Why leave behind Fido or Fluffy when you can take your BFF pooch on holiday? Many U.S. towns with their doggie doting are head-over-powers. Here are some paw-some favorites— dog parks, doggy spas, yappy hours, dog-friendly restaurants, specialty boutiques for doggies, and more. Oh, to be a day’s dog!
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The world’s capital of live music is also one of the world’s greatest places for canines and their hipster owners. Rover is welcome nearly everywhere in Austin, from restaurant patios to outdoor concerts to stores. One of the most popular off-leash playgrounds (explaining the overcrowded parking lot), 13-acre Red Bud Isle Park is situated on a peninsula, allowing dogs to frolic and play to their heart’s content. For humans wanting to socialize a little too, Doghouse Drinkery Dog Park might be a better bet; this dog park also features a bar and game room. But the most unique activity has to do with Congress Avenue Bridge’s famous bats—more than 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their home here mid-April through October. Take a dog-friendly kayak tour to see the batty scene.
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Running free on a beach is one of life’s great dog joys, and Patch will find no better place to kick up her paws than San Diego. The top-dog beach is paws-down Dog Beach at Ocean Beach, one of the country’s first to be declared off-leash. But there are many more ways that San Diego stands out as a dog-friendly destination. Hotels here love their four-legged guests, most notably the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, with a Pet Welcome that includes cookies, water dish, and dog bed upon check-in. Perhaps the number 1 thing for Star to do, however, is a doggie paddle, sitting in the kayak’s prow with the sea breeze rushing between his ears as you and your doggie BFF share an exhilarating glide across the water.
PHOTO: Cute dog, Key West
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Hemingway may have had his cats, but today’s Key West is decidedly a dog’s town. Fido, for example, has his pick of 48 dog-friendly restaurants, including Island Dogs Bar with its pooch-popular porch prime for people-watching. Among 50 hotels offering dog-friendly services, the Sheraton Suites Key West makes sure Princess has fun with a nearby doggie beach—and there’s no extra pet fee. But it’s the unusual doggie activities that make Key West so alluring. Take, for instance, Wild About Dolphins, which offers a dog-friendly eco-charter to watch dolphins playing in the surrounding waters; the captain’s golden retriever joins most trips. And only in Key West do you celebrate the end of the day with the famous sunset celebration at Mallory Square, where dogs are absolutely invited.
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This charming seaside village with its fairy-tale cottages should be at the top of every Fido’s Bucket List; indeed, it’s already rated as one of the nation’s top pooch-friendly towns. Maybe it’s because fabled movie star Doris Day lives here—the second she became a co-owner of Cypress Inn in 1986, she made sure dogs of every size and breed were welcome inside; dogs are even invited to the hotel’s signature afternoon tea. But Fido is beloved everywhere in town—at 25 hotels, inns and B&Bs, and 44 restaurants, bars and coffee houses, to be exact. There are high-end services for Scout, as would be expected in such a chi-chi town, including a doggie spa, massages—even a dog psychiatrist. But for every dog’s dog, head to the beach. One of the state’s few remaining off-leash beaches, Carmel Beach is crowded with all sizes of dogs. If you’re lucky, Fifi may be invited to one of the popular dog parties organized by their owners.
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What dog (and owner) wouldn’t enjoy dog-obsessed Denver? Downtown boasts 179 restaurants that welcome dogs at their outdoor tables; among the many popular off-leash parks are Greenway Park and Chatfield State Park, with its breathtaking mountain views. Kimptons everywhere are famed for their warm doggie welcomes, but lucky canine guests at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver also get maps for walks about town. Flash will enjoy strutting in the Lucky Mutt Strut and getting an earful of music at the Woof Fest, among other local events. Baby may prefer exploring her creative side at Paw Prints and Cocktails in Denver’s Arts District, an evening of pet-friendly painting.
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In this super pet-friendly town, Star can enjoy romping around Wiggly Field, a popular dog park named after Chicago’s iconic baseball park, home of the 2016 champions. Or, for White Sox fans, there’s Bark in the Park, when four-legged fans are invited to take in a game at Guaranteed Rate Field (special doggie treat included). There are more than 20 dog-friendly venues sprinkled around town (you’ll need to obtain a permit from participating Chicago vets), including Montrose Beach, where Spike can splash in Lake Michigan’s cool waters. What dog wouldn’t want to do that? After, dogs and their owners can sun on the spacious deck at The Dock at Montrose Beach. For dogs itching to get out on Chicago’s lake and river, the Mercury’s Canine Cruise departs every summer Sunday and includes a lively narrative describing Chicagoland’s canine-friendly highlights; amenities include fresh water bowls and a newspaper-lined restroom.
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For pups and their owners who love the outdoors, there’s no better place than picturesque Bar Harbor, snuggled amid Acadia National Park’s sea and mountain splendor. While many national parks are not dog friendly, Acadia decidedly is. Here, dogs and humans alike can camp, hike, kayak, bird-watch, climb, skijor, fish and more. One of the favorite off-leash venues is Little Long Pond, a private space to run and play along wooded trails, meadows, and a nice big pond. Dogs are even allowed on the park’s buses and carriages to get around (they just need to be leashed). There are plenty of dog-loving dining and sleeping establishments as well, notably the back deck at Stewman’s Lobster Pound, offering gorgeous ocean views for dog and human alike; the doggie menu includes a cheeseburger patty. Just one of many hotels that love dogs, West Street Hotel’s dog package includes a jar of doggie biscuits and a dog-friendly patio restaurant.
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WHERE: North Carolina
Snoopy loves this funky town in the Appalachian foothills, with its plethora of hotels and restaurants that welcome all dogs with open paws. The 1.7-mile Urban Trail through town showcases Asheville’s artsy and historic sides—with stops for Fido including Three Dog Bakery and Funky Mutt. French Broad River Park has a beautiful area for stretching four legs. But, in this town famed for its palatial Biltmore House and Estate, perhaps the coolest thing to do is stroll the 250 acres of landscaped grounds; yes, dogs are allowed (on leashes). And if Spot’s parents want to visit the grand estate, he can happily wait for them in a self-service kennel.
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Nashville may be the capital of country music, but the fact that some 75 dog-friendly patios are accessible just for her will likely interest your furry friend more. Chief among them is properly named Fido, Hillsboro Village’s trending coffee shop and casual restaurant. At Centennial Dog Park, Spike can meet some fresh pup friends. Even better, Fontanel’s Trails, 10 minutes from downtown Nashville, display a 2,5-mile trail through the woods with a compulsory stop at the dog-friendly Café Fontanella & Wine Bar.
There are more than 50 dogs in Nashville as far as hotels go, although it’s difficult to beat the Sheraton Music City, whose lobby, bar and patio area around the outdoor pool is accessible to dogs. (And don’t forget the grassy area back. Or the Sheraton Dog Bed.) And Belle can kick her heels at the Musicians Corner in Centennial Park on Saturday afternoons in May, June, September and October for those paw-thumping pooches who really care about the music. Another fun choice is the free six-week Live On the Green concert series at Public Square Park near City Hall..
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Republican and Democrats alike will rejoice in all the nation’s capital has to offer its furry friends. The two-mile-long National Mall is a doggie’s delight, with pathways, shady trees, and plenty of grassy areas to stretch four legs. (Dogs are supposed to be leashed, though you see plenty playing Frisbee.) Doggie fans of Fala will be rewarded with a sighting of a statue of FDR’s cherished pooch at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Or hop aboard for a narrated, pooch-friendly Capitol River Cruise; what better way to admire the nation’s gleaming white monuments than aboard a boat with the wind ruffling through your ears? Dogs are VID (Very Important Dog) at the Fairmont Georgetown, where the “It’s a Dog’s World” package includes handmade welcome treats created by the Executive Pastry Chef; suggestions for nearby pet-friendly parks, restaurants, and sights; and 5% of the room rate is donated to the Washington Animal Rescue League.