If you’re like many pet owners, you have a difficult time putting your beloved cat or dog (or other animal) in a kennel or even leaving it in the care of a friend, neighbor, or family member when you head off on vacation. Sometimes, though, it seems like you have to choose vacation destinations that are only for people, but believe it or not there are numerous pet friendly vacations just waiting to be experienced across this incredible land of ours.
You may find great comfort in this beloved pet. She offers you calmness, less anxiety, and great love. You want to travel with this part of your family, this close companion, so you want to find the best pet friendly vacations you can.
No matter your interests, no matter whether you like the mountains and rugged terrain, beaches and plenty of sun, or something in between or a little bit of both, there are numerous places to enjoy with your best furry travel companion.
Consider Registering Your Emotional Support Animal
If you suffer from anxiety, depression, fear, stress, or any other mental or physical health issues in which your pet helps, that animal could be registered as an emotional service or support animal (ESA).
It’s important to understand that not all companies advertising their services to register ESAs are the same. Some are not legitimate and are just looking to make a quick buck, but if you depend on the service of a legitimate, nationally recognized registration service, like the one we provide, then you can relax and enjoy your vacations more, knowing that you have gone through the right process and can show anyone — hotel managers, storeowners, airlines, etc. — that this companion is important for you and your travels.
Many regions understand the value of pet ownership and already openly welcome dogs (and sometimes cats) as guests with their human counterparts.
Let’s talk about some of the areas you can discover and enjoy across the United States with your pet traveling along with you (and still getting to enjoy so much of the world, as you do).
Huntington Beach, California
Close to Los Angeles, you will be a short drive away from Disneyland, Universal Studios, Beverly Hills, and of course miles upon miles of pristine beaches and great surf. In Huntington Beach, they have a designated dog beach, which is a stretch of well-maintained canine bliss.
When you bring your four-legged friend here, you might even see a sight you would only have imagined to be in Hollywood: a dog riding a surfboard. Of course, your pet can be off leash, sprinting down the soft sands, splashing in the surf, or staying by your side.
Whatever your beloved pet enjoys, they can do it here at Huntington Dog Beach.
Key West, Florida
There’s a great deal of buzz about Key West Dog Beach among pet lovers. That’s because even though it’s small, it is pet friendly. Your travel companion can frolic in the waves for as long as he or she wishes, lay down on the soft white sands, or sniff out some of the palm trees or other areas around the region.
You can even rent a kayak and travel around these calm waters with your companion. Let her see a new perspective on things as she sits in the kayak with you as you paddle along, looking at the shore, checking out the fish swimming beneath, and enjoying the beautiful warm weather.
Believe it or not, the nation’s capital, rich with amazing monuments and cultural institutions, is also pet friendly. There are off leash dog parks as well as plenty of trails you can walk with your pet (on leash). There are even simple canine rentals where you can drop your pet off as you head into the Smithsonian, to visit the Capitol Building, or to enjoy other sites where your pet may not be as welcome as other areas.
If you have a registered ESA, though, some places may permit you to bring your pet along with you, but it’s important that you call ahead to find out their policies and what registration certification and other documentation you may need to show in order to keep your emotional support animal with you during these visits.
South Lake Tahoe, California
More commonly known for its skiing, Lake Tahoe is amazingly dog friendly. During the summer, you can enjoy a nice picnic down by Bijou Dog Park or spend some time near the crisp waters of Lake Tahoe when you check out Pretty Kiva Beach, which is dog friendly. Of course, you will need to keep your pet on a leash if you visit Pretty Kiva Beach.
If you plan to spend an afternoon out with family or friends where your beloved pet is not permitted, there is a facility where you can leave your dog and it’s not a caged kennel; it’s a completely open, cage free facility and is open during the day and evening hours so you can enjoy a nice dinner out with your spouse, best friend, or others.
If it’s one thing that most people recognize about Flagstaff, it’s home to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There’s a lot more to see in this area besides just the Grand Canyon, and while you may be limited on your options with regard to where you can take your pet in this national park, there are plenty of other places to enjoy with your travel companion.
There are dining establishments like Diablo Burger where you can have your dog resting beside you as you enjoy a meal out on the patio. There’s also a dog park called Thorpe Park Bark Park — yes, that’s a pretty good tongue twister — where you’ll find plenty of room for exercise for your little furry companion.
Black Hills, South Dakota
While there many areas of Badlands National Park that don’t allow pets of any kind, there are some restricted areas where you can bring your four-legged friend. Mount Rushmore is also a common destination for people in this part of South Dakota, but there are numerous mountainside trails, forests to explore, and some wineries that allow you to bring along your four-legged companion.
Whatever your destination, just be sure to call ahead if you aren’t certain whether they allow pets. Also, keep in mind that some establishments may change their rules and expectations regarding companion animals, so some places that previously did not allow pets might make exceptions for registered ESAs.
While you may not be visiting Nantucket during the cold, blustery winter months, it’s an exciting place during the summer. Nantucket Island has miles upon miles of sandy beaches where dogs are more than welcome to roam around and explore, but they need to be on a leash.
There are even sailing excursions that allow you to bring your dog along and some local breweries that are pet friendly.
Sanibel Island, Florida
Numerous pet owners have discovered the benefits of visiting Sanibel Island in Florida, not only for its white sandy Gulf shores, but also for its relaxed atmosphere regarding four-legged pets. Most of the local beaches here do welcome pets, but it’s important to remember to keep them on leash.
You’ll likely notice your cunning canine constantly sniffing all the amazing shells and other sea life that wash up onshore here. The shells are often magnificent, intact, and protected by the gentle lapping of the Gulf waters along these shores. You may also want to check out Island Paws pet shop as it offers plenty of wonderful treats and exceptional dog toys your best friend will love.
This hip, modern, liberal city with amazing views is also canine friendly. There are plenty of cafés and eateries that cater to people traveling with their barking companions. The Bark Espresso allows dogs outside on the patio and Elegant Washington Park Arboretum permits dogs to travel in with their human counterparts (so long as those people have a leash).
During autumn, you certainly don’t want to miss Fremont Oktoberfest Dogtoberfest, which is an exciting event with many dogs and their companions, all leashed, enjoying the crisp autumn weather and sampling many different types of brews.
The Finger Lakes, New York
Home to many wonderful farms and wineries, the Finger Lakes region of New York often surprises people who have never really visited this part of the Empire State. Most people, when they think about New York and tourism, immediately think of the Big Apple.
However, the vast majority of the state is actually rural countryside like the Finger Lakes Region. There is a lot of wine country around here and some wineries do have a pet friendly policy, but just make sure any winery you plan to visit you check with first. Even if they have a no pet policy, some are becoming more open to the idea of ESAs, so long as they are registered with a legitimate service, like the one we provide.
Wilmington, North Carolina
With ample beaches, wonderful eateries, and other exciting establishments, Wilmington is quickly becoming a popular destination, especially because of its relaxed and pet friendly atmosphere. The Java Dog Coffee House not only serves some exceptional latte and dog treats, they welcome dogs both inside and out, so even on those hot, humid summer days, your best friend can get some cool comfort and relief right along with you.
There are a couple of off leash dog parks, including Wilmington Dog Park that have separate areas for large dogs and then another one for smaller dogs.
Asheville, North Carolina
If you’ve never heard of Asheville before, it sits right along the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, an absolutely gorgeous destination if you enjoy hiking, scenic views, and rolling hills stretching far off into the distance. The Biltmore Estate is one of the most phenomenal places to visit and they even have an on-site kennel so you can head inside to take a tour of this historic mansion while your dog is waiting and in good hands.
Nearby, you can head over to the French Broad River Dog Park which allows your best friend to run around and even splash in some water. There’s even a bakery that caters specifically to man’s best friend.
Bar Harbor, Maine
More of a summertime tourist destination, Bar Harbor is known for its lobster and seafood selections. Stewman’s Lobster Pound Downtown not only offers humans a delectable menu, they also have a special doggie menu.
You can also check out some cruises that allow you to bring your dog on board. If you want to check out Acadia National Park, there is a small leash free area, but most of the grounds require that you keep your dog on a leash.
The Benefits of Registering Your Emotional Support Animal
Traveling with a pet companion can offer a great deal of comfort and help you feel calmer, more relaxed, and less anxious. If your pet — whether it’s a dog, cat, or other legitimate pet companion — provides some of these mental, emotional, or even physical benefits for you, you may be able to register him or her as an emotional support animal.
While emotional service and support animals are becoming more widely accepted by growing numbers of establishments, there is no guarantee that just registering your pet as an ESA is going to provide you greater opportunities to have that pet traveling with you or having access to certain establishments.
However, when you do register your pet as an ESA, you will be in a much more empowered position to enjoy many of the benefits that pet friendly vacations offer all around the country. When you can sit back and relax without the worry of what to do with your pet (such as having to board your best friend in a kennel, rely on a friend or neighbor to check in on him every day, hoping that nothing will go wrong, etc.), you can worry less and enjoy your vacation more.
An ESA registration will make even those wonderful pet friendly vacations more exciting, relaxing, and memorable for all the right reasons.