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Top Destinations in New York to Visit This Holiday Season 2021


Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/03/2021, edited: 12/03/2021


Many pet families dream of visiting New York City during the holidays. With Times Square's life-size snow globes, the Saks 5th Avenue light show, and Rockefeller Plaza's famous Christmas tree, it's no surprise the Big Apple is at the top of many people’s holiday travel lists.

But New York State has plenty for packs to see outside of Manhattan as well. We'll explore all the best dog-friendly destinations New York state has to offer during the 2021 holiday season.

central park in the winter

Central Park, New York City

Did you know that more movies have been shot in Central Park than anywhere else in the world? Between the holiday decor and film-worthy setting, your pack will love this scenic escape from the big city bustle.  

  • Central Park is one of the best-known parks in America, and it's one of New York City's largest. While this park doesn't have a fenced-in area for dogs to go off-leash, dogs can run free during the off-leash hours (between 6 am and 9 am) in the park's 23 dog-friendly sections. Don't be afraid to go off the beaten path, either! We suggest exploring the Ramble and North Woods sections to see waterfalls, woodland creatures, and lots of diverse plant life! 

  • Is it really a holiday trip if you don't do a little shopping? Stop by Columbus Circle Holiday Market on 59th and Central Park West for original artworks, hand-crafted jewelry, one-of-a-kind decor, and more. Your fur-baby will have a blast exploring the garland-covered shopfronts as you shop and share some home-cooked market fare. The market is open daily from November 29th to December 24th from 11 am to 8 pm Monday through Saturday and from 11 am to 7 pm on Sundays.

  • If you're going to be in the Big Apple around December 19th, you don't want to miss the ​​Naughty or Nice Christmas DOG Party at Slattery's Midtown Pub on East 36th Street. This party will have it all — door prizes, decadent food, stiff drinks, and even a dog buffet! Be sure to dress Sparky in their most festive attire for a chance to win the best-dressed contest! Tickets range from $45 to $55, depending on whether you buy them in advance or at the door. The party begins at 6:30 pm, so mark your calendars!

  • The dog-friendly patio at Rue 57 is a "furrific" place to grab brunch or unwind after a long day of adventuring. This fusion restaurant is a big hit with dog families who praise their friendly staff, extensive wine list, and upscale cuisine.

Washington Park, Albany

With 5 different dog parks, dozens of delicious dog-friendly eateries, and one mammoth lights display, Washington Park in Albany should definitely be on your holiday itinerary! 

  • Bundle up your pups and head off to see the brightest light show around, Capital Holiday Lights in the Park. Your pack will stare in wonder at the twinkling tunnels, colorful holiday scenes, and iconic Christmas characters. If you have small children, make sure you bring their letters to Santa! The park has a mailbox for Ol' St. Nick at the gate! The display kicks off on November 26th and ends on January 2nd. Admission starts at $25 for cars, trucks, SUVs, or minivans with up to 9 passengers. 

  •  Olde English Downtown Dog Park on North Pearl Street is the "pawfect" place to sip your morning latte and let Fido burn some energy. You won't find any agility equipment here, but what you will find is a quaint park with a relaxing atmosphere and plenty of dogs for your fur-baby to befriend.

  • Work off some of those holiday treats with a pack walk along Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. This paved walking path is perfect for families that require strollers or wheelchairs and offers fantastic bird and wildlife watching opportunities.

  • Warm up with some grown-up grilled cheeses at The Cheese Traveler on Delaware Avenue. Grab a seat on the dog-friendly patio and chow down on upscale sandwiches made with gourmet cheese, local meats, and homemade jams and relishes. Don't forget to check out the store before you go!

Onondaga Lake, Liverpool

Liverpool's residents and business owners go all out during the Christmas season, transforming the landscape into a holiday "paw-adise". This adorable lakeside village is proof that the Christmas spirit is contagious!

  • Liverpool's Lights on the Lake event is sure to mesmerize your pack with 2 miles worth of colorful animated scenes and lighted tunnels all synchronized to holiday music. Some of the park's highlights include scenes from the Wizard of Oz, giant glowing dinosaurs, Santa's workshop, and even a fairy castle! All ticket sales are online this year, so make sure you purchase your tickets before your visit. Admission for vehicles with up to 16 passengers is $6 on Mondays and Tuesdays, $10 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $20 for weekend visits. The show runs daily from 5 pm to 10 pm, November 15th through January 14th.

  • A visit to Onondaga Lake Park may last for a day, but the memories you make here will last a lifetime! Whether you plan to sniff out the scenic trails or just enjoy a lakeside picnic, this park is sure to add some magic to your holiday!

  •  Show your fur-baby just how much you care with a visit to the award-winning Wegmans Good Dog Park on Cold Springs Road. Cozy up with a cup of cocoa as Fluffy and the other furry patrons take turns scurrying through agility tunnels, over jumps, and playing king of the doggy bridge.

  •  All that adventuring is sure to work up an appetite, and Sharkey's Bar and Grill will welcome your pack with open arms and water bowls. Take a seat on the dog-friendly patio and enjoy some cold brews and delicious pub grub, like their famous stingray chicken tenders. If you really want to impress, bring along a doggy beer for Fido!

cityscape of brooklyn nyc

Brooklyn, New York City

Christmas in Brooklyn is an experience like no other in the city. This borough is home to the famous Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and many other fun and festive dog-friendly events.

  • Last year, the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights made it on our list of best Christmas light displays in New York, and this year's display is gearing up to be even better than the last! Over 150,000 people flock to this neighborhood every holiday season to see the elaborate decorations that the houses. These aren't your traditional cookie-cutter displays, either — Dyker Heights has animatronic characters, massive Christmas sculptures, and even a replica of Santa's workshop! Residents begin decorating around Thanksgiving, and the display stays up until December 31st. The lights come on at nightfall and remain on until about 10 pm.

  • Throw on your ugliest sweater and strike a pose at Bushwick Barks 8th Annual Awkward Family Holiday Pet Photoshoot Fundraiser. The professional photographer will make sure the silly Christmas card pictures you envision become a reality. So grab a drink and a doggy bag for Fido and make your best goofy face! The party will be from 2 pm to 8 pm on December 11th at Pine Box Rock Shop, and tickets are available online for $40. Our favorite part? Proceeds from the event will go to a local dog rescue.

  •  Prospect Park Dog Beach is one of the hippest spots around for furry locals. The dog beach is fully-fenced, giving dogs a safe place to frolic and explore in the Brooklyn borough. Pups are welcome to dip their paws in the water, but if it's too cold, there's plenty of dry land for leash-free play.

  • If your pooch is still raring to go after the dog beach, head over to Kensington Dog Run on Coney Island Avenue. This adorable bark park has plenty of green space for dogs to play chase, fetch, and just hang out with the pack.

  • On December 4th, from 1 pm to 4 pm, Santa Paws will be at Endless Life Brewing to take pictures with all the good little woofers. Photo sessions are $10 if you purchase them the day of or $5 if you buy them online — 100% of the fundraiser profits go to Brooklyn's Small Bites Rescue.

East Village, New York City

Each holiday season, twinkling lights adorn the lamp posts along the snowy streets of East Village. This Lower Manhattan neighborhood is known for its artistic flair and decadent food and boasts plenty for pet lovers to do during the holiday season.

  •  In need of a laugh? Check out the Must Love Dogs (and Comedy) Show at Boris and Horton, East Village's very first dog-friendly cafe! The show is on December 8th at 7 pm, and there is no set ticket price, but guests are encouraged to donate as much as they want.  

  • The comedy show isn't the only thing going down at Boris and Horton. Stop by the cafe on December 18th for the NYC Pug Meetup’s Annual Ugly Sweater Party. This festive "pawty" is sure to get your smush-faced pup in the holiday spirit! The party is from 6 pm to 8 pm, and admission is $5 per human and $5 per dog.  

  • Tompkins Square Park Dog Run was built in 1990 and was the first park of its kind in the Big Apple. With doggy pools, wash stations, and separate areas for large and small dogs, it's no wonder many East Villagers say it still reigns supreme. 

  • Craving a coffee and some brunch before you hit the road? Stop into B Cup Cafe for a hot latte and breakfast sandwich with your pooch. This unpretentious cafe pumps out flavors as big as its character.

Although New York is a fairly pet-friendly state, there are still lots of holiday events and attractions that don't allow dogs. But that doesn't mean you have to skip out on your bucket-list activities just because you're vacationing with Fido. Whether you're at home or in a hotel, dog sitters with Wag! will come to you and take care of your precious fur-baby while you're away. Don't miss out on doing the things you love — book a dog sitter through Wag! today!

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