header banner
Default

The Greatest Cities for Dog-Friendly Travel


Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

No matter where your next trip may be, it’s likely that your dog would like to tag along. Dogs love to be by their owner’s side throughout a journey and arguably make the best and cutest companions.

A Forbes Advisor survey of 10,000 American dog owners reveals that 82% of dog owners sometimes travel with their dogs by car and 33% travel with their dogs by plane. In the same survey, when asked what annoys dog owners the most about having a dog, 37% of respondents said that having to find a sitter when traveling out of town and being unable to bring their dog is their top annoyance.

Whether you’re flying or driving to your next travel destination, we’ve found the top cities to visit when bringing your pup along for the ride.

Forbes Advisor analyzed the 98 most populated U.S. cities with available data across 10 pet- and travel-related metrics to uncover the best cities to travel to with your dog. We considered pet-friendly accommodations, the number of pet-friendly restaurants, the number and quality of pet clinics in each city, the percentage of dog-friendly hiking trails, dog parks and other metrics to reveal the best cities in America to travel to with your dog.

Find The Best Pet Insurance Companies Of 2023

VIDEO: Top 10 Places to Travel with Your Dog in North America
MojoTravels

Key Takeaways

VIDEO: Top 10 Best Dog Friendly Vacations (Places to take Your Dog) - Travel Video
VacationNation
  • Four of the top five cities to travel to with your dog are in California. All four cities rank in the top 25 cities for dog park availability and dog-friendly hiking trails.
  • The density of pet-friendly restaurants is significantly higher among the top-ranking cities. The top 10 cities to travel to with your dog average 21 pet-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents, compared to an average of four pet-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents across the bottom 10 cities.
  • Three of the top 10 cities overall (Washington, D.C., Long Beach and San Francisco) also placed in the top 10 for pet clinic quality. Pet clinics in these cities average 4.3 stars out of 5—in case of an emergency during your vacation with your pooch.
  • Three of the 10 worst cities to travel to with your dog are in the Phoenix area. These cities rank poorly for the percentage of pet-friendly hotels, averaging only 1.2% of hotels allowing pets (our study average is 5%).
  • On average, 11% of dog owners nationwide report that they celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas out-of-town with their dogs.
  • Overall, the U.S. has great options for hitting the trails with your dog, with 71% of outdoor trails being dog-friendly across all 98 cities we analyzed.

Top 10 Best Cities to Travel to With Your Dog

VIDEO: Top 10 Dog Friendly Vacations - Best Vacation Trips to take your Dog
100M The Wild Life

1. Sacramento, California

VIDEO: Cities to Travel to With Your Dog
Native Pet

Sacramento’s score: 100 out of 100

  • For dog owners who look forward to hitting the trails, Sacramento could be a good choice for a vacation, as this city ranked fifth best for dog-friendly hiking trails.
  • Sacramento ranked in the top 10 best cities for dog parks per capita, with 3.1 parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Sacramento ranked in the top 15 best cities for pet friendly-restaurants (13), and in the top 20 for pet-friendly accommodations (20).
  • Dog owners planning to travel to Sacramento should be aware that the city is on the higher end of our study when it comes to cost of living, ranking 23rd highest in this metric.

2. Portland, Oregon

VIDEO: HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR DOG | Step By Step Guide
Wanderlust Samoyed

Portland’s score: 97.94 out of 100

  • Portland ranked as the second best city in our study in terms of dog parks per capita, averaging 5.8 parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Finding a place to eat with your pup may be easier in the City of Roses than elsewhere, as Portland ranked as the fifth best city for pet-friendly restaurants, averaging 37 per 100,000 residents (our study average is 12).
  • In terms of accommodations while traveling with a pet, Portland placed 15th best in this metric, with 7% of hotels being pet-friendly, 2% higher than our study average of 5%.
  • Portland’s above-average walk score (67 out of 100) placed this city 17th best in this metric, which means taking your dog for a stroll should be a breeze.

3. San Francisco

VIDEO: International Travel with a Dog (Everything you need to know)
Lloyd & Mandy

San Francisco’s score: 95.87 out of 100

  • San Francisco is a good location for pet owners who enjoy socializing their dogs, ranking sixth best in our dog park metric, averaging 4.5 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Coming in as the seventh-best city for pet-friendly restaurant density, San Francisco averages 29 per 100,000 residents, which means finding a spot to wine and dine with a dog shouldn’t be an issue.
  • The Golden City claimed the No. 1 spot in the walk score metric (89 out of 100).
  • Those traveling to the bustling city of San Francisco with their pooch should be aware that this city, and it’s neighbors, San Jose, Oakland and Fremont, have the highest cost of living in our study, meaning you may have to dish out more money for a vacation here than you would elsewhere.

4. Bakersfield, California

VIDEO: 10 Most Dog Friendly Cities in The United States
World According To Briggs

Bakersfield’s score: 91.85 out of 100

  • Another California city that ranked well for dog-friendly hiking trails, Bakersfield is a good location for those looking to explore the outdoors with a pet (ranking third in this metric, with 97% of trails being dog-friendly).
  • Bakersfield ranked as the 10th best city for dog-friendly accommodations, with 9% of hotels allowing pets.
  • Dog parks are abundant in this California city, averaging 2.4 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Bakersfield has the lowest living wage of the 17 California cities featured in our study, indicating that it could be ideal for those on a budget.

5. Long Beach, California

VIDEO: Pet Friendly Vacations: The 25 Best Cities to Visit With Your Dog
Check Facts 360

Long Beach’s score: 89.99 out of 100

  • Long Beach is a good location in case of a pet-related medical emergency, as this city ranked as the 10th best in pet clinics per capita (15 per 100,000 residents), and third best in quality of pet clinics (averaging 4.3 stars out of 5, our study average is 3.8).
  • Finding a place to enjoy a meal with a dog shouldn’t be a problem in Long Beach, as it ranked as the second-best city for pet-friendly restaurants, averaging 44 per 100,000 residents.
  • For those hoping to exercise their dog while traveling, Long Beach is a good location, as it ranked 12th in our walk score metric (73 out of 100) and 16th in our dog park metric (2.3 dog parks per 100,000 residents).
  • If you’re looking to escape cold weather with your pup, Long Beach could be a good location, as it averaged only 34 days of precipitation per year from 1991 to 2020.

6. Madison, Wisconsin

VIDEO: How To Fly With Your Dog In The Cabin In 2023 | Our experience bringing our Westie puppy on a plane
Westie Vibes

Madison’s score: 87.41 out of 100

  • Madison claims the top spot in our study for pet-friendly accommodations, with 60% of hotels allowing dogs, well above our study average of 5%.
  • Pet owners who worry about emergencies should rest easier in Madison, as it ranked in the top 25 in our quality of pet clinics metric, with an average of 4 stars out of 5.
  • Finding a park for your dog to frolic in shouldn’t be a problem, as this city ranked eighth best in this metric, averaging 4.1 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  • In comparison to an abundance of dog parks, it may be harder for travelers to find a dog-friendly trail to hike in Madison, as it ranked sixth worst in this metric, with 45% of trails being pet-friendly.

7. Lincoln, Nebraska

VIDEO: 23 INSANELY CHEAP Destinations for Budget Travel in 2023
Lexie Limitless

Lincoln’s score: 86.07 out of 100

  • Lincoln has the second highest ranking for dog-friendly accommodations of the top 10 cities in our study, with 12% of hotels being pet-friendly, placing Lincoln sixth in this metric.
  • For those looking for an outdoor adventure with their pup, Lincoln could be a good option, as this city ranked 10th in our dog-friendly hiking trails metric.
  • Pet clinics in Lincoln have an above-average ranking in terms of quality, with an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars, placing Lincoln 11th in this category.
  • Nebraska’s capital could be a good option for travelers on a budget, as Lincoln has the 10th lowest living wage among the 98 big cities we analyzed.

8. Washington, D.C.

VIDEO: Dog and Cat TV: Relax Your Pets - 12 Hours of Birds, Squirrels and Calming Music for Pets to Watch
Jaw-Dropping Facts

Washington, D.C.’s score: 84.11 out of 100

  • Washington, D.C.’s pet clinics have the second-highest ranking in clinic quality, averaging 4.3 stars out of 5, which could help dog owners feel confident in case of a pet-related medical emergency.
  • Going on a dinner date with your dog may be easier in the nation's capital than elsewhere, as Washington, D.C., averages 29 dog-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents.
  • A higher-than-average walk score (77 out of 100) places Washington, D.C., as the sixth-best city in this metric.
  • Washington, D.C., ranked as the 12th best city in terms of dog parks per capita, with 2.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents.

9. St. Louis (Tie)

VIDEO: Taking Meeka The Talking Husky On An Airplane!
Meeka The Husky

St. Louis’s score: 83.38 out of 100

  • St. Louis is a more affordable option for those traveling with their pup on a budget, as this city has the 16th cheapest living wage in our study.
  • Dog park options should be plentiful in St. Louis, as it averages 2.3 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Although St. Louis has a lower-than-average number of pet clinics (six per capita) the quality of the clinics ranked in the top 20 of our study (16), averaging 4.1 stars out of 5.
  • St. Louis ranked in the upper half of our study for pet-friendly restaurants (13 per 100,000 residents) and the percentage of dog-friendly hiking trails (75%).

9. Albuquerque, New Mexico (Tie)

VIDEO: Top 10 Places To Visit in 2023 (Year of Travel)
Ryan Shirley

Albuquerque’s score: 83.38 out of 100

  • Hiking with your dog in Albuquerque shouldn’t be an issue, as 87% of trails are dog-friendly, placing it 12th in this metric.
  • For those who are looking to be financially conscious while traveling with a dog, Albuquerque may be budget-friendly, as it has the 15th lowest living wage in our study.
  • Albuquerque has good options for those who like to take their dog to the dog park, ranking 13th best in this metric and averaging 2.5 dog parks per 100,000 residents.
  • Rain shouldn’t be as big of an issue in Albuquerque as other cities, as it averaged only 59 rainy days per year from 1991 to 2020, placing it 26th best in this metric.

The Worst Cities to Travel to With Your Dog

VIDEO: POV dog traveling on airplane.
John

1. Phoenix

VIDEO: 10 Best Dog for Backpacking - Best Dog for Hiking and Camping
Thera Planet

Phoenix’s score: 0.00 out of 100

  • Phoenix has the fifth lowest number of pet clinics per capita, averaging one per 100,000 residents.
  • Finding a place to dine with your pet could be a challenge in Arizona’s capital, as Phoenix offers only 0.7 of pet-friendly restaurants, per 100,00 residents compared to our study average of 12.
  • Phoenix ranks on the lower end of our study in terms of dog parks, offering 0.7 per capita.

2. Virginia Beach, Virginia

VIDEO: Undercover Video shot inside the crate - Air Canada
slstsang

Virginia’s score: 5.88 out of 100

  • Virginia Beach ranked as the seventh worst city for dog-friendly accommodations, with only 1% of hotels allowing pets.
  • For those looking to hit the trails with their dogs, Virginia Beach may not be the best option, as only 56% of trails are dog-friendly, which is 15% lower than our study average (71%).
  • Virginia Beach has a lower-than-average ranking for the quality of its pet clinics, averaging 3.3 out of 5 stars, placing this city 10th worst in this metric.

3. Nashville

VIDEO: Tips on Traveling Solo with Your Dog on a Cross-Country Road Trip
Travel Pockets

Nashville’s score: 7.22 out of 100

  • Nashville has the lowest number of pet clinics per capita of the 98 big cities we analyzed, averaging 0.6 clinics per 100,000 residents.
  • Nashville has the fourth-worst walk score in our report, with a score of 29 out of 100.
  • Nashville ranks on the lower end of our study for pet-friendly accommodations (2% of hotels are pet-friendly, compared to our study average of 5%) and quality of pet clinics (averaging 3.5 stars out of 5 compared to our study average of 3.8).

4. Mesa, Arizona

VIDEO: My FIRST solo backpacking trip with my dog
Adventuring With Nala

Mesa’s score: 8.46 out of 100

  • Mesa ranked as the 12th worst city in our dog-friendly trails metric, with only 50% of trails being dog-friendly (compared to our study average of 71%).
  • If you’re traveling with dogs in Mesa, you might have trouble finding a pet-friendly home for the night, as only 2% of hotels are pet-friendly in Mesa, placing this city 15th worst in this metric.
  • Dog parks may also be hard to find in Mesa, as there are only 0.6 dog parks per 100,000 residents, two full percentage points below our study average of 1.6 dog parks per capita.

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

VIDEO: Flying With Your Dog in Cabin (NON ESA) | My Experience Bringing My Corgi on a Plane in a Carrier
Devon and Willo

Corpus Christi’s score: 15.17 out of 100

    • Corpus Christi ranked as the fourth worst city for pet-friendly accommodations, with 0.7% of hotels allowing dogs.
    • Corpus Christi has the second-lowest ranking regarding the quality of its pet clinics, averaging 2.7 stars out of 5.
    • If you’re looking to dine with your dog on your trip, Corpus Christi may not be the best place, as this city ranks 17th worst in this metric, offering only three pet-friendly restaurants per 1,000 residents.

Traveling With Your Dog

VIDEO: Top 5 Tips for Road Tripping with your Dog
DOGGY•U


Traveling with dogs can be challenging at times, but bringing your pup along on vacations can also be rewarding. Of the 10,000 dog owners Forbes Advisor surveyed, traveling with dogs in a car was more popular than traveling by plane. But some dog owners said they preferred to bring their pups with them when flying.

  • 82% of dog owners said they at least sometimes travel with their dog by car. Only 6% said they never travel with their dog by car.
  • 33% of dog owners said they at least sometimes travel with their dog by plane and 8% said they always travel with their dog when flying.
  • More than half (55%) of dog owners said they never travel with their dog by plane.
  • 41% of dog owners said they’ve brought their dogs with them on vacation.

Celebrating Winter Holidays With Dogs

VIDEO: Top 10 Dog Friendly Travel Destinations
Keeping Pet


Many people consider their dogs to be family members, and bringing your dog with you wherever you celebrate the holiday season can be a joyous endeavor. Whether celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, some dog owners said they bring their dogs along with them for the holiday celebrations.

  • More American dog owners who travel out of town for winter holidays said they bring their dog with them, than said they have a sitter, family member or boarding organization watch them.
  • 91% of dog owners who celebrate Thanksgiving said they do so with their dog, with 10% saying they celebrate the holiday out of town with their dog.
  • 90% of dog owners who celebrate Christmas said they do so with their dog, with 11% saying they celebrate the holiday out of town with their dog.
  • The majority of dog owners who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa said they do so with their dog, with an average of 7% saying they celebrate either holiday out of town with their dog.
  • 15% of dog owners said they have taken their dog on a winter holiday trip.

Tips for Traveling with a Dog

VIDEO: How to Travel With a Dog on a Road Trip
How To Train A Dream Dog

With a little bit of preparation, traveling with a dog can be a smooth journey. Here are a few tips so you and your best buddy can have the trip of a lifetime.

Consider Pet Insurance

VIDEO: 10 Dog Friendly Cities to Visit in Europe
Best Dog

You probably budgeted for hotels, restaurants, gas and highway tolls, but did you budget for an unexpected veterinary emergency? Your dog could encounter new dangers such as toxic plants, poisonous animals and aggressive dogs. An emergency like a bite wound or an ingested foreign object could cost you thousands of dollars at an emergency vet clinic.

Pet insurance is a good way to pay for unexpected veterinary costs. A typical policy pays for veterinary expenses for accidents (like broken bones) and illnesses (like vomiting or an infection). And pet insurance companies allow you to go to any licensed vet in the U.S., so you don’t have to wait to see a vet until you get home from your trip.

Worried about the cost of pet insurance? It may be cheaper than you think. We found that the average cost of pet insurance for a dog is $44 per month (for a policy with $5,000 of annual coverage, a $250 deductible and 80% reimbursement).

Research Pet-Friendly Accommodations

VIDEO: How a service dog travels.
Magnus The Therapy Dog

If you’re flying with a dog or traveling long distances by car, make sure your destination has pet-friendly accommodations. Look for hotels or Airbnb listings that have pet amenities like designated walking areas, pet beds or pet-sitting services.

Pack a Familiar Item

VIDEO: How I Travel with My Dogs 🐶 & EVERYTHING I use! 🚗
Rachel Fusaro

Taking your dog to a new city is fun, but make sure you bring along some creature comforts from home to help ease any anxiety they have. This might be a favorite toy, blanket or a piece of clothing that carries your scent.

Plan Dog-Friendly Activities

VIDEO: Top 10 Most Dog Friendly Cities in the United States
From Coast to Coast

Make sure your travel itinerary includes dog-friendly activities like visits to dog parks and dog-friendly beaches. When it’s time to relax and have a bite, your pooch might enjoy lounging on a patio at a dog-friendly restaurant that serves tasty treats for canines and humans alike.

Explore During Off-Peak Hours

VIDEO: Top 5 Most Dog Friendly Airlines In the USA
Loving Dogs Club

Unfamiliar scents, noises and people can make a new city overwhelming for a dog. It’s a good idea to plan your activities and adventures during off-peak hours when streets and attractions are less crowded.

If you’re traveling during the summer months, walk your dog in the early morning or evening to avoid hot pavement that can burn a dog’s paws.

Methodology

VIDEO: ANIMALS on PLANES? Is your PET SAFE flying in CARGO??? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE
Captain Joe

To uncover the best cities to travel to with your dog in America, Forbes Advisor analyzed the 100 most-populous cities (98 of which had available data) across these 10 metrics:

  • The percentage of pet-friendly hotels: 25% of the total score. Data comes from Google Travel and was accessed in October 2023.
  • The number of dog parks per 100,000 residents: 15% of the total score. Data comes from 2023 Trust for Public Lands data.
  • The number of pet-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents: 15% of the total score. Data comes from Yelp and was accessed in October 2023.
  • Living wage: 15% of the total score. We used this metric as a proxy for the potential costs for travelers. Data comes from the MIT Living Wage calculator.
  • Percentage of pet-friendly hiking trails: 5% of the total score. Data comes from AllTrails.
  • The average number of extreme temperature days (below 32 degrees and above 90 degrees): 5% of the total score. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is averaged from 1991–2020.
  • The average number of days with precipitation: 5% of the total score. Data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is averaged from 1991 to 2020.
  • The number of pet clinics/hospitals per 100,000 residents: 5% of the total score. Data comes from Yelp and was accessed in October 2023.
  • The average star rating for pet clinics/hospitals in each city: 5% of the total score. Data comes from Yelp and was accessed in October 2023.
  • Walk score: 5% of the total score. Data comes from the 2023 Walk Score.

Survey Methodology

VIDEO: The 10 BEST Dog Friendly Destinations for Your Next Adventure
Travel by Turtles

The online survey of 10,000 dog owners in the U.S. (200 per state) was commissioned by Forbes and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected from September 21 to October 13, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 1.0 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).

Sources


Article information

Author: Erin Lee

Last Updated: 1699447922

Views: 521

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (108 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Erin Lee

Birthday: 1987-02-05

Address: 707 Gonzalez Drives, South Lindachester, MD 05148

Phone: +4143138306798972

Job: Chemist

Hobby: Raspberry Pi, Card Collecting, Puzzle Solving, Badminton, Skiing, Metalworking, Painting

Introduction: My name is Erin Lee, I am a steadfast, sincere, proficient, striking, Adventurous, Precious, exquisite person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.