It's always tough to leave your pet behind when you are away from home. But for your next trip, why not take your loyal companion to a place that's literally gone to the dogs? Here are five of the best travel destinations in America for your and your pet.
With world-class attractions and more than 20 off-leash dog parks, Chicago is a great place to visit with your pet. There are two beaches where your dog can play in Lake Michigan and roam about without the burden of a leash. Visitors must obtain a DFA (dog-friendly area) tag for $5 and information can be found through the Chicago Park District. The Windy City also has more than 50 pet-friendly hotels and many without a pet fee. Among the top-rated hotels that allow pets are Hotel Palomar, Sheraton Hotel and Towers and Westin Michigan Avenue. Dogs are also welcome in nearly 150 restaurants in Chicago and some of the best are Harry Caray's Tavern Navy Pier, Rockwell's Neighborhood Grill and appropriately, the Bad Dog Tavern.
Key West, Florida
Not all dogs love going into the beach but it may be hard to keep them away in Key West. Higgs Beach Dog Park and Key West Dog Beach are both great places to cool off before enjoying a meal at places like Louie's Backyard, Schooner Wharf Bar and Blue Heaven. After having a full day at the beach and a bite to eat, your pooch will need to rest at a pet-friendly hotel, such as the Banana Bay Resort and Marina, Sheraton Suites and Key West Bayside Inn and Suites, all with no additional charge for pets. If beaches aren't enough entertainment, you can bring your dog on a kayak tour, visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum or the Key West Aquarium.
The City of Roses is often considered the most dog-friendly city in America. That's because Portland has more off-leash dog parks per capita than any other city, including an indoor dog park with a pool. To go along with the more than 40 off-leash parks, there are more than 120 hotels and restaurants that keep their doors open to dogs and their owners. Good choices for overnight accommodations without a pet fee include Westin Portland, Vintage Plaza Hotel and Hotel Monaco, where dogs and cats are welcome. For dining with your furry friend, excellent choices include Daily Grill, Lucky Labrador Beer Pub and Tin Shed Garden Café, with a dog lover's night on Tuesdays. To pamper your pooch that much more, there are at least 20 businesses in Portland specializing in pet massages.
Among the many pet-friendly destinations along the West Coast, San Diego deserves mention for boasting a handful of off-leash beaches, most notably one of the first in America. Appropriately named "The Original Dog Beach," this famous spot located on the northern end of San Diego's Ocean Beach has been an official off-leash beach for more than 40 years. The Southern California city offers several more leash-free locations, such as Fiesta Island, Dusty Rhodes Off Leash Dog Park, North Beach Dog Run and Nate's Point and Morley Field Dog Park in Balboa Park. Like any other top pet-friendly destination, there's an abundance of overnight accommodations and restaurants in San Diego that cater to man's best friend. Hotel Indigo, The Bristol and Westin Gaslamp Quarter San Diego are among top hotels that do not charge a pet fee and The Patio on Lamont Street, The Landing Grille and The Regal Beagle all welcome dogs on the patio.
Seattle is well known for its coffee but it's also known for having a lot more dogs than it has children. In order to accommodate more than 150,000 canines living in the Seattle area, in addition to furry visitors, Seattle offers a nice collection of off-leash parks, hiking trails and attractions. One of the best spots to take your pet is Magnuson Park, frequently mentioned as one of the country's best dog parks and the only park in Washington with beach access. Recommended lodging with no pet fees include Alexis Hotel, Westin Seattle and Vintage Park Hotel. If you're looking for a great restaurant to bring your pet along, Scratch Deli, Summit Public House and Jolly Roger Taproom are all great choices.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
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