We all know the feeling: 40 or more hours of grinding work, errands, family obligations, resolutions — the must-dos never end. And while you’re running around, your pets are sadly neglected. All they want to do is spend some quality time with you. Isn’t it about time you give them that?
Don’t worry; we’ve got your covered. Here are the top seven pet-friendly vacations for you and your better/smaller half that will make all right with the world:
1: Camping at Delaware Water Gap / Pocono Mountain KOA
Sure, you can wander in the wilderness and bring your four-legged friend (or bird). For most of us, however, a few creature comforts are ideal — and we know your furry best buddy would agree. That’s why we suggest a trek to Pocono Mountain campsite in Delaware. Not only do they have pet-friendly cabins, but there’s a designated “Kamp K-9” pet area with agility course and plenty of romping room. Added bonus: The kids can entertain themselves on the Chocolate Pudding Slip N Slide while you go hiking, canoeing, rafting, or panning for fossils (yep, it’s a thing). Rates run around $50/night, depending on the size of your vehicle/tent, the numbers of campers, and when you stay. For cheaper rates, go off season and get more of the campground to yourself.
2: Road trip to Washington’s San Juan Islands
Agitated waters break against the shore on San Juan Island. (Source: iStock / russellillig)The lush, mountainous Inland Northwest is an adventurous pet’s dream vacation. Rivers, rocks, forests, and fields abound, while on the state’s coastal islands, the adventure ramps up with occasional fits of snow, hiking paths, beachfronts, and plenty of perches for surveying the ocean. Orcas is perhaps the most verdant of the islands — aptly named “the Emerald Isle” — though San Juan Island sports an alpaca ranch and much-lauded winery, and Lopez Island boasts miles of stunning beaches. Really, you can’t go wrong on any of the islands.
As far as stops on your road trip go, we recommend a pit stop at Portland’s parks and gardens (if you’re heading north to Washington along the coast), or Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho if you’re heading west from the Midwest or East. You can also drop by Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (where the Grand Coulee Dam puts on a fabulous laser light show) or Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
However you get to the San Juans, be sure you bookend your trip with a tour around Seattle’s Pike Place Market — and yes, you can bring Fido along on your tour of the open-air stalls.
3: Cabin getaway in Breckenridge, Colorado
Great for any time of year, a cabin stay in Colorado’s high country is just what your furry friend would want. Not only can you get pet-friendly cabins throughout the area around Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen, but there are countless activities you can do together: hiking; snowshoeing; sitting in front of a fireplace and sleeping; exploring the local arts scene; spending time with Isaak, the friendly wooden troll; eating; and playing pinochle. The sky’s the limit in these Colorado mountain towns, where pets are treated as well as people — and sometimes better.
4: A lavish voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2
Want to go all out and give your pet a vacation they’ll never forget? Book a room aboard the Queen Mary 2 and set sail across the Atlantic. Very few cruise lines allow guests to bring pets onboard, so this is truly a treat (for both of you). Cruises run seven to 14 days and feature inspired theater, decadent dining, cozy accommodations, and a restored setting that reminds you of the glorious Art Deco days of yore. And for your lovely pooch or fabulous feline? A deluxe kennel awaits, complete with a “pet master” who sees to their every need. Why, they even get a freshly baked biscuit or treat at turn-down. (Pro tip: Pets are only allowed on the first and last cruises of the season, so book well in advance and be sure the travel dates fit with your schedule. Also, keep in mind that bringing an animal into the UK/EU can be complicated, so check with local authorities on vaccination and quarantine requirements.)
5: Hiking in Grand Canyon National Park
While most of us are content to gaze at the Grand Canyon from a distance, a hike along one or more of its many trails is recommended. Bring your four-legged friend with you (on leash, of course), and keep an eye out for desert creatures ambling about; wild cats, lizards, bats, and other critters are commonplace, and provide plenty of sniffs to enjoy. There are restrictions on when and where you can bring your pet into the national park, however, so be sure to heed all warnings and follow the rules — both for your pet’s sake and for the safety of wildlife.
6: Biking on a staycation
Sound boring? Not hardly. If you have a pet carrier you can hitch to the back of your bike, map out a trek that takes you to haunts unknown on a staycation adventure, then go two-wheeling to your heart’s content. A few tips, however: Be sure the bike paths you choose are well-paved and wide enough to handle pet carriers; avoid steep inclines or declines that might make biking onerous (if not altogether dangerous); and steer clear of traffic. The best part is, you can bike to a distant park or open space, then let your dog out and romp around together like it’s the Sound of Music.
7: Rent an RV
Want more of the luxuries of home during vacation travel? Rent an RV. Most RV rental companies, including Cruise America, give you and your smaller half the perfect vehicle for trekking, sleeping, and lounging. Just be sure to bring many of his/her favorite treats and go-to comforts (like a pillow or blanket) to ensure they feel at home on the road. Also, plan ahead and be sure to book spots at pet-friendly campgrounds so you know they’ll have everything they need when you stop for the night.
Bonus: Stay at Camp Dogwood in Lake Delton, Wisconsin
While many of the vacation ideas we’ve proposed are human-centric with tacked-on pet accommodations, this one is focused entirely on Fido. Sign up for fall or spring camps and enjoy everything from training sessions to demonstrations and barn hunts (check out the website for more about this crazy activity). And don’t worry about meals; hearty (delicious) camp fare is provided, including skirt steak, pizza, roasted chicken, and freshly fired BBQ. Afterwards, relish nap times, leisurely hikes, and free time — perfect for roaming the 600-some acres of the camp.
Want more pet-friendly vacations (and places to stay)? Check out our favorite pet-centric guide, BringFido.com.