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As someone who travels full-time with my dog, I’m constantly on the lookout for places that welcome four-legged friends and are fun for the whole family. Fortunately, there are lots of pup-friendly beaches, parks and cities throughout the United States that are great for bringing your dog along so you don’t have to worry about what’s happening back home at the kennel. Here are some of my best recommendations for family vacation ideas with dogs. These are all places that I’ve enjoyed traveling with my dog, Monkey, and I think you will too!
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While national parks in the U.S. are notoriously not very dog-friendly, Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park is a wonderful exception to this rule. This fascinating national park allows leashed dogs on the trails and in the backcountry area, which means no worrying about whether it’s too hot to leave your pup in the car or finding a kennel. This eastern Arizona park also participates in the Bark Ranger program, which includes treats for your dog! Choose one of the designated hikes to explore, such as Blue Mesa or the Painted Desert Rim Trail, or venture out into the backcountry to wander around to wherever your heart desires. Along the way, you’ll see lots of petrified wood in a dazzling array of colors.
Another great region to bring your dog along is the beaches of Delaware, including the iconic Rehoboth Beach. Not only is Rehoboth Beach free to visit, but dogs are also allowed on the beach and boardwalk between October 1 and April 30. In the summer, dogs aren’t allowed here, but they are allowed on Dewey Beach just south of the boardwalk. Always keep your pup on a leash though. The nearby state parks of Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State Park also allow dogs, so you’ll have plenty of places to stay busy on your family vacation in Delaware.
The Lake Tahoe area isn’t just an outdoor lover’s paradise; it’s very dog-friendly as well. My dog and I enjoyed hiking the trails around the lake, and there are also some fun beaches where dogs are welcome. These include Kiva Beach where dogs can swim off-leash, Skylandia Park and Beach near Tahoe City and Zephyr Cove on the north end of the lake. In the winter, it’s also fun to bring your dog to the Tahoe XC Ski Park to cross-country ski with you and get some exercise. Meanwhile, the Bijou Dog Park has fenced-in areas for off-leash play, and the South Lake Brewing Company welcomes dogs for your post-recreation refreshments.
People in Asheville, North Carolina love their dogs, and it shows in how many dog-friendly businesses and recreation areas there are around the city. You’ll notice lots of the local businesses here leave dog bowls outside their premises to give pups some mid-day refreshment. Local hiking trails, including the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway and Chimney Rock State Park, welcome leashed dogs. Many local restaurants and breweries allow dogs on their patios in Asheville too, including Wicked Weed Brewing and the Wedge Brewing Company.
Another top city for dog lovers is Boise, Idaho, which is a growing metropolis that caters to both two-legged and four-legged travelers. Many local cafes and restaurants here allow dogs in their outside seating areas, and the parks and trails in the region are very dog-friendly too. Off-leash dog parks in town include Morris Hill Park and Pine Grove Park. When you’re on your family vacation, you can also enjoy some quality time together at 10 Barrel Brewing, Cloud 9 Brewery, and other local establishments that love pups.
My dog and I loved visiting White Sands National Park, an other-worldly destination that welcomes leashed dogs who enjoy playing in the sand. These white sands stay cool even on hot days to keep your dog’s paws safe. Just make sure to keep him/her on a leash of no more than six feet long, pick up waste, and bring plenty of water along. Our favorite hiking route here was the Alkali Flat Trail, a strenuous five-mile loop that is anything but flat and actually climbs up and down the sand dunes with some trail markers along the way.
San Diego is another lovely place to bring your dog on a family vacation, especially if you need a break from the cold and snow for a dose of warmth and sunshine. You can find numerous hotels, restaurants, and bars here that welcome dogs, as well as off-leash beaches and parks for play time. One of my favorite San Diego excursions was going kayaking with my dog on a beautiful day among the sailboats. In town, you can even find dog yoga classes and stand-up paddleboarding classes that teach you to SUP with your pup!
While the popular city of Portland often steals the show when it comes to dog-friendliness in Oregon, the smaller community of Hood River is a great family destination too. This is a great home base for exploring the Columbia River Gorge area together, with plenty of dog bowls and treats provided for pups at local establishments. Check out the Hood River Waterfront Trail for lovely views on a family walk together.
Another outdoor recreation destination that my dog and I love is Palo Duro Canyon near the town of Amarillo, Texas. This is an impressive park with red rocks and epic landscapes. Pets on leashes are allowed but must be attended at all times and picked up after. There are also no additional fees to bring your dog to hike or camp here.
Although there are many more awesome spots to take your dog on a family vacation in the U.S., the last one I’ll mention here is Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s fun to explore Old Town Albuquerque with your dog, but have one family member hold your pup outside while you go into shops to browse. There are over a dozen designated dog parks in Albuquerque, and many of the city’s breweries (including Bosque Brewing and Marble Brewing) allow dogs too to enjoy a pint or flight of local craft beer.