No. 10 – Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
With its stunning natural beauty, storybook architecture and thriving arts community, Carmel-by-the-Sea is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the West Coast. It’s also one of the most dog-friendly communities in the country. Canines can frolic leash-free to their hearts’ content on beautiful Carmel Beach, provided they remain under voice control. They can also accompany their human companions on the Carmel Walking Tour, which includes the homes of famous artists, movie stars and literary figures who have lived in this seaside town.
Need a pet-friendly place to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea? No problem. Most of the hotels here cater to canines, including the Happy Landing Inn, Tradewinds at Carmel and the Cypress Inn. There are also plenty of dog-friendly dining options in Carmel-by-the-Sea, including Portabella’s on Ocean Avenue. If you like shopping with your pet, visit Carmel Plaza, where most stores welcome leashed dogs and some may even offer treats. If you go, look for the “Fountain of Woof,” Carmel Plaza’s designated “dogs only” drinking fountain.
No. 9 – Alexandria, Virginia
There are many pet-friendly perks about Washington, D.C., but nearby Alexandria, Va., takes the No. 9 spot in our countdown for going well beyond the call of doggie duty. From Alexandria, tourists and their four-legged friends can see the sights of the capital city — including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument — on a canine cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company. There are also great parks for dogs in and around Alexandria, including the Theodore Roosevelt Island Park and Memorial, accessed from the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
For the cocktail crowd, Alexandria offers a number of regular “yappy hours,” including a twice-weekly one at the Hotel Monaco on King Street. The Monaco also offers pet-friendly accommodations, coordinated by Charlie, a bichon frise who serves as the hotel’s director of pet relations (no kidding, the dog is actually part of the hotel’s management team). And for additional dog-friendly accommodations, try the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel on Jefferson Drive or the Morrison House Hotel on Alfred Street.
No. 8 – Seattle, Washington
You know you’re in a dog-loving town when you see canines riding the public buses and trains. Seattle is one of many pet-friendly towns on the West Coast, offering a range of activities that tourists can do with their four-legged friends, such as visit the Washington Park Arboretum, a green space on the shores of Lake Washington just east of downtown Seattle, or the off-leash dog area at Sand Point Magnuson Park, which includes access to the lake, where your hound can take a dip.
To relax with your pet after a fun day of touring Seattle, head over to the Pink Door at Pike Place Market for fabulous food and drinks on the patio or deck, both of which are dog-friendly. Seattle also offers a variety of pro-pooch lodging options, including the Alexis Hotel on First Avenue, in the heart of downtown.
No. 7 – Chicago, Illinois
Coming in at No. 7 in our countdown is Chicago, the dog-friendliest town in the Midwest. Vacationers who come to Chicago with their pets won’t be disappointed by the Windy City’s array of attractions and amenities that cater to canines. There are miles of lakefront in Chicago for strolling and jogging, including dog-friendly Montrose Beach at Wilson Avenue and Belmont Harbor Beach at Belmont Avenue. You can also take a canine cruise, tour the city by horse-drawn carriage or visit the Ladd Arboretum, a 23-acre park on McCormick Boulevard that allows leashed dogs.
For dog-friendly shopping, visit the Downtown Dog on North State Street. There are also many options for outdoor dining with your dog in Chicago, including Scoozi’s on Sheridan Road or the Daily Bar and Grill on North Lincoln Avenue. And at the end of your fun-filled day in Chicago, check into one of this city’s pro-pet hotels, such as the Hotel Burnham on West Washington or the Hotel Allegro on West Randolph Street, neither of which has weight restrictions or extra pet fees.
No. 6 – San Diego, California
San Diego is a lovely place to visit with your canine companions. All the beaches here allow leashed dogs and some provide off-leash areas, including Ocean Beach and Coronado Beach. If you like shopping with your hound, check out the Otay Ranch Town Shopping Center. Many stores allow dogs inside – some even provide water bowls and treats – and there is an off-leash dog park as part of the facility.
After a fun-filled day in San Diego, you may find that your hound is looking a bit homely. If it’s a well-coiffed canine you’re after, put in a call to the Pawlished Paw Mobile Dog and Cat Spa, a pet-grooming service that comes to you. Then, check out one of the city’s many dog-friendly dining establishments, such as Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar, located in the Grand Colonial Inn, in La Jolla. San Diego also offers a variety of dog-friendly hotels, including the Gaslamp Quarter’s Hotel Solamar, which allows dogs of all sizes and charges no extra fees for pets.
No. 5 – Austin, Texas
Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Austin is a gem of a town for many reasons, not the least of which is its pro-pet policies. The city offers a dog-friendly jogging trail through downtown along the scenic Colorado River, and pets are welcome at Zilker Botanical Gardens. There are at least 12 off-leash dog parks within Austin city limits and plenty of other parks, playgrounds and green spaces that allow leashed animals.
Austin also boasts plenty of options for dining with your dog, such as Opal Divine’s on Sixth Street or the Ginger Man Pub on Lavaca Street. Need a pet-friendly hotel in Austin? No problem. Any of Austin’s La Quinta or Red Roof Inn hotels welcome dogs and their human companions.
No. 4 – Boston, Massachusetts
Coming in at No. 4 in our countdown is Boston, second only to New York City for dog-friendly destinations on the East Coast. Boston welcomes dogs at many of its most popular tourist attractions, including the Freedom Trail, which takes visitors to 16 historical sites on a walking tour that covers 250 years of America’s history. The Freedom Trail also passes through Boston Common Park, which has public gardens and leash-free areas for dogs within its 50 acres.
Does your pet like to frolic in the surf and sand? Visit Boston’s Carson Beach, where your dog can play leash-free to his heart’s content. You can also take pet-friendly ferry trips from Boston to nearby Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket or Block Island. There are also a variety of restaurants that offer dog-friendly dining, such as the Salty Dog Seafood Grill in Faneuil Market Hall.
Need a pet-friendly place to stay in Boston? Try the Hotel Marlowe on Edwin H. Land Boulevard or the Boston Harbor Hotel, neither or which has additional pet fees or weight restrictions for their four-legged guests.
No. 3 – New York, N.Y.
New York City may not seem like an ideal place for dogs, considering all the concrete and skyscrapers. But the Big Apple can be a great getaway for you and your best animal friend. For starters, dog owners in New York have access to Central Park, a pet-friendly haven in the heart of Manhattan. There are also numerous hotels in the city that cater to canines, including the Soho Grand, the Muse Hotels, the Regency, Loews and Novotel.
Getting around in New York is easy, since many taxis allow dogs. There are also a few canine taxicab services that can be called for pooch-specific transportation. You can also travel with your pooch on many of the city’s ferries, where you can see some of New York’s most iconic landmarks from the water. If you prefer to travel on foot, try one of the Big Apple’s many dog-friendly walking tours.
New York City also has plenty of pet-friendly dining establishments, such as Gavroche on West 14th Street, Zocalo on East 82nd Street or Firehouse on Columbus Avenue. But perhaps the best thing about visiting New York with your dog is that many shops and boutiques — even such upscale retailers as Tiffany’s, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue — allow dogs.
No. 2 – Portland, Oregon
Coming in at No. 2 in our list of dog-friendly vacation destinations is Portland, Oreg., the city with the most dog parks per capita in the United States. And this doesn’t include just neighborhood dog runs, though there are plenty of those. Portland is home to some of the largest dog-friendly parks in the nation, including Forest Park, with more than 4,000 acres.
Tourists and their four-legged friends can enjoy Portland’s most popular attractions, including the Saturday Market, an outdoor market with pet-friendly shops, cafes and entertainment. They can also spend hours exploring the woods of Washington Park or take a scenic stroll along the riverfront. If you’re in the mood for a more rugged adventure, the nearby Columbia River Gorge is a great escape that offers hiking trails and scenic vistas.
Many Portland hotels cater to canines, including the Mark Spencer Hotel on 11th Avenue and the Residence Inn on River Parkway. And for the more social dog-human pairs, there are also plenty of yappy hours, pug crawls and doggie dashes offered throughout the year at a variety of Portland establishments.
No. 1 – San Francisco, California
San Francisco is not only one of America’s best-loved tourist destinations — it’s also a great getaway destination for dogs and their human companions. The City by the Bay has some of the best urban dog playgrounds in the United States, including Golden Gate Park, with its more than 1,000 acres of green space and four off-leash dog areas. There are even several off-leash beaches in San Francisco, including Baker Beach, Ocean Beach and Fort Funston.
For spectacular views of San Francisco and the bay, take a walk with your pooch across the Golden Gate Bridge. There are also a variety of pet-friendly attractions for visitors to San Francisco, including the Embarcadero, Coit Tower and Fisherman’s Wharf. And if that doesn’t have you planning a San Francisco getaway with your pet, consider that all of these sites are accessible by cable car, which allows dogs of all sizes.
There is no shortage of pet-friendly hotels in San Francisco, such as the Palomar, the Holiday Inn Civic Center and the Four Seasons. You’ll also find countless options for outdoor doggie dining, including Ristorante Mona Lisa on Columbus Avenue in North Beach. Considering all the great things you can do with your pet in San Francisco, it’s no wonder that it tops our list as the most dog-friendly destination in the United States.