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5 Pet-Friendly Destinations

They're tons of fun, sometimes mischievous, and the cutest part of your Christmas card every year. We’re not talking about your kids, but about the family pet, who can often be hard to leave behind for a day, let alone for an entire vacation. So why not plan a trip where you can take the little rascal with you?

We’ve rounded up a list of five destinations that will please both people and pets, with tips on how to get there, where to stay, and the best bets for two- and four-legged fun.

San Francisco: This eclectic and compact city boasts 1,000 acres of green space, and many of its top attractions welcome dogs, so you won’t have to leave him in the hotel room to see the sites.

  • What to do: The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park and public transportation are all open to four-legged visitors. Your dog will get a kick out of seeing the sea lions off Pier 39, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better souvenir than a picture of him riding a cable car. Plus, all of those hills are a great workout for the whole family.
  • Where to stay: Many major hotels in prime San Francisco locations allow pets, including the JW Marriott Union Square ($75 fee), the InterContinental, Hilton and Westin.

Portland, Ore.: This mecca of microbrews and trendsetting facial hair is also one of the dog-friendliest cities in the U.S., with the most off-leash dog parks per capita (32).

  • What to do: Spend an afternoon at Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland, which earns 4.5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor and was the first city park named to the National Register of Historic Places. Afterward, walk east to 28th Avenue and snap a picture of the retro Laurelhurst Theater sign before grabbing a pint of local beer at Coalition Brewing’s dog-friendly beer garden.
  • Where to stay: Like all Kimpton properties, Hotel Monaco downtown allows pets of all kinds for no additional fee, with free extras like a dog bed, treats and eco-friendly cleanup bags. Or, stay in the bustling Pearl District at The Benson for a $25 fee.

Boston: Well-behaved dogs on leashes can ride the T (Boston’s subway system) outside of rush hour, and smaller pets in carriers can travel on your lap anytime.

  • What to do: One of Beantown’s most popular tourist attractions, The Freedom Trail, is the perfect activity for visitors and their pets. Follow the red brick or painted line that connects all 16 sites, including the site of the Boston Massacre, the Paul Revere House and Boston Common, with an area where dogs can run off-leash during designated hours.
  • Where to stay: The famous Omni Parker House is two blocks from Boston Common and allows smalls pets (under 25 pounds) for a $50 fee. For families with bigger pups, the “In the Doghouse” package at Kimpton’s Nine Zero Hotel starts at $249 per night.

Chicago: In neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Bucktown, it seems like almost everyone has a dog. Venture out to these popular areas and dine among the locals on a dog-friendly patio, or hit the downtown hot spots with your pet in tow.

  • What to do: Chicago’s lakefront is a must-see in the summer, and the 18-mile Lakefront Trail -- with a couple dog beaches along the way -- is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Other pet-friendly attractions include Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile and even a canine cruise.
  • Where to stay: The historic Palmer House, a block from State Street shopping and Millennium Park, allows pets for a nominal fee, as does the Renaissance Blackstone across the street from Buckingham Fountain.

Myrtle Beach: Dogs on leashes are allowed on the beach in this seaside South Carolina town before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. through Labor Day, and anytime September-April.

  • What to do: When the beach is off limits, visit one of Myrtle Beach’s two Barc Parks, including the 14-acre park on a former Air Force Base with a large lake, training structures and separate areas for big and small dogs.
  • Where to stay: The Myrtle Beach Visitors & Conventions Bureau has a list of 20 pet-friendly accommodations, including national chains like Holiday Inn Express, oceanfront boutique hotels and vacation rentals.

Check Fly.com for the best fares to all of these destinations, and learn everything you need to know about pet plane travel on the Fly.com blog.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, Chicago
Sunday, July 1, 2012
See more Tips from
Erica Wacker