Pet-Friendly Places in the Litchfield Hills Last Updated: November 2023
With the change of seasons, longer days and warm evenings, Fido, Fifi, Felix and friends are itching to get out, engage in some serious exercise, make new friends and see the sights. Fortunately, the Litchfield Hills welcomes four-leggers with open arms – to parks and campgrounds, hotels and inns, even restaurants, wineries and distilleries (anybody have a St. Bernard?). So, if you’ve got a notion to explore, and want some furry company, the Litchfield Hills are loaded with pet-friendly places. Here are just a few in all major categories (woof!):
For more pet-friendly restaurants, pubs, breweries, parks, campsites, hotels, plus lots of useful information, visit:
“Come for the food, stay for the fun” at Saltwater Grille in Litchfield – not only Northwest Connecticut's premiere seafood destination, but a great place to enjoy live music, special events, a diverse wine menu, craft beer and weekly dinner specials. Bonus: pets are welcome at their outdoor tables in fair weather.
Denmos Drive-In Restaurant in Southbury is a casual American eatery that serves up a variety of classic fare. Fido is welcome to join you at one of their pet-friendly outdoor tables while you enjoy your meal. Choose from their extensive menu options including hot dogs, burgers, fried seafood, sandwiches, soups, chicken, ice cream, shakes and more.
Named Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant by the Waterbury Observer, Market Place Kitchen & Bar is a Modern American Restaurant in the heart of Woodbury that welcomes pets at their outdoor tables in nice weather. GM Jim Kara and Exec Chef Matt DeLongis celebrate local, organic and sustainably harvested food and spirits. Even the interior space is appointed with 300-year-old barn wood from the Gurski Farm in Brookfield. Other locations in Danbury, Newtown, Litchfield, Brookfield and Shelton (hours vary).
Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries
In 1979, Bill and Judith Hopkins transformed their family-owned dairy farm on the northern shore of Lake Waramaug into a vineyard, one of the first in what has become a thriving Connecticut industry. Since then, Hopkins Vineyard in Warren has consistently produced award-winning whites, reds and sparkling wines, made from the 11 varieties of grapes grown in a spectacular setting overlooking the lake. Stop by with your pup and enjoy a tour, a tasting at their wine bar and visit to their gift shop.
Nationally recognized as a bicentennial farm, family-run Land of Nod Winery in East Canaan has been serving the local community for over nine generations. Situated on 200 acres of rolling farmland in the northwest corner of Connecticut at the base of the Canaan Mountain State Forest Preserve, sustainable farming methods are practiced in the production of 12 varieties of grape and fruit wines. Their tasting room is located in an old, repurposed barn filled with history dating back to before the American Revolution. In addition to wine, they sell yarn produced from their own sheep and maple syrup from their own sugar house, plus gourmet snacks and a variety of unique gifts. Bring your four-legged connoisseur along for one of their daily tours.
Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown sits on 58 acres of bucolic farmland overlooking the Litchfield Hills. Owned and operated by long-time friends Deb and Vin Giannetto and Michele and Jack McHugh, the winery is named for the red tail hawks that soar high over the meadows. Whatever your taste in wine, be it dry or sweet, red, white or rose, you will find one or more to your liking. Of special note are their wine slushies, carbonated wines, and for something completely different, glitter wine! In addition to wine and beer (thanks to their partnership with Woodbury Brewing Company), Hawk Ridge offers an extensive menu of upscale food and appetizers to satisfy every palate. So leash up your best friend, take a tour, enjoy a great wine or two or three and bring some home to remember your trip.
“Don’t quit your daydream!” is the rallying cry at Reverie Brewing Co. in Newtown; and it shows in their expert crafting of quality beer in a friendly and casual atmosphere that enthusiastically welcomes your leashed pal. Enjoy outdoor seating, a tented patio, food trucks, music and entertainment. Is Rover a smart pup? Bring him along to Trivia Night every Wednesday at 7pm.
Get Duke into the spirit with a visit to Litchfield Distillery, that makes its home in an old knitting factory in the northwestern Litchfield Hills. Specializing in exceptionally distilled spirits handcrafted from the highest quality, regionally harvested grains and ingredients, their “Batchers’” series of 16 handcrafted, premium spirits includes Bourbon Whiskey, Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey Port Cask Finish, Vanilla Bourbon, Gin, Vodka – even Ready-to-Drink Premixed Cocktails. Stop in and enjoy a tour, a tasting, and The Spirit of Hard Work.®
Mine Hill Distillery in Roxbury is brimming with a rich history dating back to 1872 and is truly a 19th century landmark destination for you and your pet. Founder Elliott Davis instilled a dedication to craftsmanship, authenticity and Yankee ingenuity; and pride in sourcing their grains locally and using their own spring water to create spirits with a sense of place and Still Made in Connecticut.™ Their Classic Dry Gin is crafted with the unique addition of eastern white pine and other botanicals inspired by the fields and forests around Mine Hill to achieve a spicy earthiness and a smooth finish. Their Classic Vodka is distilled from their own wheat base in a single run to achieve a clean, crisp character inspired by the waterfall at Mine Hill.
Although most state parks require that dogs be leashed at all times, Bark Park in Ridgefield is a well-maintained, off-leash dog park that’s well worth a visit. The fully fenced-in 1½-acre park offers small- and large-dog areas, a walkway, drinking stations, poop cleanup stations with plastic bags available, and yard hydrants and areas for washing off dogs that get dirty having fun in the park. There are seating pavilions in both areas, and the park has two other fenced sections available for training and fetching, so owners and dogs can concentrate on training without distractions from other canines.
You and your leashed favorite furry friend can explore the most popular trails at Bear Mountain Reservation in Danbury, including:
Red, White and Yellow Trails Loop - a lightly trafficked 2.2-mile loop trail that features beautiful wildflowers, rated as moderate and offering a number of year-round activities. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be tethered.
Short Loop – a moderate 2-mile loop trail that also features colorful wild flowers and a number of activity options.
Red and Green Loop – a moderately trafficked 1.4-mile-loop trail good for all skill levels, offering ample opportunities to view local wildlife. This trail is ideal for walking, hiking, nature trips and bird watching.
Hand-curated trail maps and driving directions plus detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you are available.
The 4000-acre White Memorial Foundation in Litchfield has long held the flag high for natural splendor and environmental awareness (that’s straight from dog’s mouth), where you and Max can camp, boat, picnic, enjoy excellent birding, and hike 35 miles of trails, including interpretive nature trails, a boardwalk trail that circles a wetland habitat, and a good chunk of the Mattatuck Trail. The Conservation Center features special displays, hands-on exhibits, live animals, outdoor bird sanctuary and gift shop.
Pet-friendly Paugnut State Forest in Torrington is part of a 2,410-acre contiguous park and forest complex that includes Burr Pond State Park and Sunny Brook State Park. Extending north into Winchester, it is home to the 2.1-mile John Muir Trail, which connects the two parks via the forest. Paugnut’s woodlands are made up of mixed hardwoods with white pine and hemlock found on drier and rocky areas. In the mid-1930s and early 1940s, Paugnut was part of the actively forested landscape during the years of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Connecticut. Hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers regularly inhabit this lush and beautiful natural wonder.
Cozy Hills Campground in Bantam welcomes all types of camping enthusiasts, no matter how many legs hold them up. Whether you’re looking to stay for a night, a weekend, or the entire six-month season, they are happy to accommodate you. Bring your own tent, trailer or even large motor home – or camp the easy way and rent one of their RVs or log cabins. Enjoy the natural wooded campsite and weekend entertainment, and take advantage of the well-maintained amenities, from outdoor laser tag, 12-acre fishing pond, in-ground pool, arcade, restaurant, store, pavilion, playground, rec hall, bingo, horseshoes, arts & crafts – more than enough family- and pet-friendly activities for a fun-filled stay.
One pet per campsite is permitted at American Legion State Forest in Barkhamsted, offering 30 campsites in a rustic wooded setting that is the center point of river-based recreational activities, including trout fishing, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Restrooms, a seasonally-operated museum, picnic shelters and picnic tables are also available. Other attractions include the 200-year-old white pine picnic groves in the Matthies Grove and Whittemore Recreation Areas, over 11 miles of hiking trails, the Barkhamsted Lighthouse and other cultural and historic sites. All cabins are 14’ by 17’ with two rooms that can sleep six. Cabins do not have kitchens or bathrooms (Milo won’t care about that).
With 20 cabins, 54 RV sites, and 50 tent sites available for overnight stays or longer, you and your pet won’t have to miss an hour of daylight at New England’s family theme park when you stay at Lake Compounce Campground. Choose a fully furnished cabin that sleeps up to ten; or bring your tent and camping equipment and sleep under the stars. You can also hook up your RV to one of the convenient RV sites. Open May-September with park discounts for campers.
With 80 inviting rooms, luxurious suites, spacious townhouses and exclusive cottages, the Interlaken Inn in Lakefield is a splendid country resort nestled between two lakes in the Litchfield Hills. With 30 acres of beautiful gardens and countless recreational offerings, it’s the ideal place for a quick getaway or an extended stay, on a uniquely diverse property that is romance-loving, family-welcoming, and pet-friendly. Pets are welcome in the Woodside Building and the Sunnyside Pet Room (a $25 charge will be assessed per night).
With a friendly staff committed to delivering their signature “Here for You” service, a bright stay awaits you and Dodger at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Danbury. With amenities like an on-site fitness center, seasonal outdoor pool, and business center, you'll have everything you need for a pleasant trip. Get energized with their free Bright Side Breakfast Buffet® and stay connected to the office and friends with free WiFi. Each of their non-smoking guest rooms features a mini-fridge, microwave, desk, ironing amenities, and a flat-screen TV.
Nestled within the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, the Litchfield Inn is surrounded by the beauty of nature in an historical town that exudes classical New England charm. As an independent boutique property, the Inn offers guests and their pets privacy, intimacy, and luxury. Choose from twelve exclusive theme rooms or opt for one of their stately standard rooms – whichever you decide, get ready for a personalized experience tailored to meet your needs.
Echoing the spirit and style of old New England, the Cornwall Inn in Cornwall Bridge is a family-owned country oasis on three lush acres, including outdoor pool, hot tub and rambling stream. 13 guest rooms are housed in two buildings: the Main Inn (no pets) and the Country Lodge (pet friendly). Two lovely common rooms are available to guests at all times; a seasonal screened-in patio offers relaxation during warmer months.