By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 11/19/2020, edited: 10/26/2022
If you’re ready to jump in the car and embark on a dog-friendly road trip, you’ll struggle to find a better destination than Philadelphia. Famous for everything from Rocky Balboa to world-class art, and from iconic American history to delicious cheesesteaks, Philly is a city with so much to offer dogs and pet parents.
But instead of just hitting the road and making a beeline for Philly, it’s important to plan your adventure before you leave home. Keep reading to find out what to see and do to enjoy the best dog-friendly road trip to Philadelphia.
There’s lots to love about this special city, but one of its biggest drawcards is that it boasts a host of great off-leash dog parks. We’ve dug up some of the best!
Schuylkill River Dog Park
If you’re keen to check out the best dog-friendly parks in Philadelphia, start with Schuylkill River Dog Park. Located within a popular park within the Filter Square neighborhood, this dog park boasts separate areas for large and small dogs. Both areas have special grass designed to prevent messy paws, while dog water fountains are on hand to ensure that your pup has plenty of fresh water.
From here, you can also set out for a wander along the Schuylkill Trail, a scenic 8-mile stretch of a much longer trail that winds alongside the Schuylkill River. Just make sure to keep your pup on a leash while tackling the trail.
Penn’s Landing Dog Park
Next, you might want to check out Penn’s Landing Dog Park, which is another popular spot with the city’s dog lovers. Boasting great views of the Delaware River, the park offers two separate fenced play areas for large and small dogs. Drinking water and waste bags are provided, while shaded seating is also available when you want to rest your legs.
Seger Dog Park
Another of the best dog-friendly parks in Philadelphia, Seger Dog Park is an off-leash hotspot located on Rodman Street. Open 24/7, this great little park is the “pawfect” spot for you and your pup to indulge in a little socializing. It’s also used for a range of pet-centric events and festivals throughout the year, so check to see if there’ll be any dog-friendly fun planned while you’re in town.
Delaware River Trail
If you’d like to treat your pup to a waterfront hike, the 2.5-mile Delaware River Trail is well worth checking out. This paved pathway runs along Christopher Columbus Boulevard from Pier 24 to Pier 68, offering lovely views of the water, passing boats, and the local birdlife. You’ll also find a handful of dog-friendly restaurants along your route — perfect if you need some fuel for the rest of your walk.
Finally, your outdoor adventures in Philly won’t be complete until you take some time to explore the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail System. The park, located a short drive north of the city, offers over 50 miles of rugged trails to check out. Leashed pups are welcome in the park, so you and your dog can choose a trail that suits your fitness level and get a little exercise. The flat and wide gravel surface of Forbidden Drive, which runs along Wissahickon Creek for 5 miles, is also well worth exploring.
When you’re ready to sit and stay, you’ll need to search for the best dog-friendly campgrounds in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA
One option you may want to consider is the Philadelphia South/Clarksboro KOA. Located roughly 20 miles via road from the city center, this family campground offers wooded tent sites, back-in and pull-through RV sites, and deluxe cabins. Best of all, the park has its own Kamp K9 off-leash dog park where your pup can stretch their legs, plus features like a swimming pool and fishing pond for two-legged guests.
Philadelphia/West Chester KOA
A little further afield to the west of the city, you’ll also find the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA. Leashed pets are welcome at all RV and tent sites here, but are not permitted in cabins. So while you’re camping with a dog, you can take advantage of the facilities on offer here, including a swimming pool, mini-golf, and (your dog’s favorite) a pet park.
Village Scene RV Park
If you’re RVing with your dog, you may also want to check out the Village Scene RV Park. Found roughly half an hour north of the city, this park welcomes leashed and well-behaved canine campers. It may not have the same recreational facilities as some other venues, but it does offer everything you need for a comfortable stay.
If all your adventures are making you hungry, it’s time to grab something to eat. Happily, you’re spoiled for choice when searching for dog-friendly restaurants and bars in Philadelphia.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxed cafe experience or something a little more upmarket, you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly venues in the greater Philly area. One of the reasons why there are so many dog-friendly establishments is that Philadelphia boasts hundreds of alfresco dining options. Many venues are more than happy to welcome dogs in their outdoor areas.
The hospitality towards canine guests includes water bowls, doggy biscuits, special menu items for pups, and dog-friendly yappy hours. For humans, the cuisine in Philly isn’t just limited to cheesesteaks — no matter whether you want tacos or fancy French fare, a quiet beer with your pup or a 3-course feast, chances are you’ll find a venue that ticks all the right boxes.
If you and your pup feel like doing some exploring, jump back in your car or RV to tackle some of the best scenic drives in Philadelphia.
There are several options to choose from, but a trip to Lancaster County along Route 30 would have to be one of the top picks. Starting from the Philadelphia Zoo, the route leads you through the spectacular farmland of Pennsylvania Dutch country. We’re talking fresh air and horse-drawn buggies, while you might even see some wildflowers if you visit at the right time of year.
If you and your dog still have a nose for more adventure, you can even continue on to Gettysburg to get a real taste of the region’s (and the country’s) history.
Of course, there are also plenty of great attractions in Philly that aren’t dog-friendly. Many of them are still worth visiting, however, so book a dog walker in Philadelphia to help keep your pup company while you’re off doing some exploring.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
One of your first stops will no doubt be the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This world-renowned attraction is one of the country’s largest art museums, boasting over 240,000 works dating from ancient right through to modern times. Spend some time here and you’ll see everything from paintings by van Gogh and Picasso to the Von Kienbusch collection of armor and weaponry.
But the main attraction for many visitors is outside, where you can try out your best Rocky Balboa impersonation as you ascend the famous steps. Be sure to grab a photo with the statue of Rocky while you’re there.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Next, you might want to pay a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary. This remarkable 19th-century prison was not just famous for its architecture and the expense it cost to build, but also its strict approach to discipline. Once home to inmates like Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton, Eastern State was shut in the early 1970s. A guided tour will help you get a true feel for the history of the place, and if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can even book yourself in for a night-time tour.
Liberty Bell Center
Finally, one of the most iconic experiences when camping with a dog in Philadelphia is to head to the Liberty Bell Center on Market Street. Once there, you can pose with an obligatory photo or two in front of the mighty bell. It’s free to visit and you don’t even need to book a ticket, so add it to your list of must-have experiences.
Whether you’re craving a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, there’s so much to enjoy when you plan a dog-friendly road trip to Philadelphia. Start planning your “pawfect” vacation today.
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