Top U.S. Cities for Dogs

From Austin to Santa Fe, we run down the best cities for dogs in the United States.

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What makes a community dog-friendly? It’s not the number of dogs, although active owners who are passionate about their pups certainly helps. It takes much more, including but not limited to such amenities as off-leash dog parks and other places to play; a selection of restaurants, accommodations, and businesses that welcome and cater to pups; a solid rescue and veterinary community; and most of all, laws and legislation that favor dogs of all breeds.

San Francisco and Asheville lead the way when it comes to dog-friendliness, and Birmingham is quickly figuring it out, too. Following are seven more cities across the U.S. that cater to their canine citizens.

1. Austin, Texas: Known for its music scene and its liberal values, the Lone Star capital is also extremely dog-friendly, with 18 off-leash dog parks, including Red Bud Isle, a dogs-only swimming spot; miles of hiking trails; dozens of dog-friendly restaurants, including a mobile food truck just for canine cuisine; and more than 100 pet-friendly hotels and vacation rentals. Need to relax? There’s even doga, yoga for dogs and their owners.

2. Boulder, Colorado: Following in San Francisco’s progressive footsteps, dog owners here are referred to as guardians. With an emphasis on the great outdoors, Boulder’s restaurants welcome dogs to their outdoor patios, its off-leash parks offer wide-open spaces — one even features a swimming pond; and nine hiking trails include 44 miles of dog-friendly routes.

3. Crystal City, Virginia: This Arlington suburb offers a lot for dogs, including weekly 5K runs and outdoor movie nights. Human companions can relax with their best friends at the outdoor Pups and Pilsner festival and the weekly Blues, Brews and Barks outdoor music events. And visitors can stay in one of the 14 pet-friendly hotels in Crystal City and Arlington.

4. Ithaca, New York: This upstate New York town is located in the state’s lush Finger Lakes region. In addition to its many outdoor wooded areas, complete with hundreds of miles of trails, the town is full of dog-friendly attractions, including hotels, wineries, breweries, apple-picking farms, campsites, and more.

Miami dogs courtesy Elvert Barnes.
Miami dogs courtesy Elvert Barnes.

5. Miami Beach, Florida: Known for its lively nightlife, this coastal resort city welcomes not just party people but also puppy people. Like us, dogs enjoy beaches, and Miami Beach has two specifically for them, as well as five off-leash parks. More than 50 hotels welcome dogs, and pups can enjoy the city’s botanical garden.

6. San Diego, California: Home to the first off-leash dog beach in the nation, The Original Dog Beach, established in 1972, this seaside community known for its year-round good weather has grown to include almost 200 dog-friendly restaurants, 17 off-leash parks, more than 100 pet-friendly accommodations, and even doggy kayak and paddle-board tours.

7. Santa Fe, New Mexico: This artists’ enclave values canines as much as creativity. Its walkable historic plaza, which is surrounded by miles of hiking trails, offers numerous dog-friendly art galleries, restaurants, and bars. About 100 hotels and vacation rentals, including the famed luxurious La Fonda on the Plaza, also welcome pooches.

Top photo: Pups and Pilsner courtesy of BID.


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