Summer is on it’s way — and with it comes the fun of vacationing with your pets. From beaches to mountaintops, if the season’s rising temperatures have your thoughts turning to getaways with your dog, you’ll find no shortage of destinations that welcome you with open paws. Check out these eight great pet-friendly locations that invite travelers and their canines to make the dog days of summer last all season long.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Many national parks limit dog access to only areas that can be accessed by your car or just a few select trails — but not Acadia National Park. You and your dog can enjoy almost all of the park’s hiking trails, totaling more than 100 miles, plus 45 more miles of carriage roads. The rugged coastline provides opportunities for a summer dip (although dogs are prohibited from the improved swim beaches). The park, which holds the distinction as the first national park east of the Mississippi River, is home to several dog-friendly campgrounds in the park and nearby accommodations.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
While the dogs may not be able to enter the Biltmore, America’s largest home, they’ll find that the yard at the estate — more than 8,000 acres of it — welcomes dogs. Along with this top stop, Asheville is also surrounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway. With its 6,000-foot-high peaks and dog-friendly trails, Asheville has enough options to fill the longest vacation. The city has numerous dog-friendly hotels, including Aloft Asheville Downtown, which features foster dogs (who are available for adoption) in its lobby, and the nearby Four Paws Kingdom, which has its own private dog park, swimming pond for dogs and an agility area.
3. Austin, Texas
The capital city’s “Keep Austin Weird” vibe extends to pets as well; four-legged travelers can take advantage of the town’s laid-back attitude and will find they’re welcomed at a long list of destinations, from patio restaurants to many retail stores. One of the top summer spots for Spot is the Barton Springs Spillway, often called “Barking Springs.” This spring-fed (chilly!) swimming hole lies just past the humans-only Barton Springs pool and invites off-leash dogs to enjoy a romp. Further west, Red Bud Isle is another off-leash park that offers swimming in Town Lake, trail hikes and picnicking.
4. Chicago, Illinois
Starting in July, you and your dog can hop on Mercury’s Canine Cruise and enjoy a guided tour of the city’s waterways. For an even closer look at that water, check out one of Chicago’s many dog beaches, including the free Montrose Dog Beach and Foster Beach, both off-leash areas. Of course, a day at the beach makes you hungry, and fortunately, many patio restaurants welcome furry vacationers as well. Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier is a great place to enjoy all the action (and take turns with your travel companion popping in to see the amazing collection of sports memorabilia in the restaurant). Walk off that big meal with a stroll around Navy Pier; although your dog isn’t permitted in the shops, you can admire the famous boardwalk’s scenic views together.
5. Gray Summit, Missouri
This area near St. Louis is popular with summer travelers thanks to Six Flags St. Louis, but four-legged vacationers and their families come to enjoy the free fun at Purina Farms. Bring your dog to watch canine performers exhibiting everything from dock diving to flying disc competitions and more. Dogs are permitted in most of the indoor exhibit areas (but, sorry, Fido will have to skip the cow milking and pet adoption areas). Thanks to frequent dog shows, agility trials and other dog-related events, the area around Purina Farms is chock-full of dog-friendly hotels, B&Bs and restaurants.
6. Key West, Florida
Key West may be known as the sunset capital, but you and your dog can dig up a full day of fun in the sun. You’ll want to budget time for a tour of the Key West Aquarium, the first tourist attraction on the island. Leashed dogs are welcome in the aquarium where you can see everything from sharks to jellyfish to alligators. Wildlife lovers will also want to rent a kayak from Lazy Dog Charters; you and your dog can venture out on your own or enjoy a guided trip among the mangrove tidal creeks. Finally, cool off with a trip to Dog Beach, then have dinner next door at Louie’s Backyard and watch a perfect island sunset.
7. Park City, Utah
It’s primarily known for wintertime activities, but summer brings its own special beauty to Park City, one of Utah’s most fun-loving destinations. Although the snow and the celebrities have gone away, they leave behind a Rocky Mountain town with top-notch restaurants, exclusive boutiques, great hiking and pampering dog-friendly resorts such as The St. Regis Deer Valley or, beyond Park City, Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.
8. San Diego, California
With its near ideal weather, San Diego offers easy vacationing with dogs. Numerous patio restaurants welcome pooches, hiking and strolling is almost always a pleasure, and, when it is time to cool off, the city is home to a great dog beach. Dog Beach, located in the community of Ocean Beach, welcomes off-leash dogs for a day of romping in the surf.
Know a great pet-friendly vacation spot? Tell us in the comments!