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Dog Parks's 2nd Annual

Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities
To Visit in North America - 2004


Monterey State Beach, Monterey, CA

Part 1 - Part 2

Our goal in ranking cities or resort areas is to find places that not just grudgingly permit dogs but those places that actually welcome and appreciate dogs. Before giving the details on each city, we would again like to summarize the criteria used to rate the top ten cities.

Criteria for Ranking the Top 10 Dog-Friendly Cities to Visit:
- Find quality dog-friendly places.
- Find a complete package of dog-friendly places for travelers including lodging, attractions, outdoor restaurants, hikes, beaches and stores.
- Find places that welcome well-behaved dogs of all sizes and breeds. 
- Find cities that welcome both small and large dogs on public transportation (buses, subways, street cars, ferries, etc.)

1. Monterey-Carmel, CA (Last Year: 7) 

Carmel may be the dog-friendliest city in America. This resort town has a great friendly attitude towards canines and they welcome dogs in many of the accommodations, fine outdoor restaurants and boutique stores. The main town beach is even classified as an official off-leash beach. Carmel is also home to one of the most dog-friendly inns in the country. The Cypress Inn is partially owned by animal rights activist Doris Day. The inn not just allow dogs, but welcomes them with doggie treats, invites them to their in-house bar, and welcomes them to join you for tea and cookies in their lounge area. For dining in style your pooch is welcome at the weather protected outdoor seating at PortaBella and they'll even bring your four-legged family member water in a silver champagne bucket. Located just a short drive from Carmel is the beautiful coastal city of Monterey. The highlight of this city is the Monterey Recreation Trail where leashed dogs can walk for miles on the paved coastal trail or take a dip in one of the many beaches along the path. Located along the path is the Trailside Cafe which welcomes pets to their outdoor patio with a water bowl and complimentary dog treats. If sightseeing is on your list, Monterey offers several dog-friendly boat tours including a harbor tour and a whale watching tour. And if you are searching for a pet-friendly inn, try the Victorian Inn which is located just a few blocks from the ocean and welcomes your pooch with a doggie bowl full of kibbles and a complimentary bottle of water just for your pooch (humans have to buy their own spring water). For all of the above mentioned reasons, Monterey-Carmel easily makes it to our number one spot. But as a nice added bonus, if you are in good walking shape, you will have the added benefit of leaving your car in one spot during your entire vacation getaway. Whether you choose to stay in Carmel or Monterey, each town offers dog-friendly attractions, recreation and outdoor cafes within walking distance. 

2. Cape Cod-Nantucket, MA (Last Year: Not Ranked) 

This year we gave high points to cities with dog-friendly public transportation. Cape Cod-Nantucket hits our number two spot with their pet-friendly Nantucket Airlines which welcomes both small and large dogs in the cabin with you. Their ferry system is also very accommodating to people with pets and the island of Nantucket welcomes small and large dogs on their shuttle buses. These two towns get good points for their variety of inns to stay at  including the Simmons House Inn which offers animal-themed rooms and a list of nearby dog-friendly places. Or try the Cottages at the Boat Basin in Nantucket which welcome pets in their "Woof Cottages". For fun you and your dog can take a boat tour or stroll through the Green Briar Nature Center which is home to Peter Rabbit and other Burgess animal characters. For the water loving hounds, Cape Cod National Seashore offers 40 miles of pristine beaches where dogs on leash are welcome at the majority of the beaches year round. 

3. Chicago, IL (Last Year: 4) 

This is the highest ranking large city on our list this year with great places to stay and much to see and do. Chicago offers many upscale hotels for the pampered pet to choose from. The luxurious Hotel Burnham and Hotel Monaco both welcome dogs of all sizes and charge no pet fees. If you want to sightsee you will have a very busy weekend. This city is home to dog-friendly carriage rides and boat tours. One of the boat operators even offers a "Dog Days of Summer Canine Cruises" with a river and lakefront cruise featuring dog parks, fire hydrants and dog-friendly establishments. They even have a newspaper-lined restroom for canines and water bowls on board. Or if you are a baseball fan and happen to visit the Windy City in April, you and your dog can take in a White Sox Baseball Game at the once a year "Dog Day" game.   For some exercise, stroll around Grant Park which is home to the popular Chicago landmark, the Buckingham Fountain. For a longer walk try the Lakefront Trail which offers 18 miles of paved trails alongside Lake Michigan. Dogs can even cool off at the off-leash beach near Montrose. To put the final touch on a dog-friendly getaway stop at Cucina Bella for dinner. Dogs are welcome at their outdoor tables with a complimentary bowl of pasta.

4. Seattle, WA (Last Year: Not Ranked)

Seattle gets the number four spot this year with its wide selection of public transportation that welcomes small and large dogs. This city makes it easier for the traveler or for those who live here to get around without having to sit in traffic. King County Metro is very tolerant of well-behaved dogs and has been allowing them on their buses and street cars for over 12 years.  Pets are also welcome on the most popular tourist attraction, the Washington State Ferries. If flying is your preferred method of transportation, you and your dog can hop aboard a Kenmore Air Seaplane which offers scheduled flight routes to the San Juan Islands and Vancouver. For sightseeing try a carriage ride or visit the popular Pike Place Market where scenes from the movie "Sleepless in Seattle" were filmed. For walking, leashed dogs can visit Seattle's second largest park which also offers an off-leash area next to the water. Overnight accommodations include a variety of motels and upscale hotels to accommodate all budgets.  You'll also find a nice selection of dog-friendly outdoor eateries.

5. Key West, FL (Last Year: 2) 

One of the best features of this dog-friendly getaway town is that you can come here to simply unwind and relax. You can take it easy at one of  the many quaint pet-friendly  inns or cottages, or stroll along the Duval Street shopping district. This resort town gets high marks for having an aquarium that welcomes dogs inside. The Key West Aquarium welcomes your best friend as long as he or she doesn't try to hop into the water tanks. Another nice feature of this town is the many outdoor restaurants that have live outdoor music and welcome dogs. And a trip to Key West would not be complete without a visit to the Southernmost Point Monument where you and your pooch can pose for a great memorable photo.

6. Lake Tahoe, CA/NV (Last Year: 1)

This mountain resort is still a great getaway for pooches in search of the great outdoors. From motels to cabins to upscale vacation home rentals, there are a variety of accommodations that will suit all needs. Many dog lovers come here to give their dog the opportunity to get back to nature. There are miles of wooded trails to enjoy as well as some refreshing mountain lakes to swim in. But for those who want some sightseeing, Tahoe offers a dog-friendly gondola ride up the mountain at Squaw Valley and several boat tours and rentals on beautiful Lake Tahoe. If you are up for a real adventure, the Truckee River Raft Rentals welcomes pooches on their self-guided river rafting expeditions. And for fine dining, your canine family member is welcome at the West Shore Cafe which is set on the shoreline of Lake Tahoe. 

7. Toronto, ON, Canada (Last Year: Not Ranked)

Toronto easily fits into our top ten list this year with its progressive dog-friendly public transportation. The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) welcomes both small and large dogs on their subway, buses and streetcars. For folks interested in learning about Canadian history, you and your dog can step back in time at the Black Creek Pioneer Village which highlights life in the 1860's. For more of a  modern day experience, try the Centreville Amusement Park. While dogs are not allowed on the rides, they can accompany you and your family into the park.  Several waterfront parks welcome dogs and for some off-leash fun this city offers both a dog park and a dog beach. 

8. New York, NY (Last Year: 8) 

The Big Apple in our opinion is best experienced with a pooch by your side. When we visited New York,  people walking on the streets were much friendlier whenever we were out walking with a dog versus without.  And dogs are welcome in many downtown stores and most people in this city do not seem to think it is unusual to be shopping next to a well-mannered dog. As an added benefit to this dog-friendly city, there are many upscale hotels that welcome your best friend such as the Soho Grand Hotel, the Regency Hotel and many of the W New York Hotels. You can also have a great time seeing the sights in this city. From the dog-friendly William Secord Gallery which is home to nineteenth century dog paintings to Tawny Tours which offers a special dog-friendly tour of New York, there will be plenty to do and see. And don't forget to pay a visit to Central Park which is a green haven for city dogs. For dining out this city offers a nice handful of dog-friendly outdoor eateries.

9. Washington, DC (Last Year: 6)

DC comes still makes it in our top ten list because of the great sightseeing opportunities with your best friend. If you are up for lots of walking you will especially enjoy visiting the nation's capitol. Stroll along the grassy National Mall or pay a visit to the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials. Leashed dogs can walk up to the monuments but not underneath the domes. This still allows for some excellent views of the memorials. If you want a photo of your pooch right next to one of the presidential statues, visit the FDR Memorial where you will find a statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his dog Fala, a black Scottish Terrier. If you are looking to stay at a dog-friendly hotel in the heart of DC, try the Loews owned Jefferson Hotel which is just four blocks from the white house. They welcome pets with treats and a list of dog walking routes in the area. If you want to stay in a quiet neighborhood nearby, the Potomac Suites Rossyln in Arlington, Virginia, welcomes dogs with treats and maps to local parks, trails and pet stores. If you visit Washington during the Spring, be sure to check out the National Cherry Blossom Festival. You can bring your dog to many of the outdoor festivities.

10. San Francisco, CA (Last Year: Not Ranked)

The City By the Bay makes our list this year because many of the most popular attractions can be enjoyed with your dog.  Walk along Fisherman's Wharf, visit Ghirardelli Square, walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, shop at Macy's in Union Square, or take a boat tour of the bay, all with your best friend by your side. Whether you want to stay in a motel or an upscale hotel, you will find one that welcomes dogs. You'll also find many pet-friendly outdoor restaurants throughout the city. Even in this large city, your dog can still get back to nature at many parks and beaches like Crissy Field or Baker Beach. And if you are a fan of major league baseball, catch the annual Dog Days of Summer game usually held in August. On that special day you will see dogs of all sizes and shapes coming to watch the game with their people.

Click Here for's last year's 2003 Top Ten list.

If you have a city that you would like to nominate for next year's top ten list or know of a special dog-friendly place, feel free to let us know by sending us an email.







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Before you visit an establishment or place, please contact them and verify that they are still dog-friendly and available, as policies and management change frequently. All places listed on require your dog to be leashed and under your direct control unless specified  otherwise by an establishments (including parks and beaches) management. Please be aware of local Breed-Specific Laws that may be in place where you are visiting. The information on this site is not a recommendation., Inc. makes no warranties or representations of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation of the site or the information, content, materials, or products included on this site. If you find an establishment that no longer allows dogs, please let us know so we can remove them from our list. For full Rules and Regulations for Use of This Site, including the legal disclaimer and copyright notices,  click here before using the site
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