Dogs are a hugely important part of my life. I live with them, I work with them, I write about them, and I help people better understand them. Dogs have enriched my life immensely and I simply can’t imagine my world without a canine companion (or two!). So while most dog owners will tell you that they celebrate their dogs every day of the year, August is actually the month dedicated to dogs.
National Dog Month was created to help us celebrate the wonderful canines we’ve all known and loved. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share my top ten vacation spots to visit with your dog. I’ve picked destinations around the United States, so hopefully one of these spots is accessible to you and your canine friend. Traveling by car is ideal for most dogs, and right now many of us are opting for road trips over air flight anyway! Just make sure when you are packing for yourself that you include everything your dog will need to make that vacation a success: food, bowls, treats, toys, bedding (or crate), travel gear (harness, booties for hiking, doggles for eye protection, etc.), car safety harness, and their vaccination records. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, don’t forget to bring their own water as well. Also make sure you plan your trip ahead of time; you will want to not only make sure that your chosen accommodations are pet-friendly, but that the activities you’ve chosen are currently open and still possible to do with your canine companion. Many destinations have changed their policies with regard to pets (some becoming more accommodating post-pandemic, with others becoming more restrictive), so it’s a good idea to double check your plans right before you hit the open road! So whether you and your dog are choosing to stay in a motor home, cabin, Airbnb, or high rise hotel, make sure you include your dog in as many activities as comfortably possible, while scheduling in rest and relaxation time for you both. And remember, if your dog has issues in separation anxiety, then leaving him alone in your hotel, rental home, or trailer won’t be an option as their distress at being left alone in an unfamiliar place will definitely impact the quality of your vacation and theirs.
Here are my top 10 pet-friendly vacation destinations in no particular order:
San Diego, CA—I’m from San Diego, so no surprise that this destination is on my list. San Diego has it all: beaches, parks, trails, and dog-friendly dining options. Plus, if you are a baseball fan, Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, has an area known as “The Barkyard.” This area has five semi-private, dog-friendly game viewing areas off of left center field. Each area comes with four human tickets and can accommodate two dogs and their four favorite humans for Padres home games. The Barkyard is booked for 2021, but start making your plans for 2022!
Napa, CA—California wine country is a great destination for dogs and their humans. There are several dog-friendly wineries you can visit, but make sure Honig Vineyard & Winery is one of them! This solar-powered and family-owned vineyard actually “employs” sniffer dogs to identify female mealybug pheromones so that vintners can remove the infected vines and avoid using pesticides on their grapes. And if you are looking for more traditional hotel accommodations, definitely check out the Napa Winery Inn. This hotel is centrally located and walking distance to restaurants that will welcome you and your pooch.
Bend, OR—This city has to be one of the most dog-friendly places in the country, boasting that upwards of 49% of their residents have dogs themselves! With 51 miles of hiking trails (some are even off leash!) and paths that wind through lush, green forests, there will be ample sniffing opportunities for your dog. Bend is located in Central Oregon, so if you are up for a scenic drive, head out to the coast and visit one of Oregon’s many dog-friendly beach towns. With almost 400 miles of coastline, and all beaches are public, there is sure to be one that strikes you and your dog’s fancy. My favorite and one less traveled? The coastal town of Port Orford with it’s picturesque cliffs and lighthouse.
Sedona, AZ—Sedona is red rock country, so this destination is for dogs and dog lovers who like to hike, backpack, and camp. Slide Rock State Park boasts 43 acres of hiking trails for you and your dog. When exploring the city of Sedona proper, be sure to visit the Whiskers Barkery at Sinagua Plaza for your dog’s souvenirs of the trip.
Austin, TX—While many people know Austin for its music festivals and night life, it is also one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. Definitely check out Austin Terrier and Barton Springs Saloon, two low-key eateries with great food that welcome dogs. You can walk off what you ate on the ten-mile trail and boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake. Finally, if yoga is your thing, check out Austin Doga, a yoga studio that welcomes both you and your dog.
Winter Park, CO—Summer or winter, this is my favorite destination in Colorado. No matter the season, Vasquez Peak Wilderness Park offers stunning views and 17 miles of hiking trails. After your hike, definitely stop at Deno’s Mountain Bistro, an amazing, dog-friendly steakhouse. For accommodations, I love the Snow Mountain Ranch where you can choose to stay in a room at the lodge or a private cabin.
Lake Placid, NY—If fall foliage is your thing, then you should surely plan a trip to Lake Placid in autumn. Definitely pencil in a walk on the 3 mile paved trail along Mirror Lake, where there are dog-friendly shops along one side. No matter what season you choose, Lake Placid is for outdoor adventurers! There are skiing, biking, fishing, and hiking opportunities, so everyone will be happy with this vacation choice. Recommended lodging would be the Lake Placid Lodge. Rustic, yet luxurious, you and your dog deserve this.
Bar Harbor, ME—This coastal town allows dogs on their city buses and there are even boat cruises around Frenchman Bay that include dogs on their guest list! Bar Harbor is within driving distance of Acadia National Park which boasts 120 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails for all levels of hiking ability, from novices to experienced hikers. Pets are even welcome on the shuttles within Acadia National Park, making it easy to to take in all of the views and photo opportunities for hikers and non-hikers alike.
Asheville, NC—Definitely take a leisurely drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, as you choose your hike from one of the many dog-friendly hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains and national forest lands. Asheville is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country with numerous options of where to stay. I recommend that you and your canine companion check out the 1900 Inn on Monfort. They are located in one of the historic districts and boast pet-friendly suites and in-room spa services so you don’t have to leave your furred friends behind on spa day. Doggie guests sleep in specially designed trundle beds and rooms also come with french doors that open onto a garden area where dogs can sniff, explore and play.
Sanibel Island, FL—the weather is always perfect here and this is a family-friendly destination as well. Located on Florida’s gulf coast, nearly all of the beaches are dog-friendly. Keep your dog on leash and explore the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge, one of the country’s largest, undeveloped mangrove ecosystems. Here you and your dogs will be able to see migratory birds, manatees, and six different species of herons! For casual dining with delicious vegan and vegetarian options, you must visit The Island Cow, a favorite eatery for locals and visitors alike, and they always welcome dogs.
Share your favorite dog-friendly vacation destinations with us using the hashtag #NationalDogMonth