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.

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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 kennel or similar that can fit on your lap, from which “no part of the animal may protrude from”, although locals have taken some liberties with these laws as I mentioned above.

The rules for the Long Island Rail Road 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 and prefer to follow the rules, your best bet is to skip the subway and instead turn to taxis and Uber or Lyft. Ideally, 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 Accommodation in New York City

Dog friendly NYC

There’s no shortage of hotels in New York City that allow dogs, despite my recent survey of US cities showing that New York has less dog-friendly hotels compared to other cities based on percentage (not raw numbers). Like all hotels in New York, though, many of the dog-friendly options are quite pricey and the fee for a dog can also be substantial. Some of the most famous dog-friendly hotels include these luxury options:

For a more affordable option, check out La Quinta, one of the hotel chains I singled out for being so dog-friendly that there’s no fee for dogs. While they don’t allow dogs at their hotels in Manhattan, they do allow dogs at all three of their pet-friendly hotels in Brooklyn:

Dog-Friendly Parks in New York City

Dog friendly NYC
The dog run in Madison Square Park

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. 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 not be a good option to let them off their leash! 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.

1. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

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

Central Park bordered by Manhattan skyscrapers to the south

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. 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

Schnitzel posing in DUMBO

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. It can be tough to get a photo due to everyone else jostling for the same, 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 skyline.

5. Take a Ferry Past the Statue of Liberty

A great view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry

The two best ways to see the Statue of Liberty is 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. 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 a 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. 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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New York Dog-Friendly Travel

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