Cool New England Hot Spots for Dogs

Massachusetts & Connecticut
By Andi Marie Cantele, October 2009, Updated June 2021

Dog lovers and their canine companions hit the mother lode in New England, where there’s something for everyone: exhilarating hikes for outdoor adventurers, bistros and boutique hotels for urban sophisticates, and a breathtaking seacoast for those who just want to stroll on a quiet beach with their four-legged friends.

For the Urban Dog. In Boston, cosmopolitan dog lovers don’t have to leave their co-pilots at home. In the city’s gentrified South End, check out the dog run in Peters Park, or head downtown to stroll along the Charles River or explore the über touristy Faneuil Hall Marketplace (leashed dogs are allowed on Boston’s transit system, a.k.a. the T, during off-peak hours). Bunk for the night at Nine Zero Hotel, where canine guests get their own beds, bowls and treats (think chicken-broth lollipops). Across the street is the historic Boston Common, one of New England’s crown jewels and the country’s oldest public park. Head to the designated area near Charles Street, where urban hounds can romp off-leash in the early morning and evening.

For the Seafaring Dog. The happy pooches riding the ferries steaming out to Martha’s Vineyard are the first clue that this island off Cape Cod, Mass., loves canine visitors. There’s the dog-friendly farmers’ market in the rural up-island village of West Tisbury. Then there’s Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, whose spectacular barrier beach is open to dogs after sunbathers head home. And the ultimate insider spot: Trade Wind Fields Preserve in Oak Bluffs, where dogs have the run of woods and meadows circling a grass-strip airfield. Join the morning regulars who arrive around 7:30, when local canines cavort and play with their owners in tow.

For the Sophisticated Hiker. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail winds through New England on its 2,175-mile route from Georgia to Maine, and daytripping hikers love Connecticut’s 52-mile section of the famous footpath, from the windswept peak of Bear Mountain to the lovely Housatonic River. Well-mannered dogs may even spend the night in one of the trail’s lean-to shelters. Just steps away from the “AT” is the cultured enclave of Kent; snag an outdoor café table on Main Street and watch the parade of prep school parents, Manhattan weekenders and those arriving for one of the town’s many cultural events. In keeping with the artsy vibe, there’s even a gallery where pooches are welcome. Sculpturedale is an outdoor installation of life-sized steel-and-bronze giraffes, elephants, hippos and the like.

Andi Marie Cantele is the author of Backroad Bicycling in Western Massachusetts and 52 Weekends in Connecticut (both from Countryman Press), among others; she lives in Connecticut.