As avid dog lovers and owners, my husband and I are always on the lookout for fun and exciting things that we can do with our "furson" Jaxson, a ten-year old beagle. Our dog is part of our family and particularly as he got older truly enjoys going away with us. Jaxson knows what the word “fun” means - you can see him wag his tail vigorously and howl when that word is uttered, in sheer anticipation of the dog-friendly vacation (dogcation) we’re about to take!
So, it became a priority of mine to look for dog-friendly vacations of all varieties: near and far, day trips and extended stays, summer and winter trips, etc. And by “dog-friendly vacation” I obviously mean a place of lodging that would allow Jaxson to stay, but also a destination that would offer an abundance of activities fit for both human parents and furkids alike.
We currently have numerous dogcations under our belt that were a total hit. However, planning a potential itinerary wasn’t as easy as you would think. I mean a lot of people probably go away with their dogs…so if I Google “dog-friendly” and my destination of choice, you would think there would be numerous articles devoted to a topic as simple as this, right? Wrong. Most of the “articles” focused on dog parks, some basic hikes, hot dog stands, and things that to me were pretty obviously dog-friendly. I needed more. I wanted to experience with my dog the real local flair of the destination (and by local I mean brings originality to the town not a chain restaurant with outdoor seating).
I’d usually start by thinking of something fun we’d all want to do and then I made some calls. For example, a lot of high-end local restaurants on Yelp say they have “outdoor seating” but are not actually dog-friendly, and some restaurants are listed as not allowing dogs but when you call, you find out dogs are welcome. Or take the fact I enjoy a fine glass of wine. So if there’s a highly-rated winery in the area I usually want to give it a try. The winery websites I saw didn’t necessarily specify dog-friendly but I gave them a ring and I found many wineries and breweries that allow dogs.
Sometimes there were the completely spontaneous activities we came across. We randomly asked a rickshaw driver in Key West if he’d take the three of us on a tour down Duval St. (see the picture below of Jaxson admiring the sights when he agreed!) When dockside dining on the same trip, we noticed a sign in front of a boat about afternoon sails. We asked the captain if we could bring our dog on one of the charters. He said they hadn’t had any dogs onboard previously but that Jaxson was welcome – good thing we asked!
So what to expect from the Dogcation series. I will spotlight wonderful dog-friendly adventures that we've experienced. I’ll also go through some items that did NOT live up to expectations and that I would steer clear from as a pet parent. So follow my Dogcation posts on Bridle & Bone's blog and subscribe by email. You can also follow Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC on Facebook and on Instagram to stay up to date on our adventures.
Next month will feature the first spotlight of our winter dogcation in Rutland, Vermont at The Paw House Inn. I hope this information is helpful to all you dog owners out there who want to take vacations with their beloved pooch/pooches, but may have no idea where to start or were unsuccessful in finding all the gems that truly are dog friendly.
Do you like to travel with your dog? Comment below with your favorite dogcation experience!
Amy Molnar Schwebel is a New Jersey native who works in the publishing industry in marketing by day. When not working she enjoys travel, fine dining, live music, and her number one passion, spending time with her pooch Jaxson. Amy also revels in writing the Dogcation series for Bridle & Bone, hoping to inform other pet parents that the world is your oyster when it comes to journeying with your dog.