Family vacations are the highlight of everyone’s year – it’s an opportunity to see new places and make memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. So naturally you’ll want to include the whole family, and we have just the places to please every traveler!
Whether you’re looking for an adventure in the mountains, a laid-back retreat on the beach, or the opportunity to immerse yourself in history, these pet friendly destinations have it all! Voted by our readers as the best cities for pet travelers, one will surely be your perfect summer vacation spot.
Tucked against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder’s vast open spaces and western flair highlight its vibrant personality. It’s all about the outdoors here, with 145 miles of trails managed by the Open Space and Mountain Parks department. Make time to get up close and personal with the Boulder’s oldest and most recognizable residents – the Flatirons – at Boulder Mountain Park. These massive, slanted sandstone formations draw your attention from every viewpoint. Take a stroll around the Colorado University campus to admire the architecture and lovely gathering spaces, and don’t miss Old Main, the school’s original building dating back to 1876. Stop in at The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, for a snack on the patio and to take in the gorgeous structure handcrafted by artisans in Boulder’s sister city of Dunshanbe and shipped piece-by-piece from Tajikistan to be assembled here. When you’re ready to relax, check into one of the 52 pet friendly cottages at the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark, with its tranquil grounds and 40 miles of open space stretching out from your front door.
Located at a lofty altitude of 9,800 feet, the historic town of Breckenridge rests at the base of the Tenmile Range – a majestic chain of mountain peaks just west of the Continental Divide. Breckenridge is best known for it’s exciting winter sports, and your snow-loving pooch is welcome to join you for some dog friendly cross-country skiing at three area nordic centers. But this charming village also makes a terrific summer vacation destination with its spectacular hiking trails, mountain biking, white water rafting, fly-fishing in the Blue River, boating on nearby Lake Dillon, and boutique shopping on Main Street. Stop in at the Cool River Coffee House and Bakery for homemade dog treats and a little something for yourself, and then head over to Carter Park Dog Park, where you can burn off those extra calories. Have a burger on the patio with the locals at the MotherLoaded Tavern, and at the end of the day, you’ll find the welcome mat has been rolled out for you and your pup at The Lodge at Breckenridge, where you’ll have views of Boreas Pass and Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Charleston, South Carolina
Founded in 1670, Charleston is steeped in history with its cobblestone streets, grand pre-Civil-War-era houses, and sprawling plantations and gardens. Enjoy a morning stroll along The Battery promenade and through White Point Garden, both overlooking Charleston Harbor with views of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. When the temperatures climb, it’s time to hit the beach on the barrier islands! The dog friendly beaches on Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island welcome pups all day, every day. With the cornucopia of options, choosing a restaurant may be a challenge, but the casual, shaded patio at Kitchen 208 (now closed) and the eclectic Fuel Cantina are not to be missed. For an afternoon romp, the four-acre dog park – complete with dog beach – at James Island County Park is a must. And when your paws simply won’t carry you any further, curl up at in style at the one-of-a-kind Wentworth Mansion – originally a personal residence, the tradition of elegance and luxury are evident in the exquisite surroundings.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
If your goal is to spoil your dog silly, plan to stay at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs – one of the country’s most luxurious and elegant pet friendly resorts in the country. Sprawling across 3,000 acres, and overlooking Cheyenne Lake, the Broadmoor has been entertaining heads of state, celebrities, and professional sports stars since 1918. Just down the road is the spectacular Garden of the Gods, a free city park encompassing 1,350 acres pierced by huge red sandstone rock formations, where all 15 miles of trails are open to leashed pets. And, just when you thought the scenery couldn’t get any better, there’s Pikes Peak in the background. Take the 19-mile drive to the summit, and pack a jacket, because it’s cold at 14,115 feet! Learn the area’s history at three pet friendly museums, the Cripple Creek District Museum, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, and the Peterson Air and Space Museum. There are number of restaurants in downtown Colorado Springs, and nearby Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs, offering dog friendly patio dining, including Pizzeria Rustica and Urban Egg Eatery.
Estes Park, Colorado
Perched on the front porch of the magnificent Rocky Mountain National Park, the village of Estes Park is the perfect jumping off point for exploring this spectacular landscape. Straddling the Continental Divide, this is truly the heart of the Rockies with more than 100 peaks stretching above 11,000 feet in altitude. Though pets are not allowed on the trails in the national park, they’re welcome at the turn outs, picnic areas, and campgrounds, and will enjoy a drive on the famous Trail Ridge Road – the highest continuously paved highway in North America. And, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get outdoors with your pup! Stop by at the Estes Valley dog park, walk the paved Lake Estes Trail, a 3.75 mile loop in the middle of Estes Park, or for more adventurous dog friendly hiking, visit nearby Hermit Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, and the Roosevelt National Forest – all offering miles of dog friendly trails. Kick off your boots next to the fireplace in one of the cozy log cottages at Braeside Cabins – complete with kitchens and free wifi, there’s no additional charge for pets (unless they do some redecorating).
Port St. Joe, Florida
Once a bustling port along North Florida’s Emerald Coast, Port St. Joe has become a haven for visitors looking for a laid back retreat. Known for it’s white beaches, gentle surf, and strikingly clear water, the city looks out on St. Joseph Bay, where Cape San Blas, a 17-mile long barrier peninsula, divides the bay from the Gulf of Mexico. Dog friendly beaches stretch for miles, and kayak, canoe, paddle board, or bike rentals allow you to delve even deeper into the breathtaking surrounds. Stroll around town on the BayWalk trail, or try the paved Loggerhead Bike Trail, which runs the length of the Cape and is great for walking, jogging, or biking. If you’re looking to get really deep, try chartering a boat for a day of fishing. For more tips and things to do, stop by the Gulf County Welcome Center – it’s pet friendly, too! There aren’t a lot of hotels marring the sunsets on in Port St. Joe – the Mainstay Suites and the Dixie Belle are the two pet friendly options. Most visitors choose dog friendly inns, cottages and vacation rentals, and the outdoorsy types can camp or RV at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
St. Augustine, Florida
History meets the beach in the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida! Founded in 1565, the town centers around the Castillo de San Marcos – a fort occupied by the Spanish, English, and finally, Americans. More than 400 years of culture are preserved here, from the Spanish colonial architecture, to evidence of railroad entrepreneur Henry Flagler’s reign in the late 1800s, to modern hotels and spas catering to your every desire. Visit the Fountain of Youth (results not guaranteed), roam the beautifully landscaped campus of Flaggler University, burn off some energy at one of the two local dog parks, or take a dog friendly scenic cruise on the Intracoastal Waterway. With 40 miles of dog friendly, white sand beaches just minutes from downtown, you’re always able to find a quiet spot to splash in the surf. In this lovely climate, many of the restaurants feature outside seating and will welcome your dog to join you, including the Crave Food Truck and the Old City House Inn and Restaurant – which is also a lovely, pet friendly place to stay!
We hope this overview of our readers’ picks for the best cities for pet travelers has you inspired to get out and see one with your best friend!
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