Dogs play on York’s Long Sands Beach. Photo by Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald

Vacationland beckons visitors with its stunning landscapes and famously craggy coast, its rural ways and hip, relaxed vibe. On top of all that – indeed, part of all that – Maine is a haven for folks who wouldn’t think of going on vacation without their dog, or at least would howl with joy at the chance to visit such a dog-friendly state. Our guide for getting out and about in York County with your dog, or dogs, includes suggestions, tips and, oh woof, some rules. And, remember, “off-leash” presumes voice control of your dog, in keeping with local laws.


Note: Dog-friendly travel websites spotlight these leash-free zones, but municipal websites may be more up-to-date.

Kennebunk Dog Park, 36 Sea Road ( Operated by the town of Kennebunk and serving surrounding communities as well, the park has a gazebo.

Ogunquit Dog Park, Spring Hill Road off Berwick Road ( A shaded one-acre park just a mile from the beach.

Old Orchard Beach Dog Park, Heath Street ( On the small side, but conveniently located in Veterans Memorial Park a few blocks from the pier.



Old Orchard Beach can be a howl for dogs, too. Photo courtesy of Old Orchard Beach Chamber of Commerce

Long Sands and Short Sands beaches, Route 1A, York ( May 20 to Sept. 20 no dogs 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., otherwise on-leash.

Wells Beach, Atlantic Avenue ( On-leash April through Sept. 15, no dogs 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 16 to Sept. 15.

Gooch’s, Middle and Mother’s beaches, Beach Avenue off Routes 9 and 35, Kennebunk (kennebunkme.usNo dogs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 15 through Labor Day, otherwise off-leash allowed.

Old Orchard Beach, Old Orchard Street and East Grand Avenue (oobmaine.comNo dogs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day, otherwise off-leash allowed. Note: no dogs on Old Orchard Street, including sidewalks and square, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Saco (sacomaine.orgDogs always allowed but must be on-leash in July and August at the three town-run beaches: Camp Ellis, end of Bay Avenue; Bay View, Seaside Avenue and Bayview Road; and Kinney Shores, Seaside Avenue (street parking only per signs).



A sampling of places to walk and hike with your dog in York County:

Fort Foster Park, off Pocahontas Road, Kittery Point, $20 vehicle day pass for non-Kittery residents (fortfoster.weebly.comDogs and their humans love this 88-acre former fort site “guarding” Portsmouth Harbor, with beaches, trails, a pier (no dogs on the east side of Pier Beach) and lighthouse views. Dogs must be on-leash in season. And if you want to go back, make sure to follow the rules: A higher fee for visitors with dogs was recently considered.

Mount Agamenticus, Mountain Road off Route 1, York ( Drive or hike to the top of Mount A, now part of a huge preserve where people come to bike as well as hike. There are trails at the summit, beloved for its far-ranging land and sea views. Dogs must be on-leash.

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Port Road, Wells ( The far-flung refuge has several trails, but dogs – on-leash – are allowed only on a 1-mile loop trail. Named for the refuge’s patron, the wide, easy path flows past a salt marsh and traverses woods with ferns.

Eastern Trail, Saco to Scarborough (easterntrail.orgThe walking is easy on the flat 8-mile off-road section of this 65-mile biking route from Kittery to South Portland. Walkers and on-leash dogs are welcome on this stretch of the trail, which passes through Maine’s largest salt marsh.



Dogs must be on-leash in state parks and historic sites and aren’t allowed on park beaches (lake or seaside) from April through September.(

Fort McClary State Historic Site, Kittery Point Road, Kittery Point (adults $3, non-residents $4) At the mouth of the Piscataqua River, the fort site has a handful of buildings, including an 1840s hexagonal blockhouse, and granite blocks from abandoned construction.

Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park, 28 Oldfields Road, South Berwick (adults $3, non-residents $4) A wooded 165-acre preserve with trails along the picturesque Salmon Falls River.

Ferry Beach State Park, 95 Bayview Road, Saco (adults $5, non-residents $7) The beach is off-limits to dogs in summer, but the park has easy wooded trails out of view of the water.



Tail-wagging summertime recreation off the trail and beyond the beach!

York’s Wild Kingdom, enter from Routes 1 or 1A, York Beach (yorkswildkingdom.comThe zoo only allows service dogs, but pet dogs are welcome on-leash on the amusements side, which doesn’t charge admission – just stroll in from York Beach village. It’s mostly kids’ rides, but there’s a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, etc. (ride passes only $12!), plus batting cages, mini-golf and “Seacoast’s Best Fried Dough.”

Hops & Hounds, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 15, Raitt Homestead Farm Museum, 2077 State Road, Eliot (on Facebook) Sponsored by Tito’s Vodka, the festival also features craft beer, along with food trucks, music and Dock Dogs competitions. The event spotlights animal shelters; meet pets in need of a home.


Campgrounds usually welcome dogs, but so do many other lodgings. When making reservations, ask about dog weight limits and fees (often per reservation, not nightly). Two dogs may be allowed. A sampling of pet-friendly hotels and lodgings in York County:

Colony Hotel, 140 Ocean Ave. Kennebunkport ( A 125-room seaside landmark, the resort hotel is known for welcoming dogs with amenities like watering stations and play areas.


Alouette Beach Resort, Beach Walk Oceanfront Inn and Neptune Beach Hotel & Suites, East Grand Avenue, Ogunquit ( A variety of dog-friendly accommodations are available at these jointly owned properties on or across the street from the beach.

Hampton Inn, 48 Industrial Park Road, Saco ( While this member of the hotel chain allows pets, others don’t – including Hampton Inns in Wells and Kennebunk.


This is par for the course at many area restaurants with decks, patios and sidewalk cafes (state law only allows service animals inside restaurants), which abound in southern Maine’s bustling beach towns come summer. A sampling:

Fox’s Lobster House, 8 Sohier Park Road, York ( Customers with dogs are welcome at the picnic tables on the outside patio (no alcohol outside).

Cornerstone Pizza & Craft Beer, 228 Main St., Ogunquit ( Dine with your dog on the street-level patio at the eatery at Route 1 and Beach Street, which leads to you-know-where.


Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant, 181 Port Road, Kennebunk ( Dine on the large deck with doggy by your side at this Mexican restaurant in the town’s Lower Village.


Chamber of commerce and tourism promotion agency websites and visitor guides often have information for folks recreating and traveling with their dogs. At trade organization Hospitality Maine’s website (, you can search for pet-friendly hotels, inns, cottages, etc. (follow links from “Visiting Maine”).

Mary Ruoff is a freelance writer in Belfast.

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