In our ‘pack’, a weekend getaway generally isn’t just for my husband and I. We rarely travel without our pups, both to avoid having to find a dog sitter and because we genuinely enjoy having them by our side. For this reason, we’re always on the hunt for fun, dog-friendly getaway locations. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly getaway in Southern Ontario, look no further – Kitchener, Ontario is the place to be!
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We live in a high-demand, fast-paced world today. This is especially true if you are living as a small business owner or entrepreneur, as the workday is no longer limited to 8 hours in the office. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for the world, but it does come with its fair share of stress. For this reason, my husband and I try to make a point of getting away for at least one weekend every month.
Our weekend getaways aren’t generally something big or fancy. In fact, throughout the camping season, we usually grab our tent and head to one of the Ontario Parks. In the off-season, however, we are often on the search for different locations and experiences. After reading about one of the trail systems available in the Kitchener, Ontario area, we decided that it would be a great weekend retreat!
Are you looking for a dog-friendly getaway in Southern Ontario? Check out these reasons why Kitchener, Ontario should make your list:
Parks & Trails
The main reason that we chose to visit the Kitchener, Ontario area for our weekend getaway was the availability of some beautiful trails and parks. While we wanted some downtime to put our feet up and relax, we’re both outdoorsy people and our dogs are FULL of energy! We were impressed not only by the wide availability of different parks with walking trails but, more specifically, by the Huron Natural Area.
Located on the south end of the city, the Huron Natural Area is often overlooked when considering things to do in the City of Kitchener. This large and well-protected natural space includes wetlands, meadows, forests, boardwalks, a creek, and more. There are a total of 6 different trails, each with its own unique views and experiences.
If you enter through the main access area off Trillium Drive, you will start on the Huron Trail, an asphalt/stone-dust trail that provides an accessible, relaxing walk for those that simply want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. From here, you have the opportunity to branch out on the other trails available.
We spent a good portion of our Saturday afternoon at the Huron Natural Area, during which time we were able to try out 5 of the 6 trails, missing only the Strasburg Creek Trail. While a favourite trail is a matter of personal opinion (and may change from season to season), both my husband and I were instantly in love with the Forest Trail! A natural surface trail complete with a boardwalk, circling through a mature forest was STUNNING with the fall colours.
If you’re an ‘outdoorsy’ type and love spending time surrounded by nature, the Huron Natural Area is a must-see!
Many of the parks around the City of Kitchener include beautifully paved and well-maintained walking paths. These are perfect not only for a relaxing walk with your dog but also for those who may be travelling with mobility limitations or strollers. You can find a list of parks on the City of Kitchener website HERE.
While we were somewhat limited on time, staying for only a weekend, we couldn’t pass up a visit to Victoria Park. This park was recommended to us by a couple of people, and it didn’t take us long to see why. The trail took us over two bridges. As we crossed, we were able to stop and watch the many ducks swimming below us (the dogs were fascinated). The park is beautifully maintained, providing us with the perfect location for a relaxing Sunday morning walk.
Unless you live in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, a trip to Kitchener for the weekend would likely involve a place to stay. There are many options for accommodations that are listed as ‘pet-friendly’, however, you may find yourself limited on hotels based on the size of your dog or the number of dogs that you are travelling with. It’s not uncommon to see hotel pet policies stating that a specific location will only accept dogs 50lbs and smaller, or that they limit your room to a single dog. For this reason, it’s important to do your research!
If you are concerned with whether or not a hotel will meet your needs, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them directly! A well-informed decision will ensure that you enjoy your time. To help you out, I have listed the pet policy for a couple of local hotels.
Howard Johnson Hotel – Kitchener Conestoga (133 Weber St E, Kitchener)
“1 Pet is allowed for a non-refundable charge of 15.00 CAD per night. Pet sanitation fee is 20.00 CAD if applicable. Service animals are also welcome at this hotel.”
Radisson Hotel Kitchener Waterloo (2960 King St E, Kitchener)
“Pet-friendly accommodation is available for a fee (cats and dogs only). Guests are welcome to bring 2 pets no more than 50 pounds.”
The Walper Hotel (20 Queen St S, Kitchener)
“The Walper Hotel welcomes two dogs of any size for an additional fee of $40 per pet, per stay. Only four rooms allow dogs. Guests travelling with dogs must call 877-411-3436 prior to booking to verify availability of a pet-friendly room or risk not being able to check in with a dog and/or incurring any associated cancellation penalties. Cats are not permitted.”
If you’re unsure about navigating hotel pet policies and fees, there is another great option available. During our stay, we decided to forgo the traditional hotel route, booking our stay through Airbnb. Using the website or app, you can easily search for rooms in the area that are or are not listed as ‘pet-friendly’. Most listings that we viewed were clear about their rules regarding pets and any associated fees.
After discovering a beautiful studio apartment that looked similar to staying a hotel suite, we simply messaged the host to verify that ‘pet-friendly’ would include 2 medium/large dogs. The host was super friendly and more than willing to answer any questions we had. By staying in a location like this, the accommodations were less ‘busy’ making it a little easier for the pups to relax (there are A LOT of people at a hotel after all).
Interested in checking out this specific listing? You can view it HERE!
Related: ‘Dog-Friendly Hotel Travel: 12 Tips For A Great Stay’
As we were travelling in November, outdoor patios weren’t an option. However, I can’t talk about the dog-friendly options in Kitchener without mentioning that there are a lot of locations throughout the city with dog-friendly patios (weather permitting). This is a great way for dog owners to get out and enjoy the city with their pup close at hand. This includes cafes, restaurants and breweries, meaning that there is something for everyone!
I can’t speak first-hand on any of these locations; however, I did do some research to find some options with good reviews for those that are planning a trip to the area during patio season. We will definitely be heading up that way again ourselves in 2020!
Abe Erb (151 Charles St W, Kitchener)
B @ The Museum (10 King St W, Kitchener)
Balzac’s Café (151 Charles St W, Kitchener)
City Café Bakery (175 West Ave, Kitchener) *there are additional locations*
Gilt (305 King St W, Kitchener)
One of the biggest things that stood out about our trip to Kitchener was the overall atmosphere when it came to travelling with a dog. There are many locations that we have visited where we feel as though the dogs aren’t really welcome. Not that the accommodations and parks we are visiting aren’t listed as pet-friendly, but you feel almost judged or looked down upon while walking your dog. Given that Daviana is clearly a German Shepherd, we have also found that many people react to her fearfully, cross the street or turning around to avoid walking past her.
However, throughout our time in Kitchener, the opposite was true! Everyone that we met along the way greeted us and the dogs with a big smile. People went out of their way to acknowledge the pups, paying compliments to us for how well they were walking. Furthermore, we noticed that A LOT of the people we encountered had their own dog by their side.
This type of atmosphere really can make a trip better, especially if you are newer to travelling with your dog and unsure of what to expect. Not only did it encourage dog owners to get out and enjoy the city with their pups, but I wouldn’t have hesitated to ask if I found myself in need of information about dog-friendly places to visit or even if I needed to ask for a poop-and-scoop bag (we always have plenty on hand, but things happen – we’re all human).
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly getaway in Southern Ontario, I highly recommend the City of Kitchener. With something for everyone from beautiful trails to dog-friendly breweries and cafes, you won’t be disappointed!
What is your favourite pet-friendly vacation destination? What makes that particular area stand out to you?
12 thoughts on “Kitchener, Ontario | A Dog-Friendly Getaway in Southern Ontario”
As usual you offer us an extraordinary post, detailed, helpful, and informative. I live in the Bay Area and appreciate this information. We have a Portuguese Water Dog and love to go on hikes! We’ll be checking theses out! Thank you for posting.
Thank you! If you love hikes, I’m sure you’d LOVE the Huron Natural Area. The trails were so beautiful.
Very cute photos.
I have been wanting to visit Canada for YEARS now! These pictures show a GORGEOUS setting! Now you’ve sparked a flame and maybe that’s next years vacation spot! I bet the pups love to take walks here! I know I would. hahaha
There is SO much to see here, we’re blessed in that sense! If you’re planning and have any questions or are looking for recommendations in a specific area, feel free to fire me a message and I’ll either help or direct you to someone who can!
Oooh! I love that there are a lot of different places to take your dog in Ontario. It is so cool that there are trails for the dogs to walk through. Big plus when there are hotels that are super pet-friendly without charging so much. It is good that Airbnb is more laxed about it when it comes to options. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive list!
Nancy ? exquisitely.me
The fees associated with pet travel have become a little crazy in some cases, so it’s great to see that there are more cost effective options available!
I love dog friendly areas! And how wonderful that you take your dogs with you so often. My big girl Payton passed from old age. From her puppyhood until the end she went with me everywhere. I loved having her companionship and she loved to go!
Our dogs are like our children. From the moment we brought them into our family, we want to spend as much time with them as we can. After all, their time with us is unfortunately limited… It helps that our favourite vacations and activities (camping, hiking, etc) tend to be dog friendly!