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(2014 - Spring/Summer Issue)


If you’re among the multitudes who insist dogs and cats exhibit near-human traits, it would appear your pets are, indeed, pulling some strings.

Almost overnight, popular travel destinations in Canada and the United States have multiplied their perks for furry family members—all of which means from now on, nothing stands in the way of your dog and cat going on vacation, too.

Lately, entire cities hunger to be known for their welcoming policies toward visiting pets. Hotel and motel options have increased. Restaurants, shops, parks, playgrounds and events are all doing their part. And some day-care kennels are now reinventing themselves as “pet hotels.”

In Ontario, dogs have a blast on multi-day canoe trips organized by tour company, Dog Paddling Adventures. In Vermont, you can attend a weeklong camp, which promises you much more fun with puppy training. When it’s hot, especially in Florida, shops put a dish of cold water outside for thirsty pups passing by. If you miss Woofstock in Toronto with its summer vibes promoting “peace, paws, and music,” head off to the Florida Keys for the same festival next March. And if you and pooch then plan to shop ’til you drop in the Sunshine State, a retailer north of Miami called Aventura Pups sells strollers for small breeds that need to rest and recharge.     

A quick glance at the website bringfido.com uncovers more than 1,500 hotels and motels as well as a number of campsites, parks, beaches and attractions that welcome your dog and cat across Canada. All of this is mirrored and multiplied in the United States. So let’s take a look at five standout cities where you can be sure your furry family member is going to be just as happy as you are. 

VICTORIA: On Vancouver Island, 90 minutes by ferry from the mainland, Victoria is a pretty provincial capital of blooms and great civility, making it a must-see city. In addition to several pet-friendly hotels and patio restaurants such as De’Lish Café and Barb’s Place Fish & Chips, your four-legged companion will be overjoyed with all the welcoming gardens and beaches. Go off-leash at Macauley Point Park or run, fetch and play ball on the hard-packed sand of French Beach Provincial Park. Even BC Ferries is dog-friendly however rules do apply. tourismvictoria.com; petfriendly.ca

CALGARY: This rapidly growing city of authentic western heritage has no fewer than 58 pet-friendly accommodation choices including house and condo rentals. EconoLodge and Delta locations are a sure bet, along with Wyndham, Sheraton and Radisson properties and the less familiar Nuvo Hotel Suites and Carriage House Inn. Following some playtime and fresh air in popular parks such as Nose Hill, Sandy Beach River and Southland (an off-leash spot), spend the evening dining on steaks, ribs and chili in the best cowboy bar in these parts: the Ranchman’s Cookhouse and Dancehall has a grand collection of rodeo memorabilia, plus a front patio where, with the owner’s consent, your best friend is allowed. visitcalgary.com

TORONTO: As many as 50 hotel properties will welcome you here with your pets. Stay at pet-friendly originals such as a Holiday Inn, Delta or Quality Inn. And recently Fairmont, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Radisson, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties have also introduced attractive pet policies. Plan your breakfast at Thor Espresso Bar, a burger lunch at The Longest Yard or an elegant dinner at Sassafraz in Yorkville. All three eateries say they welcome a limited number of well-behaved dogs on their patios. bringfido.com; seetorontonow.com

Canada’s HonoUrable Mentions:
Montréal, Ottawa, Banff, Lake Louise, Whistler and Vancouver

LAS VEGAS: Sure it’s a wild-and-whacky adult playground of casinos, musical stage shows, golf, spas and carnival-style family entertainment, but Las Vegas is also a major gateway into the vast and ancient region of red rock panoramas, starting with the Grand Canyon, just a five-hour drive away. Your pets are welcome in Las Vegas at no fewer than 20 dog parks, five campgrounds and 66 hotels and resorts, including Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Flamingo and the Riviera. Pooch is even welcome on a couple of escorted excursions such as the American Adventure Tours (for dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles) and on an Omni Limousine Tour offering a personal, chauffeur-driven introduction to Sin City. visitlasvegas.com

ORLANDO: The whole state of Florida wears “pet-friendly” on its sleeve—and Orlando wears it on both. Here, you can take your dog on at least 13 hiking paths (such as West Orange Trail, Cady Way Trail and Little Econ Greenway) and there are a whopping 104 accommodation options, says bringfido.com, including familiar names such as Best Western, Sheraton, Loews, La Quinta, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando and the Hard Rock Hotel in the Universal Orlando Resort. When you can’t take pooch along, treat her or him to a supervised group play at the completely crate-free Dog Day Afternoon, which features an air-conditioned playroom and an outdoor play yard. Later, take your friend to the patio at Kook Katz Grill and Pub, the Bravissimo Italian Café or the K Restaurant & Wine Bar. visitorlando.com

The United States’ Honourable Mentions:

Nags Head (NC), Myrtle Beach (SC), Key West (FL), Destin (FL), Branson (MO) and San Diego (CA)

Rules for taking pets to the United States

In addition to airline policies that vary from carrier to carrier, the United States Customs & Border Protection Agency enforces rules for bringing animals into the country. Visit cbp.gov/document/publications/pets-and-wildlife for details. 

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