America's Most Pet-Friendly Cities
You pet owners have it "ruff" when making vacation plans. Many of the country's top attractions and ritziest digs ban your fuzzy friends at the door. And no matter how luxe the boarding kennel or daycare center, it's hard to leave your four-legged loved one behind. What's a devoted pet owner to do?
Pack Fido's and Fluffy's bags, of course. It is possible to travel with your canines and felines. The following eight cities appreciate that special bond between you and your pet, and they're loaded with things for you to do together. So break out the leash and clean out the kitty carrier: The whole family is going on vacation.
[See a photo recap of America's Most Pet-Friendly Cities]
"Pet-friendly" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think Austin, but there are lots of cats and dogs in this Texan town. And although no one plans to get sick on vacation, there are more than 180 veterinarians in the metropolitan area, so wary pet owners can rest easy.
What to Do: Austin is known for its sunny weather, and you'll find plenty of animal-friendly things to do outside. The city has 11 off-leash areas where dogs can run free. Plus, downtown's Zilker Park is flush with summer concerts and fun festivals for the whole pack to enjoy; and watching the Austin Bats flying from Congress Bridge is more than entertaining for pets who love to watch -- or chase -- trespassing critters in the backyard. But this city also earns recognition for having pet-pleasing cafés like B.B. Rover's Café and Pub, which provides covered outdoor seating and water bowls for tired pups on request.
Where to Stay: The Driskill, nestled in the heart of downtown Austin, welcomes your pet with stylish Texan hospitality. The "Pampered Pet Program" provides a cushy pet bed and designer dishes in your room, as well as bottled spring water and gourmet pet treats from the 1886 Café & Bakery. And when you're ready to go out on the town, city maps highlighting pet-friendly areas, doggie "business" bags, leashes and collars (for loan or purchase) are available at the concierge desk.
Portland is more than a hipster paradise: It's also a big ol' melting pot of cultures with a laid-back lifestyle that's pretty accepting, especially of animal lovers. You shouldn't hesitate to visit here with your pet jet-setter.
What to Do: This pedestrian-friendly city is paw-friendly too. Portland has the most dog parks per capita in the country (31 in total), according to Forbes. And the popular Rose Gardens (west of downtown) and Portland Saturday Market (nestled in the Old Town District) are great ways to spend time with your pooch. But what puts Portland a hair above the rest is its influx of fur-friendly businesses. Boutique bakeries sell homemade treats for all species; local beer breweries welcome pooches to their patios when pet parents need a cold one. The city even hosts pet-centric festivals like Dogtoberfest, a dog-washing charity event that has evolved into a street fair with live music and locally brewed beer by the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company.
Where to Stay: Pet-friendly hotels are more popular here than in most cities, but downtown's Heathman Hotel pampers four-legged guests like no other. Your pet will appreciate tail-wagging perks like the "Bark of Sleep" pet bed menu and a walking tour of the city. Not only that, but all whiskered visitors get a complimentary physical examination voucher with their stay, good at any Banfield Pet Hospital nationwide.
New York City, N.Y.
There are more than 120,000 dogs living here according to PetTravel.com. So naturally, big and bustling New York City is well-equipped for traveling animals. From the shops to the subway, pets reign supreme in "the city that never sleeps."
What to Do: Many travelers say that having space for their pets to run and play is paramount (enter: Central Park); but the Big Apple is big into pet pampering too. From holistic pet stores, to deluxe pet salons and posh doggie day cares, it's no wonder that Forbes lists New York as one of the most expensive cities to raise a pet. And if your buddies are itching to get outdoors after their doggy massages, make the trek to Long Meadow Dog Beach in Brooklyn's Prospect Park for some roaming and swimming.
Where to Stay: Splurging on a stay at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park is worth it for traveling pets. Not only are these doggie digs ritzy, but the concierge goes above and beyond to make sure their four-legged guests are comfortable. They'll even provide matching Burberry coats for you and your pooch on rainy days.
San Francisco, Calif.
Why do travelers and their pets love this city so much? Maybe it's because San Franciscans are some of the more renowned pet-owners around. But resist the urge to pick up a new pack member here; in an effort to discourage unethical puppy and kitten mills, the city's Animal Control and Welfare Commission is looking to ban pet sales in Richmond County.
What to Do: San Francisco is full of fun places to romp. But of all the city's pet-friendly places, BellaDOG magazine recommends Point Isabel Regional Shoreline. Located in the nearby suburb of Richmond, this dog park is the largest one in the country, with more than 20 acres of pet-friendly lawns, leash-free beaches and animal-loving eateries like Sit & Stay Café. And when you're itching to get into the city, popular tourist sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Cable Cars are welcoming to all species as well.
Where to Stay: A Kimpton hotel, like the Hotel Monaco, San Francisco, makes an awesome choice for those traveling with pets. Both dogs and cats receive beds and toys, as well as specialized in-room dining menus. If your companion has a query about the area, Oliver -- the grinning golden retriever and the Director of Pet Relations -- is happy to assist. You can also participate in the Guppy Love program, which loans you a complimentary goldfish to keep you company in your room for the duration of your stay. The live goldfish is taken care of by hotel staff, so you can bound with your new buddy stress-free. You'll find the Hotel Monaco, San Francisco on Geary Street near Union Square.
Often overlooked by travelers heading to Santa Fe, Albuquerque is vibrant and full of things to do, especially for pets and their owners. And this city's residents also have a devoted love for animals, making it one of the nation's friendliest to pets.
What to Do: Take a walk through Old Town or check out the Native American rock engravings along the mile-and-a-half-long trail that starts at the north end of the Petroglyph National Monument. When your pooch is ready to run free, you'll find more than 33,000 acres of pet-friendly green space throughout the city.
Where to Stay: Located half a mile north of downtown Albuquerque, the Mauger Bed & Breakfast Inn provides the typical spoils, including water dishes, yummy snacks and a staff ready to hand out belly rubs (to the dogs, that is). There are also convenient doggy doors and private fenced-in yards. But the accommodations are in high demand -- there are only three doggy digs available -- so make your reservations early. If the Mauger is booked solid or you're traveling with your feline, try the pet-friendly Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown on Louisiana Boulevard NE.
Beantown is famous for the American Revolution and die-hard sports fans, but this city is also a rollicking good time for traveling pets too. Your companions are welcome on Bunker Hill, at the waterfront and just about everywhere in between.
What to Do: Test your sea legs on a Boston Harbor boat ride, or take a walk through time along the Freedom Trail. The fenced-in dog run at Peters Park in South End is one of the more popular off-leash areas with locals because of its doggie water fountains and a low-dust play area. And when you're pooped after all of that city trekking, the T transit system welcomes well-behaved pets with open doors.
Where to Stay: Just minutes from Faneuil Hall, the Nine Zero Hotel has plenty of pet-friendly amenities for your canine or feline. Gourmet pet treats, bowls and beds come standard. For additional fees, the concierge desk is happy to provide extras like grooming, walking and massage services.
Charleston's beautiful weather and Southern charm provide a relaxing backdrop for travelers and their pets. Most local eateries will allow you to bring your pet inside, so you can sample some fine Lowcountry cooking.
What to Do: Charleston is known for its historic places, but don't let that scare you and Fifi from exploring. Top sites like Boone Hall (about 15 minutes east in Mount Pleasant) and Magnolia Plantations (about 13 miles north on Ashley River) welcome wagging tails to their grounds. There are also plenty of animal-friendly beaches just outside the city, including the Isle of Palms County Park beach. And in the evenings, you can even take your pets along for a walking ghost tour.
Where to Stay: Finding pet-friendly accommodations among Charleston's historic inns can be tough, but you can always book a Resort Villa at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort about an hour south of the city on Kiawah Island. You'll pay an extra fee, but unlike most pet accommodations there's no limit to the size or number of animal guests you can bring.
We bet you're thinking Disney World right now, but unfortunately, the Happiest Place on Earth doesn't admit pets. Outside the park's walls, however, Orlando's often overlooked pet-friendly culture is waiting to be explored.
What to Do: Fido can chow down on gourmet doggie treats at the Woof Gang Bakery on Dr. Phillips Boulevard. And when the whole family gets hungry, you can enjoy lunch at Sam Snead's on East Pine Street, where Florida's pet-friendly outdoor dining policy was signed into law. Or take a day trip to Celebration, Fla. This Disney-crafted town -- just outside the park walls -- is full of dog-friendly walking trails, boutiques and outdoor cafés. And there is a day camp for Disney-goers/pet owners: the Best Friends Pet Care facility, located on the grounds on Bonnet Creek Parkway, will entertain your animals for cats or dogs while you enjoy the park.
Where to Stay: The Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando hands each wagging-tailed guest a bursting goodie bag upon check in, complete with an area guide that lists pet-centric points of interest. And there's even catnip and other kitty supplies for your jet-setting feline at the concierge desk.