Dog-Friendly Outer Banks Guide

Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I were looking for an easy getaway. When possible, boyfriend and his dog, Lana, come as a package deal. So, we decided to research a beach vacation where we could bring Lana and have her with us for most of the day. The Outer Banks is just about a 3-hour drive from Richmond, Va., and seemed like the perfect destination. However, when planning a dog-friendly getaway, there’s a lot to consider. When and where are dogs allowed on the beach in the Outer Banks? Are there other dog-friendly places to go where Lana would be welcome? I did some investigating and we had a great time, Lana included. Therefore, I created this dog-friendly Outer Banks Guide.


Lana helped us find dog-friendly Outer Banks spots.
Lana tested and approved all dog-friendly Outer Banks recommendations.

What Parts of the Outer Banks to Visit with a Dog

Only some Outer Banks beaches allow dogs all day long during the summer. Duck allows dogs anytime as does Nags Head, Manteo and Cape Hatteras. Each area has its own leash laws. In contrast, Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills do not allow dogs on the beach between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during summer months. Check’s page on Dog Friendly Beaches for a summary of each area and its individual rules.

After some research, we chose to visit Nags Head where dogs are allowed on the beach all day as long as they remain on a leash shorter than 10 feet long. We liked Nags Head’s proximity to restaurants and other things to do, along with the beach access.

Nags Head allows dogs on the beach as long as they are leashed.Nags Head allows dogs on the beach anytime as long as they are kept on a leash shorter than 10 feet.

Where to Stay with a Dog in the Outer Banks

Of course, you can always search for a dog-friendly house, but on our trip we were only two people, so we decided to stay at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Outer Banks Kill Devil Hills. Bringing your dog costs an extra $100. Make sure to factor in the extra charge, even if you book your hotel with points.

The TownPlace Suites hotel was just right for two adults and one puppy. The hotel is right on the line between Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head and is across the street from the beach, making for an easy walk to the Nags Head beach side. The hotel opened in the beginning of the summer, so it’s still fresh and new.


The TownePlace Suites Outer Banks Kill Devil Hills welcomes dogs and Lana loved it.


The rooms are actually small convenience apartments. Each features a full refrigerator freezer, a sink, a microwave, a burner, paper towels, dish washing solution and silverware. The setup made preparing Lana’s meals easy as well as procuring ice for coolers and chilling our beverages.

What to Bring on a Beach Vacation with Your Dog

Of course, you’ll want to bring your dog’s bed, food, treats, and a few favorite toys. We threw in a portable water dish for the beach or restaurants. In addition, we bought special Ultra Paws Cool Dog Boots so Lana wouldn’t burn her paws walking on the hot sand. If you do this, I’d suggest putting them on your pooch a few times before your trip so he or she is used to wearing them. We also brought a pop-up beach tent to provide shade in the hot sun. That said, something about the way the wind came through a ventilation window on the side freaked Lana out and she instead chose to dig a hole in the sand and sit in it.

Don't forget some of your pet's favorite toys.
Lana brought a few of her favorite toys so she could stay entertained if we had to run out without her.


Stops with Dogs on the Way to the Outer Banks

Of course, if you’re road tripping, you’ll want a stop or two that that welcomes your pooch.

Morris Farm Market

On the way, we stopped off at Morris Farm Market. In addition to having lots to entertain people, Morris welcomed Lana. In fact, a friendly associate told us where all the water dishes were located through the shop and even pointed out her favorite lamb snacks she purchases for her dog.


Morris Farm Market is a dog-friendly stop on the way to Outer Banks.


I have always loved browsing the produce, ciders, condiments, snacks, and sauces at Morris. The fact that we could bring Lana made it even better. If you stop on a weekend, you’ll also find food trucks, a spot for live music, pulled pork and draft beers. There are also plentiful clean restrooms.

Sanctuary Vineyards

On the way back, we dropped by Sanctuary Vineyards. I’ve driven by Sanctuary Vineyards repeatedly and wondered if it’s worth the stop. Friendly dogs on leashes are welcomed in the tasting room and the basic wine tasting is free. How much more can you ask for?

Sanctuary Vineyards allows friendly dogs on leashes in the tasting room


There is also a reserve tasting with wines that are more distinctive to the region. Although the tasting room clerk may try to talk you out of the special tasting, I’d pay the $10 and try some distinctive wines you might not be able to sample elsewhere. On my visit, the reserve tasting included two tasty orange wines. These unique wines are produced when white wine is allowed extended skin contact.  I haven’t yet seen a North Carolina or Virginia orange wine elsewhere. There was also an Aglianco, which is a red made generally on volcanic soil that I’ve only seen produced in Italy and California.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants in the Outer Banks

Dog-friendly Coffee, Breakfast and Lunch in the Outer Banks

Morning View Coffee House & Roastery

In terms of food, breakfast was the easiest to find places where Lana was welcome. Any pet-lover should be sure to stop by Morning View Coffee House & Roastery in Nags Head. This adorable coffee shop welcomes pets inside, and on our visit it was quite the dog party. Lana met several friends including house dog Lorelei.


Morning View Coffee dog-friendly cafe in Nags Head


Pastries make up most of the food menu, so we enjoyed one spinach and feta pastry and one leek pastry. These treats were likely not made in-house , but they hit the spot alongside the relaxed vibe, and strong, flavorful cold brew. Worth noting: the cold brew was the best coffee we had on the trip.


Spinach-feta pastry, cold brew coffee and dogs at Morning View Coffee in Nags Head
While she had fun socializing, Lana was disappointed that the coffee and pastries were only for humans.

We did not make it to Ashley’s Espresso Parlour, but I hear it has a similar relaxed, quirky, dog-friendly vibe if you are staying more in the heart of Kill Devil Hills.

Waveriders Coffee, Deli and Pub

Another favorite dog-friendly Outer Banks dining spot was Waveriders Coffee, Deli and Pub where dogs are welcome on the patio. We dropped in for a late breakfast/early lunch and enjoyed the selection of sandwiches. I went breakfast with the Ben. This satisfying sammy starts with an everything bagel base. It’s topped with bacon, ham, egg, pepper jack cheese and Pepperhouse Gourmaise sauce, then panini pressed to perfection.

My date chose the Italian with salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone that’s served on a hoagie roll and also panini pressed. As I waited in line to order, I also couldn’t help but grab a salted caramel brownie with pretzel crust from the all too convenient case right next to the line.


Waveriders Coffee, Deli and Pub in Nags Head allows dogs on the patio


Even if you take a pooch on the patio, make sure to take a spin through the inside, where there’s also an impressive selection of beer, wine, local art, and coffee. While we waited for our food, a friendly employee made sure to bring Lana some water.

Dog-Friendly Dinner Restaurants in Outer Banks

We found dinner the most challenging for dog-friendly dining in the Outer Banks. After reading online that some restaurants like Mama Kwan’s allowed dogs on the patio, we arrived to learn food was only served inside.

Our one solid dog-friendly dinner find was the oceanfront tiki bar at Beachcombers in the Radisson Plaza. I think we were both a bit skeptical of a restaurant in a hotel, but the atmosphere at Beachcomers was really fun. The patio possesses a definite tiki vibe with carved faces on wooden poles and a beachy bar. If you go at the right time, you can also score one of four tables on an extended deck that directly overlooks the beach.

Beachcombers allows dogs in the patio part of the restaurant.
Lana enjoyed the festive atmosphere, but wanted a sip of my mezcal cocktail.

Beachcomers offers a selection of fun cocktails, plus craft beers and wines. The Mezcal Honey and Smoke cocktail made with mezcal, organic honey simple syrup, ginger beer and lime created a perfect balance between sweet, tangy, and spicy.

For food, the peach-habanero wings were crisp and spicy. Also, the Wagyu burger was cooked to perfection and full of flavor.

After Dinner Dog-Friendly Ice Cream

Right across the street from the Radisson, American Pie offers ice cream and casual pizza and allows dogs on the patio. At actual dinner, the line was out the door, so we stopped by for dessert. This restaurant serves up classic Hershey’s ice cream in big waffle cones. The Key Lime Pie is my favorite flavor with a zesty key lime flavor and chewy pie crust bits. Many of the Outer Banks ice cream joints are dog friendly and some even have dog-sized cups of ice cream!



Everything dog-friendly to do in the Outer Banks

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