Pet owners go to great lengths to make their homes as dog-friendly as possible for their canine companions, no matter if it's an apartment in the city or a house in the suburbs with plenty of space. But when it comes to taking them out into the world, it can be a nice bonus to feel like there's a supportive community waiting to greet you and your pet. Whether you're planning a trip with your four-legged friend or looking for something a little more permanent, some places are ideally suited for you and your canine companion. Read on for the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., according to experts.
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Colorado is a magnet for all who are nature lovers and outdoors-focused. That's why it may not come as a surprise that the Mile High City is also the perfect location for anyone with a pup.
"Denver is a city with plenty of great parks for dogs," Jeff Netzley, a dog trainer and the founder of Dog Training Near You, tells Best Life. "The nearby Cherry Creek and Chatfield State Parks both have large fenced-in dog parks with lakes in the middle of them, and City Park in downtown Denver has off-leash areas perfect for playing fetch or going on a run. It's also a short drive from some of the best hiking trails in the country, making it a great place to get outdoors with your pet."
Large cities sometimes get a bad rap for being difficult dog destinations. But even the third largest city in the U.S. is known to be a friendly place to canine owners.
"I have lots of family members that live in Chicago and can honestly say it has to be one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world," Kasey Turner, founder and CEO of animal website NatureNibble, tells Best Life. "The Windy City is known for its dog-friendly laws and policies, which make it a great place to visit or live with your canine companion. The city has designated areas for walking dogs, as well as designated pickup and drop-off zones for pet owners. And Chicago's public transportation system makes it easy to take your pup on all the adventures you can dream up."
"Chicago also has many parks where you and your furry friend can enjoy a day outdoors together," she says. "And perhaps most important of all, plenty of restaurants appreciate pups in their establishment! No matter what type of dining establishment you're looking for—whether cheap or upscale—chances are good that they will welcome your pet with open arms."
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San Diego, California
Taking a trip to any place with plenty of warmth and sunshine makes bringing along your dog a no-brainer. Not surprisingly, Southern California provides one such destination.
"San Diego is a city with beautiful weather year-round, making it perfect for taking your dog out for a walk or playing at one of the many dog parks," Netzley says. "There are also plenty of dog beaches where dogs are allowed, so you can enjoy a day in the sun with your furry friend."
And if you like to eat out on the town with your pooch, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better city than San Diego: It's home to more dog-friendly restaurants than any other city in the U.S., according to a study from pet insurance company All About Cats.
Make no bones about it: The Pacific Northwest is one of the most pet-friendly places you'll find anywhere on the map. Seattle stands out as a city well-suited for dog owners as the home to more than 100 pet-friendly hotels and 230 veterinary services, according to All About Cats. The local culture makes this apparent, too.
"Seattle is widely considered to be among the most dog-friendly city in the U.S.," Amanda Takiguchi, DVM, veterinarian and founder of canine reference guide Trending Breeds, tells Best Life. "There are also 32 different meet-up groups and plenty of dog-friendly businesses to make pet owners feel right at home."
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The capital city of the Lone Star State has become one of the hottest destinations in the U.S. for human visitors looking to experience its vibrant nightlife, exciting dining scene, and thriving local culture. And according to experts, it turns out it's not so bad for dogs, either.
"Austin is definitely one of the best dog-friendly cities out there!" says Meg Marrs, dog trainer and founder of K9 of Mine. "Due to the warm weather, there is an abundance of outdoor restaurants, cafes, and bars, most of which allow dogs! There are even dog park co-working spaces, dog-themed bars, and regular festivals and events devoted to canines."
The scene's devotion to dogs isn't just in its welcoming vibes, either. The city has 247 veterinary services, 34 dog-friendly restaurants, and 217 pet-friendly hotels, according to data from All About Cats.
Just don't miss one must-see destination when you get to town. "If you visit, make sure to check out the unofficial 'Barking Springs,' too," Marrs suggests. "It's a swimming area where dogs are invited to splash around, swim, and have fun with their humans, positioned right next to the popular Barton Springs swimming pool for people."
Portland is a haven for animal lovers, and it shows. The city is within the top 10 destinations for pet-friendly restaurants and is third in the nation for pet-friendly hotels, according to the All About Cats study. Even local residents agree: Nearly 60 percent of Oregon residents are pet owners.
"Portland is a great city for dog owners because of its large number of dog parks and friendly attitude towards dogs," Netzley says. "There are over 30 off-leash dog parks in the city, so you're sure to find one that's perfect for your dog. And since Oregon is known for its breweries, many of them also welcome dogs inside, so you can enjoy a pint with your pup."
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is a city bursting at the seams with plenty of attractions that will appeal to human visitors. But it still receives high marks when it comes to how much welcome your pet will feel as well.
According to Aiden Taylor, a professional dog trainer and founder of FurDoos, the Southwestern destination is full of "breathtaking" parks and plenty of restaurants that are "as delicious as they are dog-friendly." It also has the highest number of pet-friendly accommodations, with 100 hotels that will welcome your pup, per All About Cats.
San Francisco, California
To humans, San Francisco is an irreplaceable cultural gem overflowing with top-tier restaurants, iconic architecture, and easily accessible outdoor activities. But while your canine companion might not appreciate floor seats to the Golden State Warriors or a trip to Fort Point as much as you, experts still consider it one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S.
"In San Francisco, dogs are welcomed on buses and trains as well as in restaurants and stores," Aaron Rice, an expert dog trainer with more than 15 years of experience and co-owner of Stayyy, tells Best Life. "There are also numerous dog parks where four-legged friends can run free."
New York, New York
The Big Apple might have it all when it comes to entertainment and dining for humans, but it also hasn't forgotten about treating its four-legged visitors and residents right.
"Despite being one of the most densely populated cities in the U.S., New York is incredibly dog friendly," Daniel Caughill, a canine expert and co-founder of The Dog Tale, tells Best Life. "There are tons of well-maintained dog parks all throughout the five boroughs. In fact, if you live anywhere in Manhattan, there are probably at least two dog parks within a 15-minute walk. Most dog parks have a water fountain, poop bags, and a separate area for small breeds."
And it's not just the made-for-dog attractions that deliver, either. "The city allows off-leash hours in most parks, usually before 9 a.m. and after dusk," he says. "If you're a dog lover, visiting Central Park in the morning is a must. It's like 843 acres of dog heaven."
Fort Collins, Colorado
Sometimes, getting away from the craziness of big cities is just as important for humans as it is for dogs. That's why Fort Collins is the perfect destination for anyone with a dog in tow.
"This northern Colorado city has close, direct access to the foothills, along with many mountain hiking trails just a short drive up the canyon," Josh Snead, pet expert and CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance, tells Best Life. "It has a walkable downtown area with many restaurant patios for your pup to join you for lunch, several large dog parks, and an active, outdoors culture that's great for dogs."