Are you and your furry best friend on the lookout for a new adventure? According to our customer survey, 71% of respondents travel with their dogs. So, we scoured the continental U.S. for the most wind-in-your-fur-worthy road-trip locations that will welcome you and your dog with open arms and maybe a snausage or two.
Traveling with your pet has a unique set of challenges, and if you don’t do your research before leaving, you may end up driving around for hours in search of dog-friendly lodgings, restaurants, and entertainment options. Each region of the U.S. had unique offerings, and while we were often able to easily find information on dog-friendly options in large cities, we wanted to expand our search for those diamond-in-the-rough locations to help you plan your next adventure.
When choosing locations, we used feedback from our survey to determine what our readers look for when traveling, and 85% of those surveyed said accommodations were their number 1 priority when traveling with their dog. So, we selected locations with multiple options for dog-friendly hotels, vacation rentals, campgrounds, or other accommodations. From there, we looked for cities that also had multiple dog parks, dog-friendly recreation spots, and wherever possible, off-leash options. When on vacation, your dog wants to be able to run free and relax just like you do.
We also factored in dog-friendly eateries and pet supply stores. Sometimes, you just want a day to yourself, but you don’t want to leave your pup behind, so we also looked for places that had doggy day cares or pet-sitting services.
No matter how prepared you are, there’s always the risk that something could happen. Finding a hospital for a human is often easy, but emergency vet services are not always as readily available. So, while researching cities to add to the list, one of our requirements was that they had veterinary services with emergency options.
Traveling with your dog should be fun and safe, and these cities fit the bill with a balance of comfortable amenities, dog-friendly activities, and access to pet-essentials like grooming and vet care.
Visiting Texas is an adventure in and of itself, and it’s the perfect getaway for you and your pup to experience something new. Each area of Texas has its own unique climate and style, but we’re drawn to Cedar Park in Texas Hill Country because of its blue bonnet fields, lush parks, and proximity to the state capital. You have everything from wide open ranch lands under starry skies to posh city vibes in Austin, and you’re within a day’s drive of the Gulf of Mexico if you want to get some beach-time in.
While you’re in town, be sure to spend at least one day at Cedar Bark Park, a fun and fenced-in area for dogs located within Veterans Memorial Park. They have a dedicated swimming pond for dogs, and even divide the park into two sections based on pup size, so no matter how big or small your pooch is, they will be able to have fun with friends their own size. Once you’re done, and looking to refuel, head over to The Good Lot for brews and food trucks. This dog-friendly outdoor craft brew restaurant offers relaxing fun, games, and live music.
If you’re looking for a casual place to get wine and beer while your four-legged friend has a blast, you need to stop into the Dog House Drinkery. This people-friendly dog park boasts off-leash areas and a section where humans can get a drink while their pup plays.
Tip from Locals: Texas is hot most of the year, but especially in the summertime, so bring plenty of water to keep you and your pup hydrated indoors and out.
Watch out, Portland; a new Oregon destination is here for dog lovers. Bend, OR has been named Dog Town USA by Dog Fancy, and local legend claims that Bend has more dogs per capita than the rest of the world. We don’t know if that’s true or not, but we do know that Bend is a great destination for dog lovers.
Bend may have been dubbed Dog Town, but it’s also known for its brews, so make sure to plan at least one brewery tour during your stay. We especially liked Bridge 99 for its atmosphere and the fact that it allows dogs on the patio and certain indoor areas, allowing guests to visit with their pets year-round. Looking for something more substantial? Bend is filled with dog-friendly restaurants. J-Dub is a fun pub-style eatery with its very own menu for dogs! Share a beer with your furry best friend thanks to their dog-friendly (non-alcoholic and non-carbonated) libations.
Oregon is a great state to visit if you’re looking for outdoor excitement. There are tons of off-leash trails and watersports on the rivers in and around Bend, so whether you’re into hiking mountains, rock climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, or rafting the river, Bend will have an adventure for you and your dog. It’s an outdoor lover’s dream location with activities available year-round thanks to the stunning mountains and rivers. We highly recommend planning your hike to visit one of their many waterfalls and take in the views.
Tip from Locals: Stay flexible. There are so many things to do in Bend that you’ll be tempted to plan out every minute, but give yourself some free time to change plans or do something exciting in the moment.
If you're looking for a relaxing beach vacation and over 100 miles of shoreline, the Outer Banks of North Carolina are the perfect spot. Many of the cities within the Outer Banks, including Nags Head and Kitty Hawk, have public beaches that are dog friendly, but be sure to check local websites for leash laws. Each city has different regulations on if and when dogs can go off-leash. Plus, as you travel up and down those 100 miles of beaches, take your pup for a walk break at any number of farmer’s markets and farm stands for fresh, local produce.
The Outer Banks have more fun to offer than just beautiful beaches. Did you know that the Wright Brothers took the first flight on those dunes? Stop by the Wright Brothers National Memorial and see where they did it! Park Rangers give tours filled with history, and your dog is welcome in the outdoor spaces.
If you’re still in a historic mood, stop by the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It’s a great place to bring your dog and have a picnic in front of a classic black-and-white beacon.
Tip from Locals: Whether you’re on the beach or the dunes, the sand can get VERY HOT. So, keep your dog off the sand on sunny days or invest in shoes to protect their paws.
North Carolina is considered the most pet-friendly state in the U.S. with the most pet-friendly rental homes and apartments, and its scenery is so varied we had to add it twice. We previously covered the beach, but now it’s time to talk about the mountains. Let’s get started by heading to Asheville, North Carolina, which has been called one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation. When you take a look at the restaurants, hiking trails, outdoor shopping options, and even dog-friendly luxury experiences like the Biltmore Estate, it’s no wonder Asheville has this reputation.
Asheville is home to fantastic shopping, outdoor markets, and trails, so you can easily fill your days with loads of fun. Feel free to leave your car at the hotel, because you can hit a lot of great destinations on the Gray Line Trolley, which is pet friendly! You can hop on and off the trolley all day, and they even do seasonal tours at Halloween and Christmas.
While there are many hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and other options that are pet-friendly, we love the work the folks at Aloft, Asheville Downtown are doing to help dogs. As part of their partnership with Charlie’s Angels Animal Rescue, they showcase adoptable dogs in their lobby!
Tip from Locals: Plan ahead. Some of the dog-specific activities require pre-registration, proof of vaccination, and more, so if you have your heart set on something, check their website first to make sure you have everything you need in advance.
You can’t visit St. Louis without stopping by the Gateway Arch, and luckily it’s dog-friendly, so you can check out this iconic monument with your pup. But don’t leave St. Louis without taking in everything the city has to offer. Citygarden is an urban sculpture garden downtown that you won’t want to miss. Take a stroll with your dog and tour the outdoor art exhibits on display. St. Louis is filled with unique “Pocket Parks” designed to keep the city beautiful, and they’re all worth a visit.
Zoomies Pet Café is the perfect start to your morning. They are one of the few coffee spots that allow pets on the patio and indoors, so you and your bestie can enjoy a pick-me-up no matter the weather. After you’re caffeinated, head to the Boathouse at Forest Park for some aquatic adventures and good food. Rent a kayak or paddle boat and enjoy 22 acres of beautiful waterways.
Grab a bite to eat at Molly’s in Soulard for unique food like Alligator Rangoon for you, and even a variety of tasty items for your dog. Finally, wind down in the evening by experiencing a bygone era at the wonderfully nostalgic Skyview Drive-In Movie Theater.
Tip from Locals: Be ready to travel the city with the essentials: water, food, and a copy of your pet’s vaccination records. Some locations are pet-friendly but require proof that they’re up to date on vaccines.
Southern California is more than just L.A. San Diego is a beach town with gorgeous weather year-round, so it is the perfect escape any time of year. Spend the day at the beach, soaking in the sun, and splashing in the ocean with your dog. Stop by Hydrobikes SD for a unique experience pedaling on the water with your pup. You can rent other aquatic equipment while you’re there, or head to one of the other dog-friendly parks and beaches like Dog Beach, which is known as one of the first officially off-leash beaches in the nation.
If you’re staying in the city, spend a day in Balboa Park, the 1,200-acre “backyard” filled with museums, shops, restaurants, and outdoor entertainment. They host events year-round, so you and your dog can bask in nature’s beauty together. Start your day in the park with a cup of coffee from Daniel’s Coffee, and end it with a fantastic dinner on the pup-friendly patio at The Prado.
If you’re in San Diego during baseball season, be sure to catch a Padres game at Petco Park, or take a tour in the off season. Dogs are welcome in the Barkyard behind left field. They also host events throughout the season, so be sure to check their schedule to see if it’s a dog-friendly day at the park.
Tip from Locals: San Diego is a vast city with tons of activities spread throughout, but traveling with your dog may not be easy via public transportation. A rental car is the best way to get you and your pup around town.
Looking for a relaxing mountain getaway in a charming small town? Golden, Colorado is the perfect vacation spot for you. Golden’s downtown is full of history and will make you feel transported back to a gold rush town in the American Old West.
Grab a bite to eat at the historic Buffalo Rose. The food is phenomenal, and their outdoor patio is dog-friendly. Many shops on main street are also pet-friendly and recognizing them is easy because they put paw-print stickers in their front windows.
Situated near the mountains, the views are spectacular, so bring your outdoor gear and be prepared to take you pup hiking, fishing, and exploring amidst the outdoor splendor. If you’re looking for a casual hike, Grant Terry Trail is an easy, wide path and runs near Clear Creek, so you and your pup can take a relaxed stroll. It’s particularly great in the summertime when a cool breeze runs through the trees. Clear Creek also connects to some trails that lead all the way into Denver, so there’s something for everyone’s comfort level.
Tip from Locals: Don’t let a little snow stop you! Colorado is a winter wonderland, and it is well-prepared for winter weather, so you and your pup can continue your adventure without worry. Coloradans rarely close up shop because of snow, so neither should you.
Arizona is so much more than desert. Visit Flagstaff, AZ in the San Francisco Mountains for snowy peaks at 7,000 feet. Get the cool vibes of the American southwest mixed with the charm of a mountain town in one location.
Flagstaff is surrounded by dog parks and hiking trails filled with nature’s wonder. You’ll love the trails at Buffalo Park, because they have options for all skill levels, but don’t miss the rail trails on Route 66 Trail or the views and fishing in the Coconino National Forest. Be sure to check in advance which trails are pet-friendly, since some are restricted. Stop by the Visitor Center located on Route 66 in a historic train station for guidance.
While you’re in Flagstaff, take a day trip to the Grand Canyon to see one of America’s natural wonders. Leashed dogs are welcome in many areas of the park. When hiking and exploring, be cautious and bring a first-aid kit along just in case. Also, be sure to bring a list of nearby emergency vet clinics. Time-saving preparations like this can be the difference that saves your pet’s life.
Tip from Locals: Flagstaff is located at 7,000 feet altitude, so the air is thinner and you and your dog are both at risk of altitude sickness. Be aware of your dog’s health while you’re visiting, especially if you’re hitting the trails.
As far southeast in Virginia as you can go lies Virginia Beach, one of the 7 cities in the Hampton Roads area, alongside Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, and Newport News. With so much fun in close driving distance, Virginia Beach offers visitors a wide range of urban, suburban, small-town country, and beach-front atmospheres to make any vacation something special. Each city has dog-friendly restaurants, parks, hiking trails, hotels, and events, so no matter where your day takes you and your pup, you’ll have plenty of options.
What makes Virginia Beach so special? Starting with its namesake, Virginia Beach is full of beaches, and they are all dog-friendly! Depending on the location and time of year, they’re also off-leash friendly, so you and your dog can enjoy the ocean, no strings attached. Dogs are also welcome on the boardwalk that lines the oceanfront area.
Take a stroll on the beach or boardwalk, and stop in for a bite at any of the many dog-friendly restaurants. Stop by Salty Paws ice cream parlor to give your pooch a unique experience! That’s not all: the local water park, Ocean Breeze, is known for its closing Pup Day event! When the season is over, they host a day-long party filled with food and drinks for the human guests and splashing fun in the water park for their pooches.
Tip from Locals: This area is filled with swamps and waterways, so it’s always hot and humid. Keep cool water handy for you and your dog!
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Don’t just let Jersey City be your cost-effective way to visit New York City; it’s a destination in and of itself. Sometimes, traveling with your dog in a big city like New York is difficult, and Jersey City offers fantastic dog-friendly options. For example, Hamilton Park, which is named after Alexander Hamilton, is a great spot to relax with your dog. In addition to children’s playgrounds and basketball courts, there are 2 dog parks for small and large breeds with state-of-the-art dog water fountains.
Spend the day wandering the city and enjoy some of their local businesses. Departed Soles Brewing Company is unique in that they allow dogs in their tap room, so you and your pup can visit year-round for a tasting. Beer not your style? Stop by the patio at Corgi Spirits for small-batch gin that benefits local animal charities. With a name like Corgi, you know they love dogs!
If you’re looking for the perfect place for you and your pooch to rest your weary heads while visiting Jersey City, stop by the Residence Inn by Marriott Jersey City, conveniently located in the heart of Historic Downtown Jersey City. We love the homey feeling offered by this hotel, making extended stays comfortable for the whole family. Enjoy their complimentary American breakfast every morning of your stay and well-appointed suites for all guests. It’s the perfect way to unwind from your travels. Plus, you and your pet can get a discounted stay via this link.
Tip from Locals: Though you can bring small animals on public transportation in Jersey City, that may not be the case everywhere you travel, so check before you leave and be prepared to ride share if needed.