Dog-Friendly Road Trip: Put-in-Bay

We are lucky to have so many fun, dog-friendly places within a short drive of Cleveland. One that I have been wanting to hit up for a while with the dogs is Put-in-Bay island. Located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay is a popular summer destination for those looking for an Island party scene, but is also a great place to take your dog for patios, fun walks and sight-seeing.

I decided to plan my trip in September, thinking it would be less crowded, and less hot. I was right on one point, it was definitely not crowded. Unfortunately though, it was also one of the hottest days this summer. The heat definitely impacted our options with the dogs since Hunter is very heat averse, but we decided to make the best of it anyways.

Here is a rundown of what we did if you are looking to plan a trip to Put-in-Bay with your dogs.

How to get there

Both Jet Express and Miller’s Ferry allow dogs to travel on their boats over to the island. Just be sure to check the schedule if you are going in the off season. We didn’t plan ahead well and got to Jet Express only to find out that it doesn’t run on weekdays after Sept. 9. Luckily, Miller’s Ferry still runs on Fridays in September and is not too far from the Jet Express, so we were able to drive over there to pick up the ferry. They do have more limited hours and don’t take cars roundtrip on certain days during the off season, so read the site carefully when planning a trip in the off-season.

On Miller’s Ferry, dogs can ride on the lower level with the cars. Although it doesn’t drop you off as centrally on the island and is a more cargo-like experience than Jet Express, it’s still an easy option for getting to the island with your dogs. If you take Miller’s Ferry, you will want to rent a golf cart since it’s a farther walk to the main area of the island from where they drop you off. There is a golf cart rental place right next to where Miller’s Ferry drops off.



What to do

Put-in-Bay has a number of parks, and even recently opened a dog park on the island. There are a lot of fun areas to walk with your dog on the Island. You can walk around the Main Street to see the shops or take more scenic walks through the parks and along the lakeside. Most of the shops on the Island are dog-friendly, although it’s always a good idea to ask before bringing in your dog.

South Bass Island State Park is a great spot for a dog hike if you go on a less hot day. We couldn’t add it to the agenda knowing our dogs would barely make it a half mile, but from my research it looks like a good option for a nice Island walk. The park offers scenic views of Lake Erie as well as beach access.

And if you can’t get much of a walk in, there are a lot of great photo opportunities around the island for your dogs!

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For a little history, you can walk around the grounds of the Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial.


The new dog park, Island Paws Dog Park, on the island is located very close to where the Miller’s Ferry drops off. The park just opened this past May and provides a large space for dogs to roam and play. It didn’t look to have beach access to me, but it was hard to tell based on our visit when no other dogs or people were there.


For the more adventurous pup, you can also rent kayaks at Kayak the Bay near Oak Point to take your dog out on the water.

We didn’t rent kayaks, but we did get some cool pics on the jet skis at the ice cream place 🙂IMG_8636 IMG_8635


Where to eat

We stopped at the Reel Inn to find some shade and water for the pups after arriving on the island. The patio out front isn’t too large, but was able to accommodate the four dogs we had with us since it wasn’t crowded. The service and food was very good, so I would definitely recommend making a stop there if you visit.


And of course, there’s nothing better than ice cream on a hot day!


Other recommended dog-friendly patio options are: Goat, Boardwalk, The Keys, Chicken Patio, Hooligan’s.

The storm clouds started to move in toward the end of the day, but thankfully the weather held up and it only began to pour on us as we got to the parking lot on our way home. Some of the dogs were not too pleased with us for the long walk we had to make in the rain to get to the car. (Sorry Roscoe!)



Have you been to Put-in-Bay with your dogs? What was your favorite thing you did?

Dog-Friendly Road Trip: The Finger Lakes, NY

I love planning trips that Hunter, Roscoe and I can take, so when a friend that lives in Philadelphia suggested meeting in the Finger Lakes, NY, I thought why not bring the dogs??

I really had no idea how dog friendly the area was. I knew there was some nice hiking in the area and I thought maybe the dogs could hang outside at some wineries. Little did I know until doing a little more research that the Finger Lakes is a very dog-friendly place to visit.

Boys trip! Hunter and Roscoe with their buddy, Bruno.
Boys trip! Hunter and Roscoe with their buddy, Bruno.

Located about four and half hours from Cleveland, the Finger Lakes region is located in Central New York. We stayed in Seneca Falls right on the Cayuga Lake. We were about 20 minutes away from most of the wineries on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, all of which are dog friendly. There are 14 wineries on the trail and all of them allow dogs inside the tasting room. We asked before entering each one though, just to be safe. (The weekend after our visit they were actually having a dog-friendly wine event at the wineries.)

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Since you can only drink so much wine in a day, sadly, especially while transporting around dogs, we only visited four wineries along the trail – Varick Winery and Inn, Knapp Winery, Thirsty Owl and Buttonwood (dogs didn’t go into Buttonwood, although they would’ve been allowed as far as I know). The dogs were welcome at our stops and there was even water bowls already in most of the wineries.

Knapp Winery actually had a very dogs-and-people tolerant resident cat too. cat


At Thirsty Owl, we sat outside at the picnic tables and had a beautiful view of the lake while we ate lunch. The food and service were great, I’d definitely recommend it as a good stop for lunch along the wine trail.


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Hunter loved the attention he got from the groups of women visiting the wineries for bachelorette parties, and Roscoe enjoyed the anonymity he could have by hiding out close to the bar. None of the wineries were too busy on our visit, so it made it pretty easy to bring the dogs along.

Other attractions

If wine tasting isn’t really your (or your dog’s) thing, there are some great hikes in the area, as well as other activities for dogs around the lake. At the end of the wine trail was Taughannock Falls State Park – a great place for a walk before or after the wineries to wear out the dogs. From where we parked it was about a mile walk to the Falls, which was definitely worth a visit and a great way for us to cool down on a hot day!


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Taking the trail back we were able to stop and get some ice cream from Cayuga Lake Creamery. They served doggie cups for the dogs too.

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Doing a little research, I also found that there is a dog park at the base of the Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, where dogs can access the lake, as well as play in doggy pools. You can also rent canoes or kayaks at Owasco Paddles and bring the dogs along.

Here’s a good list of dog-friendly things to do in the area:

Where we stayed

We found an Airbnb on the lake in Seneca Falls that was dog friendly. The location was perfect and the price was good, and the place was not so nice I felt bad having the dogs there. More like a cabin (or motorhome actually). We saw a lot of options on Airbnb that were dog-friendly, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to stay with dogs.

At our Airbnb
At our Airbnb

In Seneca Falls, we also discovered a swanky dog-friendly hotel, Gould Hotel, if you are looking for accommodations that are a little more upscale than most of the cabin-type Airbnbs in the area.

Next time I go back I think I’d look for places a little closer to Ithaca, which is still close to the wineries and other good areas to hike. If you have dogs that enjoy a mix of hanging out and hiking, this is definitely a great dog-friendly trip to take. Since dogs and wine are two of my favorite things, I will definitely be back!

Dog-Friendly Road Trip: Philadelphia

Inspired by one of my favorite Instagrammers, Andrew Knapp and his dog Momo (@andrewknapp) who live out of a van most of the year and travel around Canada (and sometimes the U.S.), I love to plan road trips with my dogs. Two years ago we went to Charleston, S.C., and had a blast soaking up the Southern charm and dog-friendly hospitality of the city. Last week, we took a road trip to Philadelphia to see a friend of mine and take in some American history in a big city. Philadelphia is about a seven-hour drive, seven and a half with traffic, but a fairly quick and easy trip to take from Cleveland.

This was a big trip of firsts – first time having the dogs stay at a hotel and first time visiting a big city with dogs! I’d been to Philadelphia before but I really didn’t remember much about it. It’s definitely busier, louder and hotter than I remember. Although we had a lot of fun, taking two dogs to a busy, hot city can be somewhat challenging. Here’s the run down on what we did:

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in the Center City area. I’ve heard great things about how dog friendly the Kimpton chain of hotels are so I’d been looking for an opportunity to check them out. The Kimpton has no dog fees and no limit to the number of dogs you can bring, so although it’s on the more expensive side, no pet fees makes it a more affordable hotel option for traveling with dogs.

I hate to complain too much about a hotel that welcomes dogs so openly, but I think due to the fact that they promote themselves as so dog-friendly, I expected a little more. The website mentions that they provide dog-friendly recommendations upon check in and that they have a dog-friendly wine reception, but none of that was mentioned to me when I got there. I ended up asking about what dog-friendly attractions were nearby and was just told one place and that any place with a patio would be dog friendly (which didn’t turn out to be true).

Overall, the staff was very nice and very welcoming of my dogs, so I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience, just not want I expected based on their marketing. I am sure the level of dog-friendliness varies by location too though! The hotel has beautiful décor and is in a great spot for exploring the historical parts of the city and has a lot of cute restaurants and cafes nearby, so I don’t have any big complaints.

We especially loved the wallpaper and yellow doors, and the cool dog lamp.

I will say the one thing I did not enjoy – taking the elevator to take my dogs out to potty. For some reason this didn’t occur to me when I booked a hotel. You would think they’d put dog owners on a lower level, but I had to ride the elevator seven floors early in the morning and every night to take them down. I don’t know that we’d do a hotel again. I think it’s good for some dogs, but not really our thing.

At least Hunter had a good view of the city…even if Roscoe didn’t love the elevator.


Things the dogs really enjoyed – the bed. I think sleeping in the hotel’s luxurious bed was the highlight of the trip for Roscoe.

Where We Ate

So as I mentioned we were told that dogs are allowed at any restaurant with a patio. Although we did find several that allowed them, one that we tried (which was the largest patio we came across) said they couldn’t allow dogs because there were high walls around the patio. Hmmm ok. Most of our options for dog-friendly dining in the city were small sidewalk patios, which are not my favorite. A busy street with dogs in a cramped space is not a great place to take my sometimes barky (looking at you Hunter) dog.

I had a hard time finding good suggestions when I researched places before the trip too. I think the city just doesn’t have as many great patios as we do in Cleveland. Visiting Philadelphia really made me appreciate all the space we have in Cleveland for large, back-of-the-restaurant patios. I didn’t see any like that in Philadelphia that allowed dogs.

If you are visiting the city, here are the places we went:

Belgian Café, 601 N 21st St, Philadelphia

North Third Restaurant, 801 N 3rd St, Philadelphia

Gold Standard Café, 4800 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia

Belgian Café and North Third both provided water bowls, but that was about as dog-friendly as it got.


Originally we had planned to drive to a dog-friendly beach, but I cut the trip a little shorter than planned and we didn’t want to spend a day fighting the traffic. If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach near Philadelphia, Longport Beach on the Jersey shore is one option. It’s about an hour/hour and half drive from Philadelphia with traffic.

Since it was so hot and there aren’t a ton of dog-friendly things to do in the city, we mainly took walks and visited cafes. Philadelphia is not a very green city, but there are quite a few little parks around the historic area where we stayed that are pretty to walk through. Near where we stayed is Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Ben Frankin’s Grave, so it’s fun just walk through these areas and take in the history (the sites themselves are not dog-friendly, just the parks around them).


To give the dogs something fun to do, we decided to hit up the dog park at the Schuylkill River Boardwalk. I really liked this dog park, as it is divided into small and large dog areas and both spaces are fairly big. It also had pools for the dogs and a good number of dogs visiting on Friday afternoon. Hunter had a lot of fun cooling down in the pool.

We didn’t run the “Rocky” steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but that is something you could do with your dog!

All in all, it was a fun adventure in a big city for the pups. Not sure it’s really their favorite kind of vacation, but it was a trip I will always remember since I had my dogs there with me. Next trip will definitely be cooler temps and more laid-back activities, probably a beach.

Dog Friendly Roadtrip: Charleston, S.C.

We may only have had four days but we packed a lot (and not just driving, although it felt like that a little) into our big Memorial Day weekend road trip to Charleston, S.C. We were so excited to see the ocean, hear some Southern accents and experience dog-friendly Southern hospitality.

I got most of our ideas for what to do from Bring Fido and (both great resources for traveling with your dog) and we found a place to rent through Airbnb. I didn’t want to stay at a hotel since I haven’t traveled with Hunter or Roscoe before, so I wasn’t sure how they’d behave (ie: how much Hunter would bark) if we stayed at a hotel. The place we found was a small guest cottage located in the backyard of a house centrally located between downtown Charleston and Folly Beach. Perfect for all of our plans!

I really loved Charleston’s charm – and how dog friendly the city is! Pretty much everywhere we went the people we met were really excited to see the dogs. I mean, I know I have exceptionally cute dogs, but I got the feeling that people in Charleston just really love dogs.

So now the low down on what we did in Charleston. Here are the places we visited and would recommend if you’re planning a trip there (with or without your dog.)

Folly Beach

This dog-friendly beach is about 15 minutes from downtown Charleston and located in a cute beach community full of restaurants and bars. I was so excited to have Hunter and Roscoe see the ocean for the first time. Although I’ve taken them both to the lake, I haven’t exposed them much to water. I was happily surprised that they both seemed to enjoy the ocean, but especially Hunter who had a blast jumping the waves. Roscoe was a little more cautious but ventured out a little into the ocean too. My favorite part, though, was how much Hunter loved sitting on the sand and watching the ocean. Sitting on the beach with him and watching the wind blow through his fur was one of my favorite moments of 2015 so far. Pure bliss.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

I was so excited to find a plantation and garden that was dog friendly since it is rare that dogs are allowed in these types of places. Every part of Magnolia Plantation is dog friendly, including all of the tours and dogs are even allowed inside the plantation (if you can carry them). This is an absolutely beautiful walk to take with your dog. Although we didn’t do any of the tours, we loved exploring the grounds. I absolutely love Southern foliage – the palmetto trees and Spanish moss; and this plantation has it all. Hunter and Roscoe loved walking through the shaded gardens and checking out the alligators and peacocks (from a distance) hanging out at the Plantation.

Inspired by one of my favorite instagrammers, Andrew Knapp and his series of “Find Momo” photos, we set up a couple of “Find Hunter” and “Find Roscoe” photos. Can you find them? : )

Find Roscoe at a Southern Plantation.
Find Roscoe at a Southern Plantation.
FInd Hunter in a Southern Plantation maze!
FInd Hunter in a Southern Plantation maze!

Old Charleston Ghost Tour

When you’re in an historic city like Charleston, you have to do a ghost tour! Luckily Charleston is so dog friendly, Old Charleston Tours allows dogs on their tours. I’ve always heard dogs have a special sense about ghosts, so I thought maybe Roscoe and Hunter would tip us off to any real ghosts along the way and make the tour even more exciting.

Truthfully though, I was a little nervous about taking Roscoe and Hunter on the tour, only because Hunter gets so hot sometimes that he doesn’t like to walk too far and Roscoe doesn’t do well in crowds, especially with people walking around him. I figured we could try it out though and see how it went. Luckily, it was a small crowd and they were the only dogs, so things went really well. We had a lot of stops along the way and it wasn’t very hot, so they were able to keep up during the entire walk. I was really happy with how well it went. The ghost stories were pretty interesting too, but really my favorite part was getting a chance to walk around the historic Charleston downtown area. It is such a beautiful city.

Where we ate:

Lost Dog Café

This great recommendation from the GoPetFriendly site is a popular attraction for anyone staying near Folly Beach, but especially dog lovers. Lost Dog Cafe really caters to dog lovers and we encountered several on our visit. The food, and coffee in particular (which is called Border Collie blend – love!) were very good. I’d recommend it even if it wasn’t dog friendly!

Fuel Charleston

Another recommendation from, Fuel is a bar/restaurant housed in a converted gas station. The open air restaurant has a large patio in the back where dogs are welcome. The patio is very large, with an outdoor bar, a lounge area and tables. We had plenty of space for both dogs and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere of the patio. The food is Southern-Caribbean style – tacos, sandwiches and salads.

Blind Tiger Pub

Located on a cute street in downtown Charleston, Blind Tiger has a really cool patio with plenty of room for dogs. We stopped in there before our ghost tour to grab a bite. Dogs are only allowed on the patio until 9 p.m., as it gets crowded there in the evening. I really loved this patio and would highly recommend stopping here if you visit Charleston.

Other places worth a stop:

Black Tap Coffee – they allow dogs inside and the coffee is delicious!


Poogan’s Porch – this cute restaurant is located on a charming street in downtown Charleston. It is also reportedly haunted! It’s a little on the expensive side, but they do allow dogs on the patio. We didn’t visit during our trip, but I took a picture since it was a stop on our ghost tour.


 The roadtrip!

Hunter and Roscoe were great on the 11-hour car ride. I had stocked up on a lot of bones and treats, but really they weren’t too interested in them. They just hung out and took some quick naps. It was a super easy road trip. We only stopped three times on the way down, and twice on the way back, giving them a chance to walk around and stretch their legs. I was impressed with how well they behaved and will definitely do another road trip soon since now I know they are excellent travelers!