Traveling with your four-legged family member (or members) can create some of the best memories. Maine is one of the most dog-friendly states in the country — from hospitable service at historic inns catering to pups to beaches with long stretches where they can run free.
As you plan your next getaway with your pet, add some of these dog-friendly beaches in Maine to your itinerary.
Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Southern Maine Coast
You’re barking up the right tree if you’re considering a dog-friendly trip to the Southern Maine Coast. The towns in this region have some of the best pet-friendly stretches of pebbles and sand.
The best dog beach in Kittery is at Fort Foster. New rules just went into effect that any Kittery visitor should know. Dogs can be off-leash on most beaches in the park before 10 a.m. After that, leashed access (no longer than 10 feet) is allowed. Pier South Beach has the strongest dog restrictions.
TIP: Follow the peninsula’s eastern edge to Rocky Beach for smaller crowds.
We love how transparent York is about dog access at all its beaches. This makes planning a dog-friendly trip to the Southern Maine Coast so much easier.
Generally, the beaches in York Maine don’t allow domestic animals on the beach between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the high season. The off-season comes with times of day when leash laws are lifted or required. However, Sohier Park near Nubble Lighthouse allows dogs on a leash year-round.
The two main destinations in Ogunquit for people and pets are Marginal Way and Ogunquit Beach. The town ordinance dates when dogs aren’t allowed and leashed dogs are allowed. For Ogunquit Beach, leashed dogs are welcome from early September through March.
NOTE: Do not walk dogs on Moody Beach between Ogunquit and Wells. That’s private property.
By the time you reach Wells Maine, you’re getting a sense of how dog-friendly Maine really is with a helpful brochure listing all dog access times and leash rules. Even when dogs are allowed, you’ll need to have them on a leash. Wells Harbor Beach is safer for timid dogs, as it’s not on the open ocean.
Kennebunk wants to ensure the beach experience is ideal for people and pets alike, and a Dog Advisory Committee helps adjust the rules as needed. A bonus of a dog-friendly trip to Kennebunk is that you can let your pet roam off-leash during access times, assuming it’s under voice control.
In nearby Kennebunkport, tourists’ biggest question is, “Are dogs allowed on Goose Rocks Beach?” The answer is “yes,” but it’s also not simple. Check out the chart of access times detailing when dogs must be leashed, can be off-leash, or are prohibited altogether.
Biddeford’s dog-friendly beach rules are buried in a list of city ordinances, so we’ll pull out the details to keep you from digging through the document.
No unleashed dog is allowed on any of the city’s public beaches from mid-March to mid-September. Dogs are completely prohibited from late May 25 to mid-September between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Unleashed dogs under voice command are allowed on public beaches all day from mid-September to mid-March.
Old Orchard Beach
OOB updated its dog beach access rules in 2021, with off-leash access times throughout the year. Old Orchard Beach is one of the most dog-friendly beaches in Maine. The only thing we’d caution is that there isn’t free freshwater nearby, so you should bring your own.
Portland & Casco Bay Maine Dog-Friendly Beaches
Like the Southern Maine Coast, the Portland & Casco Bay region has several fantastic beaches for dogs. Check out these spots during your Maine getaway.
Scarborough Beach State Park is under different management than other state parks, so the rules are slightly different too. From early October through May, leashed dogs are allowed. Otherwise, dogs are prohibited.
NOTE: Review the Animal Control Ordinance (page 4) for Scarborough town beaches for specific times.
Cape Elizabeth has two state parks — Two Lights and Crescent Beach — so you’ll follow the state park dog rules there. You can bring leashed dogs to Fort Williams Park, where the Portland Head Lighthouse is located.
We love how easy South Portland makes it to find a dog-friendly location near the water. Willard Beach is the biggest option, but head to Bug Light Park for the most off-leash freedom. Hinckley Park is part of the South Portland Land Trust. It’s a bit inland, but there’s a pond for pups to play off-leash year-round.
East End Beach and Eastern Promenade in Portland Maine are two dog-friendly waterfront locations. Also, if you’re taking your dog on a ferry trip out of Portland, you’ll be happy to know that dogs are allowed on the boats.
NOTE: Many dog beach restrictions focus on the Piping Plover nesting season. You can learn more about the importance of protecting the birds through the Maine Audubon.
Dog-Friendly Mid Coast Maine Beaches
Once you’re past Brunswick, you’ll be in the land of peninsulas and islands that jut out into coastal waters. Traditional “beaches” are more hidden, but here are a few places where you’ll find them.
Our first recommendation is to look through the options of dog-friendly lands through the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust and Boothbay Region Land Trust. If you hope to explore the islands with your pet pal, check out the Island Heritage Trust dog rules. Some properties might prohibit dogs for wildlife safety.
Mid Coast Maine State Parks
For man and dog, you can’t beat the dog-friendly beaches of Popham Beach State Park. Just abide by the seasonal rules. Also, check out Owls Head State Park and Birch Point State Park (known by locals as Lucia Beach).
TIP: Birch Point is one of the least visited state parks, offering a great beach for dogs seasonally.
Another dog-friendly hidden gem is Sandy Point Beach in Stockton Springs.
Downeast Dog-Friendly Beaches
Acadia National Park is one of the biggest attractions in Downeast Maine, and you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly resources throughout the region. Here are several to get you started.
Acadia National Park
Sand Beach and Echo Lake are the two popular spots for dogs in Acadia National Park, but pets are only allowed in the off-season. Pets are welcome on the trails and Isle au Haut. Your dog can even earn the prestigious award of being a Bark Ranger.
During low tide, you can walk to the “bar” in Bar Harbor with your dog, as Bar Island and the surrounding trail allow dogs to be leashed or under voice control. Little Long Pond is another great spot for dog access on Mount Desert Island under the purview of The Garden Preserve.
If you want to get to the heart of Downeast and away from the Bar Harbor crowds, visit the coastal oasis of Woodworth Preserve. Dogs can be off-leash if they are under voice control.
NOTE: The Great Wass Island Preserve does NOT allow dogs.
Jasper Beach is one of our favorite places for a unique dog-friendly beach in Maine. This rocky stretch of shoreline has “singing rocks.” The rocks are super smooth, so you won’t have to worry about jagged edges on puppy paws.
True Bold Coast beauty can be found at Cutler Coast Public Preserved Land. This trek should only be for the most rugged doggos and people. Leash laws are lax, but there are spots where keeping the leash on is safer.
West Quoddy State Park and the lighthouse grounds in Lubec Maine are dog-friendly if pups are on a leash, but those same state park beach rules apply. Take a longer trip around the peninsula to find a more secluded Jones Beach.
Other Dog-Friendly Beaches in Maine
As you venture inland, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a beach outside of a state park that allows dogs. That’s because pet waste can damage the water quality (in addition to a list of other water quality issues these communities deal with). Utmost precautions are taken mostly because the water is used as drinking water.
Dog-Friendly Maine State Parks
Most of Maine’s state parks are dog-friendly on the trails year-round provided that each pet is on a leash no more than 4 feet in length. The rules get stricter when it comes to beach access.
No dogs are allowed on state park beaches from April through September. From October through March, though, leashed dogs are welcome on state park beaches.
Understanding Dog-Friendly Maine Rules
Without a leash law or dog restrictions in local cities, the dog-friendly directive comes from Maine’s law regarding dogs:
“It is unlawful for any dog, licensed or unlicensed, to be at large, except when used for hunting. ‘At large’ means off the premises of the owner and not under the control of any person whose personal presence and attention would reasonably control the conduct of the animal.”
In the truest sense, the law means that your dog must have an immediate and consistent heel, recall, and stay command regardless of environment or distractions.
Community Specific Rules
Do you know that meme of the woman thinking with the numbers surrounding her head? That’s what reading some of the dog-friendly rules feels like in a few Maine communities. Here’s what to look for to help you decipher:
- Time of Year: Most towns have looser rules between late fall and spring but tighten them up in late spring through early fall.
- Time of Day: Within those times of year, access could be limited to before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. — just as an example.
- Leashed or Not: Some beaches will allow off-leash access in the morning, no access during the day, and on-leash access at night — and vice versa.
There’s little consistency in beach rules, even within towns. Each beach tends to have its own rules, so carefully check those rules before you visit.
Dog-Friendly Beach Etiquette
It’s important to note that several rules are important to follow, not just for the safety of your visit but also to keep Maine dog-friendly for the future.
You must clean up after your pet immediately. Do not leave pet waste to “pick up later” or assume that someone else will do it. Pet waste is one of the top risks to the water quality throughout Maine’s coastline.
Take It With You
You’ll find many beaches and parks that won’t have trash cans. You are expected to pick up your pet’s waste and carry it out of the park. Bring a leak and waterproof waste bag with you to make this easier.
Assume Only You Love Dogs
Most dog beach restrictions will come from people who don’t like dogs and are tired of them jumping on them at the beach. Never let your dog approach someone unless you are 100% sure that they invite the experience.
TIP: Some of the most leash-free leniency comes from the Maine Land Trust sites. While each one is case-dependent, our dog-loving adventurers say the majority of these locations welcome well-behaved off-leash dogs.
Enjoy Maine’s Beaches With Your Four-Legged Family Member
You’ll find Maine to be dog-friendly for years to come if everyone follows these rules. Be respectful with your pets, and ensure that they can handle overstimulation and still follow voice controls. Pick up after them and leave no trace too.
On top of that, always follow signs posted at beaches because these rules can change over time. We’ve talked to many officials throughout the coastal regions, and the number one reason dogs might be limited in the future is because owners don’t pick up after their pets.
So the next time that you go on a getaway, consider planning a tour of dog-friendly beaches in Maine with your furry friend.