Maryland has many pet-friendly spots to enjoy. But the one GoPetFriendly chose as best in the state on their Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip? It’s also our home (at least part of the year)—the Chesapeake Bay.
You don’t have to live on a boat like we do to enjoy visiting the Bay with your pet. Here are some fun things to do around the Chesapeake Bay even if you explore by car, camper van, RV, or bike.
Introducing the Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is a vast body of water taking fresh water from 150 rivers in the Middle Atlantic region and mixing it with the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s crucial to the economies of Maryland and Virginia. Large commercial shipping, military installations, thousands of small businesses, and recreational boaters rely on it.
So yeah, it’s important. But it’s also stunningly beautiful.
Every day we sail the Chesapeake Bay, we greet pelicans and dolphins. The sunsets are magnificent. And I’m personally fond of the fizzy sound the water makes (sort of like carbonation in a soda) as we pass quietly through the water under sail.
Fun With Pets On the Chesapeake
Honey’s favorite part of traveling the Bay is seeing other people and their dogs out on their boats. Some days it seems like you’re not allowed to own a boat unless you also have a dog. In marinas, we even occasionally meet boating cats.
So what draws so many pet lovers to the Chesapeake Bay? And what are some of the most fun things to do when you’re visiting?
Take a boat ride
When RV owners Amy and Rod Burkert of GoPetFriendly.com visited the Chesapeake Bay with their dogs, Ty and Buster, they explored by boat. As everyone should.
There are tons of water taxis, tour boats, and private charters throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. And many of them are pet-friendly! Watermark Cruises operates out of Annapolis and Baltimore. Patriot Cruises offers pet-friendly tours out of St. Michael’s on the eastern shore of the Bay.
Taking a large boat out on the water is one of the best ways to get a feel for the Chesapeake even when you don’t have a lot of time.
Explore nearby creeks by kayak
If time isn’t an issue, explore smaller creeks and rivers off the Bay by kayak or canoe.
You can rent a pet-friendly kayak or canoe at Janes Island State Park on the eastern shore of the bay near Crisfield. If you follow one of the water trails through the marsh grasses, you’ll eventually find yourself on a small sandy beach overlooking the Tangier Sound and nearby Smith Island. On a quiet weekday, you may have the entire beach to yourself, like we did when we visited several years ago.
Of course, Honey ran enough zoomies to make up for dozens of dogs that weren’t there.
Camping near the Chesapeake Bay will give you time to explore both nature and small towns in the area.
Maryland State Parks that offer pet-friendly campsites include:
- Point Lookout State Park near the mouth of the Potomac River,
- Elk Neck State Park at the top of the Bay, and
- Janes Island State Park on the eastern shore, close to the Virginia border.
Maryland State Parks don’t allow campers with pets in all loops. So visit a park’s website and read carefully before reserving your campsite. Janes Island State Park is a rare Maryland State Park with a few pet-friendly camping cabins as well.
Eat at a dock & dine restaurant
I can’t tell who loves dock & dine restaurants more—Honey or my husband. After all, they both drool when we come across one.
Dock & dine is what we call waterfront restaurants you can visit by boat. And they’re great for pet lovers since most of them have pet-friendly outdoor seating. If you come by car, watching boats come in and tie off is part of the entertainment.
Foxy’s Harbour Grill in St. Michael’s is popular with boaters and serves Caribbean-style food. Waterman’s Crab House in Rock Hall is a great place to order Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. And The Jetty near Kent Narrows is a popular party spot on weekend nights.
All are pet-friendly.
Visit an outdoor museum
Honey doesn’t care about old ships, plants, or sculpture. But she’s happy to walk around with me when we find pet-friendly museums. And there are two lovely museums in the Chesapeake Bay region that welcome pets.
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD
The ticket seller at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum told me that if a building on the grounds did not have carpet, Honey would be welcome to enter. And yes, that includes the lighthouse.
I really enjoyed the exhibits about lighthouse life, the work of the watermen who harvest oysters and crabs, and seeing examples of classic Chesapeake Bay working vessels. Honey enjoyed sniffing the air, soliciting lovies from strangers, and walking around on a breezy day. Do I need to tell you we both had a great time?
By the way, your admission to the maritime museum is good for two days. If you have a secure place to leave your pet on the second day, you can go back to see the interior exhibits.
AnnMarie Sculpture Garden, Solomons, MD
AnnMarie Sculpture Garden is so pet-friendly, they open the gates early and allow people to walk their dogs on the grounds from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. for free!
But there’s so much to see that it’s worth paying the small $5 admission (pets are free) to explore at your leisure.
In a boon to solo travelers, you may bring your pet inside the welcome center to pay your admission and walk to the back of the building where the paved trail through the park begins.
The trail is shaded by trees and features a range of sculptures and pet-friendly activities to enjoy. It’s definitely worth the trip to Solomons, which is already a fun, dog-friendly place to visit.
Take a walking tour
Once again, most dogs don’t really care who Harriet Tubman was or have any interest in the architecture of a revolutionary town. But isn’t it great that they’re willing to join us if we’re interested?
Both Annapolis and Baltimore have walking tours (including ghost tours) where well-behaved dogs are welcome. And don’t forget to look for brochures and maps of self-guided walking tours in any historic town you visit in the area.
And once your dog waits quietly while you look for a notable Underground Railroad site or historic church, it’s time to take her for a swim.
Go to the dog beach
Beaches on the Bay don’t always have strong breakers like ocean beaches. On a calm day, they Bay beaches are a great option for a more timid pup.
One of the most popular dog beaches in the region is at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. The sandy area off Harness Creek is pretty busy so it’s best for a sociable dog. But the park is large enough that even if you find the beach packed, there are plenty of less crowded places to stroll.
Metapeake State Park has a dog beach within sight of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The sandy beach is fairly protected, making the water peaceful on an average day. Be careful, there is poison ivy along the wooded path to the beach. But the trees also offer some shade as the sun goes down.
Point Lookout State Park has a lovely dog beach. But dogs aren’t allowed everywhere in the park. In fact, arriving by boat, we found ourselves passing by signs marking spots where Honey was not welcome as we walked to the dog beach. I suspect that if you arrive by car, it would be easier to follow the signs to the dog beach without breaking any rules.
Plan Your Own Pet-Friendly Trip To The Chesapeake Bay
Doesn’t the Chesapeake Bay sound like a great place to visit with your pet?
If you want to plan a fun trip to the area with your pet, you’re in luck.
Amy Burkert traveled over 14,000 miles in her motor home with her husband and two pups seeking the best pet-friendly attraction in the 48 contiguous states and Washington DC in 2017. And now she’s written a guide to the trip. (Click the book to snag your copy from GoPetFriendly.com or order The Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip on Amazon. An e-book version will be available soon.)
Each chapter talks about another stop on their trip. You’ll learn about why a site is worth a visit, gain important information for visiting with pets, get insider tips to make your trip better, and enjoy pictures that will inspire both the intrepid voyager and the armchair traveler. The book even includes coupons for travel necessities like hotel stays, dog treats, and car seat covers.
I’m one of nine travel bloggers who visited sites on the Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip. Join the virtual road trip by visiting:
When you visit, make sure you download a free copy of the book chapter describing the place each blogger visited. Download your book chapter on the Road Trip Visit to the Chesapeake Bay now.