Part of the thrill of visiting new places is experiencing their unique features … and what could be better than sharing that fun with your dog? Some cities make this easier than others, and these are our 2017 choices for the top dog-friendly cities in the United States.
Bend’s sunny days and crisp, cool evenings are perfect for enjoying with your pup. The locals here celebrate two things: the great outdoors and drinking beer. There are 65 miles of pet-friendly trails accessible from downtown and many, many more in the nearby Cascade Mountains. Once you’ve worked up a thirst, discover why the city is known as Beer Town USA. Many of Bend’s world-class craft breweries have pet-friendly patios, and one of the popular spots, Crux Fermentation Project, even has an off-leash dog park adjacent to its patio.
Austin has a funky, fun-loving vibe and a dog-centric mentality. Whether you’re meeting friends for a pickup game of soccer in Zilker Park (dogs can be off leash north of Barton Springs Road) or perusing the eclectic shops and grabbing a bite to eat at a dog-friendly patio on South Congress Avenue, including your pup in your plans is no problem. Pack a picnic, and enjoy the skyline views from Auditorium Shores (another off-leash area where your dog can splash in Ladybird Lake), hit the 10-mile Butler Hike and Bike loop, or rent a stand-up paddleboard and experience the city from the water. Dog-friendly options in Austin are endless.
Carmel is the quintessential combination of upscale beach town and European village. It’s casual and classy — and famously dog friendly! With a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach where dogs are welcome off leash, first-class pet-friendly hotels like the Cypress Inn, a ton of drool-worthy restaurants with dog-friendly patios and an exotic collection of boutiques and shops to explore, what more could you ask for? Take an afternoon cruise down 17-Mile Drive and visit Asilomar State Beach to savor the ocean views that have inspired painters and photographers for generations. Leashed dogs are welcome on the Coast Trail and beach.
Founded in 1670, Charleston is steeped in history — from its cobblestone streets and antebellum homes, to its sprawling plantations and gardens. Life slows down as you mosey along King Street to Waterfront Park and follow the Battery promenade along Charleston Harbor. Protecting the harbor are several barrier islands, which offer their own pet-friendly activities. Savor the views from Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge — one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in North America, then head out for a romp in the waves on dog-friendly Folly Beach or Isle of Palms.
Spread along the banks of the Willamette River, Portland’s neighborhoods each have their own character, but the overriding energy of the city is easygoing and outdoorsy. Portlanders fully embrace summer — biking, hiking, meeting in the park or making for the beach. Forest Park flanks the hills west of town and boasts more than 70 miles of hiking trails. For a more refined experience, visit the International Rose Test Garden, and walk among the 650 luscious rose varieties. When the fresh air leaves you hungry, more than 500 food carts organized in “pods” around the city are ready to serve culinary delights that will make your head spin and your pup drool.
If 70 miles of coastline and perfect weather aren’t enough, San Diego is also a fantastically Fido-friendly city. Explore Balboa Park, the nation’s largest urban cultural park, or meander the infamous Gaslamp Quarter, where historic Victorian buildings now house a dazzling collection of restaurants, bars and clubs. When you’re ready to play, there’s a huge selection of dog-friendly beaches and off-leash areas from which to choose. Mission Beach is the epicenter of beach culture with a lively boardwalk on one side and peaceful Mission Bay Park on the other. Coronado Island is another must-see for its sparkling sand beaches and small-town feel.
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs between November and April when it’s below 80 degrees. Great hiking trails for dogs and humans. Ace Hotel in Palm Springs is about the most dog-friendly hotel I know. — Holger Laufenber
Folly Beach, South Carolina
Tides Folly Beach Hotel is a wonderful pet-friendly accommodation, with a great beach. There are many dog-friendly restaurants and a great dog park in nearby James Island. Charleston is 20 minutes away and has many great walks and parks that are dog friendly. Visit in early fall for still-warm water and great temperatures. — Rebecca Decker
St. Louis, Missouri
The Wildwood Hotel is dog friendly. Try the Purina Farms and its Event Center (shows, competitions, pet events), Purina HQ downtown, dozens of dog parks in the metro area, with a new 10-acre one to open in Wildwood in spring. In February, the Soulard neighborhood hosts the Mardi Gras Beggin’ Pet Parade where 80,000 people and 8,000 pets participate in the world’s largest pet parade. Our Humane Society was founded in 1870 (before HSUS). Take your pup to lunch at The Boathouse Forest Park, too. — Carol Panter
Tons of dog-friendly trails through breathtaking “red rock” trails. Two favorite hotels there are the Hilton and The Lodge at Sedona. — Cathy Armato
Our favorite place to take Rain (Blue Merle Cardigan Welsh Corgi always grubbing for a treat) is Assateague Island, Maryland. Stayed in a BringFido.com recommended hotel in Berlin, Maryland. — Carol Kapusinsky
Read more about city dogs on Dogster.com:
Amy Burkert founded GoPetFriendly.com, a pet travel website and blog, and travels full time with her husband and dogs. Follow them on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip — an epic tour of the most pet-friendly attractions in the United States.