Dog Friendly Cities for Summer Vacation

By Julia Williams

If you’re thinking of taking your canine buddy along on your summer vacation, you will certainly want to know ahead of time that your destination is dog friendly. But what does that mean? Essentially, it means that where you’re going offers some of the following: dog-friendly lodging, beaches, parks, shopping, campgrounds, transportation, attractions and outdoor restaurants. You need to know ahead of time that your chosen vacation spot will welcome your dog and result in a memorable vacation for the entire family – Fido included!

If you’re really serious about taking the dog on your summer vacation, and think you might want to make it an annual affair, I recommend investing in one or more of the travel guides from You could go with their all-inclusive dog-friendly Travel Guide (774 pages) which covers the U.S. and Canada and includes over 20,000 dog-friendly places including hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, tourist attractions and National Parks. The 2010 4th edition has current information on every aspect of dog-friendly travel. At $17.95, it’s reasonably priced and a good resource for any dog owner. also has more specific offerings including a Campground and Park Guide, a Lodging Guide, and regional guides such as East Coast, Napa Valley and  Central States. Of course, you don’t have to spend a penny to take advantage of what offers. Their website is chock full of useful information for dog owners who travel, including a state-by-state guide to lodging and attractions. Another website I like that offers similar information is

Here are a few dog-friendly cities to consider for your summer vacation:

Carmel, California – this charming “city-by-the-sea” is known as Dog Town West because of its reputation for being dog friendly. Carmel has approximately 25 quaint inns, hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts that welcome pooches of every size, and more than 40 restaurants, bars and coffeehouses that offer seating where dogs are permitted. Carmel also has one of the few leash-free beaches in California, and many of the city’s shops and galleries offer canine visitors tasty dog biscuits and fresh water.

Boston, Massachusetts offers an abundance of picturesque parks, including the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Back Bay Fens and Boston Common, the oldest city park in the U.S. You and your dog can walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile red brick path that takes you past 16 significant historic sites including Bunker Hill Monument and a naval frigate. When you’re tired of walking, take a horse-and-carriage ride or tour Boston Harbor by boat; leashed pooches are even allowed to take the subway.

Colorado Springs, Colorado has more than 13,000 acres of public park space –which amounts to almost a tenth of an acre for every resident pet. Situated near the base of Pikes Peak, one of the most famous mountains in North America, this dog-friendly city has six off-leash dog runs/parks where you can hike on wildflower carpeted grasslands or enjoy spectacular views of rock formations that stretch to the sky.

San Antonio, Texas has quite a few historical attractions, walks, off-leash parks and outdoor restaurants that you can enjoy with your four-legged friend. Although dogs are not allowed inside the Alamo, you can take a scenic stroll along the famed River Walk, a two mile public park that’s lined with restaurants, vendors, hotels and attractions.

Portland, Oregon is home to the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company which has four casual establishments where you can sip a cold one with your best friend, even if he does have four legs and fur. Dogs are also welcome at the renowned Rose Gardens, the 187-acre Hoyt Arboretum open space, and the Saturday Market featuring over 350 artisans along with live music and tasty food.

To avoid disappointment on your summer vacation, be sure to thoroughly research any destination you’re thinking of taking your dog. Policies regarding pets do change, and you’ll want to know exactly what they are before you go. Ultimately, what makes a city the perfect dog-friendly vacation spot will largely depend on what you, your family and your four-legged friend like to do. Whether you want to soak up the sun at the beach, take a tour of a historic site or frolic in a park, you’re sure to find plenty of places where dogs are welcome.

Read more articles by Julia Williams