Doggone Fun! DogFriendly.com’s 2011 Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to Visit In the U.S.

DogFriendly.com’s Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities in the United States for 2011 give you a wide variety of pet-friendly places to visit.

Portland Oregon tops DogFriendly.com’s 2011 list of the pet-friendliest vacation cities in the United States. Home to the famous and dog-friendly Rose Gardens and the Lucky Lab you and your dog would have a great time in Portland. These top cities are chosen for their pet-friendly accommodations, transportation, beaches, park, attractions, stores, dining and more. Here are the remainder of this year’s Top 10:

2. Chicago – Visit the Navy Pier, dine in elegance, cruise on a pet-friendly tour boat or walk the parks of the city.

3. San Diego – The country’s best dog beaches and trails and world class pet-friendly shopping centers.

4. Seattle – Take public transportation with your leashed dog. Many pet-friendly venues in a dog-friendly city.

5. Philadelphia – Get a famous cheese steak. See historic early American sites and stay in a downtown luxurious hotel.

6. Minneapolis – Great hiking trails and parks, pet-friendly dining. A pet-friendly atmosphere throughout.

7. Austin – Dog-Friendly parks. Outdoor cafes. Take tours and see the sites. See the Zilker Gardens and the Congress Street bats.

8. Alexandria/ Washington D.C. – See the capital’s sites, walk in charming Old Town, take a dog cruise on the Potomac.

9. New York – Luxury hotels welcome dogs, Central park beckons, off-leash parks everywhere. Shop the famous stores with your dog.

10. Indianapolis – Many historical sites, Nature preserves, trails and parks. Many of the cities tourist sites can be viewed with a dog.

Honorable Mentions: Charlotte, Dallas, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh.

Since 1998, DogFriendly.com has been providing information for people who travel with Dogs world-wide.  Find the dog-friendly guides on the web, as a free iPhone app, Android app and mobile website and as paperback books and Kindle, Nook and other ebooks.

Len and Tara Kain and dogs Yukon and Benji

Len and Tara Kain and dogs Yukon and Benji

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63 Responses to “Doggone Fun! DogFriendly.com’s 2011 Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to Visit In the U.S.”

  1. Robin says:

    I was told by a park ranger in NYC that there were no dog parks in Central Park. Apparently he was lying to me. LOL Why is Boston not on this list? Boston is the most dog friendly city I have ever been too all but a couple of the cities on the list. You can even take your dog on the “T” (subway) which makes dog friendly travel alot easier (and cheaper.

    Robin & Belle

  2. DogFriendly.com says:

    For the first time this year in our Top 10 Cities List, we added a criteria for breed restrictive laws. Some cities, including Boston, although generally very dog-friendly were hurt by this new category. Boston requires all dogs resembling pit-bulls to be muzzled in public.

  3. Kathy says:

    I’ve had polar opposite experiences in the past two years. Last year was a bad experience, this year was a great experience.

    This year we were in San Francisco & Lake Tahoe and both are hands down, dog friendly towns. In San Francisco, every park we’ve been to not only allows dogs, but leashes are optional & socialization with other dogs is encouraged. Lake Tahoe allows dogs to eat with their owners in outdoor cafes & restaurants and the waitstaff will bring water bowls for them. Great experience!

    On the other hand, last year we drove to Wyoming. While we followed all the AAA guidelines for pet friendly hotels & such, but there weren’t many parks or outdoor restaurants that accepted them. Yellowstone was a huge disappointment. Yes, you can bring your dogs to certain cabins, but they could not be outside in any area besides the parking lot, and forget about taking them on ANY hiking tours. The excuse was wildlife and hot springs could cause them harm, but I was on several hikes (while my girls were in kennels) that posed no threats. Major thumbs down.

    Zoey & Zagnut

  4. [...] the rest of the list at DogFriendly.com. Share this No comments [...]

  5. Tisha says:

    This info is wonderful. We have never boarded our Doxies, they have always traveled with us. It can be quite a challenge to find accommodations for us and our beloved pets. I love that you gave info on other activities that allow pets. It’s no fun for the dogs to have to stay in the hotel all the time while we see the sites. Thanks for sharing this info.

  6. What a great idea for a list! I should maybe create a ‘dog friendly’ list for the UK :)

  7. Noelle says:

    Strange list, who is responsible? Do they actually spend time with a dog in these cities? Seriously, I have spent significant time in all but one of these cities, and have lived in 3. I can tell you this, NYC is NOT dog friendly, most restaurants will not allow them in the outdoor spaces, only small portions of some parks are open for off-leash only before 9 am and after 9 pm, and some don’t even allow them on leash, for example the High Line and new Brooklyn Bridge Park. NOT friendly at all. San Diego has a couple of beaches which allow dogs, but otherwise, NOT friendly. Many green spots don’t even allow dogs on leash during your typical “human” use hours, and trees have grates around them so dogs can’t do their business. A couple of cities are curiously missing, San Francisco is immensely dog friendly. Try to force new regulations on dogs and all hell breaks loose. Off-leash beaches and parks abound, and any restaurant with outdoor seating allows dogs, even many shops. Carmel, CA is the most dog friendly place on the planet,but maybe too small for this list. But San Francisco is a big miss here, statistics show more dogs than children there, and they have a lot of privileges. Seattle and Portland are friendly, but Philadelphia and Chicago only moderately so.

  8. Matthew Laver says:

    Great list!! While my view might be a bit skewed since I wasn’t able to have my dog with me, I’d like to mention fairbanks and Anchorage as good cities as well. I realize its in alaska and they are pretty small compared to the large cities but I was paying attention to dog laws and the number of dogs around ( mainly cause I wish I had mine with me). It seemed very very pet friendly. I was always asking hotels, stores, and parks what their pet policy was and most were very welcoming of pets, usually just requiring a leash. When I talked to owners about it, they usually told me that they love the freedom they have up there for traveling and doing stuff with their dogs. I just wanted to throw the shout out for traveling and staying in those cities since I am guessing they might have been looked over due to their relatively low numbers compared to the cities listed above :)

  9. Matt Goebel says:

    What about WOLFDOGS/WOLF HYBRIDS? Your site includes everything but these? I come to find real answers like #of dog parks, hybrid laws, vets available, etc. BUT all you have is travel/tourist fluff. I can find the same information on travel.com, etc. Just like toy breeds, your site has taken/or bred the dog out of the dog.

  10. DogFriendly.com says:

    From a reader:

    I think San Francisco used to be listed in your Top 10. Why not this year? Thanks for a great website!

  11. DogFriendly.com says:

    Although still dog-friendly San Francisco is going the wrong direction with less attractions open to dogs then before, some of the old off-leash beaches and parks no longer so, and you can’t even walk your dog anymore across the Golden Gate Bridge on the bridge sidewalk. In other ways, still dog-friendly.

  12. Mary says:

    Hi Tisha,

    I travel with my great Pyrenees/German Shepard mix a lot and I never found a hotel that I am allowed to keep the dog behind. Have you found a chain or are you leaving the dogs behind and hoping there is not a problem?
    My dog is well behaved but I afraid the one time I risk it is the one time he decided to bark non stop or worse.

    Mary

  13. DogGiel says:

    What about Colorado Springs? I’ve never seen such a dog friendly place. People walk their dogs downtown, eat in cafe’s that have dog ties, some shops even allow dogs inside. There are tons of parks and if people aren’t walking, usually with their dogs, they are riding their bikes. Dogs were even allowed at many tourist spots.

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  15. CorgiGirl says:

    I agree with some posters that San Francisco, from what my friends who live there tell me, is far more dog friendly than most of the cities on this list. San Fran allows dogs in malls, stores, even grocery stores. Don’t even TRY that in Chicago, where I live. I cannot believe we made #2, as I really don’t feel this city is all that dog friendly. There are dog parks and petsmarts everywhere, yes, and the Apple store allows dogs (but they all do), but try to go anywhere else with them, and you will be DENIED. Millenium Park isn’t even dog friendly, and that’s our main tourist attraction right now.

    This list needs a redo…

  16. I’m proud to see Indianapolis on this list! We love our city!

  17. Brian says:

    This list has absolutely no credibilty without having Denver, Colorado on it. Denver is hands down the most dog friendly city in the nation. Did anybody actually research this article. It’s not even a competition. There are several other Colorado cities that would be at the top of this list as well. This is really not good if you claim to be an authority on dog friendliness.

  18. Brian says:

    Dogs are welcome in restaurants in Denver!

  19. DogFriendly.com says:

    Denver has not been on our list due in large part to it’s complete ban on pit bulls and other terriers or mutts that resemble them. This eliminates at least 5% of dog owners from traveling there. Colorado Springs was an honorable mention on our Top 10 Regions list this year at http://dogfriendly.com/dognews/?p=1315

  20. Jasmine says:

    I know it’s not exactly a city but a town, but Eureka Springs, AR should have made the list! Never in all my life has my dog (a chihuahua/rat terrier mix) been able to go in so many many shops. It really is wonderful place to bring your pup to.

  21. JoAnne Bratton says:

    Just returned from Chattanooga, TN. NOT dog friendly at all. We stayed in a Pet Friendly Best Western. When we went to explore the city parks and all the other attractions, we were met with park rangers immediately and told no pets allowed anywhere in the city. But we went to See Rock City and pets are allowed (a must see…. phenomenal). Last year we went to Savannah, GA and they are real pet friendly there.

  22. Definitely not Denver! They have one of the most breed restrictive laws in the nation. Denver is way, way down on Dog Friendliness! Boo to Denver!

    San Francisco has a breed restrictive law that says all pit bulls and pit bull types must be spayed or neutered. Also, in San Francisco, there is on-going battles with Golden Gate National Recreation Area and existing off-leash areas. GGNRA is taking away existing spaces and enforcing beach restrictions. Plus, the SPCA is borderline in the dumper. Once it was the shelter to look up to. Now, it is a laughing stock and cutting life-saving, long term programs that have been the base of the shelter for decades. Boo to the SF/SPCA. San Francisco has changed a lot in regards to being helpful to animals. It has a long way to make its way back.

    I would like to put in my two cents for Motel 6. I have traveled throughout the West Coast and SouthWest and stayed in Motel 6′s all the way. They are extremely dog friendly. Some of the locations are not the most desirable, but the prices are extremely affordable. I would not visit the locations for the ambience, but if you need an affordable room with your dog, Motel 6 is the way to go.

  23. Robbie S says:

    i have a big dog, 115 lbs, a mix, mastif and ??. he’s so sweet and lazy and would never chew up anything or poop anywhere near wher he stays. he lays down, stays in one place, socializes well. loves kids and al most all humans (unless they scare me!). there are so many places that won’t allow a dog like this……any good suggestions?

  24. SLM says:

    Savannah, Georgia, is indeed dog friendly – particularly Forsythe Park. The Westin Hotel chain is very dog friendly, and dogs are welcome at many outdoor cafes. Charleston, South Carolina, is very dog friendly. Dogs are welcome at several luxury hotels, parks and outdoor restaurants. What about Key West? I have not been there, but I understand it is very accommodating to visitors traveling with their dogs.

  25. Shine says:

    In our subdivision, they circulated a memo that no dog is allowed outside the owner’s property unless leashed. If you let your dog out they will get it and you have to pay a high fee to get your dog back.

  26. mia says:

    I love dogs I have two of my home Ella and
    Lukey

  27. Ying says:

    It is very informative as many of us has a dog.
    Thanks

  28. Janie says:

    Wow, not a Florida city in the list :(

  29. David says:

    I Cannot believe that San Jose/Silicon Valley is not on this list.

  30. [...] is definitely dog-friendly, possibly one of the most dog-friendly cities in North America, if there were such a survey. A luxe hotel encourages pet visitors. Community dog [...]

  31. tresura psa says:

    In my opinion every single piece of garden is batter than evey lux hotel for dogs.

    Big dogs like labradors need more open space than being between tiny walls of hotels:)

  32. Sheri says:

    I’m surprised by Brian’s response that Denver should be on here. I live in Denver and although I absolutely love it here, I would say that it is NOT dog friendly. While there are alot of dog boutiques, doggie daycares, dog washes, etc. the leash laws are EXTREMELY rigid. I can’t walk 2 blocks to my tiny neighborhood park and throw a ball for my very well behaved dog without the dog cops showing up and giving me an $80 ticket. There are only a handful of off leash parks that are nowhere close to where most people live and they are mostly dirt and mud (very little grass or water). Also, dogs are not allowed in restaurants. There are some outside patio areas that allow dogs. There are also many angry people in Denver that will approach and give you a piece of their mind if your dog is off leash (regardless if the dog is bothering the person or not). My boyfriend and I visited AUSTIN this weekend though and are so impressed by the dog friendliness of the city it makes me want to move there! Lots of off leash areas and everyone (hikers, runners, bikers, dog owners w/ and w/o leashes) getting along! Love it -hey definitely belong on this list! Yeah Austin, BOO Denver

  33. [...] Spring is almost here! Since the grass is turning green again, flowers are blooming, and the air is warming up, it is a great time to go on vacation. If you want to take your dog, get ideas of some pet friendly cities you can visit from DogFriendly.com – “Doggone Fun! DogFriendly.com’s 2011 Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to Visit In the U.S.” [...]

  34. Linda says:

    My husband & I would want to travel for the first time with both of Bullmastiffs to Traverse City, MI. Since this site is new to me, can you give me some suggestions on what to look for in accommodations? Thank you.

  35. Eve says:

    I agree with Noelle, NYC is NOT dog-friendly at all! Even outdoor restaurants will not allow a small dog. Miami however is a dog-friendly city, with most restaurants allowing dogs to sit in their outdoor dining areas (& will even provide water). Key Biscayne has a dog-friendly beach & there are many dog parks. Merrick Mall in Coral Gables & Bal Harbour Mall are both dog-friendly, many ladies with their pooches in tow!

  36. Marie says:

    I’m sad to say that on the whole, Indianapolis is not large-dog friendly.
    Although Broad Ripple offers some cute vendors and parks, if you intend to rent in and around Indianapolis and you have a “bully breed” you may be in for a struggle. Very few esthetically pleasing and crime-free condo/townhouse/apartment communities allow dogs over 60 pounds, let alone ones that carry a bad reputation. I own a Border Collie and a Cane Corso and after months, and months, and months of searching my fiancé finally had to beg a community to allow them-along with a non-refundable $250 deposit per pet, a higher rent per month, and a $30 pet-fee per month. I work as a trainer in the area, and it seems to be the consensus among my client’s that large breeds (especially Bully breeds) are not welcome in Indy.

  37. Crystal says:

    Surfside Beach and Murrells Inlet, SC are great tourist dog friendly destinations. Home of the Dead Dog Saloon. Google it.

  38. Chris says:

    How about St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida? I take my Aussie with me everywhere. She’s even welcome in some bars. In fact, the only two places I go to often that wont let her in is the grocery store and the gym. I can think of three dog beaches off the top of my head, two of which are in State Parks (Fort DeSoto, Honeymoon Isle). There’s lots of large, maintained, leash-free dog parks, most with ‘Big/Small’ Dog zones, water fountains, gratis poop bags. Friendly to Pitts as well. Only breed rule I’ve seen enforced is greyhounds have to be muzzled at dog parks for 6 months after they have left the track.

    Also, I grew up in Manhattan, and that is no place for dogs. Central Park Rangers are boorish and restrictive. What is the criteria for this list?

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  41. Portland IS CHANGING!!! says:

    I have lived in Downtown Portland for 2 years with my 3 year old Border Collie. Until recently Portland was an amazing place for a well-behaved dog. We would play soccer, frisbee, and he would fetch tennis balls down at the waterfront! Not anymore, they have cracked down hard on anyone with a dog off-lease in this area, too bad they don’t do something about the population of NON-migratory Canadian Geese that have turned the grand lawn into a fecal land-mine field.

    Now, instead of walking him, we need to jump in the car and travel 15-20 minutes to a designated off-leash area that is a joke compared to the beauty Portland, Oregon and the area has to offer, so now mushroom hunting and surfing are the only safe spots away from the rangers where he can get sufficient exercise.

    Portland, Oregon is a much more TOY dog friendly city, but that is the trade-off for having an working breed in the city, challenges everyday to keep them happy.

  42. [...] Dog Magazine ranked New York City as its #10 most dog-friendly city in the U.S. in 2011, DogFriendly.com ranked New York as #9, and TopTenz.com ranked New York [...]

  43. Crissy says:

    Last summer rented a pet friendly cabin in both West Virginia and Gatlinburg with our two small dogs and both were very pet friendly places. Gatlinburg was the best with some pet friendly resterauts on the strip and shops and we even got to explore some of the caverns and got to bring them in our doggie back packs, they loved it! Found a pet friendly beach were they could swim and if they weren’t seniors with arthritis, we would have been able to take them hiking! 2 of the best vacations we’ve had in a long time. We’ve also come to find that living in Ohio, we have some really pet friendly places here as well! Who knew!!!

  44. ChadH says:

    Sadly I’m not surprised to see my Atlanta did not make the list

  45. Karen A says:

    The Park Ranger was NOT lying. There are NO dog parks per se in Central Park. You may walk your dog there and have your dog off leash during certain early morning hours (before 9am I believe) There are dozens – maybe hundreds — of neighborhood dog runs and dog parks throughout Manhattan in practically every neighborhood, some are part of greater parks (Washignton Square, Tompkins Square, Union Square, Madison Square, eg) others are stand alone. Just google the neighborhood and dog run.

  46. Ronda says:

    The Villages, Fl very dog friendly. You can take your dog in every store and all outside eating establishments.

  47. Karin Brown says:

    Thanks for all the posts. We have 3 dogs – 2 puggles and a rescue medium mutt. Does anyone know dog hotels where we could take all 3 of them? Preferable CA and CO. Near lakes or beaches.

    Thank you, Karin

  48. Marion says:

    The Orlando, FL area is very dog friendly. Celebration tops the list. Lots of dog events in the area. Love the St Petersburg beach area too. Take our three on vacation there every year.

  49. Chris says:

    Kimpton hotels are VERY dog friendly. Several in CA

  50. Charlotte says:

    I would highly recommend Nashville, TN to be on this list. Lots of dog friendly hotels and restaurants, great hiking, tons of dog parks and beaches..

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