I-80 Dog Friendly Travel Guide

The transcontinental Interstate 80 (I-80) spans a whopping 2,901 miles east-west and drives through 11 states: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It’s the second longest highway in the U.S. with beginning and end points in San Francisco, California and Teaneck, New Jersey. This road is the closest approximation to the historic route of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States and hits major cities along the way, including Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Omaha, Des Moines, and Toledo.

If you’re starting in San Francisco, be sure to have your coins ready by Illinois, because I-80 turns into a toll road beginning near Chicago through near Youngstown, Ohio, including both the Indiana Toll Road and the Ohio Turnpike. Though Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio all have tolls, they end before you reach Pennsylvania. This guide will help you locate hotels and attractions along the way that are perfect for you and your pup.

CALIFORNIA

Beginning in San Francisco, you’ll have no shortage of things to do and see with your dog. Known best for the Golden Gate Bridge, the historic street car, and Full House, San Francisco is bustling with culture, from the art to the food to the distinctive neighborhoods. 

Your Stay in San Francisco:

If you’re on a budget, we recommend staying with your furry friend at San Francisco’s Beresford Hotel, located walking distance to Union Square. Your booking will include a free continental breakfast, and the hotel has an English pub inside. If you’re wanting to stay somewhere nicer, try Hotel Nikko, which is also a quick walk to Union Square and is situated between several bars and restaurants. With access to the pool, gym, and an upscale Asian restaurant, you’re sure to have the luxury treatment. You should note that pets require an additional fee.

If you’re looking for a scenic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, head to Baker Beach, where you can let your pup off-leash and enjoy the scenery. Your dog may also enjoy walking along the murals in the Mission District or seeing the Painted Ladies from Full House in Alamo Square Park.

Your Stay in Sacramento:

Nearly 90 miles past San Francisco, you’ll find yourself pulling off into Sacramento, California’s state capital. Known as both the City of Trees and the Farm-to-Fork capital, Sacramento is full of fresh produce and American history. The Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown offers affordable rooms with free WiFi and a central location, within walking distance of Old Sacramento State Historic Park and the California State Railroad Museum.

Your pup may enjoy a stroll through Sacramento’s R Street Corridor, a former railroad yard and industrial area turned into art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Or, bring your canine friend over to West Sacramento to Bike Dog, a dog-friendly brewery and taproom. For some true-California tacos, try Chando’s Tacos, a beloved chain with several locations and menu options. Bring your pup to one of the stores with plenty of patio seating.

NEVADA

Your Stay in Reno:

A couple hours and 135 miles past Sacramento, and you’ll find yourself over the California border and into Nevada, known for its deserts and casinos. Reno is no exception; it’s situated in the northwest corner of the state and features a vibrant downtown and casino scene. If you and your pooch are looking for a hotel, the Whitney Peak is just off I-80 and accepts two pets of any size for an additional $75 fee. With a dog park adjacent to the hotel, the location is ideal and central. If you’re wanting a more affordable option, try the Ramada, which is conveniently attached to its own casino.

If you’re looking for some urban fun, bring your pup along to the Eddy, an outdoor community space along the Riverwalk where you can find bars, outdoor games, fitness classes, and live music.

Your Stay in Elko:

Stay on I-80 for 289 miles longer or four more hours, and you’ll reach the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. Home of the annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, this nonprofit cultural center hosts several exhibits and productions each year in addition to their Western heritage exhibits and archives. If you’re wanting to bring your pup along, however, you may want to head to the Humboldt National Forest, where dogs are welcome in most areas. 

If you’re wanting a low-key hotel suitable for you and your dog, try the Baymont by Wyndham Elko, a pet-friendly stop off I-80 and just two miles from the Western Folklife Center. For a little more money, head up the road just a little further to Home2 Suites, which is also only two miles from the Western Folklife Center.

UTAH

Your Stay in Wendover:

Drive for 118 miles and an hour and 45 minutes along I-80, and you’ll reach the Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele County, northwestern Utah. This densely packed salt pan has events throughout the summer and fall and accommodation in the nearby town of Wendover, including a Best Western Plus and Super 8 by Wyndham which both allow dogs.

Your Stay in Salt Lake City:

Salt Lake City is an hour and 40 minutes or 121 miles past Wendover, and as the state’s capital, it has plenty of fun options for you and your dog. Whether it’s hiking or pet-friendly breweries, this city is made for your canine. Tanner Park is a dog-park that is more like an off-leash hike nestled right into the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. As long as your pup likes interacting with other dogs on the trail, it’s a good place to bring him with plenty of opportunities for swimming. If you’re feeling hungry/thirsty after a long day on the trail, bring your pup to Campfire Lounge, a brewery with a pet-friendly patio.

If you’re looking for an affordable place to stay, then La Quinta by Wyndham is for you and your pup. They allow two pets of any size for no additional fee and are conveniently located off I-80. If you’re looking for somewhere nicer, then you can find the same pet policy at Kimpton Hotel Monaco, located downtown.

WYOMING

Your Stay in Evanston:

If you keep on I-80 for three hours or just over 200 miles further, you’ll be in the heart of Wyoming wildlife in the town of Evanston, where you’ll find Bear River State Park. Plenty of elk and bison occupy this park, and with year-round trails and 300 natural acres for explorational use, this park is dog-friendly so long as your pup has a leash. You can find affordable, pet-friendly accommodation at the Best Western Dunmar Inn. 

Your Stay in Rock Springs:

About 100 miles past Evanston, you’ll hit Rock Springs. This city used to be a transit hub for the Union Pacific Railroad and is now known as the Home of 56 Nationalities due to the influx of immigrants from all around the world who came to work in the coal mines that powered the steam engines of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Holiday Inn Rock Springs is pet-friendly and includes a pool and fitness center. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you could stay at the Country West Motel, which is also just off I-80.

NEBRASKA

Your Stay in Lincoln:

You’ll be ready for a resting point after 10 more hours and nearly 700 miles further on I-80, which is about the time you’ll hit Lincoln, Nebraska’s capital. Here you and your dog can stretch out at Rickman’s Run in Holmes Lake Park, a 22 acres off-leash play area for large dogs and 1 acre small dog play area. Just off I-80, you’ll find several pet-friendly hotels, including Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn, and Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

Your Stay in Omaha:

Less than an hour up the road, and around 58 miles, you’ll reach Nebraska’s biggest city of Omaha. Here, you won’t run out of things to do with your pup—breweries, parks, restaurant patios, you name it. Try out Omaha’s Dog Bar if you want a little of everything; this dog-focused and friendly bar also has food and its very own dog park. Located in Little Bohemia, this bar is in the heart of downtown Omaha. Head to Brixtix Bakery for Dogs if you’re looking for a customized, tasty treat for your pup.

There are several hotels that are considered pet-friendly in the heart of the city, including the Peregrine Omaha Downtown, a nicer option, or Best Western Plus Midwest Inn, a more affordable option just off I-80.

IOWA

Your Stay in the Amana Colonies:

Willkommen to Amana! These seven villages located in east-central Iowa, 134 miles past Omaha, are some of the longest-lived communal societies in America, dating back to 1714 in the villages of Germany. Today, their home is the Iowa prairie. Bring your dog to the many outside activities or to the festivals and events held throughout the year, and find lodging in their Village Guest Suite, located in Main Amana.

Your Stay in Des Moines:

Once you’ve had your German culture fix, you can head back on the road to Iowa’s largest city of Des Moines, just over a hundred miles or an hour and 37 minutes past the Amana Colonies. Out of the several dog park options, we recommend Pappajohn Sculpture Park, which is perfect for humans and pups, as you can enjoy the art and your dog can enjoy the wide open space. Your dog may also like strolling through their downtown farmers market; you’ll find vendors selling homemade dog treats, leashes, and homemade food. With a great patio option, head to Snookie’s Malt Shop, which offers free pup cones and tasty treats for humans, too!

Des Moines has several pet-friendly hotels, including the Staybridge Suites Des Moines Downtown or the Comfort Inn and Suites right off the highway. 

ILLINOIS

Your Stay in Starved Rock State Park:

A little less than four hours after Des Moines or 259 miles, you’ll find yourself in Starved Rock State Park. Your pup will be thrilled to explore over 13 miles of trails or join you on the Illinois River for fishing and boating. With great views and a pet-friendly policy, this will be the perfect, relaxing outdoor stop. Dogs are also allowed into their Pioneer Cabins as long as they weigh under 50 pounds and have a vet certification of rabies vaccination.

Your Stay in Chicago:

If you’re willing to make a 40 minute detour off of I-80, then head just under 100 miles past Starved Rock State Park to the nation’s third largest city: Chicago! Home of the Cubs and deep dish pizza, the Windy City is full of activities for you and your pup; we just advise exploring the city before winter hits. Whether you’re exploring one of their many public dog parks or outdoor patios or strolling the Lakefront Trail, your dog and you are sure to have a good time. Try out Wicker Park’s Doggy Paddle, which is an indoor pool, if you’re looking to get your furry friend more exercise. Or, treat yourself to a professional pet portrait at Van & Bella’s in the East Village.

If you’re wanting the full, luxury treatment, you can stay with your pup at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. This 5-star hotel is located in the Gold Coast area, walking distance to Michigan Ave. For a more practical option, however, the Warwick Allerton Chicago is also in a fantastic location and pet-friendly. This skyscraper hotel is on the Magnificent Mile and just a mile from Millenium Park.

INDIANA

Your Stay in Indiana Dunes National Park:

If you’re willing to extend your I-80 detour for another <1 hour drive, you can bring your pup to the fun and exciting sands of Indiana Dunes National Park, which is a 45 minute drive from Chicago on I-90 E. As long as you keep your pup on a leash, he’s welcome on their Pinhook Upland Trail and their gorgeous beaches. For accommodation, your pup is welcome at the Baymont by Wyndham Portage Indiana Dunes, a modest hotel with an indoor pool and complimentary breakfast. Or you may enjoy staying at the Hampton Inn Portage, which also has an indoor pool and complimentary breakfast, along with a fitness center.

Your Stay in South Bend:

Be warned: The tolls are here, unfortunately. But only 54 miles from Indiana Dunes National Park via I-80 E/I-90 E is South Bend, Indiana’s fourth-largest city. Home of the University of Notre Dame, you can spend your time exploring the campus or one of the city’s dog parks, including Bendix Woods and St. Patrick’s County parks.

There are several pet-friendly hotel options nearby, including Aloft South Bend, located downtown, which has a bar inside as well as a gym and indoor pool, or Comfort Suites University Area, which is less costly but still includes an indoor pool, gym, and free hot breakfast.

OHIO

Your Stay in Toledo:

Two and a half hours or 155 miles past South Bend, and you’ll reach Toledo, Ohio. Nicknamed the “Glass City” because of its long history of glass industry, the name now lives on through its exuberant abundance of glass art. There are many pet-friendly patio restaurants where you and your pup can enjoy this Midwest atmosphere, including YeOldeDurtyBird in downtown Toledo, a beloved gastropub serving food and drinks. Book a room at one of their pet-friendly hotels, including the unfussy Country Inn & Suites by Radisson which has an indoor pool, or Homewood Suites by Hilton located in downtown Toledo.

Your Stay in Cleveland:

Once you’re ready for the next city, hop back on I-80 E/I-90 E for 115 miles or just under two hours to make it to Cleveland, Ohio’s second-largest city. Here, you can explore many different dog-friendly patios, including Mason’s Creamery for a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day. Or, if you’re wanting a swim, then take your pup to one of the four dog-friendly beaches: Fairport Harbor, Edgewater Park Reservation, Columbia Road Beach, or Bow Wow Beach.

If you’re looking for a place to stay with your pup, try La Quinta Inn & Suites, which has free breakfast and a great location. If you’re wanting something a bit fancier, though, you might enjoy the Westin Cleveland, located downtown with an exercise room and a steakhouse.

PENNSYLVANIA

Your Stay in Parker Dam State Park:

Around 200 miles or just over three hours past Cleveland, you’ll reach Parker Dam State Park, a charming campground, forest, and lake that makes for the perfect exploration pit-stop. Dogs are welcome, just make sure to keep them on a leash. If you plan to stay the night, you can find dog-friendly accommodation in the Tyler Cabin or in one of their other rustic cabins. Otherwise, you can get a room at the Hillbilly Hilton nearby.

Your Stay in Bald Eagle State Park:

Pennsylvania has plenty of state parks, including Bald Eagle State Park, located an hour past Parker Dam in Howard, PA. Here, you’ll find a 1,730 acres lake dominated by the Bald Eagle Mountain and surrounded by forests, fields, and wetlands. Bring your pup on the trails and try to spot the occasional bald eagle. Stay with your pooch at the Natura Inn at Bald Eagle, a B&B overlooking the lake and just a 20 minute drive from I-80.

NEW JERSEY

Your Stay in Dunnfield Creek Natural Area:

Considered the Christopher Columbus Highway in New Jersey by their Department of Transportation, you’ll mainly pass through smaller counties on your way to this final state on the interstate. And then, right after crossing the border and 150 miles or 2.5 hours past Bald Eagle State Park, you’ll find yourself on a trail in the Appalachian Mountains. The trail is ranked moderate in difficulty level and spans 3.5 miles. Bring your pup, but make sure he’s on a leash. 

After your nature getaway, you can cozy up with your pup in the Hampton Inn Stroudsburg/Poconos, which has a pool, gym, and complimentary breakfast. Or, you can opt for a cheaper hotel option and stay at the budget Super 8 by Wyndham Stroudsburg, which also offers a free breakfast.

Your Stay in New York City:

The last stretch of I-80 leads directly into I-95 S, and if you follow that for about 45 minutes and 14 miles, you’ll reach the Big Apple, New York City. As the country’s biggest city, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore with your pup. While there are plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and patios in NYC, we recommend having a swanky breakfast at The Wilson, which dedicates a full-page menu to our canine friends. After, you can stretch out by exploring Central Park, and if you decide to do this later in the day, the off-leash hours are between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the country, and there are always events going on that you and your dog will love, like the Sip and Paint a Pet Portrait Fun event held on Wednesday evenings.

If you and your pooch are looking for a luxury place to stay, try the CIVILIAN Hotel, which is located walking distance to Times Square and has both a bar and restaurant inside. Or, for cheaper accommodation, stay at the pet-friendly Belvedere Hotel, which is also walking distance to Times Square and has a gym and Brazilian eatery.

Zoë Butler
Author: Zoë Butler

Content Writer for DogFriendly.com.

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