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  • Writer's pictureMallory Harper

Cape Cod Adventures: A Dog Friendly Extended Weekend Camping Trip

Cape Cod is a highly sought-after summer destination for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, the region's natural beauty is unparalleled, boasting stunning landscapes made up of pristine beaches, dunes, and marshes, as well as quaint coastal towns. This scenic environment attracts visitors seeking a calm and picturesque getaway. Cape Cod offers an array of diverse beaches, catering to different preferences, for us this means pet friendly options where our dog can join us at the beach for the entire day!

Beyond its natural charm, Cape Cod possesses a unique vacation atmosphere. The region conveys a laid-back and charming ambiance, characterized by adorable villages, historic lighthouses, and charming coastal settings. Exploring local antique shops, savoring seafood delicacies at charming restaurants, and indulging in delicious ice cream are just a few of the enjoyable experiences visitors can partake in.

Right in the middle of the Cape is Nickerson State Park, a scenic and expansive park, offering camping, biking, hiking, fishing, and swimming opportunities amidst its forests, freshwater ponds, and picturesque landscapes. Not only a wonderful place to call home base for a weekend, but also an amazing location to enjoy with your pup!

Women sitting with dog on park bench at Nauset Light Beach
Checking out the views at Nauset Light Beach

Camping at Nickerson State Park

Camping at Nickerson State Park with a dog is a very easy process. You will need to make a reservation ahead of time (I recommend doing this online). Reservations can book up extremely quickly but usually there will be cancellations allowing you to grab a last-minute reservation. All the sites are dog friendly, which really helps when getting one of the last-minute spots! When checking in you will be asked to present your dog’s rabies certificate so make sure you have a paper copy or a picture on your phone.

I personally love camping in park area 3. Many of the sites sit further back off of the camp driving loop and are spacious enough to play fetch! This loop also has a short trail directly down to Flax Pond where my dog and I take a morning swim each day to cool off! After a quick dip, we make our way back up to the site to get ready for the days adventures!

Roof top tent camping
Our tent at Nickerson State Park

Cape Cod Adventures

When traveling with a dog, it’s important to understand what is and is not dog friendly. While there are many dog friendly activities on the cape, there are just as many non-dog friendly activities. By doing some initial research you can set yourself up for a fun-packed weekend that includes your dog.

Cape Cod has many different beach options to choose from but many of them, markedly during the summer months, have strict rules on dogs. The only public beaches that we go to during the summer are located on the National Seashore. These include Coast Guard Beach, Nauset Light Beach, Marconi Beach, Race Point Beach, and Herring Cove Beach. While these beaches do allow dog access year around it is important to check the website or stop by a visitor center to review pet restrictions due to nesting and staging shorebirds.

After a few hours enjoying the sun and water of the beach, it’s time to grab some food before we head back to the campground! There are many restaurants that allow dogs to join you on their patios. Depending on which beach you are heading from a few of our favorites include Cobie’s Clam Shack, Brickhouse Restaurant, Moby Dick’s Restaurant, and Waydowntown Restaurant. If you are also looking to spend some time walking around downtown areas while grabbing food, I recommend downtown Provincetown, many of the bars, restaurants and even some shops and boutiques are dog friendly!

On non-beach days there are many activities to keep you entertained right in the park! There are over five miles of biking and hiking trails. When biking, our dog loves to be in his K9 Sport Sack dog carrier. From the reactions of many people we pass, others love him in it too. We also love to paddleboard the bigger pond in the park, Cliff Pond. While during the day this pond can be a bit busy with motorized boats, closer to dinner time and in the evening it is much quieter.

Tips for Traveling with Dogs

While there are many fun and rewarding advantages to traveling and camping with your dog, there are a few tips I have learned over time to ensure a successful trip:

  1. Pack Essential Items: Remember to pack essential items for your dog, including food, water, food and water bowls, leash, collar with identification tags, waste bags, any comfort items, and any necessary medications or first aid supplies. I’d also recommend a portable water bottle to bring anywhere you go!

  2. Practice Basic Training: Ensure your dog is well-behaved and responsive to basic commands before the trip. Commands like "sit," "stay," and "come" are crucial for maintaining control and safety while camping and exploring while there are many others around.

  3. Keep Your Dog Leashed: In public areas, including beaches and the campground, keep your dog leashed unless there are designated off-leash areas. This ensures the safety of your pet, other campers, and wildlife.

  4. Provide Adequate Shade and Water: Dogs can easily get overheated, so provide them with shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day. I love to bring those children’s popup tents to the beach for my dog so that he has a spot all to himself in the shade.

  5. Check for Ticks: The outdoors can harbor ticks and the Cape is no different, so regularly check your dog for any signs of infestation. In addition to checking after being on any trails, we do a full body check before climbing into the tent.

Remember, every dog is different so adjust these tips based on your dog's individual needs and behavior. With proper planning and preparation, traveling with your dog to the ocean and camping can create lasting memories and a fantastic adventure for both of you!

Ready to plan a trip of your own?

Cape Cod's undeniable natural beauty, laid-back vacation atmosphere, and the presence of pet-friendly beaches make it an ideal destination for those looking to travel with their dogs. With its stunning landscapes, quaint coastal towns and diverse beaches, Cape Cod offers an array of experiences for both humans and their furry companions. The amazing Nickerson State Park in the heart of Cape Cod provides ample opportunities for camping, hiking, and enjoying freshwater ponds, creating a perfect setting for a memorable adventure with your four-legged friend. So pack your bags, bring along the necessary supplies, and embark on an unforgettable trip to Cape Cod where you and your dog can create lasting memories while embracing the beauty of this captivating coastal region.

Dog taking photo in front of Cape Cod Nation Seashore Visitor Center
Of course we need a photo at the visitor center!



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