Frequent flyer, Karl Froelich, relaxes on a chaise during a recent trip to Santa Monica.
Those of us with canine companions have all been there—you take your dog on the road, expecting some family fun with your furry friend, then BLAMMO! You get socked with exorbitant fees in “pet friendly” hotels, told your fur baby has to stay in his room in said pet friendly hotel, and the “play” area is a small patch of AstroTurf that smells like the men’s Porta-Potty after an all day music and beer festival.
I don’t know about Fido, but Karl “the Canine Unicorn” Froelich does not put up with that shizz! Thankfully, the times they are a changing. People are traveling with their pets more than ever—according to a 2012 survey by PetRelocation.com, 85 percent of dog-owning respondents said they were planning to vacation with their pups that year. And the number has continued to rise—causing a boom in the pet-friendly industries (pet food, pet clothing, doggy daycares, dog-walking services, pet-friendly airlines and hotels).
Karl Froelich cares about other dogs and their fun—actually, he cares about having some other tushes to sniff—so this week, he brings you his top five places to stay and play in the United States, courtesy of the geniuses at the Ruff Guides and Karl’s favorite book, Ruff Guide to the United States: 365 of the Best Places to Stay & Play with your Dog in All 50 States.
1. Dreamland Safari Tours Kanab, Utah
Everyone loves a safari, including Karl. But considering I don’t want him to be lion bait, he has to settle for something slightly tamer—which is why he loves Dreamland Safari Tours, near Kanab, Utah, which offer more than 30 different day-tour options, including hiking through a mystical slot canyon, hunting for petroglyphs, and playing at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Stay at the retro-fab Quail Park Lodge, which may look like a traditional roadside motel on the outside, but is seriously chic on the inside, with amenities like iPod docking stations, cruiser bikes for guests, spa quality products, pillow topped mattresses, and triple sheeted bedding. Dogs of any size stay free.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. (Photo: Dreamland Safari Tours)
2. Dog Bark Park Inn Cottonwood, Idaho
Beagles and dachshunds get along famously, so obviously Karl’s gonna want to meet the world’s largest, most famous wooden beagle, which doubles as a hotel. “Sweet Willy” was created in 1997 by a husband and wife team of chainsaw artists who were clearly beagle enthusiasts—and immediately became a huge hit as a must-see in the Americana Roadside Hall of Fame. Book far ahead, though, as the beagle only has one bedroom and one bathroom. Even if you can’t stay overnight, stop by the gift shop and pick up a wooden statue of the dog of your choice and take a bathroom break in the toilets, housed in a giant fire hydrant.
(Courtesy: Dog Bark Park Inn)
3. Seventy-Four Ranch Jasper, Georgia
Karl knows his mother has a weakness for cowboys (who doesn’t?), country music, and a front porch. And if he’s honest, he’ll admit to a little rancher dog envy. So the Seventy Four Ranch is the perfect place to relax and dude ranch it up together. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you and your dog can take trail rides, rustle up some cattle, and learn to rope farm animals—all together! When you’re tired out, take your pup and trot off to Parker Pond for some fishing.
(Courtesy: Seventy Four Ranch)
4. Lazy Dog Kayak Key West, Florida
Karl’s hobbies include: napping, stretching, and hanging out. So anything with the word “lazy” in the title is tailor made for him. But even though he likes the ocean, he doesn’t actually like to get in the water. So while I will kayak my little heart out, Karl can mascot and protect me from the jellyfish, stingrays, and manatees that are often spotted in the area. Stay at the Banana Bay Resort & Marina, an adults-only oceanfront resort with a tiki bar and private balconies. Prices start at $149 a night, and two dogs of any size can stay for free.
5. Torpedo Factory Art Center - Alexandria, Virginia
Karl is a bit of an art snob. Below, he is “perusing” Banksy’s work in West Hollywood. And by perusing I mean looking for a place to pee. He’s also a bit of a narcissist. It’s my fault. Early on, I dubbed him the “Canine Unicorn” and paraded him around my neighborhood like a show pony. I also tried to train him to pee on command, causing a friend of mine to note, “Karl is the only dog who goes to the bathroom and then looks at you like he’s saying, ‘You’re welcome!’” Sometimes he will just stare at himself lovingly in the mirror like he's Brad Pitt. For hours. So he’s obviously a fan of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia, where he can get his portrait commissioned. Bring your pooch there and tour the exhibits, then take him or her to the City Marina next door, where you and your pal can go on a “Canine Cruise” several times a year with the Potomac Riverboat Company. Dogs board for free. Or book a room at the Hotel Monaco, which is a bone’s throw away and hosts “Doggie Yappy Hour” on Tuesdays and Thursdays, April to October. Rates start at $159 a night, but dogs of any size stay for free.
(Photo: Paula Froelich)
Finally … BONUS VIDEO! This is what Karl Froelich does when I tell him he’s traveling with me—and who doesn’t want to see this every day?