It’s estimated that Americans share their homes with 89.7 million dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). So, it’s no surprise that many U.S. cities increasingly cater to furry friends and their dog parents.
Thinking about getting away with your pup? Pack your suitcase and bring along a dog carrier bag. From places with more than 300 sunny days annually to those teeming with pet-friendly hotels, here are seven dog-friendly cities with plenty to offer pooches and their parents.
1. San Francisco, California
Pet parents and their pooches are greeted with open arms in the sprawling, art-centric and cosmopolitan City by the Bay.
“San Francisco is famous for its openness and diversity,” says Laurie Armstrong Gossy, senior director of global public relations and media relations for the San Francisco Travel Association. “All living things are cherished—and that includes pets.
“Dogs are considered part of the family and are welcomed, just like the 25.5 million two-legged visitors who come to the city each year,” she continues. “Together, they can explore the city’s 49 square miles of fascinating neighborhoods and iconic vistas.”
What makes San Francisco so dog-friendly? For starters, the city has 32 dog parks—the eighth highest on the Trust for Public Land’s list of dog park rankings. Some of the stand-out dog-friendly green spaces include a designated off-leash area in Golden Gate Park and Baker Beach, known for its views of the city’s most famous site, the Golden Gate Bridge.
When you need to grab a bite after all that strolling, the Bay also houses 171 dog-friendly restaurants to choose from.
Dogs can take San Francisco’s Muni public transportation system of buses, trolley coaches, light rails, streetcars and cable cars, provided pets are muzzled, leashed, sitting on the owner’s lap and not on the system during peak hours. One pet is allowed per vehicle.
2. Boise, Idaho
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Idaho’s capital city is teeming with plenty of green spaces, earning it the nickname City of Trees. The city tops The Trust for Public Land’s list of off-leash dog areas per 100,000 residents with 15 dog parks.
A notable highlight is the 11-acre Winstead Park. All areas of this central city park welcome off-leash dogs, with the exception of the tennis courts, playground, shelter and parking lot.
Boise is home to 78 pet-friendly restaurants, including landmark restaurant Big Bun Drive-In. With dogs in the car, pet parents can pull up and order the drive-in’s classic American fare, including burgers, fries and handspun milkshakes
“Whether it’s our four off-leash parks or the hundreds of miles of single-track trails in the Boise Foothills, Boise is a haven for dogs and those who love them,” says Carrie Westergard, executive director of Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau.
3. Seattle, Washington
“Seattle is, without a doubt, one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S.,” says Kauilani Robinson, director of public relations at Visit Seattle. “In fact, as of 2015 there were more dogs than children within city limits! From off-leash parks and hiking trails to dog-friendly restaurants, breweries and coffee shops, Seattle welcomes all dog-lovers and their canine companions with open arms.”
The Pacific Northwest’s largest city is known as a dog-friendly haven for its pet-friendly housing and plethora of parks where parents can play with their dogs. Two of the city’s most iconic parks are Gasworks Park and urban Olympic Sculpture Park, both of which overlook the water and allow dogs.
After a day spent at the park, pet parents can choose from 344 pet-friendly restaurants, according to dog travel directory BringFido.com. To enjoy some of the city’s stellar coffee, consider heading to Bark! Espresso in North Seattle. This dog-friendly coffee shop offers indoor and outdoor dog-friendly seating. If requested, the barista can create latte art that resembles your dog’s face.
4. Tampa, Florida
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Tampa beckons pups and their parents with sunshine and plenty of amenities.
“We’re proud to say, ‘It’s a dog’s life here in Tampa Bay’ because dogs have it pretty easy here,” says Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay. “We welcome our four-legged friends at our many outdoor dining spots.
“We have plenty of dog parks and dog beaches for off-the-leash fun,” he continues. “We even take our dogs paddle boarding and riding water bikes! That means Fido can have as good a time in Tampa Bay as his family.”
Tampa also has 209 pet-friendly restaurants according to BringFido.com. One stand-out restaurant option is the iconic and laid-back The Sail Pavilion, a dog-friendly patio bar overlooking the water that offers yappy hour all day long. It’s dog-friendly menu includes a fresh bowl of water, complimentary dog biscuit and dog ice cream.
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
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Sprawling desert city Scottsdale—east of Arizona’s largest city, Phoenix—receives more than 330 days of sunshine annually, making it a great place to play with your pup outside. As long as you’re not out on the trails during the city’s 100+ degrees Fahrenheit days (dogs are banned when temperatures climb that high), you can bring your pup to more than 30,200 acres of scenic desert trails at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
When it’s too hot to stay outside for a long period of time, consider letting your pet play at Oh My Dog! Boutique & Spa, which is home to a pet hotel and doggy daycare.
Scottsdale ranks as a city with the most pet-friendly restaurants per capita and as the No. 1 city for pet health and wellness based on factors including the number of vets per capita, the pet-friendliness of the housing market and the strength of animal protection laws, according to personal finance site WalletHub.
“We owe Scottsdale’s pet-friendly reputation in large part to luxury resorts like Hyatt Regency and Westin Kierland, which welcome four-legged travelers with open arms and even have robust programs catering to their needs,” says Jennifer Duffy, director of communications for Experience Scottsdale. “But that’s really only the beginning. It’s also easy to be out-and-about around town with your pooch when you can dine at places like O.H.S.O Brewery & Distillery, famed for its pet-friendly patio, or Chaparral Park, home to several off-leash dog parks and plenty of room to roam.”
6. San Diego, California
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Southern California’s seaside city San Diego features pet-friendly beachfront parks, shopping centers and a host of activities at some of the city’s most popular spots. America’s Finest City earns dog-friendly accolades for places like Fiesta Island’s off-leash dog park where pups can frolic in the sand and sea.
Active pet parents will appreciate San Diego’s plentiful outdoor activities like stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, dog yoga and even Doggy and Me fitness classes. The city also has seven dog-friendly shopping centers, including the quaint Seaport Village in downtown San Diego.
“San Diego is SoCal’s pet paradise,” says Robert Arends, public relations manager for San Diego Tourism Authority. “With near-perfect weather and plenty of wide-open spaces, dogs can have as much fun vacationing in San Diego as their human companions. We’re lucky to have plenty of pet-friendly hotels that love to pamper pooches, as well as dog-friendly beaches where furry friends can frolic in the surf [Ocean Beach and north Coronado Beach are two of the most popular] and fun leash-free dog parks in one of our star attractions, Balboa Park, America’s largest urban cultural park.”
7. Albuquerque, New Mexico
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New Mexico’s sprawling Albuquerque—the largest city in The Land of Enchantment—has plenty to offer dog parents and their pooches.
“With our more than 310 days of sunshine each year, walkable neighborhoods, inviting atmosphere and abundant open space—including 14 designated dog parks, Albuquerque is the perfect destination to bring your pet,” says Emily K. Howard, vice president of marketing, communications and tourism for Visit Albuquerque. “The city is full of hotels, breweries, patios, pet boutiques and daycares that will welcome your four-legged friend with open arms.”
True to its name, Skyline Dog Park features sweeping views of Albuquerque’s famed mountain-dotted skyline in a fenced setting.
Dog parents looking to take in some of the city’s historical sites can board the ABQ Trolley Co. and cruise around town with their (leashed) dog on their lap during this 85-minute narrated tour.
Budget-conscious pet parents may want to pack a permanent dog travel bag. Happily, Albuquerque ranks No. 14 on the list of most affordable pet-friendly cities on WalletHub’s survey.
After you’ve decided on the destination, it’s time to prepare. Check out:
By Teresa Traverse
Featured Image: via Kenishirotie/Shutterstock.com