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The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

Dr. Randy Olson, a data genius, got my wheels turning when he devised the Ultimate American Road Trip, connecting “the best” landmarks in the lower 48 states using the shortest possible route. While the trip sounded appealing, nearly half of Dr. Olson’s attractions don’t allow pets! And that’s when my imagination kicked in … what the Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip would be like?

A colorful map of the U.S. with pins locating pet friendly attractions

 

Envisioning a Pet Friendly Road Trip

Connecting the dots was easy. The difficult challenge was choosing the pet friendly attraction for each state! If you’re only making one stop per state, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the best.

Focusing on destinations rich in state pride, natural wonder, and historical significance, our selections also provide a variety of activities for travelers and their furry companions. From beaches to mountain tops, bustling cities to quiet retreats, a canoe trip and a train ride – we give you the Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip!

A colorful map of the U.S. with pins locating pet friendly attractions

The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

The entire route is nearly 15,000 miles and would take months to complete! In reality, few people can get away for that amount of time with their pets.

Breaking the trip into sections allows you to take nine separate pet friendly vacations. And gives you the ability to plan each visit according to the weather.

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Northwest

Let’s start with a pet friendly road trip in the northwestern corner of the United States. From Washington’s green isles to the heights of Beartooth Highway, this route has something for everyone!

Map of the northwestern United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

Washington – San Juan Islands

Oregon – Portland’s Parks and Gardens

Idaho – Lake Coeur d’Alene

Wyoming – Bighorn National Forest – Medicine Wheel

Montana – Beartooth Highway

Southwest

The southwest route starts with a romp at Carmel spectacular dog beach. Then has you hiking at Red Rock Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Top it off with a trip up Telluride’s gondola, and your active pets will love this trip!

Map of the southwestern United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

 

California – Carmel’s Dog Beach

Nevada – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Arizona – Grand Canyon National Park

Colorado – Telluride Gondola to Mountain Village

Utah – Dixie National Forest’s Red Canyon

South Central

A stop in downtown San Antonio balances the time spent exploring natural wonders at the rest of the stops on this trip. If you’re worried about the pet friendly paddle down the Buffalo National River and considering skipping it … DON’T! We did it with Ty and Buster, though it was their first time in a canoe, and it’s now one of our most cherished memories.

Map of the south central United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

New Mexico – White Sands National Monument

Texas – San Antonio River Walk

Oklahoma – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Arkansas – Canoe the Buffalo National River

Kansas – Monument Rocks

 

Plains – North

This trip through the heartland reveals what the country was like before the arrival of Europeans. Admire the deep vastness of Lake Superior and the powerful Mississippi River. Then contemplate the lives of Native Americans who lived in Iowa and North Dakota.

Map of the United States northern plains with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

Minnesota – Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Wisconsin – Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

Iowa – Effigy Mounds National Monument

North Dakota – Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

South Dakota – Custer State Park

Nebraska – Fort Robinson State Park

Great Lakes

Three of the five stops on this pet friendly road trip are on the Great Lakes! Absorb the energy of downtown Chicago at Navy Pier. Then bask in the tranquility of Mackinac Island – where cars are prohibited. You’ll experience both ends of the spectrum in the pace of modern society.

Map of the Great Lakes states in the United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

West Virginia – Monongahela National Forest

Ohio – The Holden Arboretum

Illinois – Chicago Lakefront Trail & Navy Pier

Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Michigan – Mackinac Island and Arch Rock

Plains – South

Road tripping pets are going to adore this route. If the incredible off-leash dog park at Shelby Farms doesn’t get your tail wagging, check out all the fun spots to sniff along the Natchez Trace! Finally, sniff around the monumental Arch in St. Louis.

Map of the southern plains states in the United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

Tennessee – Shelby Farms Park Off-Leash Area

Mississippi – The Natchez Trace Parkway

Louisiana – State Capitol Gardens in Baton Rouge

Kentucky – Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park

Missouri – Gateway Arch Park

New England

You can see a lot without traveling as far in New England! Enjoy Central Park in the heart of Manhattan, then explore the trail in Acadia National Park. Finally, take a splash in the pond at Dog Mountain. From beginning to end, this trip is a pet’s dream come true.

Map of New England in the United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

New York – Central Park

Connecticut – Mystic Seaport

Rhode Island – Newport Cliff Walk

Massachusetts – The Freedom Trail

Maine – Acadia National Park

New Hampshire – Mt. Washington and the White Mountain National Forest

Vermont – Dog Mountain

 

Mid-Atlantic

The theme of this trip is early American history with some fun thrown in! Learn about first Europeans to arrive in the New World, then spend a day on the Jersey shore, and take a scenic train ride in the Pocono Mountains.

Map of the Mid-Atlantic states in the United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

Virginia – Colonial Williamsburg

Washington, DC – The National Mall

Maryland – Cruise on Chesapeake Bay

Delaware – Walking Tour of Historic New Castle

New Jersey – The Jersey Shore at Wildwood Dog Beach

Pennsylvania – Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway

Southeast

Beautiful gardens await your arrival on this pet friendly road trip. Wander the paths through Rock City, where on a clear day you can view seven states! Then admire the last large-scale romantic-style garden at Magnolia Plantation. Finally, spend a day exploring the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, with it’s formal gardens and woodland trails.

Map of the southeastern United States with pins marking the top pet friendly attraction in each state

Alabama – Little River Canyon National Preserve

Georgia – Rock City Gardens

Florida – Fort De Soto Dog Beach

South Carolina – Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

North Carolina – Biltmore Estate Gardens and Grounds

 

So there you have it! Now all that’s left to do is pack the car, crank up the tunes, and hit the road.

Waggin’ trails!

READ MORE   Tips for a Cross-Country Road Trip with Pets

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  • Sandy Childers says:

    My husband and I had to give up our travel trailer recently because it just became too much for us to take care of. Our three dogs (small dogs) always went with us. I would rather take our dogs wherever we go. Now we feel like we can’t go to places we want to go to unless we board the dogs. Several years ago we went to a park in Florida that had kennels where you could lock up your dogs while you went through the park and you took the key with you. Are there more places like this where you can leave your dogs in a safe place while you enjoy the attraction?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Sandy! As a matter of fact, I just did a blog post on theme parks and tours that provide kennels. You can read it here: https://blog.gopetfriendly.com/theme-parks-and-tours-with-dog-kennels/

      My other suggestion is to use GoPetFriendly.com to find places you can take the dogs along. For example, we’ve done posts on hundreds of pet friendly destinations, scenic train rides, and even museums where pets are welcome! With a little sniffing around, you’ll find there’s so many things to do with your pups. Waggin’ trails!

  • Helo says:

    I love this initiative and list for pet friendly travel places. More pet owners should engage on this list to help improve it.

  • Avery Schroeder Hi Avery! Yes, the book was just released last month. Here’s a link to the website: https://book.gopetfriendly.com

  • GoPetFriendly.com have y’all come out with the book already? I would love to read it!

  • Mindy Mae Milburn You’re so welcome! I hope you two have a great trip!

  • GoPetFriendly.com thank you so much for the reply! I am definitely going to be camping out in a tent or in my car with my baby!

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