Dog-Friendly Activities in Virginia

Hit the Road East with Your Dog for a Summer Vacation

Truffles posing with the view from the Mill Mountain Star in her home state of Virginia

Virginia is a beautiful state. You’re probably thinking that I’m biased since I grew up here—but when I was growing up I just wanted to get away. As I’ve gotten older, and traveled to more places, I’m always reminded of how beautiful it truly is when I come back home. In addition to being beautiful, there are a lot of dog-friendly activities for you and your pup to explore. Here are a few of our favorites with Truffles who travels with us full-time on our 5 year, 50 state road trip.

Dog-friendly Roanoke, Virginia

Roanoke is a cute city in the western part of the state. It’s a great place to visit with or without your dog. We particularly love going up to the Mill Mountain Star. This is beautiful at sunset and to stay at after dark when the star is lit up. There’s a short trail you can walk at the top as well.

Truffles at the Mill Mountain Star in Roanoke, VA
Truffles on the short trail near Mill Mountain Star

One of my husband’s favorite hikes of all time is up to McAfee Knob near Roanoke. It’s 9 miles round-trip so make sure you’ve built up to a long hike with your pup before tackling it. There’s a parking lot at the base of the trail but no bathrooms along the route (just keep that in mind) and it’s all up hill on the out journey. The views at the top are worth the effort.

Truffles at McAfee Knob in Roanoke, VA
The views make the hike worth it!

Dog-friendly Luray Caverns

In the Northwest of Virginia you can take your dog (provided you can carry them- or in dog stroller) into Luray Caverns. So far, this is the only cavern we’ve ever visited that allows carried-pups and we loved it. It’s a beautiful and interesting cavern and, if you’re dog is like Truffles, most people didn’t even know she was there because she was so quiet and definitely quieter than the children on the tour! We use a K-9 Sportsack for Truffles if you’re interested (note: this is an affiliate link).

Truffles on her way into Luray Caverns
Dog-friendly Luray Caverns
Truffles checking out the Luray Caverns in her K-9 Sportsack

Dog-friendly Mount Vernon and Monticello

We love visiting historic places. As an educator, I’m also on the lookout for virtual field trips for my students and George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello fit that bill. Best of all? The grounds are pet-friendly! You’ll need to swap out (or skip) the house tours/museums as they are not dog-friendly but all of the rest of the areas are accepting of dogs at both locations.

At Monticello there is a shuttle that takes you to the house. This is not dog-friendly but there is a trail through the forest you can walk up with your dog instead.

Truffles at dog-friendly Mount Vernon
Our family at Mount Vernon during COVID-19
Truffles at dog-friendly Monticello
Truffles soaking up all the information at the “Enslavement at Monticello” outdoor talk

Dog-friendly Historic Triangle in Virginia

If you like history, you will also enjoy checking out the “Historic Triangle” in Virginia. It’s comprised of Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield and Colonial Williamsburg.

There are two “Jamestowns” and you want to go to Historic Jamestowne for a dog-friendly (and more authentic) experience. It’s the site of the original fort and is still an archaeological dig site. No dogs inside the buildings but there’s still a lot to see outside and/or you can take turns with others in your party to see the museum and the Archaearium, which houses the archaeological finds at Historic Jamestowne. As of writing, the price for Historic Jamestown also covers entry to the Battlefield at Yorktown (or vice versa) for seven consecutive days.

The Battlefield at Yorktown has a driving tour and you can walk around the expansive grounds with your dog.

Truffles watching the Archaeologists digging at Historic Jamestowne.
Truffles at the Yorktown Battlefield

You can pay for entry into the buildings of Colonial Williamsburg but for free you and your pup can walk around the grounds. Truffles has been there but we don’t have any pictures of the experience.

Dog-friendly Coastal Virginia

The final location for recommendations is beyond the Historic Triangle as you head East in Virginia. I grew up in this area and there is a ton to do for any family. There are great beaches and museums. Most of the beaches in the area have restrictions for dogs on the beach during the summer season. There is one beach that is dog-friendly all day and year round. First Landing State Park is a family-friendly, dog-friendly camping area and beach.

A puppy-Truffles having a little float at First Landing State Park – she’s not much of a water dog

Another dog-friendly location in the area is Mount Trashmore Park. This used to be a garbage dump that is covered and treated to create a beautiful, large park on the hills. It’s a perfect place for 4th of July fireworks—even if you don’t bring your dog along for those. There are playgrounds, a lake to walk, hills to roll down and a skate park.

Truffles on a hill at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, VA

There’s a ton more dog-friendly activities, hotels, eateries, breweries and wineries in Virginia—these are just the highlights. But with beautiful weather most of the year, mountains and beaches, and a wide variety of dog-friendly activities, Virginia is a great spot for your next travel destination. I hope we’ve shown you that Virginia is for (dog) lovers.

Full-time dog mom and traveler SHAE PEPPER is on an eight-year, 50-state road trip with her husband, Stephen Pepper, and their dog, Truffles. You can follow their adventures on their website, No Home Just Roam. You can also follow Truffles on her adventures via Instagram.

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