Dog-Friendly Winter Destinations for Snowbirds

Posted by Scott Tunstall

Winter is here and snowbirds are beginning their annual migration to escape the arctic blast. There are plenty of warm climate regions in America to seek refuge from frigid temps, most notably cities like Miami, San Diego and Tucson. However, there are just as many lesser-known spots to wait out the cold months. If you and your snow dog are planning to head south this winter, these hot destinations are cozy spots where you and Fido can hibernate until spring has sprung.

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA
Pool season never ends. Photo by @pure_atlas_palm_springs

A Southern Californian oasis rising from the Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is known for soothing hot springs, professional-grade golf courses and pet-friendly activities. With daytime temperatures reaching the low- to mid-70s from January to March, there’s no need to pack Fido’s sweaters. You can choose from a variety of pet-friendly extended-stay hotels and spacious homes and cozy condos to hang your hats for the winter, several of which feature heated swimming pools and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. There’s also a bevy of eateries with dog-friendly patios, and area attractions that permit pups.

Where to stay:

Harriet’s Hideaway - This three-bedroom, two-bath secluded escape sleeps up to six people and welcomes pets of any size for no additional fee. Amenities include a fully equipped kitchen, heated pool with hot tub, washer/dryer and a private walled-in yard where snowdogs can soak up some sun.

Iconic Condo With Resort Pools - Fido will love this cool, two-bedroom pad located in Ocotillo Lodge, a Mid-Century Modern landmark built in 1957. The decor is impeccable yet comfortable and there’s a spacious patio where you can enjoy the warm weather. Get some more Vitamin D lounging or swimming laps at the two resort pools onsite. The location on East Palm Canyon Drive is just steps away from dog-friendly hotspots like the Ace Hotel and Elmer’s Restaurant.

Places to eat:

Spencer’s - Nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, Spencer’s serves upscale international cuisine from breakfast until dinner. Four-legged patrons are allowed on the award-winning patio that’s sheltered beneath a canopy of towering fig trees. You’ll be in canine-loving company, too; the restaurant was named after the owner’s dog, Spencer.

Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar & Grille - Wash down a hearty sandwich with a cold beer while Fido digs into the seven-item doggy menu that includes the Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs), Woof Surprise (kibble with ground beef) and the Cold Wet Nose (a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

Things to do:

Palm Springs Air Museum - Leashed dogs are welcome to tour exhibits featuring combat aircraft from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. All exhibits in the air-conditioned hangars are rope-free, allowing visitors to get an up-close look at these historical marvels. In addition to the aircraft, exhibits and activities allow visitors of all ages to gain a fresh perspective on World War II.

Moorten Botanical Garden & Cactarium - Open since 1938, this arboretum hideaway showcases the natural beauty of desert plants native to the region. Leashed pups are welcome to view flora of all shapes and sizes, including rare cacti. Just make sure your four-legged botanist keeps his nose clear of the needles.

Mount Dora, FL

Mount Dora, FL
Unwinding in the Sunshine State. Photo by

In the charming central Florida town of Mount Dora, temperatures hover around the 70s from January to March, making it one of the country’s most pleasant cities to ride out the winter. It also provides northern visitors with spectacular vacation rentals and a variety of dog-friendly dining choices and attractions.

Where to stay:

Bungalow on Baker Street - This cozy bungalow is located in the Historic District just a short walk to downtown Mount Dora restaurants and shops. The quaint cottage welcomes small dogs and sleeps up to four guests in two bedrooms. It also features a fully equipped kitchen and screened-in porch overlooking a spacious grassy yard where Fido can stretch his legs.

Deer Lodge - Built in the 1880s, Deer Lodge is one of Mount Dora’s most historic homes. This second-story two-bedroom villa includes a full kitchen, a private bathroom and a separate side yard where mutts can run and play.

Places to eat:

Copacabana Cuban Cafe - You won’t find Barry Manilow here, but you will find authentic Cuban dishes such as arroz con pollo, masitas de puerco and fried plantains. Dogs are permitted on the covered patio.

Magical Meat Boutique - This British-themed gastropub offers traditional English eats like Scotch eggs, fish and chips, bangers and mash and ale braised lamb shank, plus a doggy menu featuring pup patties and pup parfaits.

Things to do:

Mount Dora Dog Park - With a massive fenced-in green space, three separate sections for dogs of all sizes, and water stations and splash pools, Mount Dora Dog Park is the central hub for four-legged fun.

The Cellar Door - Fido can belly up to the bar or snooze on the floor while you sample vino from across the globe or listen to live music at this comfy downtown wine bar.

Fredericksburg, TX

Fredericksburg, TX
Texas is made for four-legged buckaroos. Photo by

Named after Prince Frederick of Prussia, the central Texas town of Fredericksburg fully embraces its German heritage as well as its fondness for four-legged tourists. Daytime temperatures range between the low 60s to low 70s from January to March, making this sleepy hamlet perfect for Fido as long as he brings along a light jacket for chilly evenings. Rural and downtown rental homes, cottages and cabins are available in the area, plus plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and activities.

Where to stay:

Dogologie Haus - Designed specifically for the dog lover, this two-bedroom, two-bath retreat pampers pooches with tasty treats, comfy beds, bowls, indoor dog crates and a fenced yard with a large kennel. Rentals include a $25 gift certificate to Dogologie pet store on Main Street, and use of The Dog Pause at Dogologie, a crate service to keep your dogs while you enjoy activities where they may not be welcome. Amenities include a full kitchen, free WiFi and a laundry room.

Moonrise Retreat - This secluded two-story country cabin overlooking Palo Alto Creek Valley features three bedrooms and three baths and sleeps up to nine people. Amenities include a remodeled kitchen, upstairs deck, cable TV and internet access. Guests can also gather around the backyard fire pit and gaze at the starlit sky or take a soothing soak in the outdoor hot tub.

Places to eat:

Auslander - Feast on authentic Bavarian eats like Reuben sandwiches, bratwurst and rouladen. Fido is permitted on the covered patio, where he can drink from a bowl of fresh water and if he’s lucky, sneak a sausage snack.

West End Pizza Co. - Pizza, pasta and pups on the patio, West End Pizza has it all. Drop in to chat with the locals or watch a game on the heated bar patio while your furry buddy laps up a bowl of cool water.

Things to do:

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area - Discover the mystical wonders of this 425-foot rock dome jutting from the earth. Legend has it the Tonkawa Native American tribe named the formation “pink granite batholith” after a Spanish conquistador cast an enchantment on it, causing magical ghost fires to glow from its peak. Four-legged explorers are allowed in designated picnic areas, campgrounds and on the 4-mile Loop Trail.

Becker Vineyards - Fido can sniff the bouquet at this old-world-style estate winery situated on 308 acres of land. Pups are permitted in outdoor areas, including the spacious lawns and veranda outside the tasting room.

Peoria, AZ

Peoria, AZ
Perfect frisbee weather. Photo by

Located just north of Phoenix, the bustling suburb of Peoria makes a great destination for northerners and their canines seeking pleasant climates during the winter. Daytime temperatures average between the mid-60s to upper 70s from January to March, creating perfect conditions before the sweltering summer heat takes grip. Choose from extended-stay hotels, resort-style rental homes, a variety of dining options, and activities to explore with your pet.

Where to stay:

Residence Inn Phoenix Glendale/Peoria - Fido will appreciate the large grassy pet relief areas outside of this pet-friendly hotel. Inside, suites come with a full kitchen, free WiFi and premium cable TV channels. Start each day with a complimentary breakfast available in the lobby. Catch some rays by the outdoor pool and hot tub, or work up a sweat in the 24-hour fitness center. Two pets up to 35 lbs are welcome for an additional fee of $150 per stay.

Three-Bedroom House With Private Pool - You’ll love this three-bedroom retreat that sleeps up to eight people and your dog. The home features an open layout with a spacious kitchen for entertaining friends and family, and a covered outdoor seating area next to the fenced-in pool. There are trails, shopping and dining options nearby if you ever decide to leave.

Places to eat:

Lakeside Bar & Grill - Pups can grab a seat on the fenced patio and order from the doggy menu at Lakeside Bar & Grill. Human favorites include handcrafted burgers, sizzling fajitas and brownie sundaes for dessert.

Haymaker Thunderbird - This family- and dog-friendly burger joint serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks in a casual, contemporary setting that includes an enclosed patio that welcomes well-behaved, leashed dogs. The menu includes items like BBQ, country fried steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, avocado toast, Benedicts, salads, burgers, and more.

Things to do:

Peoria Sports Complex - Both the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres utilize the sports complex as a spring training facility every February and March. Leashed pups are allowed on the practice fields and are permitted in the stadium for a Dog Days night game.

Parkridge Park Dog Park - Your furry pal can run off leash in this spacious, fully fenced park featuring separate sections for small and large dogs.

Las Cruces, NM

Las Cruces, NM
“Don’t worry, it’s a dry heat.” Photo by @laurenmartelrealtor

Las Cruces blends Mexican culture and American west ideals to form an eclectic community that welcomes two- and four-legged winter guests with open arms. Daytime temperatures usually range from the low 60s to low 70s from January to March, so heavy coats aren’t required. Cozy casitas are available to rent for short- and long-term stays, and there are several dog-friendly restaurants and activities in and around the city.

Where to stay:

Casita De Universidad - This furnished one-bedroom, one-bath home is within walking distance of downtown Las Cruces. Amenities include free WiFi, a fully equipped kitchen and a gated private yard suitable for visiting pooches.

Cozy Studio in Historic Downtown - Built in 1925, this pet-friendly one-bedroom, one-bath studio apartment includes a kitchenette, hardwood floors and WiFi access.

Places to eat:

D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro - Sample an array of fine wine while feasting on hearty dishes like southwest meatloaf and country pot roast. Leashed pups are permitted in the shaded outdoor seating area.

Farley’s Food, Fun & Pub - Enjoy burgers, pizza, beer and other tasty eats at Farley’s, a casual pub that welcomes dogs on the covered patio.

Things to do:

Soledad Canyon Loop - This 3.4-mile hike winds its way through a narrow canyon to a natural waterfall. Explore mountainous trails, marvel at towering rock formations and investigate mysterious ruins with Fido by your side.

Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture - Take a drive along Interstate 10 just outside Las Cruces to see the giant roadrunner. Measuring 20 feet tall by 40 feet long, this roadside wonder is made entirely from thrift store rejects and scrap metal salvaged from the city’s recycling center. Visiting Wile E. Coyotes can stop by to get a photo with their nemesis.

Orange Beach, AL

Orange Beach, AL
“I don’t do winter.” Photo by @shopoba

The crown jewel of the Alabama Gulf Coast, Orange Beach boasts miles of sugar-white sand beaches, one of the country’s largest artificial fishing reefs and Southern hospitality to spare. Daytime temperatures from January to March average between the low 60s to low 70s. Select from an array of waterfront villas and secluded hideaways, award-winning seafood restaurants and dog-friendly activities.

Where to stay:

Osprey Watch - This three-bedroom, two-bath quiet neighborhood home can accommodate up to six people. Amenities include a fully equipped kitchen, screened porch, covered deck and a fenced backyard.

Dock of the Bay - Nestled on tranquil Wolf Bay, this four-bedroom peaceful getaway includes hardwood floors, a private dock and a screened porch with a suspended swing. It’s the perfect spot to take in picturesque sunset views.

Places to eat:

Cosmos Restaurant and Bar - Treat your tastebuds to New Orleans-style cuisine like shrimp po-boys, baked catfish with meunière sauce and duck and andouille sausage gumbo. Fido is welcome on the open-air patio.

Luna’s Eat & Drink - The festive sports bar atmosphere, menu of fresh seafood and Southern classics, and dog-friendly patio deck make Luna’s one of Orange Beach’s most popular dining destinations.

Things to do

Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail - Leashed dogs are permitted to trek this trail that weaves through 15 miles of maritime forests, sand dunes and freshwater marshes. Always be on the lookout for resident reptiles.

The Elberta Sculptures - Located a few miles from Orange Beach in the tiny town of Elberta, you’ll find a trio of forest oddities in Bamahenge, Dinosaurs in the Woods, and Lady in the Lake. Fido can play Mulder to your Scully while investigating these strange structures.

Jekyll Island, GA

Jekyll Island, GA
“Can we make this a permanent vacation?” Photo by @jekyll_island

The southernmost island in Georgia’s Golden Isles, Jekyll Island has been a popular vacation destination since British colonists landed on its shores in the early 1700s. With dog-friendly beaches and average winter temperatures in the 60s, there’s a lot to love about Jekyll Island as a seasonal getaway. Migrating snowbirds can choose from a wide selection of pet-friendly rental properties as well as eateries and activities.

Where to stay:

Artists Alcove - This three-bedroom, two-bath serene retreat comes equipped with a full kitchen, washer/dryer and a screened porch. Dogs are welcome for no additional fee, and beach access is only steps away.

Pelican House - Pups can romp in the fenced backyard while you relax on the canopied patio at this three-bedroom, two-bath home within walking distance of the beach.

Places to eat:

Tortuga Jack’s - Feed your appetite with delicious Mexican favorites like sizzling steak fajitas, pulled pork enchiladas and bangin’ shrimp tacos. Leashed pooches are welcome at umbrella tables on the tiki patio.

Sunrise Grille - Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunrise Grille offers everything from egg and cheese biscuits to jumbo lump crab cakes. Fido can patiently wait for scraps in the front outdoor seating area.

Things to do:

Driftwood Beach - One of our favorite dog-friendly beaches on the east coast, Driftwood Beach permits leashed pooches to prance in the golden sand and frolic in the frothy surf.

Jekyll Island Dolphin Tours - Watch dolphins swim and sing on a sunset boat tour around Jekyll Island. Leashed pups are allowed on board as long as it’s not overcrowded.

Laughlin, NV

Laughlin, NV
“When do we hit the casino?” Photo by @cosplaycorgi

Nestled 90 miles south of Las Vegas on the banks of the Colorado River, Laughlin provides snowbirds a balmy desert retreat chock-full of casino resorts and outdoor adventure. Pack Fido’s sunglasses and flip-flops because daytime temperatures range between the mid-60s to upper 70s from January to March. Laughlin and nearby Bullhead City and Mojave City offer excellent temporary residences, eateries and attractions.

Where to stay:

Laughlin Condo with Pool/Hot Tub - Fido can fish for dinner or practice diving from the private dock at this cozy one-bedroom apartment on the Colorado River. There are two private beach areas for guest use and jet ski rentals nearby.

Riverfront Condo With Pool - This cozy, one-bedroom apartment on the Colorado River offers amazing views. It’s located in a gated community with its own pool, boat launch ramp, privately leased islands, gas barbeque grills, outdoor picnic areas, and a water taxi dock. The deck is a great spot to catch the sunrise with a cup of coffee with Fido.

Places to eat:

In-N-Out Burger - Order a Double-Double with a creamy chocolate shake to savor at an outdoor umbrella table, and treat your furry friend to a Pup Patty (an unseasoned hamburger patty) from the secret canine menu.

D’Angelo’s Italian Restaurant - A menu of authentic Italian dishes includes meatballs with marinara, shrimp scampi and baked stuffed eggplant. Leashed dogs are welcome on the covered front patio.

Things to do:

Grapevine Canyon Trail - This 3.3-mile hike can be challenging due to steep inclines and boulder piles, but leashed pups are permitted on the trail. Along the way, you’ll be able to view nearly 250 petroglyphs, some of which date as far back as 1100 AD, carved into rock formations throughout Grapevine Canyon.

Big Bend of the Colorado - Leashed dogs are allowed to frolic on the shoreline of this riverfront park and recreation area. A $10 daily entry fee is required.

Looking for more sunny destinations to escape the cold? Check out these Tropical Vacation Ideas for Warm-Blooded Hounds This Winter.

Where are you and your pup headed to escape the cold this winter? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by @doodooanddukie.