Top 10 Pet-Friendly Cities

The best places to eat, stay and play with your furry mates

By Sandy Robins contributor

updated 6:58 a.m. PT, Wed., Oct . 10, 2007



As it becomes more common for people to travel with their pets, cities around the country are beginning to appreciate the discernible impact the doggie dollar is having on their economy. Consequently, many are reacting to this tug on their purse strings by making an all-out bid to label themselves pet-friendly on the tourist map.

But what does it mean for a city to adopt this title? Generally-speaking, “pet-friendly” can be equated with “dog-friendly” as canines are undoubtedly America’s most well-traveled animals.

For the last three years, the editors at Dog Fancy, one of the country’s leading canine-centric magazines, have compiled a list of the best cities in the U.S. to be a dog, naming San Diego as this year’s winner of their DogTown USA award. Chicago and Portland Ore., topped the polls in previous years.

“It takes a lot to create a city that truly embraces its canine population,” says editor Susan Chaney. “We look at over 20 criteria. Naturally, it has to be a fun place for dogs and their owners. For example, we check into dog-centered activities, such as doggie festivals, parades and other events, as well as how many hotels are dog-friendly and how many restaurants allow dogs to eat on their patios. However, excellent veterinary care and an active humane society are also key elements of a pet-friendly city, and are as essential for travelers passing through as for the pets and their people who reside there. Further, it’s clear that in the cities on our annual list, both the local government and general population embrace having that ‘doggie element’ in their communities.”

Here are suggestions to have fun with your pet in 10 cities that have been collared pet-friendly.

San Diego
The warm Californian climate makes this a year-round animal playground, and there’s a wonderful selection of both pet-friendly and off-leash beaches. The Otay Ranch Town Shopping Center has an off-leash park as part of this sprawling facility, making this a one-stop entertainment center for both pets and their people. A pet sitting service is provided at $5 an hour so that pet parents can enjoy a meal in one of numerous eateries. Seaside La Jolla boasts a selection of pet-friendly restaurants such as the Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar on Prospect Street that offers great sea views from its outdoor patio. In addition, your dog may enjoy a kayaking excursion around La Jolla Bay — although pet life jackets are provided, dogs should be good swimmers.

Long Beach, Calif. 
Belmont Shore is fast gaining a nationwide reputation for hosting several annual pet parades and doggie beauty contests, such as the Easter and the Howl o’ween parades and the Most Beautiful Bulldog competition that draws contestants from near and far. The city also has the only off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. Situated between Roycroft and Argonne Avenues, it’s open daily year-round. All the stores that line Second Street are pet-friendly offering bowls of cool fresh water and lots of doggie treats. Pet parents will enjoy crepes and crisp salads at La Creperie while their canines snooze and watch the passing parade. The French bistro-styled eatery hosts a popular bar in the evenings and you can enjoy the soft sounds of live jazz.

Carmel, Calif. 
Without doubt the pet-friendly Cypress Inn on Lincoln Street is a tourist attraction in its own right and is widely recognized to have pioneered many of the pet-friendly policies practiced by many of the large hotel chains and private inns around the country today. Co-owned by the legendary Doris Day, it’s filled with memorabilia of this Hollywood star. Your pet will particularly enjoy snoozing in front of a roaring log fire in the lounge, while you enjoy a pre-dinner sherry. Walking tours are a great way to discover the town’s scenic charms, and dogs will enjoy the smells along the way. Cats are regulars at this fur-friendly inn too.

Portland, Ore.
Traveling and touring can be thirsty work. The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company is a great place for both beer and man’s best friends. The brews with dog-inspired names cater for all tastes. Looking for a little perk-me-up? The Iron Mutt Coffee Company will ensure that you get a great caffeine fix while your pooch enjoys fresh eats and a complimentary biscuit. The Portland Saturday Market located under the Burnside Bridge between S.W. Naito Parkway and S.W. 1st Ave. offers an eclectic mix of merchandise and is a great place to stroll and shop. There’s no shortage of off-leash dog parks in the city — be sure to visit the Hoyt Arboretum on S.W. Fairview Boulevard. that offers canine visitors more than 185 acres of greenery to enjoy.

For travelers who enjoy visiting historical points of interest and appreciate beautiful scenery, be sure to add a trip to Blake Island State Park the ancestral campground of the Suquamish and Duwamish Indian Tribes and believed to be the birthplace of Chief Seattle. Foodies (and that includes your dog) will enjoy Chinook salmon cooked Northwest Coast Indian-style around an open alder wood fire.

The Pensione Nichols Bed and Breakfast on 1st Ave. in downtown Seattle is a well located pet-friendly establishment. Well-behaved leashed dogs of all sizes are allowed on the buses and trains throughout the city. Dogs on leashes are also allowed at the tables on the patio atCrave on 12th Ave. (only operative in the summer). Madison Park Café on 42nd Ave. E. is another attractive garden setting and welcomes pets. And if you have time, add Norm’s Eatery and Ale House on 36th St. to your list. This laid-back pub is named after a dog and your pet will feel more than welcome here too.

If you’re a baseball fan, diarize the White Sox annual Dog Day baseball game each spring. This cosmopolitan city has lots of pet-friendly places to visit, a wide selection of outdoor cafes and pet-friendly bars. Upscale hotels such as the luxurious Hotel Burnham and Hotel Monaco both welcome dogs of all sizes. Lake Michigan, a focal point of the city, offers more than 18 miles of paved trails that trace the lake’s edge. Want to take a lake cruise? Many boat operators will happily take Fido along too. And if your dog is getting bored with eating kibble, be sure to dine at Cucina Bella on N. Sedgwick or the branch on W. Diversey where he will be served a complimentary bowl of pasta.

New York
Some of the most fashionable hotels in this city can be a temporary home away from home for your dog, including the trendy Soho Grand Hotel. (For travelers who can’t bring their pets, the Grand offers a complimentary goldfish at check in, and will bag it for take-home.) Despite being a concrete jungle, there’s a lot for pets to enjoy in the Big Apple — a carriage ride through Central Park is a must-do activity. Many upscale stores also welcome well-behaved pets, and if Fido will sit quietly, you can drool over the jewelry at Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue.The NYC Dog Walking Tour visits such neighborhoods as Greenwich Village, Soho, Lower East Side and Little Italy. A special highlight is a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk. Be sure to visit the William Secord Gallery on East 76th St. that specializes in 19th Century dog art — your pooch is welcome to browse too. And if you want your dog’s portrait painted, it can be arranged it at a price.

Orlando, Fla.
Be sure to visit Sam Snead’s, on E. Pine Street. It was here that Governor Jeb Bush signed Florida’s doggy dining law that allows dogs to sit with their owners in an outside location. Both dogs and owners can have fun meandering the paved paths of the Paw Park of Historic Sanford and cooling off at the misting tower. Because of Orlando’s location to Disney World, Universal Studios and other theme parks, there are lots of pet-friendly hotels in the immediate area; and the theme parks will pet-sit your dog while you go off and enjoy the rides. One place dogs are especially welcome is in Celebration on U.S. 192, a tiny town created by Disney with a population of around 2000. Downtown Celebration is a lively mix of retail shops, restaurants, offices and apartments that line a wide promenade circling the lake in the center of town.

Colorado Springs, Colo.
Colorado Springs is all about nature and the great outdoors. Hiking and walking trails abound, making this an excellent pet destination. Pets are welcome at the Bear Creek Nature Center, as well as the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. Preserved under a protective red sandstone overhang, the authentic Anasazi dwellings were built more than 700 years ago. The Garden of the Gods Park is another popular natural landmark. With its towering sandstone formations, paved and unpaved hiking paths, it’s a great place to enjoy various outdoor amenities. Dogs are allowed off leash in the area east of Rock Ledge Ranch & south of Gateway Road. Tucked away in the foothills of the famous Pikes Peak region of the Rockies, your pet will be in the lap of luxury at the grand Broadmoor Hotel. This five-star resort is set in 3,000 acres of manicured gardens acres against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery. There are three golf courses, gorgeous shops and pet sitters on hand to give pet parents some alone time to enjoy any one of the complex’s 15 restaurants.

Austin, Texas
Austin boasts 12 off-leash parks for doggy fun and games. In particular, canines love to cool of in the natural creek in Bull Creek District Park and Greenbelt on Lakewood Drive. Pooches are also welcome to tour the city in a horse-drawn carriage, a popular pastime, so it’s best to call ahead. The Spider House Patio Bar and Café on Fruth Street, on the edge of the University of Texas campus, is a popular student hang-out and is reputed to make the best espresso in town. If you enjoy ribs (and what dog can resist) Artz Rib House on S. Lamar Boulevard will draw you with its irresistible aromas. Stock up on special treats such as PeaMutt Butter Pleasers and Yummy Chummies at the Groovy Dog Bakery on Baylor Street. Finally be sure to visit Plush Pad on W. Anderson Lane and buy your pooch a cowboy hat — a great souvenir to take home from the Lone Star State.

Happy travels!

Sandy Robins is an award-winning pet lifestyle writer. She is a member of both the Dog Writers Association of America and the Cat Writer’s Association of America. She lives in Southern California with a menagerie of well-traveled pets.


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