Huck, headed for dog-friendly Savannah. (Photo: Kathryn O’Shea-Evans)
Short answer: Yesh. My dog thinks so.
In May, our 2-year-old papillon Huckleberry took us on vacation to one of the most charm-filled cities in America: Savannah, Georgia. Huck is always planning tail-wagging trips for us — we’ve swum in central Oregon’s high-mountain lakes; run wild on the beaches of San Diego, Amelia Island, and Wilmington, North Carolina; and sashayed the streets of Portland, Washington D.C., and Manhattan. And while each of those places are pup-friendly in their own ways, none comes close to Savannah, which seemed to pull out the red carpet for our four-legged master in every possible way.
Here’s why Huck gave Georgia’s oldest city two paws WAY up:
1. The hotels aren’t just dog-friendly. They cater to them.
Huck at the charming Foley House Inn, one of several great pet-friendly hotels in Savannah. (Photo: Kathryn O’Shea-Evans)
When we checked in at the circa 1896 Foley House Inn, an antique-filled bed & breakfast across from leafy, Spanish-moss-strewn Chippewa Square, we were greeted with a sumptuously prepared afternoon tea for us and housemade dog treats for our boy. Having stayed in numerous “pet-friendly” luxury hotels that will go unnamed here, I can’t tell you how refreshing the Foley House’s policies are (namely, that the staff must be able…to pet your pooch whenever he or she strolls by). No fine print, no contracts that basically forbid barking, scratching, and being a canine. Nada. They welcome your dog like one of their own, and that’s a hotel that’s worth returning to again and again.
Related: Thursday Night: Savannah
It’s also relatively affordable — we paid $229 a night for our brick-walled room, with its four-poster bed, gas fireplace, and Aveda toiletries in the bath. Included in the rate: expertly prepared breakfasts, afternoon tea hour, and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres (I’m still thinking about Chef India’s cheese grits, her chicken salad, and her orange pound cake; I gained about five pounds in our week of staying there, but it was well worth it).
For a more luxe option for you and Fido, check out the Brice Hotel. The hotel even has a pet masseuse! (Photo: The Brice Hotel/Facebook)
If you need standard hotel fare — like a gym, room service, et al — the new Brice, a Kimpton hotel, is your spot; they even have a pet masseuse and acupuncturist on standby.
I’m not kidding.
2. Your dog can do almost everything you want to do, right by your side.
The author and her dog Huck at the Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia. (Photo: Kathryn O’Shea-Evans)
We’re used to being told “no” when we’re planning a day excursion and call ahead to see if we can bring Huck. Savannah was a series of Yes m’ams: Yes, he can join you on Captain Mike’s dolphin tour boat that sails the waters near Tybee Island, and peer out at baby dolphins with the wind in his hair. Yes, he’s welcome to walk the two-mile stretch of Live Oak trees that lines the road leading up to the old Wormsloe Plantation. Sure, he can take the trolley tour of old town Savannah with you.
Stroll under a beautiful canopy of oak trees at Wormsloe Plantation with your favorite furry friend by your side. (Photo: Jeff Gunn/Flickr)
Nearly everything we wanted to do, Huck could do, and unlike on the plane — where he’s stuffed under the seat in front of me to the tune of $150 each way — he doesn’t need a ticket. Even the city’s 21 historic squares have been retrofitted for dog-owners; there are in-ground dog-waste canisters near most entrances; just tap it with your toe, and throw in the bag. Easy.
Did I mention Hilton Head Island’s dog-friendly beaches are just a 40 minute drive away?
3. The restaurants serve all creatures.
Restaurants and cafes in Savannah are more than happy to have a four-legged patron. (Photo: Image Source/Mike Tittel/Corbis)
I’m pretty sure that had I walked up to most Savannah restaurants with a llama or an elephant instead of an adorable seven-pound pooch, we would have been offered a treat and a bowl of water. All restaurants with outdoor seating treated Huck like a lauded food critic, plying him with gratis fresh ice water and even, on occasion, snacks.
Huck at the Collins Quarter. (Photo: Kathryn O’Shea-Evans)
The new Collins Quarter, our favorite coffee shop — just a three-minute walk from Foley House — had a walk-up window with a barista that dispensed complimentary dog rope chews; she told me canines in the area make a beeline for her every time they walk by.
South African sandwich shop Zunzi’s let Huck come right in while we ordered at their walk-up counter; he even managed to snag some pieces of chicken that had fallen on the tile floor.
Huckleberry’s favorite spot may have been Leopold’s, though, an iconic 1919 ice cream shop on trendy Broughton street. The dog watching was sublime.
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