When planning your next getaway, why not plan on taking the entire family—two- and four-legged—on your exciting journey? These are the eight cities voted most dog friendly by GoPetFriendly.com’s readers in their annual reader survey. Make sure you follow Go Pet Friendly on Facebook and Twitter to participate in their 2014 tournament of cities in March!
Each section highlights what makes that town unique and the perfect autumn destination for people and their pups. Included are special events, not-to-be-missed landmarks, and places to rest your feet or grab a bite where your dog can join you.
This high desert region with its 300 days of sunshine is perfect for hiking, biking and hitting trails like the Bend Ale Trail. With 500 miles of rivers, streams and high mountain lakes, fishing excursions abound. Or grab a canoe and explore one of the Cascade Lakes with your dog. After a day outdoors, you’ll enjoy all the luxurious amenities at the dog-friendly Oxford Hotel. With a mild climate, visitors during the fall shouldn’t miss Oktoberfest or the Bend Fall Festival, typically the first weekend in October. For more Bend-area information, head to Visit Bend. For tasty pub food, a great selection of Northwest beers on tap, and a patio that’s dog friendly, locals head to Brother Jon’s Public House.
This city on Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest estuary, is about all things nautical. Whether it’s kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing or crabbing, outdoor activities that include you and your dog are everywhere. Stop at Chick & Ruth’s Delly for one of the largest milkshakes in the country. Then head to Ego Alley, also known as the City Dock and the Annapolis Harbor, for public boat watching. Tour historical sites by water or, for the adventurous types, go on a candlelight tour of the town’s 18th century buildings that some say are haunted! If you’re staying at the dog-friendly Loews Annapolis Hotel, their restaurant, West Kitchen & Tavern, cooks up tasty local rockfish and crab cakes. For music, tapas, and a warm ambiance similar to family-run wine bars found in the Italian countryside, everyone heads to dog-welcoming Crush Winehouse.
Well known for being dog friendly, this coastal village is perfect for walking and outdoor activities like the annual Great Sand Castle Contest held on Carmel Beach in early September. For over 50 years, the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects have put together this public event. After a day enjoying the gorgeous scenery that painters and photographers can’t get enough of, don’t miss stopping by Trio Carmel with your pup to taste some olive oil, wine and balsamic vinegars while admiring their art gallery. Did you know that Carmel-by-the-Sea was incorporated on Halloween in 1916? The city celebrates its birthday with an exciting Halloween Parade.
This city has more microbreweries per capita than any other in the country. With sunshine and warm temps from June through October, the area is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. Head to the west side of the Willamette River, and you’ll find dog-friendly Hotel deLuxe offering a special Portlandia Package highlighting restaurants and shops featured in the hit show. If the quirky east side of the city is more your style, stop by The Egg Carton, a food stand on wheels, for their famous French toast or Marionberry pancakes. The City of Roses’ many gardens allow on-leash dogs, and May to October is the peak season for blooms in the famous International Rose Test Garden. Visitors say you can smell the roses from the parking area! Founded in 1919, this magical garden is not to be missed by photographers, horticulture buffs or Rosarians.
Climb aboard the Silver Queen Gondola and in minutes you and your dog will experience breathtaking views and more atop Aspen Mountain. Averaging 300 days of sunshine annually, Aspen is a bucolic gem set in the White River National Forest. Though a popular ski destination for decades, most people visit Aspen in July and early August. While you’re there don’t miss booking your own private adventure with your four-legged buddy through Blazing Adventures. They create custom rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking or fishing adventures just for you and your dog. Dog-friendly accommodations also abound in Aspen. Luxury meets the Old West with the newly renovated national landmark Hotel Jerome. Or check in to the Sky Hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain. This boutique hotel is a Kimpton Hotel and offers all the animal-friendly amenities that you’d expect. Aspen is surrounded by four mountains, and arguably the most photographed are two 14,000 foot peaks called the Maroon Bells. Or take a hint from the locals and head to the Aspen Highlands for a 360-degree view and miles of lush terrain, perfect to enjoy the summer wildflowers or gorgeous fall foliage with your dog by your side.
This ‘burg is home to battlefields, civil war landmarks and places where George Washington slept. Tours can be done by foot, trolley, canoe, or riverboat, and with a ghost or architecture theme. Find many options from Design Sponge. Grab your pup and some scratch-made breakfast from the dog-friendly Mason-Dixon Cafe & Baking Co. before heading to Manassas National Battlefield Park. This national park has trails you can take your dog on, perfect for the Civil War buff! A great little hideaway just outside of downtown not to be missed is the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Learn how one of Virginia’s pioneers made handcrafted small batch spirits. Also outside of the ‘burg is Belmont, the former home of prominent 18th and 19th Century painter Gari Melcher. A museum, gallery and lush garden space are open to the public.
Only 15 minutes from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Charlottesville—or C’ville as it’s known—is a charming university town. C’ville is close to miles of hiking trails along the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the Midtown district, stop by West Main for their famous baked mac and cheese, or maybe the classic southern dish of shrimp and grits, and take a breather with your four-legged friend at one of the outdoor tables. Don’t miss visiting the dog-friendly Carter Mountain Orchard. During the fall apple-picking season you can enjoy music, food, hayrides, wine tastings, pumpkins, apple butter, apple cider, even apple cider donuts!
Voted most polite city in America, this southern foodie destination is close to beautiful tidal salt marshes, ports and barrier islands. Skip the Starbucks and stop by City Lights Coffee off the main downtown square before you head out, or take your pup and get a breakfast crepe from Queen Street Grocery, or QSG as the locals call it. Exploring Charleston by foot you’ll experience stately 19th century mansions, secret gardens and alleyways. Enjoy Cajun and Creole food at dog-friendly Crawdaddies restaurant. After seeing the antebellum charm of the city, grab your furry buddy and head out to Sullivan’s Island Beach for a relaxing romp. Weather in the spring and fall is mild, perfect for touring the many Sea Islands or going on a Low Country Ghost Tour.
This article compiled from the cities chosen in Go Pet Friendly’s annual Best Cities for Pet Travelers tournament. For more information on traveling with your dogs, visit the Go Pet Friendly travel site.
This article was written by LIFE+DOG editor Sharon Castellanos.