Five Pet Friendly Vacations
Sure, your pets lead the good life. You feed them, brush them, play with them, and probably think of them as one of the family. So why not take them on your next family vacation? Bringing your pet along means that you won’t need to find a sitter or worry if they’re getting proper treatment while you’re away. Plus, you’ll have the pleasure of their company for the entire trip.
The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee
A wealth of activities (with or without your pet), scenic beauty, family-friendly nightlife, and pet-friendly accommodations make the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee the perfect place for a family retreat with your pet. Pigeon Forge rental cabins, for example, offer the spacious home away from home of cabin living, on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and many offer terms with no restrictions on the type, number, or size of your pet. Amenities like full kitchens, dining rooms, and porches equipped with barbecue grills let your pet get in on the fun at mealtime, as well.
For recreation, you can even bring your pet to many areas of the park, including all roadways, campgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas, scenic overlooks, and roadside stops. When your pet needs a break from the action, strolling the friendly streets of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is fun in itself, and both towns have extremely scenic parks for more walks – along with family-themed dinner theaters, water parks, Dollywood, and several mountain coasters and mountain chair lifts.
The Hudson River Valley, New York
The Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful panoramas in the eastern United States. Amazing hiking trails, parks, and historic sites make it the perfect place to bring a pet on vacation. Stretching from the former Hopewell Junction train depot, north to Poughkeepsie, the thirteen-mile long Duchess Rail Trail is open to pedestrians and cyclists. The north end of the trail features the elevated “Walkway over the Hudson” which ascends at mid-point to as high as two-hundred-and-twelve feet above the river.
Bear Mountain State Park has shaded picnic areas, fishing access, hiking, biking, a swimming pool, a zoo, and several trailside museums. There’s also an outdoor ice-skating rink, open from late October through mid-March. Atop the park, The Perkins Memorial Tower features spectacular views of the Hudson Highlands and Harriman State Park, and is open from April through late November, weather permitting. The Hudson River Valley has dozens of pet-friendly lodgings, restaurants, and activities throughout.
The Florida Keys, Florida
Year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, seaside cottages, and an annual Pet Masquerade and Parade make the Florida Keys a pet-friendly destination. In Islamorada, the gorgeous Anne’s Beach has tidal flats that extend out for a half a mile. Also canine-friendly is Dog Beach in Key West – so named because it is where local residents bring their dogs for a little sand and surf. Veterans Memorial Park in Little Duck Key is dog friendly. Sombrero Beach and Coco Plum Dog Beach, both in dog-friendly Marathon, welcome pets of almost every type.
If your little one is of the feline variety, be sure to visit Ernest Hemingway’s home on Key West. His former residence, now a museum, also doubles as a sanctuary to more than sixty cats, some of whom descended from a six-toed tomcat given to Papa Hemingway by a local sea captain. Many also have the six toes to prove it. Every October in Key West, animal lovers get to dress up their pets (and themselves) for a family-friendly Pet Masquerade and Parade costume competition. Proceeds from the event go for the benefit of the Lower Keys Friends of Animals.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Along with some world-class golf, Myrtle Beach also has numerous pet-friendly beaches, lodgings, restaurants, and lots of family activities. For your canines, the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex provides fenced in areas for both large and small dogs. The Grand Strand North End Dog Park also has separate areas for large and small dogs, as well as drinking fountains and lots of shade for those hot South Carolina days.
The resort-themed Barefoot Landing shopping area welcomes pets on a leash. The complex features a rustic boardwalk with large fish-filled ponds, a variety of novelty shops, and several pet-friendly restaurants. Most public beaches in the Myrtle Beach area allow pets on the beach before 10 AM and after 5 PM. And because the Myrtle Beach area has so many hotels and vacation rentals, you’ll have an easy time finding pet-friendly lodgings.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Just north of Ocean City, Maryland, and across the line to Delaware’s town of Rehoboth Beach, you’ll discover the perfect place to bring your pet for a romp in the surf or a morning jog. If you’re coming from the north, take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. The 80-minute ferry-ride provides gorgeous views of the Cape May Light, the Harbor of Refuge Light, and the Delaware Breakwater East End Light. The ferry allows pets, and the best part, they ride for free!
There are several dog friendly beaches in Rehoboth Beach. Note that the acclaimed boardwalk is off-limits to dogs during the very crowded high season of May 1 through September 30. The free “Cinema by the Surf” lets you and your family – this includes your pet, of course – enjoy a free outdoor movie at the beach. The Big Chill Surf Cantina has a pet-friendly outdoor area where you and your family can enjoy food, drinks, and live music. Formerly a rail line, the Junction and Breakwater Trail is a great place to walk with your pet or take a morning jog.