Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer and is usually celebrated with family cookouts, pool parties and beach vacations. More importantly, Memorial Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history and honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard our freedom. This year, as Monday, May 31 approaches, plan a trip with Fido to one of these pet-friendly destinations full of military history.
Posted by Lauren Barker
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For a “pawsome” day in the Bay Area, bring Fido on a visit to the Presidio of San Francisco, a featured attraction in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States. The national park site, formerly a U.S. Army post, today offers visitors free access to some of the city’s best vistas, walking trails, and public spaces. Take in some great views of the Golden Gate Bridge as you exercise your furry friend along Baker Beach, a mile-long stretch of coastline that is popular with active pups for its leash-optional policy. Slip on Fido’s hiking boots and trek the Presidio Ecology Trail, a 1.7- mile loop that winds to the top of Inspiration Point, overlooking the bay and Alcatraz Island. Grab a bite to eat on the patio at Presidio Café, located across the street from the trailhead, or enjoy a picnic at Crissy Field. The park can become quite crowded, especially on weekends, so plan an early morning or mid-week visit if your pup prefers wide-open spaces. There is no fee to visit.
Once the quarters for military officers in the early 1900s, the Inn at the Presidio today provides modern, spacious rooms for tourists seeking a unique San Francisco lodging experience. After a day of sightseeing, head to the hotel’s outdoor patio and fire pit with your pup, and enjoy the evening wine and cheese reception. The Inn at the Presidio accepts dogs of any size for an additional fee of $40 per stay. Its sister property, Lodge at the Presidio, shares the same pet policy and offers striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Gettysburg National Military Park
American history buffs won’t want to miss a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park. Walk the battlefield with Fido or take a driving tour of the historic sites commemorating the battle that became a major turning point in the Civil War. Although dogs are not permitted in park buildings, they can join you at most of the outdoor memorials. Be sure to visit the Irish Brigade monument, which depicts a loyal Irish Wolfhound mourning the loss of his masters. There is no admission fee.
The Battlefield Bed and Breakfast is a real Civil War-era farmhouse with a 30-acre nature preserve on the Gettysburg Battlefield. The B&B; is said to be haunted, but don’t be scared when you see a soldier in the morning – that’s just a Civil War reenactor arriving for the daily history program. Where else can you try your hand at firing a musket before enjoying a hearty breakfast in the morning? Dogs of any size are welcome for no additional fee.
After a morning constitutional with Fido, sit back, relax and enjoy a ride through “America’s Front Yard,” the National Mall, on a pet-friendly pedicab ride with Adventure DC Tricycle Tours. Choose the Monuments and Memorials Tour, and your fully narrated ride will stop at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the World War II Memorial, among other iconic sites. Small dogs can be carried to some of the monuments, but your tour guide is happy to stay with your pup or take him on a walk while you visit areas where pets are not permitted. Plan on spending at least two hours circling the loop around the National Mall. Tickets are $19 for adults, $12 for children, and free for dogs.
The Jefferson hotel is the perfect spot for your canine companion to rest his tired paws after a long day of touring Washington DC. Located just a few blocks from the White House, the hotel features elegant rooms, delectable dining, and an impressive private collection of antique furnishings, period artwork, and historical documents. Pet amenities include bedding, food dishes, and a tasty treat provided at check-in. Dogs are accepted for an additional fee of $50 per stay.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Spanning 10,000 acres across northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park marks the sites of the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battle of Chattanooga, two major conflicts in the American Civil War. Today, there is plenty of history to see and learn during your visit to the two separate sections. Hike along 80 miles of marked trails, or paddle one of two creeks in the park that played pivotal roles in each of the battles. Four-legged visitors are welcome throughout the grounds and at outdoor exhibits. Check the park’s calendar for a schedule of guided ranger hikes and car caravan tours. There is no fee to enter Chickamauga Battlefield, but admission to the section of the park known as Point Park at Lookout Mountain Battlefield is $10 per person. Dogs are welcome for free.
Stay on the Tennessee side of the park at La Quinta Inn and Suites Chattanooga Lookout Mountain, and you’ll also be near the famous Rock City atop Lookout Mountain. Don’t miss a chance to snap Fido’s photo by a 100-foot waterfall and soak in panoramic views of seven states and the Chattanooga Valley. The hotel welcomes two pets of any size for an additional fee of $20 per night.
Petersburg National Battlefield
The Siege of Petersburg was the longest military event in the Civil War, lasting nine and a half months. Today, you and your pup can explore Petersburg National Battlefield and learn about the 70,000 casualties, the decline of General Robert E. Lee’s Northern Virginia army, and the free and enslaved people who lived at Appomattox Plantation. Walk the interpretive trails alongside historic battlegrounds, hike on 10 miles of nature trails, or venture into the town of Hopewell to visit the grounds of General Grant's Headquarters, which leads to the James River waterfront. If you find a park ranger, let Fido take the pledge to become an official national park B.A.R.K. Ranger. He’ll be happy to wait outside while you purchase his badge in the visitor center gift shop. The park is free to visit.
Spend the night halfway between the Front Unit of the park and General Grant’s Headquarters Unit at Candlewood Suites Ft Lee Petersburg Hopewell. You’ll be just minutes from both locations and over 67 acres of wooded trails at Appomattox River Regional Park. Two pets of any size are permitted for an additional fee of $30 per pet (for stays of 1 to 3 nights), $75 per pet (for stays of 4 to 6 nights), or $150 per pet (for stays of 7 nights or more).
Air Force Armament Museum
Take your “pawtriotic” pup to the Air Force Armament Museum, located at Eglin Air Force Base. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia associated with Air Force Armament. Start your visit by watching a video of the history of Eglin Air Force Base and its role in the development of armament. Then, take a self-guided tour to see over 29 aircraft dating from World War II to the present, along with several hundred pieces of armament including guns, bombs and missiles. Admission to the museum is free.
Enjoy the full weekend in the panhandle by booking a pet-friendly room at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Fort Walton Beach-Eglin AFB. You’ll enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast and beautiful views of Choctawhatchee Bay, all while being just minutes from Fort Walton Beach and Destin. Two pets of any size are accepted for an additional fee of $100 per stay.
Unconditional Surrender at Tuna Harbor Park
One of the most iconic photographs ever taken was on August 14, 1945, in New York’s Times Square, as people celebrated the end of World War II. The now famous shot of a U.S. Navy sailor kissing a complete stranger has been turned into a 25-foot bronze sculpture called Unconditional Surrender, which can be found at Tuna Harbor Park. Get an up-close look at the statue when you take Fido for a stroll along the Port of San Diego’s Greatest Generation Walk, a self-guided tour through public memorials and works of art celebrating both San Diego’s military and tuna fishing history. In addition to Unconditional Surrender, you’ll also see the U.S.S. San Diego Memorial, Aircraft Carrier Memorial, Homecoming Memorial, and views of the U.S.S. Midway docked in the harbor. There is no fee to visit.
At Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, you’ll be within walking distance of Tuna Harbor Park and Seaport Village, where you can shop and dine on the waterfront at dog-friendly restaurants like Pier Cafe. Two dogs with a combined weight of 75 lbs are welcome for a pet fee of $100 for stays of 1 to 5 nights, and an additional $100 per dog for every 1 to 5 nights thereafter.
Vicksburg National Military Park
At Vicksburg National Military Park, you and your furry friend can learn about the American Civil War Battle, Campaign, and Siege of Vicksburg on one of several self-guided driving tours. Pick up a brochure as you enter the park and follow along as you drive the planned routes, making stops at important points of interest. You can choose to listen to the cell phone driving tour or pick up a one-hour audio CD from the bookstore before you begin. On select days, the park offers a living history program with reenactors, but be aware that cannon and musket demonstrations will take place. After touring its historic highlights, take Fido on a walk along miles of wooded trails. Vicksburg National Military Park also hosts special B.A.R.K. Ranger programs throughout the year. The entrance fee is $20 per vehicle.
Make yourself at home in one of the individually decorated rooms at Steel Cottage, one of the oldest properties in historic Vicksburg. Enjoy beautiful views from the terrace or take a stroll through the garden with Fido. Pets of any size are permitted for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.
Fort Pulaski National Monument
The construction of Fort Pulaski National Monument, built to protect the Port of Savannah, began in 1829 and took 18 years to complete. It was here that the first use of rifled artillery technology was used in military history. It also served as a home to soldiers from both sides during the American Civil War and was used as a prisoner of war camp. Today, you and your four-legged travel partner can explore the fort on your own or take an interpretive program to learn more in-depth history. If time allows, take a walk with your pup to view the historic Cockspur Island Lighthouse; the Battery Hambright, a gun battery built to protect a minefield in the north channel of the Savannah River; or the small cemetery that serves as a final resting place for soldiers from the early to mid-19th century. Admission to Fort Pulaski is $10 per person, and dogs are welcome for no additional fee.
Continue your visit to an area steeped in history and stay at East Bay Inn in Savannah. Fido will receive dog treats and a map of dog-friendly places to visit around town at check-in. Grab dinner at one of the pet-friendly restaurants within walking distance, like The Cotton Exchange Tavern. Two pets of any size are accepted for an additional fee of $50 per stay.
War Dog Memorials
Through three centuries of armed conflicts, dogs have stood side-by-side with the brave men and women of the U.S. Military. Whether patrolling the perimeter of an airbase in Vietnam, detecting IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, or helping track down an ISIS leader, these four-legged soldiers proved to be invaluable assets on the field of battle. Visit Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to take Fido’s photo with the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument, or make a stop at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park for a photo op at the pet-friendly memorial area before you view the retired battleship. Check out these other war dog memorials where you can pay tribute to the furry warriors who gave their lives for their human brothers in arms.
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Banner photo by BringFido/Melissa Halliburton.