bitten there and the owner made great haste to leave the scene, sticking us with a $650 emergency vet bill. That said – we still regularly return!

Lake Mohegan Open Space *RECOMMENDED*

960 Morehouse Hwy
Fairfield, CT


Activities: Dog swimming, hiking, dog socializing, walking, off leash

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Off leash dogs permitted on trails and in the lake outside of the “100-foot” zones surrounding the parking lots.

This is truly a gem worth the trip. 170 acres of trails surround a brook that flows through a scenic cascade into a beautiful man-made lake. Easily accessible off the Meritt Parkway, you can park at either end of the lake though I recommend the paved lot close to the main beach (dogs not allowed but they do let you use their bathrooms). From there you can access easy paths to the popular dog-spots on the East side of the lake.

There are a few hazards to be aware of. First, the lake gets very deep very quickly (it is an old gravel pit) so be careful where you step. Second, there is a bit of a current – not so much it will sweep a dog away, but I have lost some toys to it. Finally, be careful of surly fishermen (unfortunately I ran into one once) and cut-lures with hooks they sometimes leave behind.

Playland Beach & Rye Town Park *RECOMMENDED*

Playland Parkway
Rye, NY


Activities: Dog swimming, dog socializing, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Off leash allowed (on beach only), “Dog Season” runs late-September to late-April; check the “Dog Friends of Playland Beach” site for more info.

Playland Beach is one of our favorite winter destinations. Opening in the early fall and closing mid-spring, it has one of the longest dog seasons in the area. It is large, mostly fenced, well maintained and very popular so your pupper will have plenty of friends to play with. Rye Town Park abuts Playland Beach and is lovely to walk around on leash (neighboring Rye Beach is NOT opened to dogs however). Both are easily accessed off I-95 via Playland Parkway.

Larchmont Dog Beach & Manor Park *SKIP*

118 Park Ave
Larchmont, NY 10538


Activities: Walking, dog swimming, dog socializing

Last Visit: 2016

Notes: NOT RECOMMENDED, Parking is on the street.

Larchmont Dog Beach is no longer worth the trip, although the adjacent Manor Park is nice to stroll through with your leashed dog, as is the surrounding neighborhood.

Several years ago Dog Beach was a popular destination – there is a *very* small spit of land (partially fenced but open to the road) with a sandy beach just off the street. At lower tides, a second larger beach was accessible. Sandwiched between two large piers and a tall seawall, it provided a nice spot for the dogs to run and play – however getting their required ignoring some “private property” signs of dubious legality placed there by a nearby beach club.

However, in 2016 social media started spreading more and more accounts of zealous police enforcement and hefty fines for dogs off leash, in the water or beyond the dubious “private property” signs. Apparently the beach clubs were unhappy with dogs in their vicinity and the new mayor was happy to oblige them.

It’s been several years and I don’t know if things have improved, but I no longer recommend people make the trip. Go to Lake Mohegan in Fairfield instead.