5 Dog-Friendly Weekend Trips

Need to get away but don't want to leave your pooch behind? You don't have to.

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery—and dogs love car rides.  So pack a bag and grab that leash!  These Virginia destinations are a short drive and cater to all kinds of guests, including four-legged ones.


Danielle MacInnes for Unsplash

Virginia Beach

For the dog who loves the water, Virginia Beach is the place. This popular beach town offers numerous dog-friendly hotels close to the ocean. The Founders Inn and Spa, a luxury hotel with 26 landscaped acres for long walks, is especially pet-friendly and welcomes dogs up to 50 pounds for a one-time $35 fee. Alternately, the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel, Ambassadors Inn & Suites, and Alamar Resort Inn are also dog-approved options by the water. Virginia Beach has two city-owned dog parks, Red Wing Metro Park and Woodstock Community Park, for playtime. Dogs are permitted on the public boardwalks (leashed) and beaches (unleashed). The town is home to a variety of pet-friendly restaurants, including the Beatles-themed Abbey Road Pub and Restaurant, Barbeque by Froggie’s and Back Bay Brewing Co.  If your dog is well-behaved, he or she may even earn a spa pampering at Preppie Pooch, which features treatments such as sugar scrubs, mud wraps or a soothing paw soak.


Quirk Hotel Richmond. Photo:@lucy_the_french_piglet


For a city trip with your dog, look no further than the state capital. The Quirk Hotel, located in the trendy arts district and rated a 2018 “best hotel in the South” by Condé Nast Traveler, accommodates dogs up to 70 pounds, offering complimentary doggy bags with treats. Waste bags and pet beds are provided upon request.  Another nearby option is The Jefferson Hotel, which boasts a Forbes 5-star rating and allows dogs for a $50 fee with no weight limit.  (The Jefferson famously hosts the annual SPCA “Fur Ball,” a black-tie fundraiser for people and their pets.) If you’re out and about, stroll to Jefferson Park for great city views, or do some shopping at Stony Point Fashion Park, an outdoor mall that permits leashed pets. Abbella Cakes, a specialty dog bakery in Stony Point, sells doggie muffins, biscuits, cannoli and cakes for Rover. If you’re willing to venture outside the city, Barker Field, Bark Park, and Ruff House Dog Park all allow off-leash play.


Emmerson Willett for Unsplash


For the adventurous dog, Luray is a gateway to nature. Chain hotels like the Quality Inn, Days Inn and Best Western all welcome pets, but your best bet may be to scout a VRBO or Airbnb rental amid the foliage and soak in the views of this scenic area. Shenandoah National Park offers more than 500 miles of hiking trails, many of which are open to dogs (check here for a list of trails that don’t allow pets). Leashed dogs are allowed on the grounds of Luray Caverns, which include a ropes course/adventure park and a garden maze, but only smaller dogs (small enough to carry) are permitted on the underground cave tours.


A drawer of treats at Graduate Charlottesville’s front desk (Facebook photo)


Want to escape to a college town? Follow the signs to Charlottesville. The historic downtown has an outdoor mall that’s open to leashed dogs, and the main street is lined with various restaurants with outdoor seating and pet-friendly patios pets, including Trinity Irish Pub, Beer Run, and First Colony Winery. Dogs less than 50 pounds are welcome at the Boar’s Head Resort, a AAA Four-Diamond getaway at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  You’ll also find dog-friendly lodging at the Residence Inn by Marriott, The Omni Charlottesville Hotel and Graduate Charlottesville.  To give your pup a taste of freedom, head to Azalea Dog Park, Chris Green Lake Park or Darden Towe Dog Park, all of which are off-leash dog parks with fenced-in play space. Or, hit the nature trails at Crabtree Falls, home of the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River, where well-behaved dogs are permitted off-leash. If you’ve got kids in tow, Carter Mountain Orchard welcomes leashed dogs and offers pumpkin and apple picking and hayrides in the fall.


Colonial Williamsburg mascots Liberty and Justice the Briards (Facebook photo)

Colonial Williamsburg

For a pet-friendly trip back in time, Colonial Williamsburg offers history and adventure.  The official town mascots, Liberty and Justice the Briards, are retiring later this year, but for now you’ll still find them welcoming visitors (you can track their whereabouts around town with this app). Book a dog-friendly room for an additional $50 per day at the Williamsburg Inn, a historic luxury hotel with tons of outdoor canine play space.  The Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites and Williamsburg Lodge also allow two dogs per room for a fee. Blue Talon Bistro serves casual Southern fare and features dog-friendly outdoor tables. Fat Canary, a must try restaurant in the heart of downtown, is also pooch-friendly. Pets are permitted in most of Williamsburg’s major outdoor sites, provided they are leashed and their leave-behinds respectfully poop-scooped. Visit the Palace Green, an outdoor space featuring Colonial games, and Market Square, known for its frequent parades and celebrations.


Related Stories: 

9 Weekend Getaways to Book This Fall

In Richmond, A Thriving Arts Scene

Get Away: The Graduate Richmond

Wining and Dining in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley


Categories: Travel