A vacation should be a relaxing prospect, but when you throw a dog in the mix, planning can stress you out. Boarding your pup while you escape to a sunny beach hardly seems fair. At the same time, you don’t want to limit your opportunities because some attractions don’t allow pets.
It’s a tricky predicament. But if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of desirable spots that not only allow dogs but actively encourage them to come along. Discover your perfect pet getaway among this list of the best dog-friendly vacation destinations in the U.S.
The 10 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in The United States
1. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Taking a vacation with your dog is one thing, but taking one for your dog is another story. A dog-centric getaway is exactly what you’ll find in Carmel-by-the-Sea, a European-style coastal village on the Monterey Peninsula. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the cozy town packs countless amenities, from beaches to boutiques, making it easy and fun to stroll the streets with your dog.
Find some of the best dog-friendly stays at the 500-acre Carmel Valley Ranch or the historic luxury La Playa Carmel, which puts you amidst the local restaurants, shops, and galleries that make for a perfect daily outing. If the ocean views beckon you to the surf, the off-leash Carmel Beach is only two blocks away. From there, the Scenic Road takes you through a parade of vistas on your way to Carmel River Beach.
For more activity away from the beach, check out Mission Trails Park. You’ll discover miles-long off-leash hiking trails and wide-open expanses for play. As you explore the business district, shops will offer fresh water, treats, and toys to customers’ pets. Finish up your day during Yappy Hour at Terry’s Lounge at the Cypress Inn; it’s Doris Day’s dog-delighting hotel and one of the best places to stay with your pup.
2. Portland, Oregon
Dogs are welcome to experience every bit of Portland’s off-beat atmosphere. Whether you want to check out the Tiny Digs Hotel for the town’s quintessential quirkiness or enjoy the upscale Hotel de Luxe, there’s no shortage of dog-friendly places to stay. Like the Hotel de Luxe, the Dossier offers a Very Important Pet (VIP) option, featuring treats, toys, dog beds, and bowls.
Off-leash parks dot the city’s interior, from Gabriel Dog Park on the west side to Lynchwood Park on the east. In between, you’ll happen across Sellwood Riverfront Park, which is a great place to give your dog some time in the water.
You won’t have to worry about missing out on Portland’s nightlife and bar scene, even with your dog in tow. Pet-friendly patios abound at places like the Alleyway Cafe, Laurelwood Public House & Brewery, Victoria Bar, Pizza Jerk, and any of the three Lucky Labrador Brewing Company locations.
3. Austin, Texas
Austin is as dog-friendly as you can hope for from a fun-filled city. Take your dog on a litany of hiking trails or enjoy waterfront activities like kayaking and paddleboard excursions. Barton Creek Greenbelt Preserve is an active area for rock climbing, biking, and swimming, while Lady Bird Lake offers an off-leash place to splash around.
A visit to Red Bud Isle is non-negotiable when you’re in town. The 13-acre island is an off-leash haven, as is the 106-acre off-leash dog area in the sprawling Onion Creek Metro Park.
Dogs can enjoy Austin’s hip vibes and downtown bar scene at locales like Celis Brewery, Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, and Nomad Beerworks. The Dog House Drinkery and the Yard Bar add a dog park for pups to have fun while you sit back with a brew.
Do you need dog-friendly digs in Austin? The Four Seasons, the LINE Austin, and the Hotel Van Zandt are only a few of the countless options that will suit you and your pet.
4. Sedona, Arizona
The red and rocky vistas in Arizona’s countryside are a truly memorable treat for vacationers and their pups. The boutique El Portal Sedona Hotel is the perfect place to stay and introduce yourself to the various dog-friendly establishments around the city. The area has several accommodating hotels, but you can also rough it at Cave Springs and a handful of local campgrounds.
For hikes with your dog, you can find miles of idyllic paths in places like Coconino National Forest and Munds Mountain Wilderness. Jeep and trolley tours also allow you and your dog to take a guided perspective on the southwest culture and landscape. Less than two hours away is Under Canvas, a glamping location on the Grand Canyon catering to dogs.
5. Bar Harbor, Maine
Few destinations are more blissful than the tranquil historic Bar Harbor community on Maine’s coast. You and your pup can get the most from this New England cultural experience with stays at dog-friendly lodgings like Balance Rock Inn, West Street Hotel, and Hanscom’s Motel and Cottages.
No trip would be complete without a taste of Maine lobster, and bringing your dog along won’t limit your options. Catch spectacular views at the Looking Glass Restaurant or relax at the laidback Side Street Cafe.
The main attraction is nearby Acadia National Park. Bark Ranger programs serve as an orientation for you and your dog for proper environmental stewardship. When ready, you and your pup can enjoy 100 miles of on-leash hiking trails, taking you past ponds, sand-filled beaches, and scenic viewing points.
6. Sanibel Island, Florida
Florida’s beaches are their hallmark attraction, and you’ll be glad to see that Sanibel Island welcomes dogs as much as any tourist. Notable on-leash beaches include Algiers Beach (or Gulfside Beach), Causeway Islands Park, Blind Pass Park, and Bowman’s Beach.
Outside the seaside sand, you can experience Florida’s enigmatic wildlife first-hand with your dog at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The on-leash trails take you through wetlands and mangrove systems, where you’ll encounter unique tropical fauna and equally intriguing land and marine animals.
Stay with your dog on the seaside at locations like the charming Beachview Cottages or the beachfront condos at the Signal Inn. When it’s time for a bite, take your pup to the Blue Giraffe, the Island Cow, or the Sanibel Grille for casual outdoor dining.
7. Lake Placid, New York
There’s a little history and loads of heart in Lake Placid, an aptly named resort town settled in the heart of Adirondack Park. Stay at the gorgeous Mirror Lake Inn, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, or the cozy Van Hoevenberg Lodge & Cabins. From hiking to fishing to snowshoeing, the area allows you to experience all four seasons in spectacular fashion.
As the site of two Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid lets you reconcile the call of the mountains with your love for your pets. Hike some of the smaller peaks with your leashed dogs. Start with a drive up nearby Whiteface Mountain, the region’s most notable winter ski resort. Just make sure your dog is fit and capable, and bring plenty of food and water on the way.
8. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park is undeniably the Jersey Shore’s coolest and most dog-friendly area. Dogs can take in the town’s rich rock and roll culture as easily as their owners, as they’re welcome in all kinds of vibrant shops, restaurants, hangout spots, and live music venues lining the streets.
Plan your trip between September 15 and May 15 so your dog can join you on a leash as you check out the events and activities on the Boardwalk. Otherwise, let your dog enjoy the surf at their leisure at the Asbury Park Dog Beach, an off-leash section to splash and play.
Lodgings are slim, but the oceanfront Asbury or the Berkeley Oceanfront are dog-friendly spots to stay in the center of the action. Local music hotspot the Wonder Bar is a must-visit, featuring a Yappy Hour and off-leash fun for your dog.
9. Asheville, North Carolina
Fall is the time to visit Asheville, a lively mountain town in North Carolina’s western mountains. Set off on the Blue Ridge Parkway for some of the country’s most beautiful views of the changing foliage and receding purple mountains. Find stop-offs on the way that let you hike to nearby falls and vistas.
In town, you can’t miss Asheville’s iconic brewery scene. Thankfully, most don’t discriminate against dog handlers. Stay in the heart of the action at the Aloft Hotel or Hotel Indigo. For a pampered experience, upgrade to the Grove Park Inn, Asheville’s premier resort.
Outdoor patio areas accommodate dogs at popular locations like Green Man Brewery, Wicked Weed, and New Belgium. Alternatively, you can make it all about your dog at Down Dog on Sweeten Creek Rd., which is a combo off-leash dog park, bar, and yoga studio. Though not allowed in the home, leashed dogs can also walk the expansive Biltmore grounds to enjoy the immaculate gardens and the mansion’s picturesque backdrop.
10. Kanab, Utah
As the home of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the country’s largest no-kill companion animal shelter, the Kanab community maintains a unique connection to our furry friends. For the ultimate experience, book one of 40 rooms at the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile, a pet-focused lodge with on-site grooming and a dog park.
Kanab is a gateway to Utah’s most beautiful rock formations and natural landmarks. Take exhilarating hikes through Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Toadstool Hoodoos, or Moqui Sand Coves. For a stay that’s a bit closer to nature, rent a tent for a glamping retreat at Basecamp 37.
From the east coast to the west coast, there’s a new dog-friendly destination to explore across the country whenever vacation time finally rolls around. When you take your dog to these accommodating locales, you can feel good about doing the best for your family and your beloved canine companion.
Featured Image Credit: Jus_Ol, Shutterstock