There is nothing like a visit to New York City, especially during the holidays. While the city is full of festive activities, many places are off-limits for dogs, which may make travel difficult for those who choose to bring their pups along. You may have heard the saying “if I can’t bring my dog, I’m not going.” I live by that motto, so when we first began planning our trip, I was worried that many of the holiday festivities in the city wouldn’t be dog-friendly. Luckily, we found that NYC has a wide variety of places that welcomes people and pups alike! Here are just a few of our personal favorites that you won’t want to leave off your itinerary, and some tips for making your trip easier.
WHERE TO STAY
New York City is known for a lot of things, but it’s rare to find a hotel that fits all of our needs: dog-friendly, great location, affordable — and ideally — a room that’s big enough for multiple people and a pup. Usually, we end up compromising on one or more of these things to find a place in the city. That’s why we’re obsessed with the Gardens Suites Hotel by Affinia (215 E 64th St, New York, NY 10065.) It really does have everything you need for a perfect stay in New York City! Every room is a suite, and the one we had included an outdoor patio.
During our first visit to New York with Izzy, our 10-year-old rescue chow chow, I was surprised to find out that most of the parks and green spaces are bordered by fences to prevent dogs from entering them. It made it very difficult to find a place for Izzy to walk and “do her business.” This hotel was in a perfect location for us on the Upper East Side, and is just a short walk from Central Park.
Izzy loved the hotel’s VIPaws Pet Program, which provided everything we needed for our stay, including pet bowls, a huge dog bed, toys and treats from Canine Styles, and waste bags. This hotel is definitely our “home away from home,” and made traveling with our pup so much easier!
Getting around the city with a dog is harder in the winter, since the colder temperatures make walking outside less enjoyable. During our trip, we used Uber and taxis frequently, and had no problems at all bringing our pup along. We also used the subway without any problems.
As a reminder, New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority specifies that “no person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container and carried in a manner which would not annoy other passengers.” Good news: the rules do not specify what can be a considered a container, nor do they place any restrictions on the size of the container, so break out those IKEA bags and take your pup for a ride! As a note, this rule does not apply to service dogs, who may ride the subway while leashed.
If you’re looking for a unique alternative, try riding a rickshaw or a horse carriage: dogs are allowed, and it’s a great way to see the city. Additionally, the Seastreak Ferry is dog-friendly and offers incredible views of the city and the Statue of Liberty!
EAT & DRINK
One of the best parts about New York City is that there are coffee shops and bars that allow pups inside! Dogs, like us humans, have different preferences for socializing and there are plenty of options all over the city. Here are a few places that we recommend:
Boris & Horton, 195 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009: This coffee shop in the East Village neighborhood is one of the city’s best dog-friendly places to visit! Dogs are allowed inside, because there’s a glass partition separating the area where food is prepared. Boris & Horton serves a variety of coffee and snacks, and there’s an area to shop for the latest swag (for both pups and owners!), including pet bandannas, leashes, and t-shirts. During our visit, the shop was hosting a special Lucy & Co. popup event, which is an online dog boutique launched by the humans behind @dogsofinstagram. The shop also offers craft beer and wine in the evenings, and hosts adoption events on weekends.
Tradesman, 222 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206: Our dog, Izzy, like many older pups, is more of a wallflower than a party animal. The Tradesman was the perfect spot for us. It’s a small bar located in Brooklyn, and it was a lot quieter (and cleaner) than some of the other places we visited. There’s also a large backyard patio, but that area is probably better to visit in the warmer months. If you have a dog that isn’t completely comfortable around other social dogs, this bar is a great option because all of the pups remained on leash and had plenty of space to relax without being overwhelmed by other dogs.
d.b.a., 41 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003: This bar was another one of our favorites. Pups are allowed inside, and there’s a large heated patio in the back that’s perfect for events. Outside food is allowed since this bar serves drinks only. During our visit, we attended a dog-friendly trivia event to benefit Foster Dogs, which is an organization that connects rescue organizations, adopters, fosters, and other partners together in the shared mission to help animals in need. It was a great way to get to meet some local dog owners and to have a fun night out with our pup!
Luckydog, 303 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211: This dive bar is perfect for pups that love socializing with other dogs. While we were there, many of the pups were roaming the room off-leash and were free to play throughout the indoor space, so if you have a dog that isn’t completely comfortable around other social dogs, this bar may not be a good fit for you. In addition to the indoor space, there’s a large outdoor patio space in the back for pups to romp around.
New York City is home to some of the best stores in the world, and many of them are dog-friendly, including Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany and Co., Bloomingdales, and many others. We recommend checking websites before you visit, but we had no problems bringing our pup into any of the stores. It was a great way to escape the cold, and to see the incredible holiday displays in the stores. Don’t miss the fantastic window displays: the best ones are on Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
During the holidays, there are multiple dog-friendly holiday markets throughout the city. Our favorite one was Bryant Park Winter Village, an open-air market that has more than 170 boutiques and an ice-skating rink. Even though it’s only a few blocks from Times Square, this market has a special “small-town” charm that really gets you into the spirit of the season. The market is outdoors, and it’s a great area for pups to walk around and spend time in one of NYC’s best parks. If you need to warm up, all of the vendors have individual kiosks that allow you and your pup inside. Grab a cup of hot cider, and enjoy time browsing the shops and relaxing under the giant Christmas tree in the center of the market.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS AND DISPLAYS
New York is filled with incredible holiday lights and decorations, but the best display of all can be found in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. The houses in this neighborhood have some of the most over-the-top Christmas lights that we had ever seen. One of the houses even had a snow machine: no need to dream of a white Christmas when you can create your own. Hot cocoa was also available for purchase from vendors parked on the street. This is truly a “must-see” display, and the perfect activity for people traveling with their pup. Tip: The best lights are on 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street.
SPECIAL DOG-FRIENDLY ADVENTURES
New York City has so many special places to visit, but for my pup, there was one that stood out above all of the rest: the headquarters of BARK! If you haven’t heard of BARK, they’re the creators of BarkBox, a monthly delivery service that brings your pup toys and all-natural treats with a new theme each month. Our pup, Izzy, gets so excited on BarkBox day, so we had to take her to the place where the magic happens!
This office takes dog-friendly to a new level, and we loved getting to see where all of toys and treats are designed! There’s even a treat cart in the lobby filled with treats made by BARK! As a note, tours are not generally offered to the public since this is an office. If you want to visit, contact BARK first to confirm whether the office will be open to the public during that time.
BEST HOLIDAY DECORATIONS
The sights in New York City are always incredible, but the city is even more spectacular during the holiday season. Many of the best spots are often crowded with other tourists (and locals, too, even if they won’t admit it,) but no trip to NYC during the holidays would be complete without a visit to the city’s holiday displays. Here are a few recommendations for must-visit places to view outdoor holiday displays in the city.
- Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
- Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show
- Department Store Window Displays
- The Shops at Columbus Circle
- Central Park
- Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink (Dogs are not permitted on the rink, but may walk around the outside in the park)
- Sixth Avenue Christmas Ornaments and Lights
- Radio City Music Hall (Dogs are not permitted inside the music hall)
In a city where you’re more likely to hear cellphones ringing than silver bells, there are still plenty of ways to experience the traditional magic of Christmas with your pup by your side.
Have you visited New York City during the holidays? Let us know if you have any other recommendations for dog-friendly places and activities!
Amber Duggan is the proud owner of Izzy the Chow, who is also known as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Fluff. Izzy is an 11 year old chow chow, and she was adopted 5 years ago from Frederick County Animal Control. Amber is originally from Michigan, and started Izzy’s Instagram account (@izzy_the_chow) as a way to share photos of her with family and friends back home. However, Izzy’s account grew quickly, and became a way for other chow chow owners and rescue dog advocates to share information and helpful tips. When she’s not with Izzy, Amber serves as associate attorney within the Department of Homeland Security. Amber is also the Executive Director of a 501c3 organization called We the Dogs DC, which was formed by five women in the DC area who met through their dogs’ Instagram accounts. They discovered that they all shared a passion for rescue animals, and formed We the Dogs DC so that they could work with the community to raise money for local animal rescue organizations. In addition to its fundraising efforts, We the Dogs DC maintains a community Instagram account (@wethedogsdc). Every day, a new a new person and their dog is selected to take over the account and share photos of their day in the DC area.