If you are planning a dog friendly vacation to the Great Lakes State, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide I’m sharing everything you need to know to plan a successful Michigan dog friendly vacation!
Short answer: yes. Michigan is a great state to vacation with your dog. Not only will you find quaint downtowns with restaurant patios that will welcome your dog, Michigan offers a lot in the way of beaches, trails, and even shopping.
The State of Michigan is best explored by car. Michigan is broken up into two peninsulas. The lower peninsula and the upper peninsula aka the UP (not pronounced like up, pronounced like You-Pee….lol). To make things a little more confusing, anything north of the center of the lower peninsula, is known as Up North. Got it? Good. You are officially a local now.
WHEN TO GO
BEST TIME TO VISIT
THE WEATHER IN MICHIGAN
In Michigan you will experience all four seasons. As the Great Lakes State, summer is best enjoyed at the beach, on a boat, or sipping wine at a vineyard. In Fall, you’ll want to hit the trails to see gorgeous color, visit as many cider mills as you can, and partake in any small town Fall festival. We usually get a lot of snow in the winter, so if you like winter sports, you’ll find plenty to do around the state in Winter. Spring can be a hit or miss.
WHEN TO GO WITH YOUR DOG
When it comes to visiting with your dog, I would suggest Summer or Fall. Unless you are prepared for being snowed in or staying at a nice cozy cabin, Winter would be a challenging time for pet friendly travel. Spring, like I said is hit or miss, it could be gorgeous, raining, or snowing.
where to go
pick your destination
explore the city:
To explore Michigan’s big cities with your dog, you’ll obviously want to check out Detroit. Detroit has been experiencing a major comeback and can be a delight to explore in terms of architecture, culture, and food. Dogs are not allowed in museums, but you’ll still find plenty of things to do in Detroit if you skip the museums.
Grand Rapids would be the next big city to explore. Not as big as Detroit, but known to be very pet friendly. I have not been yet with Kirby, but from what I’ve researched, you’ll find plenty of dog friendly patios, parks, and activities to do.
In the mood for a challenge? Check out the initiative to connect Michigan trails to make a hiking and biking route called the Iron Belle, that goes from Belle Isle in Detroit all the way to Iron Mountain the Upper Peninsula!
Generally speaking, all state park campgrounds allow dogs as well and there are plenty of state parks to stay in.
FOR A VACATION ON THE WATER
If you haven’t been to Michigan before, I would highly suggest Mackinac Island for a perfect pet friendly getaway on the water. No cars are allowed on the island, so you’ll only share the roads with other dogs, people, and horses.
Traverse City “the cherry capitol of the world”would be the best place to spend a weekend if you are looking for a combination of a city and beach getaway. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and there is no shortage of dog friendly things to do there.
Dogs are allowed only in outdoor dining in Michigan (unless it is a service dog which is allowed indoors). Even then, it is not safe to assume that all outdoor dining patios are dog friendly. It is up to the restaurant, so it’s always good to call and double check that a restaurant allows dogs on their patio. That being said, you’ll find a lot of dining options in popular pet friendly destinations like Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Detroit, etc.
A FEW FAVORITES:
The Shed in Traverse City A definite must in TC. A lot of outdoor seating, amazing mac and cheese and a dog menu.
Paint Creek Tavern in Rochester The patio is right off the Paint Creek Trail with views of the creek. They have a good selection of food and beer.
Zehnders in Frankenmuth Home of the “World Famous Chicken Dinner”. Seasonally pet friendly from May-October with a decent amount of patio seating and excellent food.
Not all dogs are meant to travel. If you have a puppy, an untrained dog, or a highly anxious dog, traveling may not be for them. It could be once they’ve had enough training and you feel confident that you can control them in any scenario that occurs. Until then, get to know your dog more and make travel a goal to aim for.
What do you do when it rains? What if you want to visit museums?
Traveling with a dog is no easy feat. so it’s best to understand when you should and shouldn’t travel with your dog. If you are going to Washington DC to visit the Museum Mile, you probably shouldn’t bring your dog with you.
You also need to have a pretty relaxed mindset in what you will be able to do. There will be times when the restaurant you have picked out doesn’t have any more patio space and you’ll have to go somewhere else.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
On a personal note, this blog was born to help encourage others to bring their pups on vacation. I’ve loved bringing along our mini Goldendoodle, Kirby, with us on our adventures. He’s had a ton of fun in all sorts of places. I’ve also noticed you engage more with strangers when you have a dog with you (especially if that dog is wearing shoes). It is a little extra work, but it is so rewarding having your best friend there, having a blast next to you.