Don’t want to leave Spot at home? No problem at these dog-friendly Michigan destinations

When it comes to road trips, Michigan is a dog owner’s best friend. Bring the pooch to an array of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and hiking trails. Below are some dog-friendly things to do and see in Michigan.

On the ferry to Mackinac  Island!

On the ferry to Mackinac Island! Photo by Sarah Cunning.

Upper Peninsula

Mackinac Island State Park – a landscape characterized by high limestone bluffs, beautiful vistas of sparkling water and vibrant forests – is a family friendly destination (Spot included). Visit Fort Mackinac and visit the state historic parks with your dog by your side. Pet-friendly lodging is available on the island at Mission Point Resort.

Marquette's North Beach is Bella Mae's favorite dog friendly spot!

Marquette’s North Beach is Bella Mae’s favorite dog friendly spot! Photo by Sharon Matulewicz.

With trails all throughout the Upper Peninsula, there are plenty of places to walk or run with your dog. There’s plenty of room to walk on the 24 miles of Lake Superior shore at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. The park near Ontonagon contains more than 25 trails, from flat and smooth to hilly and rugged. Westmore Landing in Marquette offers scenic hiking trails for you and your pup to adventure. The Upper Peninsula has numerous pet-friendly motels, cabins, cottages and resorts.

Lake-loving owners and their canines are welcome aboard the Isle Royal Queen IV ferry for sunset cruises in Copper Harbor. Motor past Great Lakes freighters and lighthouses while listening to stories about the Keweenaw as the sun dips below the Lake Superior horizon.

Northern Michigan

On your way to the U.P., stop at Ruff Life Pet Outfitters in Petoskey to find your dog gear for the outdoor lifestyle in Northern Michigan. If you’re heading to Charlevoix, visit Mt. McSauba beach which includes a short wooded trail that leads to the sand dunes and is a locals favorite.

The same natural attractions that make Traverse City such a popular place for outdoor recreation – miles of forest trails, wide open spaces and long beaches, make it a popular destination for dogs and the people who love them. Many local hotels and resorts (and even a few restaurants) are dog-friendly, although it’s always smart to check ahead and understand the rules and conditions that can sometimes apply. Other pets may require special consideration and stronger restriction. But if you’re a dog owner, you’ll find Traverse City a very welcoming place. Here is a list of more than fourteen friendly places in Traverse City.

West Michigan

Take a trip to Grand Rapids – fur-babies welcomed! With plenty of pet-friendly places to stay, there are no worries finding the perfect one for your needs. Stop by Hillcrest Dog Park , an off-leash park, to let loose. With two fenced in areas for large and small dogs, the park is perfect for everyone. When it’s time to grab some chow, you and your dog are both welcome at One Trick Pony. While you enjoy your meal, your dog can relax with a water bowl and a special marrow bone to snack on.

Norman F. Kruse Park in Muskegon is a win-win when traveling with your pooch. With a section of beach designated to man’s best friend, it is a great spot to soak in the sun at Lake Michigan – including picnic areas for the family and space for your pup to swim.


Teddy on the Kruse Park dog beach in Muskegon

Teddy on the Kruse Park dog beach in Muskegon. Photo by Stephanie Branam.

Another option is one of the many pet-friendly parks in Grand Haven. Pups are welcome to run freely on the southern beach area at Kirk Park. The park features acres of dunes, woods and hiking trails with scenic dune overlooks. Dogs are also welcome at East Grand River Park and Mulligan’s Hollow. Venture just outside Grand Haven to Coast Guard Park in Ferrysburg for off leash fun. On leash options abound, with bike paths, the boardwalk and North Ottawa Dunes. Grand Haven offers many pet-friendly lodging options for the family as well.

East Michigan

Head to Frankenmuth, Michigan’s little Bavaria, for a welcoming vacation. Visit Hund Platz Dog Park, designed for dogs, includes dog agility equipment your furry friend is sure to love! You’ll find great toys for your pet at Hello Cats and Dogs, complete with a “Barkery.” Frankenmuth has a variety of dog-friendly lodging options available.

From the Riverfront and pet-friendly shops, to welcoming lodging, Metro Detroit is an ideal destination. You’ll find everything you need to have a successful trip with the pup. Your canine pal can loll at your feet while you dive into seared salmon or a hanger steak sandwich on the patio of Detroit’s Fountain Bistro in Campus Martius Park. During warm months, the south lawn of the downtown park gets covered with sand, so pups can roll around while masters sip cocktails at the adjacent Beach Bar and Grille.

These are just a few of the many places to bring man’s best friend on your trip to Michigan. Click here to find more dog-friendly destinations in Michigan. Check out our past pet-friendly blogs for more travel ideas. Where is your favorite place in Michigan to take your dog?

12 Hidden Gems in Michigan

Guest Blogger, Jessica Holli, from the Awesome Mitten tells us about some of Michigan’s most unique places to eat, drink and play.  Read her favorites below and find more places to visit on

As an associate editor with the Awesome Mitten, I edit tons of articles about Michigan’s most unique places, and as a result I am constantly in a state of wanderlust. Luckily, all of the destinations are located within our two fabulous peninsulas. From breathtaking dunes to sandwich shops, here are some of my favorite destinations.

Chapel Rock Falls and Beach Trail

Chapel RockPictured Rocks National Lakeshore, this trail winds visitors past gorges and around the Chapel Falls with several outlook opportunities. Continue along the trail to the beach and make sure to pack your swimsuit and your lunch; you won’t want to leave!

Atwater Brewery

Founded in 1997, Atwater Brewery in Detroit has turned a 1919 factory warehouse into a home for their German brewing equipment.  Atwater churns out custom German lagers and American ales with ease. Stop by their taproom for a Vanilla Java Porter during your next trip to Motor City.

Old Town Lansing

Art aficionados, foodies, and music lovers will find something they love in Lansing’s Old Town district. The neighborhood is home to celebrated art galleries, one of a kind restaurants, and several music festivals throughout the calendar year. Stop by and explore countless antique stores and don’t forget to try Craving Popcorn’s most recent custom flavor.

Lost & Found Antique Store

Located in Grand Rapids, Lost & Found Antique Store will keep Mitten Pickers busy for hours. Among the well-curated mid-century modern collection, antique hunters will find vintage advertisements and custom pottery. Don’t forget to bring your U-Haul!

Ernie’s Market

Ernie Hassan has been creating and serving sandwiches to Oak Park for more than four decades. Ernie’s delicious sandwich fixings and sense of humor ensures that every customer leaves with a smile. This family-owned business doesn’t accept cards, so make sure you stop by an ATM before stopping by. You might just hear Ernie shout, “Yeah, Baby!”

Arcadia Dunes

Take M-22 to the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve. There, you’ll find 15 miles of hiking and biking trails and incredible views of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The journey is definitely the destination for this day trip.

Riverside Kayak

Explore Detroit on two paddles during a guided tour of the Detroit River and East Side Canals. You will need to register ahead of time online. B.Y.O.K. (bring your own kayak) or rent a kayak on sight and buckle your life jacket; after touring Detroit via boat you’ll never look at the city the same way again.

Ocqueoc Falls State Forest Campground

For a proper slice of the Northern Mitten, pack your tent and visit Ocqueoc Falls, the largest falls in the Lower Peninsula. Hikers and bikers will find plenty of pathways and trails to occupy a weekend in the State Park. Make sure to arrive at the Park early if you want a campsite, no reservations means that all of the sites are first come, first serve.

Meyer May House

Meyer May, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is tucked within Grand Rapid’s Heritage Hills district. Known as “Michigan’s Prairie Masterpiece” it was commissioned by Meyer S. May, a Grand Rapid’s based clothier in 1908. Steelcase began restoring the home to its original condition in 1985, and the Meyer May estate is now open for public tours. Visitors can explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s restored home for no cost – admission is free!


Kitch-iti-kipi is as fun to say as it is to visit. The springs, Michigan’s largest freshwater springs, were originally named “Mirror of Heaven” by the Native Americans. Known for its “emerald bottom,” the springs emit 10,000 gallons of water per minute. Visitors can explore the crystal-clear springs via a self-operated raft.

Cheboygan Brewing Company

Cheboygan Brewing CompanyThe city of Cheboygan can trace their beer-brewing roots back to 1827, when the Hentschel from Prussia founded a brewery on the Cheboygan River to serve the hard working lumber workers. Fast-forward to 2009 when Cheboygan historians and beer lovers came together to revitalize Cheboygan’s craft brew culture. Stop by the Cheobygan Brewing Company’s tap room for a taste of Michigan history and flavorful craft beers.


This Marquette staple first opened in 1895 and continues to serve up the area’s best homemade candy, breakfast and lunch. While the star of Doncker’s is definitely their immense candy selection, the restaurant that operates out of the establishment’s original sandwich counter offers visitors the best comfort food.

Jessica HolliJessica Holli is an associate editor for the Awesome Mitten. She has lived in, and loves, both parts of America’s High Five. This Michigan State University alumna is obsessed with the Great Lakes, the color red, and spending as much time as possible outside. When she is not working she’s exercising in Michigan’s natural playground or planning her next adventure.

Have you visited any of these places? What hidden gems would you add to the list?