The bowwow factor is increasing in Long Island downtowns where canine companions are welcome on Main Street sidewalks, at restaurants, bars, parks and even inside some fancy boutiques.
“Dogs have become more recognized as members of peoples’ families,” says Ginny Munger Kahn of Dix Hills, president of the nonprofit Long Island Dog Owners Group, which advocates for increased canine access to parks and beaches. Kahn walks her own golden retrievers in downtown Huntington.
Here are three destinations where you won’t be barking up the wrong tree if you take your dog along for the day.
Dogs of all sizes and breeds were strolling Northport’s Main Street on a recent Saturday afternoon. They were being walked in the port town’s waterfront parks and sitting quietly beside their owners at eateries on restaurant row.
“This is a super friendly dog town,” says Mark Watkins, 57, of Commack, who was visiting Main Street with his 11-year-old Labrador, Molly. Being dog-friendly is also apparently good for business as Northport’s reputation as a dog town is drawing visitors from across Long Island Sound.
“We came here because of the dog-friendly restaurants on the waterfront,” says Darryl Rubin, 47, of Stamford, Connecticut.
EAT Among Northport’s dog-friendly establishments is Rockin’ Fish restaurant, where an outdoor brick patio accommodates human and canine patrons. To partake, dogs “have to be leashed, and they have to be friendly with other dogs and hopefully, with people,” says general manager Chrissy DeJong. The restaurant keeps about a dozen powder blue water bowls at the ready for thirsty hounds, DeJong says. About a half-dozen other Northport bars and eateries allow dogs in outdoor dining areas, says Dorothy Walsh of the Northport Chamber of Commerce.
PLAY Dogs can also enjoy the salt air while walking in Northport and Cow Harbor parks. (The canine presence has helped chase away the geese that were soiling the community’s parks, according to Walsh.)
SHOP The Northport Farmers Market also welcomes dogs on leashes, Walsh says.
Cherry Grove, Fire Island
Dogs are treated like a member of the family in Fire Island’s LGBTQ community, where the traditionally welcoming attitude extends to all manner of pets from the mainland.
Many four-legged passengers accompany owners on the ferry ride across the Great South Bay. Dogs can ride the Sayville Ferry Service to The Grove for an extra $3 charge.
As long as you keep your furry family member on a leash, “you have the whole town at your disposal,” says Justin Dobay, a Cherry Grove dockmaster.
EAT “We’re very dog friendly, our dogs are like our children,” says Jacque Piazza, owner-manager of Cherry’s restaurant/bar on Cherry Grove’s bayside. Patrons will likely see Missy, Piazza’s 2-year old Havanese and mini-poodle mix, ensconced in a bed in a corner of the bar.
PLAY Once on the island, pets can walk on the boardwalk and play with their owners on the ocean beach, Dobay says.
SHOP FIG, Fire Island Goods, welcomes dogs to shop for beachwear, home décor and accessories.
The North Fork town also wags its tail for four-legged friends.
EAT “We love dogs,” says Michelle Alptekin, co-owner of Olive Branch Restaurant & Café, a Turkish Mediterranean eatery with a dog-inclusive outdoor courtyard and a menu fit for King or Coco. Alptekin says her husband, Yusuf, who is also the chef, has a fondness for German shepherd dogs. He prepares gyros in-house, “so they are a little more juicy for people and dogs.”
PLAY Across the street in Greenport’s Mitchell Park, the village’s four-acre public green space, dogs can roam along the waterfront and onto the pier at the marina. (Plastic bags are available if you forget to bring your own.)
SHOP Dogs can even browse alongside their owners in local shops such as The Weathered Barn. The artisan boutique on Front Street posts photos of regular canine customers on a “wall of fame,” and hands out treats from a local pet shop.