Ready to plan your – and your dog’s – next road trip in Southwestern Ontario? I’ve got you covered. This dog-friendly guide will have you doing so much more than playing fetch at a dog park.  

1. Go for a bike ride together along the Sarnia waterfront.  

The Great Lakes Bicycle Co. doesn’t just rent bikes – it also has a pet trailer that’ll gently tow even larger dogs. Perfect for those who are just starting to use a dog trailer, the Bluewater Bike Path is a short ride from this Point Edward bike shop.

2. Take your dog for a boat ride.  

Gordons WaterSports has a boat (complete with a captain if you need one) you can rent for as little as two hours. Just don’t forget to bring along your dog’s life jacket. 

 

Children with their dog

Duchess tours Ontario’s Blue Coast with Gordons WaterSports in Sarnia. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor, Mommy Gearest)

 

3. Enjoy some of Southwestern Ontario’s most stellar dog-friendly patios. 

In the Sarnia-Lambton area, there’s AG Dockside and Bad Dog in Sarnia, Black Gold Brewery in Petrolia, LOCAL Wyoming in (you guessed it…) Wyoming and Los Puntos Cantina in Point Edward. Farther south, Casa Bella and Centro Wood Fired Kitchen in Chatham offer lots of space for your dog to get comfortable, and Rondeau Joe’s in Morpeth even has a partly covered patio in case of rain. Down in Windsor-Essex, it’s hard to beat Armando’s and Caffeine & Co. in Amherstburg, Whamburg and Bull & Barrel in Windsor, and The Goose Kitchen & Bar in Kingsville.

4. Get into nature.

Rock Glen Conservation Area’s got a whopping 27 acres to discover, so even the most energetic dogs will meet their match here. Be sure to make your way to the waterfall while you’re here, which is perfect for cooling off. Just don’t forget to bring a towel for those inevitable muddy paws!

Note: Dogs need to remain on a leash at all times.  

 

Owner with dog at Rock Glen Conservation Area

The Rock Glen Waterfall in Arkona is a must-see. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor, Mommy Gearest)

5. Treat your fur-baby to ice cream.

A spoonful or two of vanilla ice cream here and there shouldn’t upset your dog’s tummy and he’ll probably love it even more than your neighbourhood Puppuccino. Enjoy outdoor seating together at Mariners Cone & Shake in Erieau, Riverside Ice Cream in Chatham, The Sugar Shack in Wallaceburg, The Parlour Ice Cream Co. in Windsor and Haven's Creamery in London.

6. Beach! Beach! Let’s go to the beach.  

While you will probably enjoy dog-friendly Erieau Beach thanks to its close proximity to a great downtown vibe with shops and restaurants, your dog will definitely prefer Rondeau Provincial Park since there’s a designated dog beach where he can enjoy the water. Dogs must be on a leash while on the beach and under control while swimming. Remember, the beaches at Rondeau are home to many species at risk. Please respect their habitat by not moving driftwood or disturbing dune areas.

 

Walking Dog on Beach

Owners walking their dog on the beach.

7. Visit The Licker Store

And not just because the name is clever. This Dresden shop has one of the best collections of gourmet dog biscuits we’ve seen anywhere on our Ontario drives, and cost-effective treats – like a $3 bag of beef liver strips – along with clothes, gear, and more.

8. Hit up a farmers’ market.  

Wallaceburg’s biweekly market that runs from June through October each year is a great example of this dog-friendly activity. Pack a blanket and a water bowl and pick up a picnic lunch to share with your furry friend in a nearby park.

9. Catch some killer sunsets.  

Bayshore Park in Sarnia, Mitchell’s Bay Wharf in Chatham-Kent, or the deck at Pelee Island’s Stone House 1891 – take your pick. They all offer seating that guarantees spectacular sunset views on clear nights.

 

Sunset in Southwestern Ontario

Sunsets in Mitchell’s Bay are breathtaking. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor, Mommy Gearest)

10. Take in a museum.  

Both the Canadian Aviation Museum in Windsor and Fort Malden National Historic Site in Amherstburg allow dogs on their tours, with the latter excluding a few of its indoor spaces.

11. Go shopping.  

Whether you’re in Erieau, Amherstburg, or Dresden, you’ll find more and more dog-friendly shops popping up all across southwestern Ontario. (A helpful hint: look for water bowls in front of shops for an immediate dog-friendly cue.) 

12. Admire some art.  

Nope, not in a traditional gallery where dogs aren’t usually welcome; step out onto the five-kilometre Windsor Sculpture Park, which is essentially an open-air art gallery.

13. Hang out on Pelee Island.  

Head over for the day or stay for a few! Your dog is allowed to travel with you on the ferry and will love walking the long dirt roads, joining you for a wine flight at Pelee Island Winery’s dog-friendly space, and watching birds land along the shoreline. While you’re here, stroll through the various trails and nature reserves, including one that harbours a lighthouse from the 1800s, and enjoy a quiet moment together on a waterfront park bench while the waves crash against the rocks. 

 

Lakeside beach photo at Pelee Island

Just one of Pelee Island’s waterfront benches. (Photo credit: Andrea Traynor, Mommy Gearest)

Check out this 8-day dog-friendly itinerary!

Looking for dog-friendly accommodations along the way? You’re in luck. Ontario’s Southwest is home to plenty of great properties that will welcome your pooch – and maybe even your kitty! Consider The Insignia Hotel in Sarnia, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chatham South, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Windsor and Pelee Island’s Wandering Dog Inn.  

 

Find out even more in our related dog-friendly series – Things to do in Sarnia, Things to do in Chatham and Things to do in Windsor – and bookmark Mommy Gearest’s detailed itinerary for exploring Ontario’s Southwest with your dog.