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Top Dog-friendly Road Trip Destinations in Washington State
By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 10/09/2020, edited: 09/17/2021
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The Evergreen State offers travelers unparalleled biodiversity. Here, snow-covered mountains tower above old-growth forests, and rugged cliffs carved by glaciers meet the Pacific. The natural beauty is made even better by the pet-friendliness of the cities and parks. These are just some of the reasons Washington has been repeatedly named one of the best states for road trips for dogs.
If you’re in search of things to do and places to stay with your pack in Washington state, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive right in!
Where to play
San Juan Island Sculpture Park — Friday Harbor, WA
Off the coast of Anacortes, you’ll find a whimsical park like no other in the state. The San Juan Islands Sculpture Park and nature preserve is where nature and fantasy collide. Here, marshland paths are dotted with realistic and fantastical statues of native wildlife, dragons, and eye-catching geometric shapes. Literature-loving Labradors will adore the Poetry Trail, where they can enjoy some prose while soaking up the scenic landscape.
You’ll need to take a ferry to get here, but well-mannered, leashed pups are more than welcome to tag along on the boat ride. Fido can also accompany you to many cafes and vineyards on the island when you’re done.
Ocean Shores Beach — Ocean Shores, WA
Next, scurry over to Ocean Shores Dog Beach for a free-range seaside experience. Ocean Shores Beach is a saltwater oasis where your fur-babies can run leash-free as long as they mind their manners. This beach is nestled on the Point Brown peninsula, which divides the North Bay from the Pacific. When the seasons are right, you’ll find an abundance of tasty razor clams if you know where to dig.
Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the abundant signage identifying natural landmarks and native species. Freckles will be happy to know there are tons of dog-friendly seafood restaurants nearby when hunger strikes. The lax leash rules, gorgeous scenery, diverse wildlife, and proximity to other pet-friendly destinations make this one of the most dog-friendly beaches in Washington.
Cape Disappointment State Park — Ilwaco, WA
Cape Disappointment State Park will be the trip highlight for any history lover with a past steeped in adventure and treachery — but we won't spoil all the details. You can learn all about it at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center; just make sure Fido is welcome inside before you pay admission.
While you're there, check out some of the best dog-friendly trails in Washington and take a picture with the North Head Lighthouse that watches over the cove and guides sailors to this day. Despite the name, Cape Disappointment will be a huge hit with your pack!
Warren G. Magnuson Park — Seattle, WA
The Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle is a fun spot to spend an hour or the whole day with your crew. This expansive park is one of the largest in Seattle and boasts unique structural art displays, a butterfly garden, lake access, and nearly 5 miles of walking trails.
Despite its location, this park embraces Mother Nature’s artistry, offering city-goers a glimpse of the gorgeous natural landscape within the heart of the city.
Fort Flagler Historical State Park — Nordland, WA
Fort Flagler Historical State Park is a military base-turned-preserve and a favorite destination for nature lovers and history buffs. Fort Flagler was constructed over a century ago and stood through three wars until the mid-1950s when it was decommissioned.
Nowadays, you won't find any armed guards, but you will see families enjoying scenic picnics by the Puget Sound. Looking for dog-friendly trails in Washington where you can stretch your legs? Fort Flagler's got ‘em! This park has over 7 miles of forest and beachside paths to keep your tail wagging!
Where to stay
There are tons of great dog-friendly campgrounds in Washington state to pick from. Choosing just one is the hard part!
Lake Pleasant RV Park — Bothell, WA
The name says it all. Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell is a quaint campground that sits right on the water. Visitors can spend their time reeling in the good times at the catch-and-release pond or working up a sweat with their fur-babies on the hiking trails. This campground may look like it's out in the wilderness, but it's only a 25-minute drive to Seattle!
Icicle River RV Resort — Leavenworth, WA
Tucked among the Cascade Mountains is another "furrific" campground for pet lovers: Icicle River RV Resort in Leavenworth. This mountain hideaway is nestled in the woodlands and traversed by the Icicle River, so don’t be surprised if you have an up-close encounter with the local wildlife! There aren't tons of extras here, aside from the horseshoe course and hot tub where guests can wind down after a long day. It’s the raw beauty that draws so many to these grounds.
John Wayne Waterfront Resort — Sequim, WA
Canine campers who want options should check out John Wayne Waterfront Resort in Sequim. If you’re camping with a dog, you can choose from tent sites, RV pads, or on-site cabins to rest your paws. There's no shortage of adventure within walking distance of this campground. Packs can splash around in Johnsons Creek on the western end of the campground, hit the trails on the wetlands preserve to the east, or set sail at the marina directly across from the front office.
Where to eat
You can’t come to Washington state without trying the fresh ocean oysters — and there’s plenty of local joints serving them up any way they can think of! Try them on the half shell with a little hot sauce or a squeeze of lemon, baked with crisp bacon and gooey cheese, or flame-roasted over oak. No matter how you crack ‘em, they’re bound to be delicious.
Not a crustacean connoisseur? No problem! You can also feast upon hot apple cider doughnuts, fresh-picked Rainier cherries, crisp locally grown apples, and some of the best mac and cheese in the US.
All the local fare is sure to leave you thirsty. Luckily, Washington has tons of spots for you to wet your whistle. With a whopping 800+ coffee shops, Seattle has the second-most coffeehouses of any city in the US — many of which are dog-friendly! There’s no better way to kick off your adventures than with an espresso with your furry BFF.
Where to roam
If you're searching for scenic drives in Washington State, look no further than the North Cascades Highway. With nearly 130 miles of pavement winding through the majestic Cascade Mountains, WA-20 will lead your pack through centuries-old forests and alongside sparkling lakes and rivers.
It'll take you about 3 hours to complete the full route, but there are many connector roads that can extend or shorten your drive. The highway begins by the sea in Anacortes and runs to Omak's city center, where WA-20 merges with WA-97. A little over 20 miles in, you’ll reach the town of Concrete, where you can pull off for a puppy potty break and a group photo with the town's towering 9-story concrete silo.
You'll continue through Rockport State Park, a conifer forest with trees that experts estimate are 600 years old. Since the trees have never been cut, the foliage is so thick in some parts that hardly any sunlight meets the forest floor. Don't be surprised if you see bald eagles flying about — this area is one of the largest nesting grounds in the US.
Where to learn
If all that riding has Tucker feeling, well, tuckered, why not book a dog walker near you for the day? While your dog is off enjoying all the dog-friendly trails in Washington, your two-legged crew can see the sights!
Kick off the adventures with a trip to the Tacoma Art Museum in (you guessed it!) Tacoma. Inside these contemporary walls, you’ll find an ever-changing array of works from both local and foreign artists. Explore thousands of thought-provoking and culturally significant pieces from paintings and photographs to jewelry and textiles. Towering geometric sculptures mimicking boulder formations greet visitors outside, while complex glass works manipulate natural light, changing the ambiance as the sun moves throughout the day.
Looking for a dog-free day trip that’s out of this world? Check the Museum of Flight in Tukwila. This enormous testament to this history of aviation and space exploration is a must-see. Here, you’ll find replicas of satellites, lunar rovers, real NASA fuselage, and the actual prototype of the Apollo Command Module. You’re sure to love this museum to the moon and back!
Finally, hit the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle to bring out your inner nerd! Fix your gaze upon regional archaeological finds, including dinosaur fossils and ancient Native American artifacts, and discover what daily life was like for ancient tribes. The biology floor will teach you everything you want to know about regional wildlife and how the fauna and flora work together to maintain a biodiverse ecosystem.
With all these adventures, it’s no surprise that Washington state is a favorite destination for road trips with dogs. If you find yourself in Washington and need a hand with your fur-babies, check our local pet care services in Washington state for affordable pet care you can trust!