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Heading off the beaten path: Top 10 dog-friendly hidden gems that are too good to miss

by jmaloni


Thu, Nov 7th 2013 07:00 am


America is a dog-friendly place, and there are fun places to take your favorite pooch everywhere you look. However, tucked just out of view on the road not traveled, there are some wonderful places that don't just welcome dogs - they go above and beyond to make them a true part of the whole experience.

We went ahead and dug up 10 of these hidden gems for you. Plan your next trip around them, or make them a destination in their own right.

1. A Day in the West, Sedona, Ariz.

Travel by Jeep with your furry best friend across Sedona's ruggedly beautiful mountain and desert landscapes. This family-owned Sedona business provides a variety of tours, with colorful local tour guides who know the area well. Dogs are welcome on all of the Jeep tours, so you can get those amazing photos you're after and a true "Old West" experience, while he can sniff the desert air and take in the spectacular view. Lap dogs ride at no charge, while larger dogs are charged a child's fare.

2. Old Charleston Walking Tour, Charleston, S.C.

Charleston is an old city with a long and beautiful history - some of which involves ghosts. If you're ready to explore Charleston in all its spooky glory, the Old Charleston Ghost Walk is a truly fun option for you and your furry friend. The walking tour lasts 90 minutes, and begins at 7:30 and 9:30 each night from Tuesday through Sunday. You'll be taken through the city's most haunted graveyards and alleyways, and told the frightening stories of the spirits that inhabit them. Your dog will love all the new sights and smells a nighttime tour offers, and you'll have him there for comfort and protection ... just in case!

3. Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport, Maine

Founded in 1939 with a single trolley car, the Seashore Trolley Museum, located in Kennebunkport, features 250 historic transit vehicles, including trolleys from around the world. Before June of this year, dogs were only allowed on the grounds of the museum. However, due to the huge success of the museum's first Seashore Trolley Dog Day, dogs are now allowed in the buildings and on specified vehicles.

4. Marston Family Winery, Napa Valley, Calif.

Tucked away on the slopes of Spring Mountain, the Marston Family Winery in Napa Valley offers a chance to experience history, take a relaxing tour, view tranquil and beautiful mountain scenery, and sample some truly exceptional wine - all in a pet-friendly atmosphere. The family's lab, Tucker, will happily entertain your pup while you enjoy a tasting.

5. Chicago Seadog Cruises, Chicago

If your dog loves the open water, she'll love going on a cruise or speedboat tour across Lake Michigan. This Chicago company offers several fun tour options, including a fireworks tour and an extreme thrill ride. Leashed, friendly dogs are welcome on all tours for free, so you can both enjoy an exciting or enlightening ride.

6. Rogue Wilderness Adventure: Paddles and Paws Rafting, Merlin, Ore.

Water lovers will also be thrilled by a Rogue River rafting trip. Rogue Wilderness Adventures, located in Oregon, offers trips down the river for people of all abilities and experience levels. While they do rent to people with dogs at any time, each year the company offers its three-day "Paddles and Paws" rafting and camping trip designed for the canine kind. Rafting gear, food and transportation are all provided, so all you and Fido have to do is show up and be ready for an adventure.

7. Good Kharma Surf: Dog Surfing Lessons, California Coast

If you and your pet love a great day at the beach in California, Good Kharma dog surfing lessons offers an experience to be remembered. Held on beaches throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties, the lessons are a fun and safe way to enjoy the water. You'll be proud of what your dog can accomplish, and she'll be happy to learn a new skill.

8. Dog Mountain, St. Johnsbury, Vt.

If you're a dog lover and a lover of art and culture, there's a serene and beautiful getaway waiting for you in the Vermont mountains. Established by visionary sculptor and dog lover Stephen Huneck, Dog Mountain is set on 150 acres of private land, and offers a place for people and their dogs to relax and enjoy one another. Dog Mountain is always leash-free, and dogs are welcome to roam and play with one another anytime, day or night. The retreat features a gallery of Huneck's work, as well as the chapel he built as a place of spiritual respite for both people and dogs. There are hiking trails and ponds where dogs can swim, and the gallery hosts multiple "dog parties" each year, where canines and their human friend can enjoy a barbecue together.

9. Barkwells Vacation Rentals, Asheville, N.C.

A bit off the beaten trail, nestled in the lush mountains of western North Carolina you'll find Barkwells, a vacation rental that offers as much comfort and luxury for your dog as it does for you. Known as "the dog lover's retreat," Barkwells sits on eight acres of land that contain meadows, woodlands and a pond. Best of all, the entire area is securely fenced in, so dogs and their humans can safely explore and play. If they'd rather relax, they can hang out on the porch, rest by the fire, or play fetch in their private fenced yard.

10. Camp Dogwood, Ingleside, Ill.

This fun take on a traditional sleepaway camp in Illinois is designed for you and your dog, and offers a one-of-a-kind way for you to bond. Camp Dogwood is held each spring and fall, on a 180-acre facility that spans wetlands, woodlands and fields. Much like the summer camps you probably went to once upon a time, this camp features tons of outdoor activities, including water sports, agility training, dock diving and more. You can also expect traditional campfires, s'mores, nature hikes, beach parties, and arts and crafts - and perhaps a wine tasting for the human folk.

Fantastic dog-friendly spots are hiding everywhere - you just have to sniff them out. We're always up for any adventure with our four-legged friends, so if you know of a hidden gem perfect for pets, we'd love to hear about it! Until then, we wish you happy and safe pet adventures.

About TripsWithPets.com

TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.

Author Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels. 

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