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You love your pet; you love to travel — I don’t have to tell you these two passions can clash. I’ve been there, renting the only pet-friendly hotel in town because it’s the only option, certainly not out of appeal. Of course, it’s miles from the closest dog park. Finding a pet-friendly eatery nearby that you also want to eat at? Forget about it!
In a country like the U.S., seemingly dominated by travel enthusiasts and pet lovers alike, those of us who travel with our four-legged companions often find ourselves frustrated by the limited availability of establishments that accept pets nationwide.
More to Read: Top 15 Pet-Friendly Resorts in the U.S.
Suppose instead of boarding your pup, you decide to find the most pet-friendly city in the U.S. for your next travel destination — that’s a dedicated pet parent right there. But how to measure “friendliness?”
Alas, as with all great burning abstract questions — a data-driven approach can help us find the answer. Even better, working like a dog, I found the cities for you!
Here are some jump links to help you navigate this page:
Roster: Top 10 Pet-Friendly Cities in the US to Visit
By harnessing data from the national tourism office, prioritizing U.S. tourist hotspots, manually collecting pet-friendly hotel, Airbnb, restaurant, park and store data and applying a 13-metric statistical analysis, I could gauge the overall pet-friendliness for the 100 most visited U.S. cities — not to say I’m putting on the dog or anything.
Additionally, I measured the “acceptance” of local populations toward traveling pets, the concentration of pet-friendly establishments in each city, and pet-friendly lodging costs. Everything from highly-rated hotels to off-leash dog parks went into my normalized, weighted, indexed, logarithmically transformed scoring system that answers the question, “Which U.S. cities roll out the red carpet for our beloved four-legged companions?”
This question was like herding dogs, but the result? A travel destination where it’s guaranteed to be raining cats and dogs. (If your dog doesn’t find this “punny,” I suggest you stop reading now.)
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Independence: I conducted this research impartially, but we may earn commissions from links on this page.
Selection Criteria: Cities were selected based on the top 100 U.S. MSA destinations for overseas tourists using data from the National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT) for Q2 2022-Q1 2023.
- Pet-Friendly Hotels (Booking.com): Data collected during 7/25/23-7/26/23 MDT, focusing on total pet-friendly locations and those with 8/10+ reviews.
- Pet-Friendly Airbnb Rentals (Airbnb): Data extracted between 11 AM-12:25 PM 7/27/23. Filters included entire places, Superhosts, and essential amenities. Metrics included total locations and average pricing.
- Pet-Friendly Restaurants (Tripadvisor): Filtered for establishments that have a dog-friendly feature.
- Off-Leash Dog Parks & Stores (BringFido): Only within city limits.
- Data Normalization: Pet-friendly amenities were normalized using per capita and square mile calculations.
- Logarithmic Transformation: A logarithmic transformation was applied to the data to counteract city size and population biases, ensuring fair comparisons across cities of different scales.
- Pet Acceptance Level: Captures a city’s acceptance of pets; establishments per capita.
- Pet Density Index: Gauges concentration of pet-friendly spots; establishments per sq mile.
- Pet-Friendly City Score: Combines the two scores above for a comprehensive view.
- Airbnb Prices: Factored into the final score without per capita/square mile calculations. Weighed at 13.5%.
- Final Weights: I weighed scores to a 10-point system. Key metrics include Hotels (15.14%), Highly-Rated Hotels (12.98%), Airbnbs (15.14%), Restaurants (15.14%), Dog Parks (15.14%), Pet-Friendly Stores (12.98%), and Airbnb Price (13.50%).
Replicability: All raw data is publicly available. For questions, email [email protected]. [Google Sheets link] contains the gathered data and calculations minus proprietary info. Please credit if sharing.
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