Best Pet-Friendly Spots on the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks, a breathtaking stretch of barrier islands off North Carolina’s coast, invites travelers with its wide-open beaches, rich history, and stunning natural landscapes. What sets this destination apart is how welcoming it is to those of us who don’t go anywhere without our pets. 

This piece highlights the best spots in the Outer Banks where pets aren’t just allowed but are genuinely welcomed, from expansive state parks and wildlife refuges to cozy restaurants that cater to our four-legged friends.

If you’re planning to explore the towering dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, enjoy the peaceful trails at Nags Head Woods, or kick back on the pet-friendly shores of Nags Head and Corolla, the Outer Banks offers a wealth of activities for pet owners. 

Each location brings its own charm, guaranteeing your trip is packed with both adventure and relaxation, right alongside your faithful buddy. From the shaded paths of ecological preserves to the sunny, sandy beaches where your pets can sprint freely, this guide ensures you never have to leave your furry friend behind. 

And with a list of eateries that treat your pets as valued guests, your dining experiences will be as memorable for them as they are for you. Let’s dive into what the Outer Banks has in store, where there’s always a warm welcome for our four-legged pals.

Pet-Friendly Parks and Natural Reserves

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Jockey’s Ridge State Park is an absolute must for pet owners hitting the Outer Banks. Holding the title for the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast, it offers an incredible playground for pets and their humans. 

The park allows dogs on leashes up to 6 feet long, creating a safe and fun environment for everyone. A hike to the dune’s summit offers a stunning view of Roanoke Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, making it worth the effort. 

The area is a fantastic spot for a round of fetch or a leisurely walk on the paths winding through the dunes. Just don’t forget to pack water for you and your furry friend, as the sand can heat up under the sun.

Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve

Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve offers a change of scenery from the beach-centric activities typical of the Outer Banks. This hidden gem is home to trails that run through maritime forests, wetlands, and dunes. 

Leashed pets are invited to explore, providing a wonderful option for those seeking a peaceful nature retreat. The preserve’s varied landscape offers a cool, shaded escape, especially during the hot months, and serves as a habitat for wildlife like deer, foxes, and various birds.

Pet-Friendly Beaches

Nags Head Beach

Nags Head Beach is a favorite all year round. Here, pets can join you on the sand at any time, as long as they’re on a leash no longer than 10 feet. It’s an ideal place for leisurely walks along the water’s edge or a fun game of fetch near the waves. With its spacious shoreline, there’s plenty of room for everyone, making it a peaceful retreat for pets who aren’t fans of crowded places.

Corolla Beach


Corolla Beach is known for being a bit more laid-back with its rules. Pets are welcome throughout the year, and they can even enjoy the freedom of being off-leash if they respond well to voice commands. The soft sand and gentle waves create a perfect setting for adventurous pets to explore. It’s a great spot for dogs who love to dash around and owners who appreciate a place where their pets can roam freely.

Duck Beach


Duck Beach offers more than just a stunning landscape; it’s also incredibly pet-friendly. Pets are allowed on the beach throughout the year, and the town itself goes out of its way to make four-legged visitors feel welcome, with many local businesses offering water bowls and treats. The beach’s pristine conditions make it an excellent choice for pets that enjoy swimming or just a simple stroll along the shore.

Kitty Hawk Beach

Dog on the beach

Kitty Hawk Beach is known for its welcoming vibe and clean environment. During the off-season, from the day after Labor Day until the day before Memorial Day, pets have more freedom with fewer restrictions. During peak season, pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet between 10 AM and 6 PM. It’s a friendly spot for newcomers and their pets, offering a clean, safe space for all beachgoers to enjoy.

Pet-Friendly Restaurants

Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row

At Mulligan’s Grille, nestled in the scenic beauty of the Outer Banks, they understand that dogs are more than just pets; they’re family. That’s why they’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that your furry friends can enjoy the Mulligan’s dining experience right alongside you.

Recognizing that dogs have their own tastes and dietary needs, Mulligan’s has introduced a pioneering concept in pet-friendly dining: a special menu crafted just for your dog. This means while you’re enjoying the freshest seafood caught right from the Pamlico Sound or biting into the Best Burger on the Beach—a title proudly held for 20 years—your dog can delight in offerings made with them in mind.

At Mulligan’s Grille, they believe that dining out is an experience to be enjoyed by all members of the family—pups included. So, leash up your four-legged friend and head to Mulligan’s for an authentic Outer Banks dining experience that caters to every member of your family, paws and all.

Please note that their doggy dining area is available during specific hours and adheres to the local pet guidelines to ensure a comfortable and safe dining experience for everyone involved. They can’t wait to see you and your furry companion at Mulligan’s Grille!

Waveriders Coffee & Deli

Waveriders Deli

Whether you’re a sun seeker or an indoor lover, Waveriders caters to your dining preferences. Their outdoor area is not only spacious but also pet-friendly, offering an ideal haven where you and your furry friend can unwind (following NC Health code, pets are welcomed outside). Inside, you’ll find a cozy atmosphere to relish everything from a hearty sandwich or salad to a revitalizing smoothie. Now, with the added convenience of online ordering, every item on their menu is available for swift pickup—so you never have to miss a beat of your Outer Banks adventure.

They’ve broadened their horizons—quite literally. Waveriders has expanded into an adjacent space, providing you with even more room to relax and indulge in their offerings. Their Market selections have grown, boasting a more extensive Beer & Wine Shop that opens a world of taste for you to explore. And for those always on the move, they’re boosting their Snacks and Grab & Go options, perfect for a quick bite or a fun day at the beach.

Booty Treats Ice Cream & Shave Ice

Waveriders Deli

Pets are more than allowed at Booty Treats; they’re celebrated! Recognized by BringFido, the trusted dog travel directory, this spot boasts a pet-friendly atmosphere that’s hard to beat. Visitors can relax at the outdoor seating area, where pets can hang out right by their side as everyone enjoys sweet indulgences.

The flavor extravaganza at Booty Treats isn’t just for humans. While guests dig into Hawaiian Shave Ice, malts, milkshakes, and the iconic Booty Freeze, furry companions can lap up pet-approved treats. They dish out special pup cups—a tasty vanilla scoop garnished with a dog bone for the canines—and all are sure to wag their tails in approval.

Adventure to Booty Treats Ice Cream & Shave Ice with the entire family—humans and pets alike. Their doors are open, ready to fill your day with flavors and moments that everyone, regardless of species, can treasure.

Your Perfect Pet-Friendly Getaway Awaits at Beach Retreats

Discovering the ideal vacation spot that caters not only to your comfort and leisure but also warmly welcomes your beloved pets can be challenging. Look no further, because at Beach Retreats, we understand that pets are an irreplaceable part of the family. Here’s why our accommodations stand out as the prime choice for you and your furry friends:


Amenities Tailored for You and Your Pets

Understanding the needs of our four-legged guests, we ensure that our properties are equipped with pet-friendly amenities. From spacious outdoor areas for your pets to run and play to cozy interiors where they can relax, our accommodations are designed to make your pets feel right at home.


Close Proximity to Pet-Friendly Activities

The Outer Banks is a playground for pets and their owners alike, with activities ranging from beach outings to exploring nature trails. Our accommodations are strategically located to give you and your pet easy access to such adventures, ensuring a fun-filled vacation for everyone.


Unmatched Comfort & Convenience

With rooms and suites offering the perfect blend of comfort, style, and convenience, embark on a stress-free vacation knowing that everything you need is right at your fingertips. Enjoy amenities like first and second-floor options for easy access, rooms equipped with full-sized kitchens, and living spaces that provide all the comforts of home.


At Beach Retreats, we’re dedicated to ensuring that your stay in the Outer Banks is memorable, comfortable, and inclusive of every member of your family, especially the four-legged ones. Book your stay with us and experience a retreat where you and your pet can unwind, explore, and create unforgettable memories together in one of the most beautiful locations on the East Coast.