Best buds make the best travel companions—especially when they let you call all the shots and pick the snacks. We sniffed out our top 15 Midwest Fido-friendly road trip destinations for when your doggo’s wanderlust just can’t be held at bay any longer. Read on to find out about these dog-friendly road trips including what to bring, where to stay, and more!
Before You Hit the Road…
Make sure you are PAW-pared! Here are just a few tips to make sure your road trip is a success.
Think about a trip to the vet
First, make sure sure pup is up to date on her vaccinations and physically able to take a road trip. Also, ensure fren’s flea and tick treatments are up to snuff! If your pup is an anxious shot-gun rider, ask your vet about meds or other solutions to make him more comfortable.
Always come prepared
Not sure what to pack for the pup? Here is a list of essentials to consider adding to the luggage.
- Identification papers and vaccination records
- Collapsible dog bowls
- Plenty of food and treats
- Leash with collar or harness
- So many poop bags
- A towel or two (for muddy paws)
- A first aid kit
- Any medications that Fido might be taking
For more information about how to prepare your pup for an amazing road trip, check out Dog Road Trip Essentials: 5 Tips for Your Drive before you hit the road!
Buckle Up, Pups! It’s Road Trip Time
From Minnesota to Ohio, and back around the Dakotas, the Midwest is a region like no other! If you’re ready to see what you’ve been missing, or revisit some amazing sites, then check out these dog-friendly vacation destinations.
More than simply fun to say, Bemidji has a lot to offer to road-tripping pups and humans. We recommend checking out Lake Bemidji State Park for its over-water sunsets and pup-friendly hiking trails.
After that, head over to the patio of Bemidji Brewing for some delicious beer and food, plus complimentary treats and water for your pup.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Candlewood Suites Bemidji. This spot allows two pups up to 80lbs for $25 the first night, followed by $15 for each subsequent night.
Duluth is your quintessential MN vacation spot, and it’s one of the dog-friendliest as well. Duluth is home to a number of fantastic dog-friendly restaurants and breweries: We love the patios of At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Café or Ursa Minor Brewery in paw-ticular.
As for outdoor activities, check out Ely’s Peak for a leisure hike with some amazing views. If you are feeling adventurous, Duluth offers a unique experience for you and your pooch; Lake Country Air & Beaver Air Tours is an air tour company that showcases water plane rides up the North Shore! Adults can fly for just $119 per person, and doggos fly free!
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Sheraton Duluth Hotel. Allows dogs up to 80 lbs, and a guest waiver must be signed at check-in.
4. Wisconsin Dells
The Dells is a Midwest must-see for both you and you pup. Start off your vacation with a river ride from Dells Boat Tours, and if you and Fido are still on the prowl, head out to Devil’s Lake State Park for some terrier-iffic views.
Hungry after all of that fresh air? The Keg & the Patio and the Brat House Grill both have dog-friendly patios, and the latter has a special menu just for pups. If you’re in the mood for a brew, hit up the dog-friendly beer garden at Port Huron Brewing Company.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: While there is no shortage of pet-friendly lodging options in the Dells, our recommendation is Baker’s Sunset Bay Resort, where you can bring up to two pets for $15 a day per floof.
5. Door County
A famous, stunning slice of land surrounded by Lake Michigan, Door County is home to a fabulous hiking opportunity in Whitefish Dunes State Park, which even has access to a dog-friendly beach area on Lake Michigan.
After you get in some walking, swimming, and socializing, consider a stop by the Gibraltar Grill for delicious food and fantastic music. Maybe pup’ll even get a feature on the Dog Pals page of their website!
6. Mackinac Island
Hit the water with a trip to Mackinac Island in the UP of Michigan. Soak up the sun with a ferry ride from Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry (Fido rides for free). We know your history hound has been beggin’ to see a recreation of an 18th-century fort and fur trading village, and he’ll get his fill at Colonial Michilimackinac.
Looking for something to cure your sweet tooth on this vacation? Head to the famous Ryba’s Fudge Shop and experience some delicious T-R-E-A-Ts for pups and humans. It’s the best of both worlds.
Ready to have a ball? Cleveland is home to tons of dog-friendly excitement including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath which has access to some of the most beautiful views of the canals and wildlife. If pup is more of a city slicker, get tickets to Cleveland Scavenger Hunt: A Ball Round The Mall where you and Fido can search the city for landmarks, artwork, and more!
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Hotel Indigo Cleveland Downtown is a great place to unwind, and they’re dog-friendly! Their pet-policy allows for 2 dogs up to 50lbs for a $35 deposit and $35 nightly fee per dog.
Let’s set our road trip GPS to Indy! First stop is Broad Ripple Park which is home to a beautiful view of the White River and lots of doggos. From there, check out the Cultural Trail, which connects Indy’s six Cultural Districts. You’ll find pup tons of dog-friendly breweries, coffee shops, and stores along the way (Mass. Ave is a mutts visit!).
You’re sure to be hongryafter your day of play, so zoomie over to Cafe Patachou for some top-rated breakfast and lunch! After your meal, hit up Hotel Tango Distillery for a few cocktails with your pal.
Our dog friendly lodging pick: Ironworks Hotel Indy LOVES dogs, and if you call them in advance, they’ll even prep your room with dog bowls, a custom Ironworks mat, and a treat!
There’s no dog-friendly vacation station like the Windy City for your road trip! If your pup has been cooped up on your long ride, head over to Puptown Dog Park in Margate Park! Chicago has some of the best gardens and outdoor shopping in the Midwest; take Fido to Farmers Market Garden Center for some retail therapy.
Pizza is a Chicago staple, and 6 Mutts Chicago food truck is slingin’ pizza options for you AND your pup. What goes great with pizza? Beer. Lake Bluff Brewing welcomes both you and your pooch on the patio for views and brews!
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: the Staypineapple Hotel is an iconic spot in The Loop of Chicago! Not only are they pet-friendly, but according to their website they are, “Pet Obsessed!”
10. Des Moines
Treat your pup to a road trip to Des Moines. We recommend checking out the dog-friendly and scenic Kruidenier Trail, a relatively short hike which passes beautiful Grey’s Lake and connects to other local trails.
After that, consider a stop at the dog-friendly patio of Gazali’s, a Mediterranean spot which churns out gyros, wraps, salads, and sandwiches.
11. St. Louis
Another great pet-friendly road trip destination is St. Louis! Get outdoors and go to the Ellen Clark Sculpture Park & Dog Park for a peek at the St. Louis University campus.You should also add the iconic Gateway Arch National Park for some fun and very cute photo-ops!
Head to Boathouse at Forest Park to enjoy an American style dinner on their pooch-loving patio. If you’re looking for more variation in your menu, try Tamm Avenue Grill for the largest dog-friendly patio around.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Magnolia Hotel St. Louis offers a unique lodging experience, and is also proudly pet-friendly.
12. Kansas City
You can’t leave Kansas without tasting some KC BBQ. Woodyard Bar-B-Que has tons of amazing KC-style options, and the dog-friendly patio is perfect for you and pup to enjoy a meal together.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: The Residence Inn Kansas City at the Legends is a comfortable stay that allows 2 pets (50 lb max) per room for a $150 fee.
If you’re looking for some history on your dog-friendly road trip, Omaha is a great place to stop. Memorial Park showcases trails and monuments that honor the fallen soldiers from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Then head to Omaha Dog Bar where your dog will get a chance to socialize with tons of other pooches while enjoying the “bar” of dog treats.
J. Coco is a great place to settle down from your busy day to a nice lunch or dinner on their patio with your bud. They serve up great organic fare and will tell your pup how pretty she is (even tho she already knows).
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: The Element Omaha Midtown Crossing is an affordable hotel with great amenities, including being very pet-friendly.
14. Rapid City
Rapid City is one of the Midwest’s great, often-overlooked gems. While you’re in town, make a stop at the in-progress, ten-times-larger-than-Mount Rushmore Crazy Horse Memorial, which will be among the world’s tallest monuments once completed. You’ll enjoy the short walk, the breathtaking view, and the look at the Midwest’s Native American heritage.
Consider a stop at the sprawling, gorgeous patio of Murphy’s Pub and Grill for some drool-inducing eats like street-style tacos, unique sliders, chicken wings with wacky flavors like strawberry-habanero, and much more.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Grand Gateway Hotel. Up to two dogs allowed per room for a nightly fee of $10 per dog.
When traveling to North Dakota, Fargo is a must-see destination. Your pup will love joining you at the Fargo Air Museum where you can both see some airplanes and fascinating memorabilia. When your hound is ready to roll, get some fresh air at the Village West Dog Park.
Fargo has many dog-friendly breweries and restaurants, and one that should be on your radar is Wild Terra Cider. From sweet spiked ciders to street tacos and nachos, this bar is one that you and your furry friend will definitely enjoy.
Our dog-friendly lodging pick: Red Roof Inn offers a homey atmosphere while also being super welcoming to four-legged frens.
Woof to the Wise
Not every road trip is going to be ideal for your furry friend—nor your furry friend for every road trip. Remember to consider your dog’s individual personality and needs when deciding whether or not they should tag along. And, as always, never ever leave your dog unattended in a vehicle—especially during the scorching summer months.
There you have it, friends. You now have a summer’s worth of pup-lovin’ road trip inspiration to keep you and your best bad busy.