There’s a wide range of dog-friendly things to do in Pennsylvania. This hugely diverse state stretches from the Delaware River to the shores of Lake Erie, with the Appalachian Mountains running through its center. Find out more about dog-friendly outdoor adventures ranging from hiking to whitewater kayaking, plus tips for exploring the state’s historical side.
#1 Visit Independence Hall
Pennsylvania and its largest city Philadelphia is home to one of the most important historical sites in the United States, Independence Hall. It was here that both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and then adopted, and the hall has been World Heritage listed.
These days Independence Hall lies within Independence National Historical Park, along with the Liberty Bell Center and a number of museums, squares and gardens, taking up multiple city blocks. Leashed pets are welcome to join you throughout the park, except for inside public buildings, including Independence Hall.
Entrance to Independence Hall is only by guided tour, with each tour lasting approximately 15-20 minutes. I highly recommend going on one of the informative tours. Advance tickets are required for most of the year, for the nominal booking fee of $1. If there are two of you and your dog, it’s easy to book onto separate tours, while the other goes for a wander with your pup.
There’s still plenty to see in the outdoor spaces, from the Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution at the center of Washington Square to the pretty 18th Century Garden. Don’t also miss taking turns to enter the Liberty Bell Center and get a “bell-fie” with this icon, plus listen out for the Centennial Bell that rings each hour.
#2 Go Hiking at Bushkill Falls
Recommended by Taryn of Chasing Trail
Known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania,” hiking Bushkill Falls is one of the most dog-friendly things to do in Pennsylvania. Not only are dogs welcome on all the trails, but they’re welcome anywhere within the park. The only caveat is that they must remain on a leash.
Bushkill Falls is in the Poconos, in the far northeastern part of the state right near Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It’s easily accessible from many places on the East Coast – it’s just two hours from Philadelphia and even less than that from New York City.
In addition to the Main Falls, there are three other trails here that take you to an impressive eight additional waterfalls! Best of all, the trails cater to hikers (and dogs!) of all experience levels, and none are particularly long.
The Red Trail, considered the most challenging, offers views of all eight cascades and totals just shy of two miles. Unlike the other trails, the Red Trail is a natural dirt surface, rather than wooden stairs and platforms, so it may be the best option for hiking with dogs.
You can visit Bushkill Falls with your pup from April through November, and it’s absolutely gorgeous in mid- to late October when the foliage turns. In the summer, there are other onsite attractions, including gem mining, a playground, a children’s maze, and fishing (a perfect activity to enjoy alongside your doggo!)
#3 Head to Wissahickon Valley Park
Recommended by Lindsey of Queer Adventurers
Located 11 miles from Center City Philadelphia, Wissahickon Valley Park has over 50 miles of multi-use trails perfect for taking your dog on a day hike.
The trails are well-marked, with pretty views of the Wissahickon Creek, trees, and historic stone bridges. Since the trails are shaded, it’s a nice pet-friendly hike option for summer. Visit in the fall and you will be rewarded with fiery orange and yellow leaves.
Early risers, note that Wissahickon is closed from 8 pm to 6 am between December 1 and March 31, and from 1 am to 6 am the rest of the year. The trails are open for the rest of the day.
A few safety notes if you plan to visit Wissahickon… The park has a strict leash law. Always respect the leash law for the safety of your pets and other animals–like any horses, who may become spooked by an off-leash dog.
Some parts of the park have ground wasps. These wasps sting more than once (unlike bees) and can be quite a nuisance for pets and people. If you are allergic to wasps, please don’t visit without your medication. Friends of Wissahickon maintains a map of the latest sightings on their website.
Wissahickon does have a wheelchair-accessible entrance. However, many of the trails are rough, with rocks and roots underfoot. They may become slippery or muddy after a rainfall. Keep in this is mind if you (or your pup) have any mobility issues.
#4 More Hiking Ideas Around Philadelphia
In addition to Wissahickon Valley Park, there are plenty more great places to go hiking around Philadelphia with your dog. Some options include:
- Trolley Trail in West Fairmount Park
- Rolling Hill Park in Gladwyne
- Tyler State Park in Newtown
- Ridley Creek State Park in Media
- Valley Forge National Historical Park
- Sourland Mountain Preserve
For more details, check out our guide to dog-friendly hikes near Philadelphia.
#5 Go Adventuring at Ohiopyle
Recommend by Staci of Gator and Nuthin
Ohiopyle is located in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. The area is known for its stunning natural scenery, waterfalls, and outdoor recreational opportunities, making it a perfect location to explore with your dog!
Make sure to visit Ohiopyle State Park. You can explore dog friendly hiking trails, such as the Ferncliff Peninsula Trail which follows along the Youghiogheny River and has gorgeous views of Ohiopyle Falls. The Great Allegheny Passage is a hiking and biking trail that runs from Pittsburg to Cumberland Maryland, about 150 miles and has many of side trails to explore within Ohiopyle State Park.
Dogs should remain on leash on trails. Additionally, the park features spots like Cucumber Falls and Meadow Run Natural Waterslides, which shouldn’t be missed.
For water enthusiasts there is whitewater rafting and kayaking on the Youghiogheny River. The Middle Yough section is rated class I-II rapids, which makes it a gentle section for families with young children, dogs or for a more relaxed day. There are many outfitters, like Wilderness Voyagers, that have dog friendly rafts or kayaks. It is recommended to have a lifejacket for your dog.
There are several dog friendly patios in Ohiopyle that shouldn’t be missed after a day of exploring. including Falls City Pub, Ohiopyle Bakery and Sandwich Shoppe, and Falls Market Restaurant. With its beautiful scenery, endless trails, and water activities, Ohiopyle, PA is the perfect place for a dog-friendly getaway.
#6 Hike the Appalachian Trail
Recommended by Stefanie of Open Road Odysseys
For those who have an active dog that loves to go hiking, there are 230 miles of the Appalachian Trail to explore in Pennsylvania. This is a great road trip destination with your dog as there is so much to do here.
Dogs are allowed on all parts of the trail in the state, and no matter what skill level or length of hike you’d like, there’s something for everyone and every pup. Dogs must be leashed at all times, and you still must clean up after your pet, even though you are in the outdoors.
While this part of the Appalachian Trail is often called “Rocksylvania,” the southern part of the state has very easy hiking with few to no rocks. However, if you want some fantastic views with more challenging sections, the middle to northern sections in the state are the way to go.
One hike I highly recommend is the Pinnacle, which is located outside the town of Hamburg in Berks County. This section of the trail can be steep and rocky, but the view of the surrounding countryside from the top is impressive.
Something you should keep in mind: a lot of the trail goes through state game lands, which means that there is hunting in the fall. You may not want to hike here with your dog that time of year, but if you do, make sure you and your dog are wearing fluorescent orange. Not only is it the law, but it will keep you and your dog safe.
#7 Visit Presque Isle State Park
Recommended by Samantha of PA on Pause
Presque Isle State Park, located in Erie, Pennsylvania, is a fantastic spot to get outdoors with your dog. This 3,200-acre park provides a range of activities suitable for both humans and their four-legged companions.
The park features over 11 miles of trails plus a 13-mile paved multipurpose trail around the peninsula, offering plenty of space for walks or runs with your dog. These trails pass through a variety of landscapes on the peninsula, including wooded areas and along the shoreline of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. Just be sure to keep your pups leashed while in the park.
In addition to the trails, Presque Isle has several fantastic beaches. While some beach areas are reserved for human-only use, dogs are allowed to play both in the sand and in the water on the stretches of unguarded beach. Make sure you are aware of any harmful blue algae presence in the water that could poison your dog, as it has periodically shown up in the waters of Lake Erie.
Erie is also accommodating to visitors with pets, and it’s an extremely dog-friendly destination in Pennsylvania. Many local hotels, restaurants, and breweries welcome dogs, especially on their outdoor patios. On a visit to Presque Isle State Park, you’ll see plenty of dogs and their humans enjoying the paths and beaches.
Are Dogs Allowed at Fallingwater WHS?
In addition to Independence Hall, Pennsylvania is also home to another World Heritage site in the west of the state. Fallingwater is UNESCO World Heritage listed as part of the 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright property.
Unfortunately though, pets are not allowed to join you in visiting Fallingwater. They are not permitted beyond the parking lot areas. This also includes the grounds of the property, accessible on the paid Self-Guided Exterior Experience.
Only service animals are permitted at Fallingwater, both on the grounds and inside the house. See the full guidelines on the website.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.