Our dogs treat us to kisses, snuggles and cuddles every day, and it’s about time we return the favor. This National Dog Day – Aug. 26 – pack up your pup for a new adventure in these dog-friendly places where canines receive all the perks of people, and sometimes more.
If you and your fur-bestie have a need for speed, board the aptly named Seadog Cruises, a banana-yellow speedboat that rockets off from Navy Pier for a 75-minute zip across Lake Michigan and down the Chicago River. Afterward, belly up to the bar for libations at the South Loop’s Vice District Brewing where dogs are allowed indoors for plenty of hands-on attention. If you still have energy to burn, spend an hour at the Montrose Beach Dog Friendly Area, where playful pups (and their parents) can run free and splash in the surf.
Austin summers are known for the vibrant music scene, exceptional cuisine and nightly bat flights from under the Congress Bridge, but it’s also one of the dog-friendliest cities in the country.
“Dog culture is huge here,” says Megan Marrs, founder of the dog care website K9 of Mine. In addition to modern dog parks where owners can order a glass of beer or a margarita while staff manages dog playtime, she says “there’s also Ladybird Lake where you’ll frequently see paddle boarders and kayakers with their dogs beside them and the hiking trails of the Greenbelt, which are often frequented by four-footers.” Tito’s Vodka, which is headquartered in Austin, even calls themselves “the vodka for dog people.” We’ll clink to that.
Asbury Park, N.J.
Have some fun in the sun with your pooch in this newly revitalized shore town that features a dedicated off-leash dog beach (pet cats and pigs and the occasional wild seal also have been spotted here) and a yappy hour at the renowned Wonder Bar, where celebs like Bruce Springsteen and Jack Antonoff sometimes pop in. When you’ve worked up an appetite, make a reservation at downtown’s Asbury Ale House, which features al fresco dining and dog entrees consisting of chicken, ground beef or vegetables with white rice or penne pasta, plus treats.
National Dog Day falls on a Monday this year, but there’s no reason you can’t get a head start on Sunday at one of Minneapolis’s dog-friendly farmers markets, like the one in Linden Hills, for people who’re “into produce, proteins, pretty posies + perfect potables” – and cute pups, of course. If you like to shop ’til you drop, grab the leash and browse Nordstrom at Mall of America. (Snap a few photos while you’re here, too, and tag them with #dogsofnordstrom on Instagram.) When your thirst requires quenching, pick up the pup-ular Minneapolis-St. Paul Dog-Friendly Brewery Pass (currently half-price at $12.50 and valid through Halloween!), which scores you a pint at 32 dog-welcoming taprooms in the area with proceeds benefiting Pause 4 Paws to support local animal rescues’ life-saving efforts.
Posh Carmel-by-the-Sea, located on California’s central coast in Monterey County, rolls out the red carpet for its furry friends with more than 25 pet-friendly hotels and inns, including the historic Cypress Inn, co-owned by actress Doris Day and Dennis LeVett and named the most famous dog-friendly hotel in the country by Sunset Magazine. Enjoy yappy hour at the inn’s restaurant, Terry’s Lounge, or find a local wine-tasting room where the doggy door is always open. The best part of this seaside experience, however, is posting up on Carmel Beach for a frolic in the sand while experiencing a breathtaking West Coast sunset.
Check in to the famed Hermitage Hotel upon arriving in Music City where your good boy or girl will sit in the lap of luxury on specialty pet bedding and enjoy perks like nightly pet turn-down service and an on-call pet masseuse. After a solid night’s sleep, start your day at BarkPark, which hosts a variety of events, like free monthly grooming sessions, doggy arts and crafts, Portraits in the Park with professional “phoDOGgraphers” and an Open Bark Night. Midday, visit canine-catering Barista Parlor for a caffeinated pick-me-up before sinking your teeth into award-winning BBQ at Edley’s East Nashville location, everything of which is in walking distance of one another.
After enjoying play time in Spokane’s first urban dog park in the heart of downtown, which opened this past spring, head to one of at least 10 dog-friendly patios that offer everything from basic brews (Tamarack Public House offers free dog treats) to fine dining (order the shrimp and grits for brunch at Casper Fry while you watch your pup play on the porch). When the mimosas run dry, keep each other safe on a Two Dog City ghost tour, an hour-and-a-half trek through one of the area’s most haunted neighborhoods, on which water and poopy bags are provided.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He spends his time writing from the beach with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyrox