Yarmouth, Nova Scotia is one of those Maritimes coastal towns filled with quirky, crazy, and sometimes disconcerting stories. It’s also one of those places that people sometimes drive past on their way to somewhere else, despite dog-friendly Yarmouth being at the southern tip of the province. Drive north and you’re headed to Halifax. Drive further south and you’re in the ocean.
The reason some people drive through Yarmouth is partially thanks to a ferry service that allows the road to Bar Harbour, Maine, U.S.A. to continue three hours across the water (yes, the ferry carries your car), directly to Yarmouth. From Yarmouth, you can immediately pick up either Highway 101 or 103 and head three hours north to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Dog-friendly Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Sure, you can get off the (dog-friendly) ferry and drive straight through. Or you can stay in Yarmouth for a day or more, especially if you have your dog along. (And you should have your dog along). Yarmouth is a seaside town, dotted with Captain’s homes and cottages and dripping with Acadian culture. Plus, there’s all the seafood trappings that come with being a port inviting commercial fishing vessels, charter boats and tours, and a seasonal ferry across the Bay of Fundy.
If you’re visualizing seagulls, morning mist, and a slight taste of salt on your tongue, you’re close to the Yarmouth experience. And dogs love the smell of the sea, salt, and dead fish.
Walkable Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Frankly, the best way to enjoy Yarmouth is slowly and on foot. Yarmouth isn’t large and unless you’re heading out of the town to see lighthouses, golf, or enjoy provincial parks, the majority of Yarmouth is walkable – especially if you stay at the Rodd Grand Hotel (more on that soon). Access the waterfront by cutting through Frost Park across from the Rodd Grand. Frost Park features a 150-year-old three-tier fountain that fascinated my pup. She loves running water – and, like most dogs, walking.
It’s a good thing dogs love walking, because you’ll do a lot of it in Yarmouth, whether you opt for the self-guided tour or sign up for the guided dog-friendly seasonal evening Yarmouth Walking Tour. I took my dog along the Introduction to Yarmouth walking tour (there are two options), and there were only two places she couldn’t go: inside the Yarmouth Museum and the Pelton-Fuller House. The latter is the historic summer home of the Fuller Brush inventor. Yup. Million-dollar cleaning brushes invented in 1906 have roots in Yarmouth.
Dog-friendly Yarmouth Guided Walking Tour
On the Introduction to Yarmouth walking tour, Candice Phibbs of Mile East Productions takes you (and your dog) on a tour of Yarmouth history, folklore and legends. Captain’s homes and other residential architecture (many now converted to dog-friendly inns) make up the first leg of the approximately two-hour tour, along with stories about the doctors and families who once lived within them. The tour then heads to the waterfront to hear eerie tales about shipwrecks, and why there’s a new but strange shark monument documenting a disturbing shark fishing tradition the town partially celebrates.
A highlight of the tour is a quirky recount of an ill-fated traveling floating circus which had but one show in Yarmouth before it burst into flames (more details available at the Firefighters Museum of Nova Scotia on Main Street) in June of 1963. Apparently, someone had the idea that loading a boat with clowns, acrobats, lions, bears and horses then docking at coastal towns to perform was a great idea. It wasn’t.
Guided Yarmouth Walking tours are available seasonally, Tuesday to Sunday from May to October via appointment for $25 per person. Pups are free.
A guided tour with stories is honestly the best thing to do when visiting Yarmouth, especially with the dog. But if you aren’t able to arrange a guided walking tour with Mile East Productions, pick up a ‘Heritage in Your Hand’ map at Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre on Main Street and follow your own tour, which takes between one and four hours depending how many stops you make.
Dog-friendly Rodd Grand Yarmouth: Book Direct and Save
Rodd Grand Yarmouth Hotel is the gem of Yarmouth, at least for a traveller. It’s located in the town core within walking distance of downtown restaurants, shops, parks, walking tour, and waterfront. Best of all – the Rodd Grand Hotel in Yarmouth is dog-friendly.
In fact, all Rodd properties in the Maritimes are pet-friendly and here’s an important tip: if you book directly with any Rodd property, the pet fee is waived. However, if you book using a third-party app, a pet fee is added to the room stay.
Rodd is a family name, and all hotel properties are family-owned and dog friendly: Rodd Charlottetown, Rodd Royalty, Rodd Crowbush Golf & Beach Resort, and Rodd Brudenell River in PEI; and Rodd Miramichi River and Rodd Moncton in New Brunswick. The Rodd Grand Yarmouth is the only Rodd property in Nova Scotia, and it is minutes from the waterfront ferry dock if you’re coming from or going to Bar Harbour, Maine via Bay Ferries Limited. (Check out our BFL experience from Saint John to Digby here).
The Rodd Grand Yarmouth is a 132-guestroom property in a historic building with an indoor pool, sauna, and fitness centre. Walk out the front door, and you’re in Yarmouth – at least the part visitors want to experience. The Rodd Grand is also a short three-to-four-minute drive to Yarmouth’s off-leash dog park.
Yarmouth Leash Free Dog Park
Like many small towns in the Maritimes (check out Digby here), Yarmouth has an off-leash dog park established for both “dog owners and those who care for dogs,” according to city hall, which means dog walkers are not off limits at the park. But there’s a limit of two dogs per person. That said, we met very few other dogs at the park, particularly early in the morning.
The double-gated leash-free dog park, located between South East Street and Forest Street, has two sides – they aren’t labeled for small or big dogs but seem to be used with discretion if certain dogs don’t get along. The park is accessorized with a simple bench on each side for people, and a big climbable rock on one side for dogs. Otherwise, the park is located along the Broad Brook walking trail near a well-used ballpark.
The parking lot is near the ballpark, so you’ll need to walk a bit to the far corner where the dog park is. The official address of the Yarmouth Dog Park is 2 Clements Ave., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Small Town with Village Vibe
Essentially, moving through this quintessential seaside town with the dog is easy, especially if your goal is to stroll. Yarmouth, Nova Scotia does have shopping malls, stripe malls (including one with a PetValu), and fast-food chains – basically, everything you’d find in a city only less of it. And, unfortunately, that includes access to veterinary services.
Note that Yarmouth has only one veterinary clinic that only sees regular clients and no emergency vet options – we found this out the hard way when a rat bit my dog’s lip. Yes, a rat. Be careful around outdoor garbage bins. She was fine, even without an oral antibiotic. One more reason it’s good to keep all your pet’s vaccinations up to date, especially if you’re going to travel.
If you go to dog-friendly Yarmouth, Nova Scotia…
Yarmouth Dog Park – Two fenced-in leash-free zones designed for dog play open dawn to dusk, 2 Clements Ave., Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Yarmouth Walking Tours – Seasonal tours of downtown Yarmouth, June to October by appointment for $25 per person. Leashed dogs welcome. www.yarmouthwalkingtours.com or 902-307-2250
Heritage in Your Hand – Pick up a guided tour map at Yarmouth Visitor Information Centre, 341 Main Street, Yarmouth.
Dog-friendly Accommodations in Yarmouth:
Rodd Grand Yarmouth – a 132-room hotel located downtown across from Frost Park. Dog-friendly, no size limit, and no additional pet fee if you book directly with the hotel. 417 Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. 1-800-565-RODD or www.roddyarmouth.com
Best Western Mermaid Motel – 545 Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Pet fee applies.
Comfort Inn Yarmouth – 96 Starrs Road, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Tru by Hilton – 10588 Starrs, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Maritime Mansions Inn – Several of the historic properties featured on the walking tour are now inns and some offer unique dog-friendly maritime stays, including the Lovitt House at 10 Parade Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Dog-friendly Patios in Yarmouth:
As of March 2021, the province of Nova Scotia allows pet dogs on outdoor patios that can be accessed from the street – at the discretion of individual business owners.
Although we didn’t try them all personally, the following patios in Yarmouth are listed as being dog-friendly:
- Rudder’s Seafood Restaurant & Brew Pub, 96 Water Street
- Heritage Brewing Co., 250 Main Street
- Old World Bakery and Deli, 232 Main Street
- Honey Bee Ice Cream Parlour, 409 Highway #1, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Not dog-friendly Yarmouth attractions:
Pelton-Fuller House – Museum celebrating the Fuller Brush success in this Victoria home circa 1895. 20 Collins Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Open Monday to Saturday, 9 am to 5 pm.
Yarmouth County Museum and Archives – This museum is jam packed with Yarmouth historical artifacts. Admission includes admission to the Fuller House next door. 22 Collins Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Firefighters’ Museum of Nova Scotia – Two-level fire fighters’ museum dedicated to the preservation and presentation of firefighting history, equipment and memorabilia. Open seven days a week until 5 pm. Admission is $5 per person. 451 Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia – Yarmouth – This satellite gallery of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax is a small version housed in a historic former Royal Bank building in the heart of downtown. Open Wednesday to Saturday. Admission $6. 341 Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
I’m Sherri Telenko, a professional writer for 30 years and travel writer for the last 20. I’m a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America. I’ve lived with cats, dogs, horses and guinea pigs all my life, and I travel almost weekly with my canine companion, Victoria.