Cody retrieves a ball at Willard Beach. Photo by Jill Brady/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 Portland and environs with your dogs includes suggestions, tips and, oh woof, some rules. Remember, “off-leash” presumes voice control of your dog, in keeping with local laws.

DOG PARKS AND PARKS WITH OFF-LEASH AREAS

Note: Dog-friendly travel websites spotlight these spots, but municipal websites may be more up-to-date. Some picks of the litter:

Quarry Run Dog Park, 1026 Ocean Ave., Portland (portlandmaine.gov) Trails and play areas await at this popular 10-acre wooded dog park.

Valley Street Dog Park, 140 Valley St. Portland (on Facebook) About 3 acres, the park has dirt areas and is conveniently located on the edge of the peninsula’s West End.

Baxter Woods, enter from Stevens or Forest avenues, Portland (portlandmaine.gov) A rule change may require that dogs be on-leash at the 32-acre wooded preserve with river views, but off-leash is OK at present.

South Portland parks (southportland.orgDogs are allowed off-leash at city parks except Mill Creek. Trails skirt ponds and traverse woods at 40-acre Hinckley Park, 288 Highland Ave. Nearly 9 acres, harbor-front Bug Light Park on Madison Street is home to its namesake light (officially Portland Breakwater Lighthouse) and the eastern terminus of the city’s 5.6-mile Greenbelt Walkway, on which dogs must be on-leash.

Portland Head Light & Fort Williams Park, 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth (portlandheadlight.com) The 90-acre community park abutting the iconic lighthouse welcomes dogs and has an off-leash area.

Eastern Promenade, east end of Portland peninsula (portlandmaine.govThe 68-acre Munjoy Hill park offers spectacular water views from a paved 2-mile promenade trail that links to the 3.6-mile Back Cove and 1-mile Bayside trails (trails.org). The Eastern Prom has several off-leash dog locales (easternpromenade.org/dog-rules), including East End Beach and near Fort Allen Park. But Memorial Day through Labor Day, dogs are only allowed off-leash in these areas before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.

Bowser strikes a pose at Willard Beach. Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald

HITTING THE BEACH (DESPITE SUMMER RESTRICTIONS)

Scarborough town beaches: Higgins (King Street off Pine Point Road), Ferry Beach (Ferry Road), Pine Point Beach (Bayview Avenue) May 15 through Labor Day: off-leash allowed dawn to 9 a.m., no dogs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on-leash only 5 p.m. to dusk. To protect piping plovers, some beach areas are further restricted (watch for demarcations) Through Labor Day: at Higgins and Ferry (also adjoining Western Beach), no dogs; at Pine Point, on-leash only. (scarboroughmaine.org)

Willard Beach, along Simonton Cove from Fisherman’s Point to Southern Maine Community College, South Portland (southportland.org) May through September: no dogs 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., off-leash allowed 7-9 a.m., 7-9 p.m.

STATE PARKS (maine.gov/dacf/parks)

Dogs must be on-leash in state parks and aren’t allowed on park beaches (lake or seaside) from April to September. So skip Scarborough Beach State Park and head for:

Two Lights State Park, off Route 77, Cape Elizabeth ($5 adults, $7 non-residents) Trail views overlook rocky headlands, Casco Bay and the open Atlantic at this 41-acre park. Note: the lighthouses are nearby, not in the park.

Crescent Beach State Park, 7 Tower Drive Cape Elizabeth ($6 adults, $8 non-residents) Its mile-long namesake is the big draw, but you can walk on paths and roads at this park just a few miles from Two Lights State Park.

Mackworth Island, access via Andrews Avenue, Falmouth ($3 adults, $4 non-residents) A wooded wildlife sanctuary linked to the mainland by a causeway, the park has an easy 1.25-mile path circling the island.

Bradbury Mountain State Park, 528 Hallowell Road, Pownal ($4 adults, $6 non-residents) This 800-acre park near Freeport offers hiking, wonderful summit views, shaded picnic sites and a campground.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, 426 Wolfe’s Neck Road, Freeport ($4 adults, $6 non-residents) A respite five minutes from the Freeport outlets, the park has shoreline on Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River.

Sebago Lake State Park, 11 Park Access Road, Casco ($6 adults, $8 non-residents) The campground (unlike those at other state parks) is off-limits to dogs, but the 1,400-acre park is great for boating and canoeing with your dog and offers easy to moderate hiking.

BOWWOW!

Tail-wagging recreation in and around Portland isn’t limited to hiking. Some examples:

Casco Bay Lines, Maine State Pier, Portland (cascobaylines.com) Dogs are welcome on ferry trips and specialty cruises. Fido’s ticket is $4 wherever the journey.

Lisa Mitchell of Hampton Falls, N.H., with Louie, her 2-year-old English bulldog, at the annual Bark in the Park event during the Sea Dogs home game against the Harrisburg Senators at Hadlock Field in 2017. Photo by Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

Portland Sea Dogs, 271 Park Ave., Portland (milb.com) Fans can bring their dogs to Bark in the Park games at Hadlock Field on June 21 and Aug. 24.

Maine Foodie Tours, Portland (mainefoodietours.com) On the Doggy & Me Tour ($39 per person), visit businesses that cater to canines. Dogs and humans enjoy treats on this walking tour with stops; some proceeds go to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

Save a Stray 5K & Festival, L.L. Bean Discovery Park, Freeport, Saturday, Aug. 24. (saveastray.midcoasthumane.org/festivalBenefits Midcoast Humane and includes canine contests and Dock Dogs performances.

DOGGIE DIGS 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 the Portland area:

Inn by the Sea, 40 Bowery Beach Road, Cape Elizabeth (innbythesea.comThis place has unabashedly gone to the dogs, pampering them and their masters with massages and gourmet menus. Sitting service available.

Embassy Suites Hotel by Hilton, 1050 Westbrook St., Portland (embassysuites3.hilton.com)

Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port, 433 Fore St., Portland (hyatt.com)

Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main St., Freeport (harraseeketinn.com)

Grady’s West Shore Motel, 177 N. High St., Bridgton (gradysmotel.synthasite.com)

A dog goes for a walk at Inn By The Sea in Cape Elizabeth, which supremely caters to dogs with a specialty food menu and more. Photo by John Ewing/Portland Press Herald

DINING OUT WITH DOGGIE

This is par for the course at many area restaurants and breweries with decks, patios or sidewalk cafes (state law only allows service animals inside restaurants). A sampling:

The Porthole Restaurant & Pub, Custom House Wharf, Portland (portholemaine.comFolks out and about in the Old Port with their dog head to the Porthole for its massive deck.

Flatbread Co., 72 Commercial St., Portland (flatbreadcompany.com/portlandDine at picnic tables on the deck with your four-legged family member at this pizza-centric Old Port establishment.

Allagash Brewing Co., 50 Industrial Way, Portland (allagash.com) Beer lovers with dogs in tow have a choice: enclosed or open outdoor areas (the former is heated as needed).

Freedom Cafe & Pub, 923 Roosevelt Trail, Naples (freedomcafeandpub.com) On the Causeway in Naples along Long Lake, this establishment lets guests with dogs dine lakeside on the lawn in-season.

OTHER RESOURCES

Chamber of commerce and tourism promotion agency websites and visitor guides often have information for folks recreating and traveling with their dogs.

Visit Portland’s extensive dog-friendly vacation page (visitportland.com/dog-friendly-vacations) has a link to pet-friendly lodgings.

At trade organization Hospitality Maine’s website (hospitalitymaine.com), you can search for pet-friendly hotels, inns, cottages, etc. (follow links from “Visiting Maine”).

Mary Ruoff is a freelance writer in Belfast.

A hostess at the Porthole says hello to maltese Bobby, who was hanging out on the Portland restaurant’s dog-friendly deck. Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald

 


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