When traveling, of course you want to take your best pal to experience new places together. Dog parents often are drawn to the idea of traveling with their beloved pets, and taking dog-friendly vacations is easier than most think.
I am a freelance travel photographer and writer, and since adopting my rescue dog, Quigley, nearly 6 years ago, we have traveled the world together, including 34 states and six countries! Our dog-friendly vacations have ranged from camping in the desert to enjoying cocktails at the Waldorf Astoria, and most everything in between.
Traveling with Quigley is one of my greatest joys, and I hope these tips will help you experience the same pleasure with your own pet. From the Northeast to the Midwest, no matter where in the United States you want to go, there are plenty of dog-friendly vacations you can enjoy with your four-legged friend.
Dog-Friendly Vacations in the Northeast
The Northeast is a region of contrasts. From the rugged villages of Maine to the exciting art scenes of New York, the variety of the area has long attracted travelers of every style.
Boston is a destination that truly has it all. Quigley and I lived in the city for a few years, and we have explored every nook together, moving from the bustling urban center to beaches, vast parks and charming colonial neighborhoods with ease. The area is beautiful in all seasons, but summer and autumn are when this region shines for dog-enthusiasts because Bostonians know how to appreciate the sunshine.
Feeling Patriotic? Many of the country's most significant historical landmarks are located along The Freedom Trail, a brick path leading visitors through historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution. The route begins at Boston Common, which includes an off-leash dog park for socializing. Nearby, walkers can visit additional historical sites, such as Acorn street in Beacon Hill, one of the most photographed streets in the United States, or Public Garden, home of the Make Way for Ducklings statues, which show Mrs. Mallard leading her family of ducklings.
Boston is well known for its outdoor festivals, both cultural and themed, like the annual Carnival of Dogs, which is literally a celebration of dogs!
Need to get outside the hustle of the city? Have your dog don his cutest life jacket and hop aboard one of the many ferries heading to Provincetown, an extremely dog-friendly town. There are miles of dog-accessible beach, where Quigley took his very first swim in the ocean.
For more refined pooch and parent duos, P-Town features a dog park with an art gallery. Explore the quirky dining and retail establishments at your leisure, with more than 20 restaurants and countless shops that happily will welcome your pet.
If you seek foliage over fishing, visitors can find many nearby options. Nashoba Valley Winery is one of many orchards that allow dogs to come along for apple picking. Those in the mood to get lost (metaphorically) in the colorful trees for a few hours can visit one of the many nearby nature reservations, such as Blue Hills.
Need more travel inspo? Read about a dog-friendly cabin getaway just outside of Boston.
New York City, New York
New York City has it all—landmarks, great eats, parks, shopping and art, just to name a few highlights. Those who love to walk the city and take in the sites will be happy to hear that the streets of NYC are welcoming to dogs.
Grab a camera and visit the city’s top sights. Classics like Bethesda Terrace, Grand Central Station, New York Public Library and DUMBO (a pet-friendly Brooklyn neighborhood) are just a few of the dog-friendly locations for you and your pooch to pose and explore. If your canine craves a bit of time off-leash, New York offers a multitude of dog parks.
A trip to New York City would not be complete without visiting the shops. Thankfully, your dog can join you on the ultimate shopping spree! Begin with Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf's and Barneys, which are known to allow well-behaved, leashed dogs, although you should call ahead to confirm. If your dog is small and you are willing to carry him, you can visit Macy’s in Herald Square and go for a ride together on the original wooden escalator. Most boutique stores welcome dogs, too, and some Nordstrom locations even keep custom dog cookies on hand for very good canine shoppers.
NYC is a treat for food lovers, including canines! However, the city is very strict about dogs entering eateries, with the exception of Boris & Horton—the city's very first Department of Health-approved dog-friendly café! But have no fear; there are many outdoor patio options across the city for food lovers, and many taprooms and breweries allow pets inside.
Visiting during Christmas? Bundle your dog in a classic puppy parka, like the Canada Pooch premium parka, and head to midtown to view the holiday window displays together. Then enjoy hot cocoa and a puppaccino by the Rockefeller tree.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Coastal wilderness meets small-town charm in the town of Bar Harbor, Maine. Business owners along Main Street take their love of dogs to the next level, with establishments like Coffee Hounds (who insist on featuring your dogs' photo online), and Bark Harbor (a boutique pet shop and barkery). Local seafood favorite Stewman's proudly welcomes dogs on their deck with enthusiastic signage.
A mere 15-minute drive outside of downtown takes visitors to the beautiful Acadia National Park. It features 158 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads where on-leash pets are permitted to explore with their active parents.
For a laid back experience, head to Jordan Pond House for their famous popovers and house tea, followed by a leisurely stroll around the pond. Then drive to the top of nearby Cadillac Mountain to view the sunset.
Dog-Friendly Vacations in the South
Southern hospitality beckons travelers from all over the world. Steeped in history and rooted in charm, the South is an idyllic location to vacation. From wild deserts to the birthplace of jazz, and all of the incredible food in between, the South is a dog-friendly travel haven.
Located in the high desert of far west Texas, Marfa is a 3-hour drive from any of the nearest airports, making this a destination for those who love an epic road trip. (Get tips for traveling in the car with your dog here.) Marfa is known as a Mecca of art tourism, and visitors rave about the historic architecture, excellent dining options and artisan shops. Additionally, lovers of the mysterious visit to experience the strange luminescent phenomenon known as the Marfa Lights. To top it all off, most attractions and lodgings welcome dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Pet parents have many options for lodging, and each has its own unique vibe. Glampers can enjoy a vintage RV, teepee or bring their own tent/campervan at the iconic El Cosmico. The common spaces include an outdoor kitchen and showers, a hammock garden (where Quigley and I spent many hours reading and snoozing) and a cozy lodge. Those looking to be pampered while enjoying the artsy scene can check into Hotel Saint George.
Dog parents swear by the delicious food at Marfa Burrito, Pizza Foundation, FoodShark and The Capri. Before or after your meals, the best place to relax and get to know the locals is Planet Marfa, a hacienda-style beer garden with a dance floor and a sunken teepee.
John, the owner, has been known to take groups out to view the Mystery Lights on his Planet bus. Ever the consummate host, John happily held Quigley for hours while swapping personal stories.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a city where I spent much of my youth, and I could not wait to return with my four-legged bestie! The city has no shortage of inspiration, with color, music and historic detail around every corner. The city is walkable, delicious and a world-class experience. Travel + Leisure named New Orleans the "No. 1 City for Food in the U.S," and you will say the same once your mouths aren't full. Trust me!
We would be remiss to not immediately recommend a stop (or four) at Café du Monde. Dogs can join their parents on the patio, but my personal recommendation is to take your order to go. Indulge in your coffee and beignets mere steps from the cafe, while watching the street performers dance, sing and juggle before the iconic Jackson Square. If you prefer a more refined performance with your meal, Broussard’s features a three-course jazz brunch.
For a simple and classic New Orleans meal, you can’t wrong with a po’ boy. Quigley loved little bites from Johnny’s Po-Boys, the oldest family-owned restaurant in New Orleans. Dogs are not allowed inside, so we recommend a take-away picnic on the river. Nearby, Woldenberg Park has plenty of benches, expansive lawns and excellent river views.
New Orleans also has a haunted history, and the city will allow you and your pet to playfully join in on some spooky fun. After dark, the city offers a macabre series of walking tours, and a few groups, such as French Quarter Phantoms or Witches Brew, allow dogs to join in.
The fun doesn’t stop if you check into Hotel Monteleone, a (reportedly haunted) Big Easy institution. Monte's Pet Package includes a pet mat, bowls, a chew toy, a bag of gourmet treats, waste bags and a brochure of pet-friendly attractions in the city. They even offer kennel services, as needed.
Charleston, South Carolina
Welcome to the place where the trees are mossy, the grits are spicy and the dogs just might get a selfie with Bill Murray. Charleston moves beyond typical southern charm, cultivating a unique and beloved culture all its own.
Thankfully, the “Holy City” is quite cordial to canines, allowing the whole crew to taste all the varied joys the city offers. Make sure to pack your best walking shoes and cutest on-theme leash, as there is no better way to see Charleston than on foot.
Our favorite loop will walk you through a few downtown highlights, beginning with brunch at Fuel Charleston. From here, sightseers can meander through endless shopping options along King Street. Shops like Blue Bicycle Books, Woof Gang Bakery, Savannah Bee and Candlefish are particularly hospitable.
When it's time to give your feet a rest, grab a snack and a cold drink in the Blind Tiger courtyard, located on Charleston's historic Broad Street. From here, dip south on East Bay Street to Rainbow Row, the Historic District cluster of 13 pastel-painted Georgian-style rowhouses. Close out your walking tour with a stroll through Waterfront Park, whose highlight includes the famous Pineapple Fountain and Harborside porch swings, and dinner at Poogan's Porch, named after the original dog of the house.
Ready to wander outside the bustling downtown? Magnolia Plantation is the oldest public gardens in America and is the rare historic plantation that welcomes dogs.
Dog-Friendly Vacations in the Midwest
The Midwest has a lot to offer. Between the friendly people, the wallet-friendly prices and a wide variety of landscapes (ranging from cosmopolitan to vast prairies), the opportunities to both relax and adventure are endless.
Welcome to Illinois, one of a handful of states that have designated rescue dogs (and cats) as the state pet! Like many large cities listed here, dog-friendly Chicago has it all: lodging, parks, restaurants and standard tourism. Quigley and I strolled through the most famous parks and landmarks, but what truly makes the Windy City stand out for pet parents are all the quirky specialty experiences, the best of which we will highlight here.
History enthusiasts and architecture fans can take to the water with Seadog Cruises, reveling in up-close views of the city’s famous buildings and bridges, with your dog on your lap! Hold tight to your best friend, as this tour closes with an exciting speedboat ride along the lakefront.
If you prefer to take in the lake from solid ground, Montrose Beach (MonDog, to the locals) is an off-leash beach and a locals’ favorite. Travelers will be happy to hear that this beach features self-service washing stations, so there is no fear of tracking sand into your hotel or rental car! Tuckered out pooches can dry off in the sun while you savor a drink at the Dock at Montrose Beach.
Chicago is famous for its dog-friendly patios (even providing a special patio treat pass!), but there are times when the weather or occasion calls for time spent indoors. In that case, Estereo is a cafe and bar with a Wes-Anderson-meets-Latin-America vibe, and they have an entire Instagram account dedicated to the dogs who visit. If you see Fido to Go out and about on the Chicago streets, you must head to it to get your pup a special treat; it’s a mobile "gourmutt" café, offering handcrafted allergen-free pet cookies and frozen treats.
Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota
Midwest hospitality is offered warmly to pets in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Is it any surprise, considering this is an area where pets can order food delivery and many residents are employees of one of the most dog-friendly workplaces, The Nerdery, a digital consultancy? This region has it all—parks, open-air markets and boutique shops, breweries, orchards and even yoga classes where dogs are welcome (doga!).
The art scene is robust and canine accessible. Locals rave about the popular culture/caffeine combo of a coffeehouse and pottery studio located in the historic California Building. The shop is lined with shelves selling custom ceramics, including (you guessed it) coffee mugs. A visit to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden provides a lovely combination of fresh air, modern art and a fabulous backdrop for those cherished vacation photos.
Swimming enthusiasts will be happy to hear that The Dog Tank offers pool hours for humans and canines to enjoy year-round. Bolder pups can take lessons in the sport of Dock Diving, where dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.
St. Louis, Missouri
The heart of the Midwest is a great place to visit with a furry friend. St. Louis warmly welcomes pets, and those who love them, at dozens of dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants, walkable neighborhoods and surprising local attractions.
Many adventures in food, drink and play can be found in Historic Downtown Maplewood, famous as a hub of award-winning food purveyors, craft brewers and local artisans. For another classic experience, time your vacation to coincide with Pooches in the Ballpark at Busch Stadium. Before the game, you and your pooch are invited to don your best team gear or summer-inspired costume for a puppy parade—get creative and you might even win a prize!
Fans of quirky historic walking tours will find their match with Renegade STL, who feature original theme tours, such as Disasters & Catastrophes or Central West End for Nerds. Those who prefer self-guided tours can use the Let's Roam app to engage in a citywide scavenger hunt. Your pup may not be able to answer the apps trivia questions, but he will add a bit of cuteness to photo challenges. Another option for those who like to rove with their doggo is the St. Louis Walk of Fame where more than 150 stars honor famous St. Louisans.
For a truly unique experience, take your dog on a day trip southwest to Fantastic Caverns, America's ride-through cave experience. Your dog can journey beside you in propane-powered jeeps, touring through the paths left by an ancient underground river—fitting, given that the caverns were discovered by a hunting dog!
Dog-Friendly Vacations on the West Coast
It may sound cliché, but it's true—the West Coast has a bit of everything. Lavish cities, stunning national parks and lands, beautiful drives and some of the best beaches in the country. Here are a few West Coast dog-friendly vacation locations where you and your pooch can eat, drink and be merry!
Located in the enchanting Pacific Northwest, the city of Seattle is one of the fastest-growing major cities in the United States. From urban buzz to the majestic nature thriving in every direction, there are countless reasons to visit the Emerald City with your pet.
Food culture is strong in Seattle. Being on the coast, Seattle offers amazing seafood. When visiting Pike Place Market, crowds gather to witness the iconic fish throwing. Kind fishmongers even took their show to the next level by tossing bits of fresh salmon to Quigley, to much applause.
Rainy days call for a cozy indoor space, like Norm's in Fremont, which has a special dog menu featuring bacon pupcakes and mini cheezy donuts. Those seeking craft brew culture can head to Ounces Taproom & Beergarden, where families and pets can spend an afternoon in the enclosed patio, indulging in a rotating lineup of Washington-only beer, ciders and wine on 30 taps.
Because Seattle experiences an average of 152 rainy days a year, locals delight in outdoor activities whenever possible. Home to more than 100 annual festivals (many dog-centered, like Dogtoberfest), Seattle boasts citywide celebrations of music, dance, theatre, heritage, films and food. Fremont Sunday Ice Cream Cruise serves up frozen treats (which you can share with your pet) while sailing around Lake Union. Hardcore hikers can trek through the many trails outside of the city, but those who wish to stay in the city limits can visit the Washington Park Arboretum.
Is your dog ready to show off his modeling skills? Many of Seattle's most iconic backdrops are dog-friendly, including Gasworks Park, Kerry Park, Ballard Locks, the Gum Wall, the Fremont Troll and the Olympic Sculpture Park.
When it comes to spending quality beach time with your canine companion, there are endless opportunities throughout California, with Monterey Bay providing some of the best of the laid-back West Coast lifestyle.
We recommend picking a cozy home base on the water. Our heartfelt recommendation goes to Monterey Tides, a boutique hotel that lives up to its reputation of "close to culture, far from crowds" and puts a dog-friendly private beach in your own backyard. Truthfully, between the beachside bonfires and s'mores, delicious Spanish coastal cuisine overlooking the ocean and lawn games in the garden, you and your pet could have the perfect vacation without ever leaving the hotel. But when you've had enough R&R, Historic Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf are mere minutes away.
And then there is the wine! No trip to Monterey would be complete without indulging in the local wineries. Many of the most favored vineyards, including Joullian, Bernardus and Galante, welcome canine visitors. Dawns Dream Winery goes the extra mile and provides dog treats.
While you likely will spot the local sea life from your hotel or the pier, travelers who wish to get closer can book a tour with Go Whales. If you take to the seas with your furriest friend, consider surprising your pet with a plushie to commemorate the occasion.
Road trip ready? Roll down the windows and let your pooch drink in the sights and smells along Seventeen Mile Drive, widely known as one of the most scenic drives in the world. This picturesque stretch of highway through the communities of Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, California.
San Diego, California
San Diego is a pet paradise. With near-perfect weather, diverse culture, mouth-watering cuisine and ample beaches, this city must be at the top of your list.
Does your dog love the water? SoCal Surf Dogs provides courses to teach your canine how to hang-tongue while you hang ten! Or just head out to one of San Diego’s dog-friendly beaches for a relaxing day. Dog-friendly beaches include Ocean Beach's Dog Beach, Fiesta Island at Mission Bay and Coronado's North Beach Dog run.
Yes, San Diego mainly is famous as a beach town, but for those seeking out exciting pockets of urban experience that include water views, the Gaslamp Quarter can't be beat. In addition to the many shops and cafes, this district is just a few minutes’ walk from a handful of doggy musts. To the east is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, where fans can book tickets in "The Barkyard,” a set of five dog-friendly suites. Head west toward the water and you can walk the Martin Luther King Jr Promenade. Running alongside the city trolley lines, visitors can encounter public art, grassy play areas and fountains, and they can read the many MLK quotes engraved in the concrete.
For those travelers who could never consider a trip to America's Finest City without visiting the iconic San Diego Zoo, which does not allow pets, have no fear. San Diego boasts many of the most popular doggy day camps and spas! Award-winning Camp Run-A-Mutt is a cage-free dog daycare featuring a spacious grassy area, waterfall and splash pond, as well as full-service grooming, a boutique and obedience training. You even can check on your pooch online using their special Muttcams.