(Almost) No Room at the Inn: Summer's Hottest Dog-Friendly Destinations

Posted by Billy Francis

Don’t be left with booking regret when you find the “pawfect” place for your summer vacation. Certain destinations are always in demand during the holidays, and pet-friendly rooms at these hotspots tend to fill up long before peak season. Act now, so you can start dreaming about long walks in the summer sun with your best friend.

Virginia Beach, VA

“No treats could have made up for missing this!” Photo by @phat.humphs

From the historic First Landing State Park Beach to the bustling patio at Abbey Road Pub and Restaurant, there’s a reason so many dogs choose Virginia Beach for their summer vacation. Take your pup on a morning stroll along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk to the public beach and stop by Kitty Hawk Kites and shop for unique souvenirs. For a unique day away from the beach, head to Mount Trashmore, the first landfill park in the country. A Virginia Beach landmark and environmental marvel, the park boasts two man-made mountains, a beautiful garden and two lakes.

Book Fido’s deluxe king room at La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham Virginia Beach nice and early to prevent his sought-after summer stay from drifting away. Or, find oceanfront accommodations and treats from the concierge at Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The DoubleTree by Hilton Virginia Beach is another option that puts you just a few blocks from the sand and surf.

Gatlinburg, TN

"I can do this." Photo by Facebook.com/GatlinburgSkyLift1

Furry family members who prefer a mountain vacation to a beach escape can join the doggy droves on a trip to the charming city of Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a summer scenic drive through the most popular national park in the country on Cades Cove Loop Road, or buy a selection of souvenirs at The Village Shops. If your pooch isn't afraid of heights, bring her to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park and ride the SkyLift or walk along the SkyBridge together. Snag a room with a view at the in-demand Park Vista, A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, located just a short trolley ride from the heart of downtown.

If there’s no room at the inn in Gatlinburg for your big dog, see what’s available nearby in Pigeon Forge. The mountain town is full of fun summer activities for dogs. Spend the day at The Island in Pigeon Forge, a pet-friendly entertainment hub with 23 acres of shops, restaurants and attractions. For a quieter escape, bring Fido to meet more than just pigeons at Parrot Mountain and Gardens. Don’t panic if Pigeon Forge is full too. Scenic Sevierville is just up the road and welcomes travelers on two legs on four to enjoy a stay in the Smokies. While you’re here, don’t miss a walk with Fido across America’s longest swinging bridge at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park.

Santa Barbara, CA

“Yappy hour is the best hour of the day.” Photo by Jody Williams

Planning a summer road trip along The Pacific Coast Highway? Set your course for sunny Santa Barbara. Golden Retrievers who dream of visiting the Golden State can take a tour of the Pacific Ocean with Sunset Kidd Sailing Cruises, or cruise along the coast to one of the region’s best-loved dog beaches, Arroyo Burro Beach. Fido can also join you on the shady patio of the Santa Barbara Winery, where he can sip a bowl of water while you sample award-winning wines.

Call it a night at the “pupular” Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort. After check-in, your pooch can join you for dinner and drinks on the patio, or you can order something off the dog menu from the comfort of your room. For a more affordable dog-friendly hotel, Motel 6 Santa Barbara Beach is the chain’s original location.

Mackinac Island, MI

“What a voyage!” Photo by @tomandhankoffthehook

Don’t turn your plans for a summer trip to Mackinac Island into mission impossible. Secure a room at Mission Point Resort as early as possible. The ‘Pooch at the Point’ package includes a welcome gift for Fido, round-trip ferry tickets for the whole pack on Shepler’s Ferry, and more. During your stay, be sure to sip on cocktails prepared using herbs from the resort’s “Cocktail Garden” and explore the grounds together. When you’re ready to tour the island, hop on a bike rental from Mackinac Island Bike Shop and tow your best friend behind you in a Burley trailer, or ride in style in a horse-drawn carriage with Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. Make your way to The Doghouse at Windermere Point, where you can munch on a hot dog while your pup dips her paw in the lake.

The limited space on the island and lack of chain hotels make finding a room tricky, especially in the summer. Fortunately, you can stay on the mainland near the ferry port at the budget-friendly Quality Inn Saint Ignace or Voyager Inn.

Myrtle Beach, SC

“I could never get bored of the boardwalk.” Photo by @sir_leo.thecorgi

It’s not just retirees who flock to Myrtle Beach for warm weather, good vibes and dog-friendly beaches. From May 1 to Labor Day, dogs are only allowed on the beach before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. The same schedule applies to the unspoiled, mile-long beach at Myrtle Beach State Park. Between those times, Fido can run off-leash at two beloved dog parks, Barc Parc North and Barc Parc South. The latter is the larger of the two, and offers a lake where pups can splash their paws.

Arrange a stay at Residence Inn by Marriott Myrtle Beach Oceanfront in advance if you want to wake up to comfort along the coast every morning. This much barked-about hotel offers ocean view rooms with balconies and suites big enough for the whole pack, as well as a nice grassy area between the pool and beach. The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront is another furry favorite, and even has a dog park on the property. Red Roof Inn Myrtle Beach Market Common is a great option for tourists with tails who want to save money for food at one of the city’s many pet-friendly restaurants.

South Lake Tahoe, CA

It’s clear why dogs love Lake Tahoe. Photo by BringFido/Kelsey

Lake Tahoe is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the U.S., and the crystal-clear waters are too inviting to be passed up by tourists who congregate there every summer. Paddle with your pup at Kiva Beach, gaze below in a see-through kayak from Clearly Tahoe, and meet local Labs at Bijou Dog Park. Wind down with a craft brew and Irish eats on the dog-friendly “Paddy-O” at McP’s Taphouse.

Fireside Lodge fills up fast during the summer months, so pull the trigger now for a guaranteed room. Located in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, this quaint cabin-themed hotel offers a welcome package at the front desk with pet covers, bowls, treats, and dog towels. If log fires don’t spark Fido’s vacation desires, Hotel Azure Tahoe is a pristine place for him to lay his head after a day of fun. Beagles on a budget should book a room at Motel 6 South Lake Tahoe instead.

Panama City, FL

“I think we’ll stay on board.” Photo by BringFido/Jeffrey

Shih Tzus who love the sand will find miles of sublime coastline to sniff in Panama City. Start by exploring Dog Beach at Pier Park Panama City Beach together. If Fido prefers being on the water, sail away with Dolphin and Snorkel Tours. Back on dry land, explore 24 miles of trails and over a mile of raised boardwalks at Conservation Park.

Panama City welcomes millions of tourists during the summer months, so planning where you’re going to stay in advance is a must. Score a hole in one when you secure a stay with your smaller dog at Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort. For a hotel that accepts dogs of all sizes, check into La Quinta Inn & Suites Panama City Beach instead.

Long Beach, WA

The world is your oyster, Fido. Photo by @benztheshep

Beaches come in all shapes and sizes, but few stretch for 28 miles. People and pups head to the Long Beach Peninsula along the Evergreen State’s coast to take long walks on the sand and enjoy the catch of the day from the largest salmon run in the world at one of the popular pet-friendly seafood restaurants. Play a round with your canine caddy at Peninsula Golf Course, let loose on Long Beach, and walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on the Discovery Trail.

Drift off after a busy day at Adrift Hotel, which has a dog-washing station on the property to clean your pup’s paws before you head inside. Too busy at Adrift? Rooms might still be available at Best Western Long Beach Inn. If you want to stay somewhere unique, share a historic stay at Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort.

Outer Banks, NC

“Don’t nag me!” Photo by BringFido

You’ll be flying high this summer if you act fast and book your holiday getaway to The Outer Banks. This string of barrier islands along the North Carolina coast offers dog-friendly beaches, coastal dunes, and plenty of highlights for history buffs on two legs and four. Start your vacation with a selfie at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, where Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first successful plane flight in 1903. From here, take your pick of dog-friendly beaches in the region, including Kitty Hawk Beach, Nags Head Beach, and every single beach (leash-free!) in Duck.

Make your holiday home base at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Outer Banks Kill Devil Hills. For a more budget-friendly option with plenty of local flavor, reserve a room at the Tar Heel Motel in Nags Head or the See Sea Motel in Kill Devil Hills.

Orlando, FL

“Who are you calling Goofy?” Photo by @alittlepixiedust

Millions of people make the pilgrimage to Orlando every summer to spend a few days at “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Disney's Art of Animation Resort makes sure your dog can share in the experience. Four-legged guests receive pet amenities like mats, bowls, poop bags, a door hanger, and a map that displays the resort's pet relief areas. Fans of Universal can join other revelers at Universal's Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Popping out to see the sea life? DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld allows well-behaved dogs to spend a few hours in your room alone.

When you’re ready to take a break from the parks, there's plenty to see and do with your dog in Orlando. Take to the water with your Weimaraner with a pet-friendly SUP rental from Buena Vista Watersports, or tour the art installations and catch an outdoor performance at Loch Haven Park.

What is Fido’s favorite summer destination? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by BringFido/Kelsey.