I am very fortunate in that: (A) I get to go away on vacation a couple of times a year; and (B) I get to take my dogs with me. These vacations usually involve the beach or the mountains, and they are always in areas that tout themselves as being pet-friendly.
My criteria are as follows:
- I must be able to rent a pet-friendly house.
- I must be able to get the dogs out during the day for some physical activity, such as walking on the beach, hiking on trails or walking around small towns with shops and galleries.
- If it’s warm weather, there must be restaurants with outdoor seating areas that allow dogs.
These things normally get a whole lot easier once I get OUT of New Jersey.
People often are amazed when I tell them that I’m going to travel with my dogs, but I assure you that, with a little planning, it can be a great experience. The internet makes it incredibly easy to find accommodations, restaurants and activities for you and your dog, so give it some consideration the next time you’re planning a trip. For rentals, check out sites like Vacation Rental by Owner or VRBO.com; it’s usually easier to deal directly with rental owners than with real estate agencies. For activities and restaurants, check out bringfido.com, but don’t limit yourself to their listings alone as there are many businesses that aren’t registered with that website but are still open pet traffic.
Last week, I packed up the car and took a week to hike up in Lake Placid and then over in the White Mountain National Forest. Lake Placid is a beautiful area with loads of trails through the High Peaks area, dozens of restaurants in the downtown area, a lot of small non-chain shops and, of course, the Lake Placid Olympic Center and museum. It may be a little tougher to find a dog-friendly rental here, but there are a few motels that take them. It is definitely worth the trip.
After a couple of days there, we drove into New Hampshire and spent the rest of the week hiking there and in the western part of Maine. There is only one strip of highway that skirts the national forest; the rest of the route has you making your way on breathtakingly beautiful back roads through the mountains and rolling hills. Don’t expect the idyllic New England village-type scenery through this area; it consists of forests, rough-hewn farms and remnants of towns that grew around the logging industry. The hiking there is not for the faint of heart, and your dogs need to be agile for the rocky, steep climbs. The trees are fabulous and the higher areas are aromatic with the smell of fresh balsam all around. The wildflowers and berries line the sides of the roads as well as the hiking trails.
There are plenty of dog-friendly rental cabins in that area. The food … well, let’s just say that it’s best to go grocery shopping before you get up there, pack a cooler and plan on doing a little cooking. There are signs everywhere about moose crossings; we only got to see one measly moose the whole darn time. We even followed the tour vans that go out at night to spot them; no luck. The only other animals I got too see were two deer along the side of the road and three chickens that someone had dumped at a trailhead … the one hike that I had not planned in advance, and I end up helping a U.S. Forest Service ranger chase chickens for nearly an hour and a half.
Anyway, the next couple of months are the perfect time to see New England with your dog, with pleasant days and cool nights. I was able to get a cabin rental with only a week’s notice. So get in the car and take your “best friend” on a little adventure! Make sure you have a copy of his rabies certificate with you and know where you can find a vet in the area you’re visiting.