Hotels have reached new heights of "hos-pet-ality," offering perks like gourmet treats, designer dog beds, scratching posts, chew toys and pet massage. But that level of pampering isn't essential to a great getaway for you or your pooch. Pick the right place to stay, select a few outdoor-table restaurants, choose some dog-friendly outings and there's no reason Fido has to spend your next trip at the kennel.
Whether you're looking for over-the-top pup pampering or just can't envision a family vacation without including your clan's four-legged friend, we've got destination ideas for you.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Let your Fido-friendly trip begin with a run on the sandy beaches of Corolla, home of wild ponies descended from Spanish Mustangs. Then head south to Nags Head to splurge on treats at Salty Paws, makers of all-natural, human-grade biscuits baked daily, where even pups on special diets can indulge on diabetic, low-fat and allergy-friendly varieties. Next it's time to get your own treat fix at Fatboyz Ice Cream and Grill. Eat your burger followed by homemade ice cream at an outdoor table where your dog can join you. Settle in for the night at the "coastal casual" Sandbar Bed & Breakfast, just 200 yards from the beach, where well-behaved, flea-treated dogs more than six months old are welcome in the Mermaid Room, a large guestroom with a private entrance. The Mermaid Room starts at $199/night, and the inn charges a $15 per-night pet fee.
Tackle Jockey's Ridge in the Outer Banks.
Courtesy Visit NC/Bill Russ
After a continental breakfast, explore Jockey's Ridge State Park -- site of the tallest natural sand dunes on the East Coast -- which, in addition to hiking, ecology tours and hang-gliding, features a 400-foot-long boardwalk with a spectacular view of the towering dune ridgeline.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Though you can't bring Sparky onto the casino floor, there are plenty of dog-friendly locales in Vegas, from the high-end shops along the strip that will welcome your pocket poodle to restaurants like Sammy's L.A. Pastrami & Burgers, lauded not only for their homemade lemonade, crispy fries, and "mean" Philly cheesesteak, but also for the water and snacks they provide to four-footed patrons. Kick-start your day at It's a Grind Coffee House, which welcomes your pooch inside and is right across from a dog park. Then venture to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, less than 30 minutes from the strip, with its unique Mojave Desert geologic features, plants and animals. The 13-mile scenic drive and more than 30 miles of hiking trails are Fido-friendly, but due to extreme temperatures, make sure to bring plenty of water. If you can't resist the glitz and the promise of the slots, drop off your pooch at PetSmart's Doggie Day Camp. Your pup will enjoy hours of play with other carefully screened and vaccinated dogs while you rake in the gambling loot. Then reunite for a relaxing evening at the Westin Las Vegas Hotel, Casino and Spa where a pet bed, food bowl and mat are provided, as well as an official "Dog in Room" sign. Rooms start at $99, and the hotel charges a per-pet, per-stay fee of $35, plus a refundable deposit of $150.
Half Moon Bay, California
Moss Beach Distillery's Seal Cove Patio invites dogs to cozy up by the fire pit and dine on grilled hot dogs.
Moss Beach Distillery/Melissa Vega
Dog-friendly activities abound in Half Moon Bay. You're welcome to bring your pup on a Coastal Elegance Tours hike along the bay or to the lighthouse. And Half Moon Bay Kayak Company provides canine life jackets and double and triple kayaks so water-loving dogs can accompany their human companions on nature and wildlife paddles. Dine at Pasta Moon, where pooches chomp on homemade dog treats while two-footers sup on farm-fresh California-Italian cuisine. Then grab a nightcap in a comfy chair beside a fire pit and take in the ocean sunset at the Moss Beach Distillery's Seal Cove Patio, which features a doggie menu of grilled hot dogs, mini burger patties and skirt steak. Ask the hostess to take your pooch's photo for the annual contest and you might just win a prize. Many local hotels are pet friendly, but the Half Moon Bay Inn offers special accommodations for four-legged guests, including a dog bed, feeding dish and treats, as well as waste bags. Rooms start at $130, and the inn charges per-stay fees of $25 for one pet or $35 for two.
Lake Placid, New York
Combining luxury with rustic Adirondack comfort, Lake Placid Lodge's dog-friendly cabins feature lake and mountain views and large, wood-burning fireplaces where your pup is sure to enjoy lounging in a lodge-provided pet bed while snacking on homemade treats. The grounds include pet-friendly lakes and trails, and if staff is available you're welcome to leave your pooch at the front desk while you enjoy dinner in the main lodge. Cabins start at $500, and the lodge charges $75 per night for one dog, or $250 per night for two. While you're out on the town, pick up some goodies at Jake Placid Doghouse, which offers premium treats, organic foods and unique toys and apparel. Then stop by the Bluesberry Bakery for some human treats like a spinach and feta croissant or the chocolate torte. Spot is welcome to join you at the outdoor table. To work off those snacks, head to Mirror Lake for a 2.7-mile walk around the lake, and if the weather's right, take a dip at the dog-friendly sandy beach.
The Freedom Trail offers a perfect way for your dog to participate in your family's sightseeing adventures. Boston's "indoor/outdoor history museum" consists of a 2.5-mile, red-brick walking trail leading you to 16 sites significant to the history of the American Revolution. Take this self-guided tour at your own pace, and plan to take a pit stop in one of the Boston Common's leash-free areas for dogs. Another Freedom Trail site, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, offers dog-friendly patio dining at a number of restaurants, weather permitting. And for accommodations, consider the Boston Harbor Hotel, which provides dog beds, food dishes and pet-walking services, as well as offering a $75 Luxe Pups Package including a wash, cut, blow dry and "pet-i-cure" as well as a doggie gift bag. Rooms start at $285, with no additional pet fees.