Memorial Day is just around the corner and on its heels is summer break. Grab the kids, the swim gear and hit the road
— but, oh, wait, what about Spot and Fido? Bring them along, too!
There's no reason the family pet should be excluded from the family vacation, especially considering the number of pet-friendly options. From RV'ing across country to going for a day trip to the local state park, families and pets can enjoy summer vacationing together more now than ever before.
1. The YMCA of the Rockies. Nationally recognized as one of the country premier vacation destinations, the YMCA of the Rockies has two pet-friendly vacation locations in the Colorado Rockies. The Estes Park Center offers beautiful trails for canine-friendly hiking and every Friday during July, a Yappy Hour is hosted for canine guests. Yappetizers and doggy drinks will be served and special guests will give presentations on subjects such as canine nutrition, obedience and agility, and veterinarian advice. At the second location, near Winter Park, dog owners seem to love the serenity of Snow Mountain Ranch and the wide variety of trails available for them and their pets.
Both locations offer a wide variety of activities exclusively for humans, including mini golf, disc golf, swimming, fly fishing, rafting, horseback riding, guided hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, arts and crafts centers, day camp programs, and family nature programs. For more information, visit www.ymcarockies.org
2. Victorian Inn. Perfect for a delicate doggie's sensibilities is the Victorian Inn, in Monterey, Calif. The historic inn offers a pooch-friendly package that comes with two treats: "Love Me, Love My Dog" includes cozy, specially designed accommodations for two humans and one hound, souvenir water bowls, tail wagging doggie snacks, a beach toy; and for the pet owners, continental breakfast buffet and an evening wine and cheese reception. Each room has a fireplace — the perfect place for pooches to curl up and nap.
Near to shops and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and with its wide open, pet perfect beaches, extensive oceanfront walking paths and dog-friendly attitude, Monterey is the epitome of a dog's life. Plus, your adventures might win you a prize. Each month, the hotel's staff picks one favorite "Fido-in-Monterey" photo for a complimentary one-night stay at the Victorian Inn. But the Victorian Inn does more than just give weary travelers a respite, it also helps homeless animals. Ten percent of every "Love Me, Love My Dog" package is donated to the SPCA for Monterey County. For more information, visit www.victorianinn.com
3. Canine Club Getaway. Described as the "Club Med for Dogs," Canine Club Getaway only happens in 2010 from June 2 to June 6 at Lake George, NY. The all-inclusive, resort-style 4-day getaway holds dozens of activities daily, such as swimming — where dogs are allowed in the pool — agility classes, hiking, Frisbee, lure coursing, flyball, doggie skateboarding, canine CPR, as well as "barks and crafts."
In addition, there are daily seminars by expert trainers and veterinarians on topics including Emergency Canine First Aid, Dog Psychology 101 and Training Fusion. While dogs are allowed everywhere — from seminars to the bar and dining areas — plenty of "human friendly" activities are offered: horseback riding, country line dancing and an on-site spa. For more information, visit www.canineclubgetaway.com
4. Su'ruff Camp. In Cali, the surf's up and for dogs, that means the Fifth Annual Dog Surfing Competition! As part of Loews Hotels' award-winning Loews Loves Pets program, the May 22nd surf event is raising money this year for the San Diego Police Department Unit. Through the course of the "surf dog" weekend, a special room rate applies — plus, all surf dogs receive a pet placemat, food and water bowls, dog tags, treats and scoop bags. For entering the competition, doggie contestants get surf shorts or a bandana.
But if you can't make it out for the May event, Coronado Surfing Academy offers doggie surf lessons nearly year round, in partnership is Loews Coronado Bay Resort. For more information, visit www.loewssurfdog.blogspot.com
5. Unleashed Dog Parks. If someone said "doggie park" and "summer vacay" in the same sentence you may be less than enthused, but Unleashed Dog Park isn't your ordinary doggie playdate locale. Located in Dallas, Texas, it's a giant (at 50,000-square feet of special K-9 turf) indoor dog amusement park. As the nation's first indoor, off-leash play park, it also offers shopping, dining and dog services, such as "paw-cures" and blueberry facials for both owners and pets. With day care services also provided, the family can get out and enjoy the nearby lakes and water parks, as well as other tourist attractions in Dallas. For more information, visit www.unleasheddogparks.com
6. Queen Mary 2. Known as the largest passenger vessel currently sailing the seas, the Queen Mary 2 is also reported to be the only cruise which allows pets to join their owners on deck. Operated by Cunard Line, the "Pets on Deck" program offers Queen Mary 2 canine passengers fresh-baked biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and blankets, and even a QM2-logo coat. The kennel program is overseen by a full-time kennel master, while the kennels and adjacent indoor and outdoor walking areas are open throughout the day, so guests can spend time with their pets.
But the program is not just for dogs. Cats are invited too, and either sort of pet will get a portrait with their owners, a crossing certificate and personalized cruise card. For information, visitwww.cunard.com
8. EPIC Hotel. Fees here and there add up when travel plans include the family pet, yet, in downtown Miami, Kimpton's EPIC Hotel doesn't see the four-legged family member as an extra cost: Pets stay free! Various pet-friendly services and amenities are available including restful accommodations in a luxury guestroom; VIP (Very Important Pet) amenity; pet bowl and pet bed; leash and plastic bags for dog walks; as well as pet sitting, grooming, walking and massages.
If your suite needs even more puppy love, Kimpton's Guppy Love Program is available at EPIC, where guests can request a live goldfish to stay overnight in their guestroom, never worrying about caring for their fishy friends because hotel staff provides daily feedings and care. For more information, visit www.epichotel.com
9. Colorado Springs. Yes, the Colorado city and the surrounding Pikes Peak region has been named one of the nations pet-friendliest by Men's Health and Forbes.com. Boasting of mountain scenery chalked full of trails and open spaces, the destinations screams adventure and is home to seven dog parks. Pet-friendly accommodations exist for both dogs and cats, while attractions and activities run the gamut, including Buckskin Joe Frontier Town & Railway where pets go where you go, on a horse-drawn trolley into town or on the train ride; Cripple Creek District Museum, Garden of the Gods Trading Post, Historic Manitou Springs and Manitou Cliff Dwelling are all sites, among others, open to leashed pets; and, Wilderness Aware Rafting and Royal Gorge Bridge & Park offer free kennel services while the family enjoys the rides.
With most shops and restaurants being pet-friendly, even offering treats and water, the Colorado Springs region is a pet owner's paradise. For more information, visit www.VisitCOS.com
10. Alexandria, Va. For the history buffs, this town is complete with trivia-rich sites that also happen to be pet-friendly. With 15 pet friendly hotels in price ranges to suit most travel budgets, the city offers many seasonal outdoor dining areas for families with pooches, while various tours are completely open to leashed canines, including Arlington Cemetery, George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and the Torpedo Art Factory Center. Going for a cruise up the Potomac River is also a canine option, as well as a walking tour of Alexandria, a hike on the Mount Vernon Trail and, of course, several dog parks. For more information, visit http://gosoutheast.about.com/od/familybudgettravel/tp/dog_friendly_alexandria.htm.