It’s springtime, and if you’re like most of us, your mind has turned to vacations and travel. If you’re a pet parent looking for the perfect pet-friendly road trip this summer, or any time of the year, you might think your options are limited.
For example, if you’re traveling by RV, you may think you’ll be relegated to your campground once you reach your destination.
Thankfully, that’s not the case in an increasingly pet-friendly world that offers many pet-friendly destinations.
So if you’re looking to hit the road with your family and four-legged friend, we’ve got you covered with a list of some of our favorite routes. Now all you have to worry about is packing up the family (and Fido’s favorite treats) and hitting the road.
The West Coast
If you’d like to see the Golden Gate Bridge with your four-legged friend in tow this year, you’re in luck.
Starting in San Francisco and driving as far south as San Diego, there are plenty of pet-friendly destinations along the Pacific Coast Highway. If it’s coastal beauty and nearby wine country weren’t enough of a reason to visit the City by the Bay, it’s also ranked the No. 1 dog-friendly city in America, according to a recent study, with a plethora of dog-accessible areas, including dog parks, and dog-friendly shopping areas and restaurants.
If you want to do some camping along the way, head for Big Sur State Park, which features plenty of pet-friendly campsites and trails so you and your pet can explore the Redwoods.
Once you make your way to San Diego, you can enjoy the year-round temperate climate. San Diego also tops the list of cities with off-leash dog parks as well as plenty of pet-friendly al fresco dining spots. In fact, the city has 187 dog-friendly restaurants, the most in America. This city tops our list for being a great place for our four-legged friends.
If your journey from San Francisco takes you north-east, we recommend Lake Tahoe as another pet-friendly spot in California (bordering Nevada). Whether you’re skiing at Heavenly or visiting after the snow has melted to reveal spectacular greens and blues, the year-round beauty of this vacation destination on the California/Nevada border is hard to beat.
There are plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy with your pet, including Mt. Tallac. And if you and the family want to set out to sail down a zipline or enjoy one of the many biking trails at Tahoe, you can leave your furry friend at one of more than 40 pet-friendly hotels or RV campgrounds.
Scenic Southwest Loop
Starting as far south as Phoenix, you can head north on Interstate 17 through Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. Unlike some of the less pet-accommodating National Parks, such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon is very pet-friendly with leashed pets permitted in some areas, including all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail.
From Northern Arizona, head northeast through gorgeous Durango, Colorado. Here your dog is welcome to hit the trails along the Animas River, and even frolic in the river at the Durango Dog Park.
Then you can head up to Telluride and Ouray and enjoy the San Miguel River Trail, the American Basin Trail, or one of Ouray’s two beautiful dog parks.
As you head further north into Colorado towards Denver, there are countless pet-friendly destinations from which to choose. With so much to do outdoors in Colorado — from hiking one of the states 53 14ers to fishing — it’s the perfect place for a vacation with your four-legged friend.
Big Sky Country
The wide-open spaces of Montana offer some of the most pet-friendly destinations America has to offer. But because of its sometimes brutal temps, road-tripping here is best limited to late spring and summer.
Here’s one of our favorite routes: Starting at the National Bison Range in Dixon, take the two-hour loop through meadows and foothills teeming with wildlife, or take a stroll along any of the trails where leashed pets are welcome.
From there, head down to Bigfork and the northeastern edge of Flathead Lake, where you and your pet can camp or canoe in Flathead National Forest. You’ll also enjoy dining at one of several restaurants that welcome pets on their patios.
Finally, head north to Glacier National Park for a scenic drive along the 50-mile-long stretch known as Going to the Sun Road.
Chicago to Michigan’s Eastern Shores
If you thought big cities were off-limits for you and your pet, the Windy City is the exception to the rule. It ranks fifth in dog-friendly destinations in the study mentioned above, thanks to its high number of pet-friendly dining and shopping spots. Many of its most upscale hotels are pet-friendly too, so you don’t have to worry about navigating your RV down the Magnificent Mile. Among them: The Omni Hotel, Kimpton Hotel Monaco, and Trump International Hotel & Tower.
Chicago also happens to be one of the most walkable cities in America, and fall temps can be just right for trekking through the city without fear of your pet getting overheated. And if you want to get away from the city, you need only go as far as the beaches of breathtaking Lake Michigan.
If you’ve got a summertime trip in mind, head from Chicago up the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan, pass through Indiana and make your way to Michigan to enjoy all of the beauty and midwestern charm the state has to offer. If you venture as far North as Glen Arbor, you’ll want to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes where you and your pet can take in the views across Lake Michigan while enjoying one of the park’s many pet-friendly trails.
Scenic New England
Starting in Portland, Maine, you and your four-legged friend can hop a ferry to the nearby islands. Head northwest and you’ll find yourself in New Hampshire where several spots, including White Mountain National Forest, boast dog-friendly hiking and camping.
If you head west to Vermont, be sure to make a stop at Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, which features scenic trails and a Dog Chapel, where visitors can leave notes for their beloved pets that have passed away.
And no visit to Vermont would be complete without a stop at the Paw House Inn in West Rutland. Paw House is more than dog-friendly — in fact, the inn charges a $10 fee to anyone staying without a pet.
Keep it Cool
No matter where you’re lodging during your road trip, in your RV or in a pet-friendly hotel, it’s important to monitor the temperature of your pet’s environment during the times when you’re out taking in the sites or visiting places he isn’t permitted. To do so, a pet temperature monitor will be invaluable. Being able to remotely monitor the temperature of your pet’s accommodations will allow you to enjoy yourself without having to worry about your best friend while you’re away.