May is National Pet Month and what better way to celebrate with your four-legged friend than getting out and exploring some of Virginia’s most historic areas? Take a trip to one of these pet-friendly destination to discover Virginia history and spend quality time with your pet.
These are just a few of the historic sites that allow pets. Make sure you verify with staff at any of these locations to get details and requirements before bringing your pet along for the ride.
Constructed in 1755, Gunston Hall originally served as the home of George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and one of the framers of the U.S. Constitution. Pets are not allowed inside the visitor center or the mansion at Gunston Hall, but they are welcome on the expansive site grounds. Pack a picnic, spread a blanket, and take your lunch break at the ground’s picnic area. Take the river trail that leads to the Potomac to walk off your afternoon meal. You’ll also see many furry friends attending the public programs and special events at Gunston Hall.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon—Mount Vernon
One of the most popular historic spots in Virginia, Mount Vernon draws thousands of visitors from around the world each year, but many visitors are not aware that you can bring along your dog for your tour of the grounds during daylight hours. Leashed pets are permitted in most areas of the estate, barring the historic buildings and the museum, and water bowls are provided to keep your dog hydrated. If you want a unique tour of the grounds, visit the park on select Saturdays for the “All the President’s Pups Walking Tour”, where a guide will take you and your pet on a 1.25-mile walk around the grounds while telling the lesser-known canine history of the estate.
The original site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, Jamestown tells the story of the roles of the three distinct cultures- European, North American, and African- that formed the grounds for the birth of America. Although the buildings are off-limits to pets at Historic Jamestown, you can walk leashed animals anywhere on the grounds. Once you purchase tickets, staff will direct you to the pet-friendly entrance and give instructions on rules regarding your pets.
Humpback Bridge is the oldest of Virginia’s covered bridges, but more importantly, it is the only covered, humpback bridge remaining in the United States. The bridge is now closed for travel, but you can walk your pet around the historic site on the five acre wayside park.
James Madison’s Montpelier—Montpelier Station
Like other historic gems, Montpelier does not allow pets in the former home of James Madison, but leashed dogs are welcome to accompany owners on the grounds. This includes the 3.9 mile Montpelier-Grelen Trails and an additional five miles of trails around the property.
McCormick’s Farm & Workshop—Raphine
Cyrus McCormick made history on his farm in 1831 when he invented the first reaper, revolutionizing the world of agriculture. The 634-acre farm now serves as the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, a part of Virginia Tech University. The historic destination is pet friendly, but pets must remain on a leash at all times.
MacCallum More Museum and Gardens—Chase City
In Scots, MacCallum More means “Home of the Clan”. This historic location was established in 1929 and houses permanent Virginia exhibits, including the Arthur Robertson Exhibit that contains Indian artifacts that date from 9500BC to 1600AD and the Thyne Institute Exhibit that shares the story of an African-American boarding school that was built in 1876 in the region. Although pets are not allowed in the museum, friendly pets are permitted on the property, including the well-known gardens and shady trails, as long as you keep your pets on a leash and clean up after them.
Governor of Virginia from 1918-1922, Westmoreland Davis purchased Morven Park as his home. Now, in addition to the historic home and surrounding buildings, the expansive estate features 1,100 acres of gardens, fields, equestrian facilities, and woodlands. Morven Park encourages members of the community, as well as visitors, to bring their leashed pets for walks and hikes through our grounds.
Natural Bridge—Natural Bridge
This rocky bridge has a rich history in Virginia. A young President George Washington once surveyed the land and left his initials on the wall, Civil War soldiers passed over the awe-inspiring arch, and the land even belonged to third President Thomas Jefferson. While pets are not allowed in the Main Inn of the Hotel, the Rockbridge Center, or the Caverns, there are pet friendly trails throughout property.
Williamsburg acted as the first Capitol of England’s first permanent colony in the New World. The restored colonial town shows what life was like for 18th-century Americans. At Colonial Williamsburg, they don’t just permit pets, they actually have a street designated for pets. DoG (Duke of Gloucester) Street welcomes leashed pets, and in the past, dogs, goats, and even a pet potbellied pig have been seen wandering down the road! The historic location recently took on a mascot, a Briard puppy named Liberty, and you may spot a staff member dressed in colonial garb walking the dog through the town.
Colonial Williamsburg also supports local adoption efforts, partnering with the Heritage Humane Society during special events to help pups find their forever homes. If you take your pet for a stroll on DoG Street, don’t be surprised if it shows up on the Colonial Williamsburg Snapchat or Instagram. This historic spot is truly a pet-lovers playground!
The birthplace of Robert E. Lee, Stratford Hall has 1900 acres of farmlands and forests, with views of the Potomac River. Leashed dogs are permitted everywhere except the gift shop, dining room, galleries in the Visitor Center, outbuildings, Great House, and Gristmill. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets and keeping them under control. Walk the grounds with your pet, or take a hike along one of the six trails of varying difficulty that run through the property.
While you should definitely get out and see some of these historic Virginia sites with your pet during National Pet Month, these spots are all pet-friendly year round. Bring your furry friend along and discover the rich history of America’s foundation at these Virginia destinations.