Dog-Friendly NYC: Visiting New York City with a Dog

While New York City hasn’t gone to the dogs, it’s certainly a city of dog-lovers, with an estimated 425,000 dogs living within the five boroughs.

And with many New Yorkers wanting their pups to join them in their everyday life, there’s no shortage of creative ways they’ve stretched the rules, such as these photos showing ways New Yorks have taken their dogs on the subway, or semi-dog-friendly cafe options.

All of which means that NYC is a great city in the USA to visit with your dog, with many dog-friendly options available.

Dog-Friendly New York

Dining Out in New York City with a Dog

The official word on dining out with your dog in New York City is that non-service dogs are allowed to dine with you in outdoor seating areas, at the discretion of the restaurant owner. (So make sure you ask!) While dining, dogs should be on a leash or in a crate, plus naturally they can’t dine at the table or share your dishes.

One must-visit location to dine with your dog is the original Shake Shack restaurant, located in the middle of the city at Madison Square Park, just near the Flatiron Building. The park also has a dog run, with sections for both small and large dogs, perfect for before or after dining.

dog-friendly restaurant in New York City
The dog-friendly Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

If you head over to the wonderful DUMBO neighbourhood, I recommend grabbing something from one of the many food trucks, then eating on the picnic benches in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Or for something grander, head to Gilligan’s at the SoHo Grand Hotel. It’s perfect for summery days, with the many palm trees (that also provide plenty of shade) making for a tropical ambience. Reportedly it has amazing lobster rolls, and the staff are very friendly to dogs.

Boris & Horton in the East Village with the cafe’s namesakes on the sign

The issue we encountered though during our visit to New York was that it was far from summery. It was mid-October, just after the weather had turned cold. Some days the weather wasn’t warm enough to dine outside, and over the winter it only gets worse.

Designed for such dilemmas, I recommend heading to Boris & Horton in the East Village. There you can buy a coffee in one half of the cafe, then head to the other side which is dog-friendly to enjoy it along with your pup. It’s also a great spot to socialise your dog on days when the park is too cold a prospect.

Alternatively, for a quick bite on cold days, just grab a traditional New York hotdog from a stand or a take-away bagel.

Taking a Dog on Public Transport in New York City

It’s easy to get around the five boroughs of New York with a small dog. Small pets are allowed on the subway and on buses of New York City Transit and MTA Bus, with no fare charged.

They are meant to be in a bag or other container, and “carried in a way that doesn’t annoy other riders”. There is no longer any mention that “no part of the animal may protrude from” their bag – just as well, consider locals often ignored that.

The rules for the Long Island Rail Road (or LIRR) are the same, while Metro-North Railroad also allows small dogs on a leash, without a bag, although pets are subject to approval by a conductor. (I don’t think these rules have changed, but I can’t find the rules on the latest website.) Small pets can also travel with you to New York on Amtrak trains.

If you’re travelling with a larger dog that is too big to fit in a bag, your best bet is to skip the subway and instead turn to taxis and Uber or Lyft. Message your driver in advance to check whether they’re okay with a dog. They would probably also appreciate your dog having a blanket to sit on.

Dog friendly NYC

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Dog-Friendly Accommodation in New York City

There’s no shortage of hotels in New York City that allow dogs, although New York City has less dog-friendly hotels compared to other cities based on percentage. Like all hotels in NYC, though, many of the dog-friendly options are quite pricey and the fee for a dog can also be substantial.

For a touch of modern luxury in the heart of New York, consider booking into the pet-friendly Concorde Hotel, just off Park Avenue. Recently reinvigorated with minimalist light-filled interiors, the Concorde welcomes pets up to 25 lbs for no additional charge.

Terrace One Bedroom Suite - Concorde Hotel NYC
Splurge on the Terrace One Bedroom Suite at the pet-friendly Concorde Hotel © Concorde Hotel

For more luxury options, consider these other famous dog-friendly hotels in New York City:

For a less pricey option, check out La Quinta, one of the hotel chains I singled out for being affordable and dog-friendly, although unfortunately they have started charging pet fees at many of their properties. Check out their two locations in New York City:

Up to two pets are allowed per room. Check directly with the hotels for their full pet policy and the latest pet fees.

Dog-Friendly Parks in New York City

With the lack of backyards across New York, it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of dog-friendly parks, or “dog runs”, scattered across the city. In the city centre, we enjoyed the dog run in Madison Square Park.

Dog friendly NYC
The dog run in Madison Square Park

Central Park also has some areas where dogs are allowed off-leash, either before 9am or after 9pm. Although, if your dog likes to chase squirrels as much as mine does, it might be a good option to keep them on a leash all day long!

Alternatively, ask your accommodation for the nearest dog park.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in NYC

If you’re heading to New York City with your dog, naturally there’s some popular tourist sights that you’ll need to skip, unless you can leave your dog behind somewhere.

For starters, the theatre will be off-limits, whether on- or off-Broadway. Additionally, the popular High Line doesn’t allow dogs, partially due to the crowded walkways.

Instead, consider these dog-friendly sightseeing choices in NYC for your visit with your pup…

1. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

A popular sightseeing option in New York is to walk across Brooklyn Bridge, either towards Manhattan or towards Brooklyn. With no rules restricting dogs, it’s a fun thing to do with your dog, although I would recommend avoiding more popular times, as it can get rather crowded.

Dog-friendly NYC: Dog on Brooklyn Bridge
Schnitzel on Brooklyn Bridge

We walked across it towards Manhattan with Schnitzel, stopping for some great photos. Our choice of Friday afternoon during the busy Fall period probably wasn’t the best, so we carried him a lot of the way. An alternative, less-busy bridge you can walk across is the Manhattan Bridge.

2. Stroll Around Central Park

Even if you visit Central Park during on-leash hours (9am to 9pm), it’s still a great place to experience with your pup, walking around the huge park. Before visiting New York for the first time, it’s difficult to comprehend how vast this park is.

Central Park bordered by Manhattan skyscrapers to the south

Popular spots to visit include Strawberry Fields, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Fountain, Conservatory Waters, the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and Belvedere Castle.

The very popular Alice in Wonderland sculpture

3. Check out the Street Art of Bushwick Collective

A favourite mural from the Bushwick Collective

One of the best collections of street art in New York is the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn. Located near the Jefferson St station on the L line, it’s easily accessible via subway. The actual Bushwick Collective artworks begin on Jefferson St, then continues on Troutman St towards St Nicholas Ave.

There’s also plenty of other murals in the area, too. The artworks on the walls are ever changing, with new murals added each year in conjunction with a block party.

4. Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park

A popular spot to head for an iconic NY photo is at the intersection of Washington St and Water St in DUMBO, the recently christened “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” neighbourhood.

Schnitzel posing in DUMBO

Just keep in mind that it can be tough to get a photo, due to everyone else jostling for the same shot, plus you’ll need to keep an eye out for the occasional car.

Before or after, head to the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, located down the end of Washington St. It’s a great spot to chill out for awhile and take in the city skyline.

5. Take a Ferry Past the Statue of Liberty

The two best ways to see the Statue of Liberty reis on a paid visit to the island or from the Staten Island ferry.

While dogs are not allowed on Liberty Island, ruling out the first option, the Staten Island ferry allows dogs and is also free. Note that dogs need to be in a carrier bag or wearing a muzzle.

A great view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry

The trip to Staten Island takes half an hour. At Staten Island you’ll need to disembark, but it’s possible to re-board the same ferry, making an hour-long round-trip. Some of the cruise boat options in New York are also dog-friendly.

6. Take in the Views from Brooklyn Heights

Not surprisingly, only service dogs are allowed up to the iconic observation decks of the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre. We left our dog in our apartment to head up the Rockefeller Centre, but I also heard of a dog-friendly alternative.

Head to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, not far from the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge, for some great alternative views of the Manhattan skyline, completely for free.

7. Visit the AKC Museum of the Dog

Located at the American Kennel Club headquarters, the Museum of the Dog celebrates the role of dogs in society and explores the human-canine bond, through its collection of art and exhibits.

While most dogs are not permitted to visit during regular visiting hours, only service dogs and invited demonstration dogs, there are frequent dog-friendly events when pet dogs are welcome, such as the regular Furry Friday evenings. Check the events calendar on the website.

8. Indulge in Some Shopping

In New York, many fashion stores and department stores allow dogs inside, at least well-behaved dogs. For example, we stopped off at Macy’s at Harald Square, reportedly the largest department store in the world.

Reports online said that small dogs being carried are allowed inside the multi-level store. We tried to confirm this, but as it was quite busy, couldn’t find someone, so just headed inside. If you’re uncertain, it’s always best to try and check at the door.

Note: Visiting the 9/11 Memorial Park

A sombre moment at the 9/11 Memorial

I highly recommend a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Park while in New York. Though dogs are not allowed in the park, if you’re with someone else, I recommend taking in turns to sit on one of the benches at the edge of the park and look around the memorial. Otherwise, it’s possible to just walk around the exterior of the park.

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8 thoughts on “Dog-Friendly NYC: Visiting New York City with a Dog”

  1. Born and raised in NYC Cheyenne And Champ imported from the outskirts of Detroit Michigan are now officially New York City doggies. Licensed with the NYC dept of health. They love ❤️ NYC. From dog runs to lots of parks such as Ali Pond Park and Cunningham Park to name a few located in Queens NY. Great article. Well done.

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  2. Thanks for your useful insights. Ended up booking TRYP by Wyndham New York City Times Square – Midtown as La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Times Square South could not accomodate for 5 adults (or maybe just not on our dates).
    Keep up the good work!

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  3. Just visited 9/11 Memorial with our chihuahua multipoo Cosmo (August 22/22). The security asked us to hold him and let us in no problem.

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  4. Brooklyn Bridge is worth walking with a dog, if you don’t mind the crowds – we did it this morning. But I really wouldn’t recommend walking the Manhattan bridge with a dog – the almost continual stream of trains crossing the metal bridge make an unbelievable noise and would be really unpleasant for a dog close home; you’re also walking next to the traffic rather than above it as across the Brooklyn.

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