The holidays are a great time for friends and family — pets included. But it's not always easy to find places where cats and dogs are welcome or come up with pet-friendly activities and gifts.
And let's face it — the best dog-friendly destinations are ones where you and your pet can spend time together. Well look no further, we've got your guide to creating the best dog-friendly holiday ever.
Explore our list of 75 holiday ideas for your furry best friends.
Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations
The best dog-friendly vacation spots have plenty of outdoor space for your pup to roam. But that doesn't mean you have to travel to a remote island to see gorgeous beaches or mountains with your dog. Visit one of these 52 pet-friendly destinations this holiday season.
During the pandemic, a surge in pet adoptions prompted every city and town in America to make their parks and hotels pet-friendly. Plan a trip to a new city with your pup this year.
1. Asheville, North Carolina
This hidden gem is a quaint, friendly, and artistic town that tops the charts for many dog-friendly vacation spot lists. They have tons of parks, boutiques, and breweries that all welcome pups. Asheville, North Carolina has the charm of the south but an art scene that rivals New York.
2. Austin, Texas
Austin is a great city to live in if you own a dog or cat with tons of affordable bars, restaurants, and eateries. They even have the most cat cafes in the country. They have over 500 dog-friendly rentals and hotels and dogs are welcome in most places if leashed and registered with the dog park.
3. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado is a great spot for your dog during the holiday season. The natural landscape makes for great hiking a mountain or spending a day by the lake. Colorado Springs is the more affordable town to Denver and Aurora and has access to the beautiful Garden of the Gods park.
4. New York City, New York
New York City isn't the most welcoming destination for your canine friends, but Manhattan is very walkable. But if you want to get out of the city, head to Lake Placid. Lake Placid is a five-hour road trip outside of the city and offers swimming, nature trails, and lots of other pups to play with.
5. Portland, Oregon
Portland is one of the greatest dog-friendly vacation destinations in the Pacific Northwest. They have over 400 dog-friendly restaurants and have lots of great hiking trails and parks to wander. In fact, they have the most dog parks per capita than any other city in the country.
6. San Diego, California
San Diego has impeccable weather and the intimacy of a small island, which makes it a top destination for your four-legged friends. San Diego is close to many beaches, miles of trails, and access to a dog park in 10 minutes or less.
7. San Francisco, California
San Francisco is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States. This makes it easy for shopping, site seeing, and running errands with your pooch. There are tons of dog parks and little to no rain all year.
8. Scottsdale, Arizona
Plenty of affordable dog-friendly homes make Scottsdale a great city for pet owners and visitors. And if you're looking for some time without the pups, Scottsdale is one of the safest destinations to find pet-sitting for your pooch.
9. Seattle, Washington
Even though Seattle has rain year-round, it still makes the list as one of the best dog-friendly vacation destinations. Seattle can often seem as though there are more dogs than people. There are plenty of parks to explore with your pup and tasty restaurants to try in Seattle.
10. St. Petersburg, Florida
An hour or two south of the hustle and bustle of Orlando and Tampa — St. Petersburg, Florida is a fun destination to take your dog or cat to. Nearly every mall allows dogs so you can do some holiday shopping with your best friend.
Pet-Friendly National Parks
There are tons of parks and campgrounds across the country where pets are welcome. Check out these pet-friendly national parks.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
One of the most scenic destinations in New England, Acadia offers 100 hiking trails and the option to stay over in various campgrounds. Outside of hiking, leashed dogs can canoe or kayak in the lake if they enjoy the water.
2. Badlands, South Dakota
The Badlands are a popular place for humans and dogs alike. Bring your furry friend along trails and dirt byways to get away from the busy highways. Watch out for prairie dogs in the area to keep both your dog and the wildlife safe.
3. Congaree, South Carolina
Congaree is the perfect park for high-energy pups and the weather is warm year-round. Dogs are welcome on trails and campgrounds. Head to the boardwalk for a quick stroll or sign your dog up for kayak adventures in Cedar Creek.
4. Crater Lake, Oregon
Looking for overnight camping and hiking destinations? Crater Lake is the place for you. The park centers around Crater Lake and allows dogs on designated trails and paved walking paths. But dogs are not allowed to swim in the lake.
5. Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley is perfect for hikers who love scenic routes. As long as you keep your dog leashed, you can take them to most places. The great climate in Ohio makes it a top choice year-round.
6. Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, Colorado
Colorado is full of amazing mountains and scenic landscapes to take your dog. But Great Sand Dunes is one of the few destinations that allow dogs in its main areas. Indoor areas, backcountry, and higher dunes restrict access for dogs so look out for signage.
7. Hot Springs, Arkansas
Like most parks, dogs aren't allowed in buildings and visitor centers. But Hot Springs National Park has 26 miles of trails and waste stations that make it perfect for dog parents training their dogs to love the leash.
8. New River Gorge, West Virginia
If you have a good swimmer in your house then this park is for you. All trails in the park and preserve are dog-friendly. Plus, there are tons of water activities for your pooch to enjoy.
9. Olympic, Washington
As with other national parks, pets are allowed on main trails, picnic areas, and camping grounds. There are some restrictions on certain trails so read the signage and do your research. Visit Olympic National Park in the springtime for the best experience.
10. Petrified Forest, Arizona
This park is a rare gem with less foot traffic than other parks. Dogs can roam on trails and roads and can grab a snack from the park rangers. The colorful, petrified logs are fun landscapes for you and your pup to explore. Bring lots of water to keep your pets hydrated.
11. Shenandoah, Virginia
Out of its 500 miles of trails, only 20 are off-limits to your dog. Pets are welcome in trails, campgrounds, and pull outs along Skyline Drive. This is a dream park for a day of hiking with your pooch.
12. White Sands, New Mexico
White Sands is one of the most dog-friendly parks in the United States. Your dog can run free throughout the park and even try sandboarding. Experts recommend having your pup gear paw pads to protect their feet on the hot sand.
13. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Wrangell-St. Elias is a very welcoming park for your dogs. Pets are allowed in most areas but because trapping is popular and legal in Alaska make sure your pup is on a tight leash at all times. Scan the area for traps before traversing the park.
14. Yellowstone, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is a beautiful environment that houses many species of wild animals. Because of that, Yellowstone has stronger restrictions than most parks. Dogs are allowed in developed areas and must be leashed or in crates at all times.
#15. Yosemite, California
Yosemite is a wonderful site for dogs and humans alike. The landscape and atmosphere are breathtaking. As with other parks, dogs are allowed only in developed areas. This includes paved roads and bicycle paths.
One of the greatest dog-friendly vacation destinations is at the beach. Explore these dog-friendly beaches where your furry friend can run, swim, and sunbathe.
1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is a well-known beach with almost four miles of coastline to explore. The best time to visit is in the summer and early fall. The area houses some historic Oregon landmarks and tidepools.
2. Double Bluff Beach, Washington
If Washington is on your bucket list, then Double Bluff Beach is a stop you can't miss. You can spend a day hiking at Olympic National Park and head down to the beach the next day to swim in the bay. The flat beach and off-leash areas are perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.
3. Duck Beach, North Carolina
Looking for an overnight experience? Duck Beach is the place for you. To access the nearly seven-mile stretch of beaches you'll need to stay at a local rental or hotel. From early spring to mid-fall, this point is almost like a private getaway from the hustle and bustle of normal beaches.
4. Jupiter Dog Beach, Florida
Jupiter offers 2.5 miles of sand and surf for your dog to explore, plus free parking and a wash area. If your pup is well-socialized they can explore off-leash. Afterwards, head up to local eateries for a bite to eat and bring water bowls to stay hydrated.
5. Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago
If you're looking to escape the city, Montrose is a great day-trip option for your pooch. Head to the off-leash fenced area if your dog is healthy, vaccinated, and tagged. And clean up sandy paws at the wash stations on your way out.
#6. Wildwood Dog Beach, New Jersey
Wildwood in New Jersey offers the flexibility of a fenced-in area for some time off-leash and stretches of coast to walk your canine friends. Did we mention they have one of the largest fire hydrant sculptures you've ever seen? Wildwood is the quintessential, dog-friendly beach.
Camping may not be an option when traveling with a pet, especially if you don't have a small dog. But what hotels have pet-friendly accommodations? Here are 9 dog-friendly hotels to research for your next visit.
1. Best Western
The Best Western hotel chain has over 1,200 pet-friendly locations in the United States. They welcome dogs, cats, and even birds. Most hotels allow two dogs up to 80 lbs. each with a $30 per day room charge.
2. Choice Hotels
Many of the Choice Hotels group locations are dog-friendly, but be sure to pack your own dog bed. Like other places, they have breed and weight restrictions so if you have a larger dog breed you'll need to request permission ahead of time.
3. Extended Stay America
For short or long-term stays, Extended Stay America suites are a great alternative for you and your dog. Their standard amenities keep your pup happy and safe. They have daily charges to cover cleaning and fumigation. But, service animals are exempt from this fee.
4. Four Seasons
Each Four Seasons destination is unique, but most locations are a luxury option for your pooch. They offer cozy, welcome amenities like plush beds, bandanas, and homemade dog biscuits. They have limitations on size but allow dogs in many common areas and hotel restaurants.
Hilton offers over 5,000 dog-friendly locations among its suite of brands. Each of its destinations has its own unique perks and requirements but most offer welcome bags of treats, toys, and more.
6. Kimpton Hotels
Kimpton is one of the most pet-friendly hotel chains in the United States. They have no size, weight, or number limits and have a concierge that can provide pet-friendly restaurants and happenings in the area.
Three of the popular hotel chain locations have unique and fun amenities for your pets. You can request a heavenly dog bed at the Westin, treats and toys at Aloft, and a custom welcome bag at Element for dogs up to 40 lbs.
8. Motel 6
Motel 6 is an affordable option for road warriors and nature lovers. Their locations are all over the United States in some of the most dog-friendly places. They even have a Spotify playlist for a relaxing stay.
9. Red Roof Inn
The Red Roof Inn is one of the only hotel destinations where pets stay for free. Their policy states that pets should be cleaned up after, never left alone, and checked in with their pet parent. Dog owners can follow them on social media for tips and tricks for traveling with their pets.
Pet-Friendly Eateries & Stores
The holidays are better with your pets. And going out to eat or holiday shopping doesn't have to be done with your dog at home. Check out these restaurants and stores when preparing for and celebrating the holiday season.
1. Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro is a popular spot for pups who love the great outdoors. If your pooch is leashed and vaccinated they can explore the stores and practice their hunting gaze. They even have special dog events, like pictures with Santa, so check their social media for updates.
If you're taking a road trip to see family for the holidays then searching for grassy spots can be difficult. Most Buc-ee's gas stations provide designated "relief" areas with plenty of poop bags and trash cans around. Only service animals are allowed inside.
3. Dairy Queen
Going through the drive-through is always the best option at Dairy Queen. But you can also grab a "pup cup" — vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit — and enjoy the weather on their outdoor patios.
4. Inn-and-Out Burger
As with other fast-food establishments, you'll have to drive through to get a treat for your dog. But the popular chain provides unseasoned hamburgers that are a crowd-pleaser for most pups.
Working on a home improvement project? Get your dog involved with a trip to Lowes. Most locations are dog-friendly as long as your dog is leashed and well-behaved. Home Depot is often dog-friendly but call ahead if you're unsure about your local store.
LUSH cosmetics is a great place to shop if you're looking for a gift that says, "I love animals." Their products are cruelty-free and dogs are allowed in the stores as long as they are leashed.
If you're in a bind doing last-minute holiday shopping for your pooch, Nordstrom is a great location for you and your dog. They've been dog-friendly for over 30 years and love seeing your furry friends.
8. Petco and PetSmart
Not surprisingly, these two stores top the list for pets of all kinds. Be sure to keep your dog leashed to avoid contact with other pets and request a treat at checkout.
9. Shake Shack
While their locations aren't available nationwide, Shake Shack is one of the most dog-friendly destinations in the US. They have open patios to sit outside and offer a menu just for your dog.
Looking for an Instagram moment? Starbucks is the perfect place for a picture. When driving through, order a "puppuccino" to get a whipped cream-packed cup of goodness for your dog.
11. TJ Maxx
This discount shopping conglomerate is an affordable place to search for human and pet presents with your canine friend in tow. Rules vary by location, so make sure you call ahead before bringing your dog along.
12. Tractor Supply Co.
While this store might not be on your weekly errand list, its 2,000 locations are extremely dog-friendly. Dog parents looking to improve their pup's socialization skills can practice leash training.
Tips For a Safe Holiday With Your Pets
Incorporating your furry friends in your holiday plans is an important and necessary part of pet parenting. Prepare them for a joyful season with these fun activities, gift ideas, and safety tips.
#Holiday Pet Activities
Oftentimes, the best dog-friendly vacation spots can be found right at home. And if you have an anxious pet, staying home can be a relief for you and your dog. Try out these fun activities in your own town.
1. Traverse a hiking trail.#
Off-leash dog parks aren't the only places to exercise your pooch. There are miles of trails in the United States that are perfect for your four-legged friends. And you can usually find local hiking trails within a 10-mile radius in your town or city.
Look for trails that have designated parking, on or off-leash dog policies and access to clean water. If you have a reactive dog, you may want to look for walking trails that have less foot traffic.
2. Discover your own backyard.
Depending on the season, your backyard can be a great place to explore. Make a leaf or snow pile for your dog to jump in head first. Or get the kids involved and build an obstacle course they can run through.
Backyards are also great for training. Practice your recall routine by having your dog sit and wait while you place treats throughout the yard. Then say "seek" and allow them to search to find them. Call them back to the original spot and repeat.
3. Plan a staycation.
Cozy up with your pooch right at home. Stop by a local pet store and buy a few of your pet's favorite treats or toys. Look for puzzles and interactive toys that mentally stimulate their brains and wear them out.
Another option is testing out a homemade dog treat recipe. After all, the best way to a dog's heart is through their stomach. Make festive frozen yogurt treats or bone broth carrot sticks for your dog to eat.
4. Take a yoga class.
You can take a yoga class virtually or in person. There are lots of local spots that offer pop-ups outdoors where you can stretch and your dog can play. But if you'd rather stay at home, there are tons of free videos on YouTube that you can follow along with.
You can also get your heart rate up with a game of hide-and-seek. Have a friend or family member cover your pet's eyes while you place a toy or yourself in another room. Allow your dog to sniff and search then start over again.
Holiday Gifts for Pets
Finding the perfect gift is stressful on its own. Add all your furry family members to the mix and it becomes even harder. If you're stumped for ideas, try these gifts on for size this holiday season:
2. Plush toys
7. Lick pad
11. Pet insurance
12. DNA Test
13. Spa day
14. Dog park membership
Holiday Safety Tips for Pets
Keeping your pet safe during the holidays is super important. Especially when you factor in the weather, dangerous foods, and hazardous decor. Follow these holiday pet safety tips for a happy, healthy holiday season.
1. Dog and cat-proof your home.
Many seasonal decorations like plants and candles are actually holiday hazards for pets. Do a scan of your home after decorating to ensure items are out of reach from your furry friends.
2. Make a list of safe foods to share.
Even though your pets are meat eaters, they are certain items that they should avoid. The most common food threats include chocolate, grapes, bones, ham, onions, and garlic.
3. Check the weather forecast.
A good practice to follow is if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your pets. Protect your pet's paw pads by keeping them clean and applying petroleum jelly as needed. Avoid baths, haircuts, and excess time outside.
4. Protect your pets year-round.
Shopping for a last minute pet gift?