Activities For Dogs In Virginia On Cold Days

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Introduction

Despite the gorgeous weather Virginia gets most of the year, December through February can still post frigid enough numbers to keep residents and visitors alike tucked away inside. But that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities to get out in Old Dominion, you just need to know where to look. Thanks to the festive spirits of the holidays that set in right when the weather normally starts to turn, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities you can enjoy, even when the temperature is hovering around freezing. With a little help, know-how and some warm clothes to boot, you and your pooch can enjoy even the coldest of days with zeal.

Get Festive at a Fest

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
While it may feel like there's almost always something going on in summer, there is certainly just as much to love about the transition from fall into winter. There are plenty of impending holidays and a spirit that runs rampant with cheer throughout the year's coldest months just waiting for you to jump in on. The best part is, you don't have to wait for the heart of winter to enjoy. Most festivities start in fall and carry on throughout winter and happen more frequently than most seem to notice. By checking an events calendar, you can be up-to-date on dog-friendly fests that will help ease your transition into true winter weather for minimal cost and maximum enjoyment.
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1
Barktoberfest
Generally speaking, Octoberfest is the first festival to help folks transition from fall into winter and depending on the weather, that can happen a lot quicker than most think. Fortunately, there is plenty of warm cheer at a place like Barktoberfest, which is held in Leesburg every year. The dog-centric fest has a huge roster of things to do from eating tasty human and dog treats, to playing doggy games, watching demonstrations, and they even host GlowDOGGlow, an evening benefit walk/run that features glow sticks so the festivities can run further into the night. It's also preceded by a Yappy Hour if you need that extra bit of motivation as well. Just make sure you get all the registration information in advance. If Leesburg is too far of a trek or you're just looking for more to attend, there's also a great Barktoberfest in Vinton that features many of the same activities plus speakers and food trucks to boot!
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2
PetOberfest
Similar to Barktoberfest is PetOberfest, a pet-centric festival that's fun for all ages, making it all the better for dog folks with families. The event is held in Woodbridge and features a costume contest and pet parade, photos, exhibitors, and even prizes for kids and dogs alike. There are also tons of trainers, boarding spots and other dog-specific services, so if you're looking for a new place to prune your pooch or brush up on their manners, there are lots of on-site options available to explore. There are dogs ready to be adopted as well, so if you're looking for a new friend, there are plenty to meet and greet!
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Holiday Trip

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Cold Day
Moderate
Easy
24 - 48 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
While we've carved out some pretty neat places to check out in our activity guides, few places offer as much to do as Virginia Beach during the holiday season. Not only does it boast a dog-friendly hotel with a nearby dog park, but the area has plenty do in and around town as well, some of which will have you bundled up in the cold, while the rest will have you comfortably toasty inside. Since many people and families take trips during the holidays anyway as many are off of work and school, it's the perfect time and excuse to hit the road and check out something new. The cost can vary depending on how far you take it, but it can provide hours and hours of entertainment you won't find any other time of the year.
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1
Plan your stay
While you don't have to make the hotel your first stop, it's a good idea to book in advance to make sure there's space for you and your canine companion. Start by booking a room at The Founder's Inn, a gorgeous hotel with a grand feel and some of the best hospitality around. They even offer a pet package which includes a dog toy, overnight accommodations including a food bowl, mat, treats and even suggestions of what dog-friendly places to check out nearby. If you plan to stay low key, you can always burn them out at the nearby dog park, which is only a few hundred feet from the hotel itself. During the holiday season in late November, they're even welcome at the Grand Illumination, where the grounds are lit up with beautiful holiday lights.
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2
Shop and stroll
During daylight hours in the winter months, dogs are allowed on Virginia Beach's beautiful boardwalk, giving you a great place to take in a natural stroll without having to worry about where to go. While you're down there, check out some of the dog-friendly shops nearby. There are numerous places that have dog-friendly patios to stop if you want to eat or drink, and plenty of others that will let you and your pooch peruse their wares. Doing research ahead of time helps, as it should minimize your time in the cold and keep you from aimlessly wandering or searching for dog-friendly spots to warm up.
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Night lights
When your day winds down with the sun, grab your dog and hop in the car and take a drive down the concrete part of the boardwalk for the annual Lights at the Beach event, where you two can marvel at the beautiful decorative lights that line the strip. When all is said and done, you can head back to your dog-friendly hotel room for some rest and relaxation!
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Spook-a-Pooch

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Activity description
Fall festivals are one thing, but if you're looking to have some holiday fun, consider catching a Halloween event. There are plenty to choose from scattered all over the state, each with their own slight twist on classic festivities. Almost all of them are dirt-cheap, usually provide no less than an hour of entertainment and will give you the chance to celebrate in some unique ways you won't be able to do other times of the year (at least, not without getting some strange looks). Plus, they're great chances to socialize and learn about other local events in the process.
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1
Canine cruise
Unlike most other places, Alexandria, Virginia offers something pretty unique: a canine cruise. While they offer the cruise from April to late October, the last two cruises that set sail (now slated for Oct. 26) offer Halloween music and encourage passengers and dogs to show up donned in their Halloween best. Human adults are only $18 and dogs are free, so you'll have 45 minutes of river-bound entertainment to enjoy.
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2
Trick-or-treat
As one of the most accessible events a town can throw, doggy trick-or-treating usually looks more like a miniature festival than the traditional door-to-door, but we're pretty sure your dog won't mind. Many of these throw-together parties and official Howl-o-ween bashes have costume contests to enter, games to play for both people and dogs and tons of treats to snack on. Better yet, many of them are also run by local non-profits who share their proceeds with people and dogs in need. Just last year, there were at the very least five scattered across the state, so you should have no trouble finding something close enough to attend, if not multiple. Just make sure you and your dog have fantastic costumes so you have a chance to win some extra treats too!
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3
Spooky tails
If you want to get extra spooky during Old Hallow's Eve, consider taking a ghostly haunted tour. It's a great way to learn something, get exercise and make your hair stand on end. There are at least two tours that we know of that offer dog-friendly walking tours but we're sure there are plenty more if you know where to look. Check out Colonial Ghosts as well as Spooks and Legends Haunted Tours, both of which are in Williamsburg. Just make sure to call ahead and let them know you'll have a furry friend with you in case they have any additional information for you.
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More Fun Ideas...

Winter Hike

Out of all the Eastern states, few boast the vast expanse of beachfront and mountains, let alone with enough hiking trails to never see anything twice. As long as you're bundled up, there are tons of winter hike spots that will give you a new lease on even your favorite old spots.

Don't Whine, Wine!

Throughout greater Virginia, there are tons of fantastic wineries, many complete with space for dogs and others with dog-friendly events. Sometimes it's just as simple as sitting next to a nice outdoor fire and sipping some wine and sometimes it's exciting game-playing. Check your local wineries to see who hosts what during wintertime. You might be surprised to see all they offer.

Conclusion

Winter in Virginia might not last as long as it does in other parts of the country, but when the temperature drops, make sure your activity level doesn't with it. With our activity guide as inspiration and local event lists to bolster your possibilities, you'll have plenty to keep you busy this winter season, whether that means donning a costume, getting festive or even just taking in the sights.