Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The best places to eat, stay and play with your furry mates

This is an article from MSNBC and is by Sandy Robbins.

As it becomes more common for people to travel with their pets, cities around the country are beginning to appreciate the discernable impact the doggie dollar is having on their economy. Consequently, many are reacting to this tug on their purse strings by making an all-out bid to label themselves pet-friendly on the tourist map.

But what does it mean for a city to adopt this title? Generally-speaking, “pet-friendly” can be equated with “dog-friendly” as canines are undoubtedly America’s most well-traveled animals.

For the last three years, the editors at Dog Fancy, one of the country’s leading canine-centric magazines, have compiled a list of the best cities in the U.S. to be a dog, naming San Diego as this year’s winner of their DogTown USA award. Chicago and Portland Ore., topped the polls in previous years.

“It takes a lot to create a city that truly embraces its canine population,” says editor Susan Chaney. “We look at over 20 criteria. Naturally, it has to be a fun place for dogs and their owners. For example, we check into dog-centered activities, such as doggie festivals, parades and other events, as well as how many hotels are dog-friendly and how many restaurants allow dogs to eat on their patios. However, excellent veterinary care and an active humane society are also key elements of a pet-friendly city, and are as essential for travelers passing through as for the pets and their people who reside there. Further, it's clear that in the cities on our annual list, both the local government and general population embrace having that ‘doggie element’ in their communities.”

Here are suggestions to have fun with your pet in 10 cities that have been collared pet-friendly.

San Diego
The warm Californian climate makes this a year-round animal playground, and there’s a wonderful selection of both pet-friendly and off-leash beaches. The Otay Ranch Town Shopping Center has an off-leash park as part of this sprawling facility, making this a one-stop entertainment center for both pets and their people. A pet sitting service is provided at $5 an hour so that pet parents can enjoy a meal in one of numerous eateries. Seaside La Jolla boasts a selection of pet-friendly restaurants such as the Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar on Prospect Street that offers great sea views from its outdoor patio. In addition, your dog may enjoy a kayaking excursion around La Jolla Bay — although pet life jackets are provided, dogs should be good swimmers.

Long Beach, Calif.
Belmont Shore is fast gaining a nationwide reputation for hosting several annual pet parades and doggie beauty contests, such as the Easter and the Howl o’ween parades and the Most Beautiful Bulldog competition that draws contestants from near and far. The city also has the only off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. Situated between Roycroft and Argonne Avenues, it's open daily year-round. All the stores that line Second Street are pet-friendly offering bowls of cool fresh water and lots of doggie treats. Pet parents will enjoy crepes and crisp salads at La Creperie while their canines snooze and watch the passing parade. The French bistro-styled eatery hosts a popular bar in the evenings and you can enjoy the soft sounds of live jazz.

Carmel, Calif.
Without doubt the pet-friendly Cypress Inn on Lincoln Street is a tourist attraction in its own right and is widely recognized to have pioneered many of the pet-friendly policies practiced by many of the large hotel chains and private inns around the country today. Co-owned by the legendary Doris Day, it’s filled with memorabilia of this Hollywood star. Your pet will particularly enjoy snoozing in front of a roaring log fire in the lounge, while you enjoy a pre-dinner sherry. Walking tours are a great way to discover the town’s scenic charms, and dogs will enjoy the smells along the way. Cats are regulars at this fur-friendly inn too.

Portland, Ore.
Traveling and touring can be thirsty work. The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company is a great place for both beer and man’s best friends. The brews with dog-inspired names cater for all tastes. Looking for a little perk-me-up? The Iron Mutt Coffee Company will ensure that you get a great caffeine fix while your pooch enjoys fresh eats and a complimentary biscuit. The Portland Saturday Market located under the Burnside Bridge between S.W. Naito Parkway and S.W. 1st Ave. offers an eclectic mix of merchandise and is a great place to stroll and shop. There’s no shortage of off-leash dog parks in the city — be sure to visit the Hoyt Arboretum on S.W. Fairview Boulevard. that offers canine visitors more than 185 acres of greenery to enjoy.

For travelers who enjoy visiting historical points of interest and appreciate beautiful scenery, be sure to add a trip to Blake Island State Park the ancestral campground of the Suquamish and Duwamish Indian Tribes and believed to be the birthplace of Chief Seattle. Foodies (and that includes your dog) will enjoy Chinook salmon cooked Northwest Coast Indian-style around an open alder wood fire.

The Pensione Nichols Bed and Breakfast on 1st Ave. in downtown Seattle is a well located pet-friendly establishment. Well-behaved leashed dogs of all sizes are allowed on the buses and trains throughout the city. Dogs on leashes are also allowed at the tables on the patio at Crave on 12th Ave. (only operative in the summer). Madison Park CafĂ© on 42nd Ave. E. is another attractive garden setting and welcomes pets. And if you have time, add Norm’s Eatery and Ale House on 36th St. to your list. This laid-back pub is named after a dog and your pet will feel more than welcome here too.


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