Top U.S. Pet Friendly Destinations

If you're a pet lover/owner you'll probably find it hard to leave them behind when you go on vacation with your friends and family. So, maybe this next vacation you bring them along! These vacation destinations are ranked as being among the most pet friendly in the entire country with pet accessible hotels and rentals, dog parks, open beaches, pet friendly restaurants, and many attractions open to leashed animals. Take your furry best friend with you and have the time of your lives on your next student group vacation!

Sanibel Island, FL - Sanibel Island is one of those destinations that you don't need to be talked into. No need to leave your dog behind in the hotel as the gorgeous beaches that you can enjoy with your friends are also open to your pet friends: Gulfside Beach (aka Algiers Beach), Bowman's Beach, and the JN Darling Wildlife Refuge allow dogs on leashes. After you've worked up an appetite, head over to the many restaurants with outdoor seating and enjoy a leisurely lunch with Fido by your side. Extra plus, DogVacay Sanibel offers dog sitters if you're going out someplace that isn't pet-friendly so your dog doesn't have to stay by itself in the hotel.

Asheville, NC - Home to the stunning Biltmore Estate, centuries of American history, and plenty of southern charm, Asheville is a magnificent destination on its own. Factor in that you can stay in luxurious comfort with your dog and it's a dream come true. The Biltmore Estate is also dog friendly and you can explore the more than 250 acres of property with your pets or head to Azalea Park or French Broad River Dog Parks where your pets can run free in a gorgeous North Carolina setting. Carmel's Restaurant, Mayfel's, Posana Cafe and others are dog friendly and have multiple seating areas for you and your dogs and just like in Sanibel, you can find a DogVacay outpost in Asheville for dog sitters.

Branson, MO - The Ozark town surrounded by forested hills and sparkling lakes makes for a wonderful outdoorsy pet-friendly destination. While most of the attractions in Branson are live entertainment, the majority of pet friendly attractions lend to off-leash dog parks and the Table Rock State Park. You can also get your dog's picture taken at Buster's Old Time Photos at the Branson Landing, a fun souvenir for both of you. The hotels and rentals in Branson are really where it's at, however. Log cabins on the lake, huge hotels backed by beautiful forests and outdoor activities make staying here relaxing and fun for you and your dogs. When you want to go to a show or spend a day at Silver Dollar City, call on the Faithful Critter Sitters or DogVacay who will take care of them for you.

Gatlinburg, TN - It would be a shame to visit Gatlinburg and not go see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with your furry best friend. Many of the trails in the park are not open to dogs, so make sure before you start on one. The Gatlinburg Trail is dog friendly, as is the Oconaluftee River Trail. The city itself is fairly pet-friendly and there are several areas where you can walk your dog including The Village Shops, a lovely little outdoor mall with lots of shade and refreshing fountains. Also take your dog by the Paws & Claws Pet Fashion boutique for a pet-friendly souvenir. If you get hungry with your dog in tow, never fear. Gatlinburg has quite a few restaurants that allow dogs like the Wild Boar Saloon, Fannie Farkles, and many others with patio tables for dog owners.

San Diego, CA - There are over a hundred pet-friendly hotels and rentals in sunny San Diego making it an easy choice. There are also dozens of pet-friendly attractions and beaches including the Original Dog Beach, located at the northern end of Ocean Beach, where dogs are allowed off leash anytime, any day. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay is also off leash among many others. Make sure you stop by the Regal Beagle pub, the Pier Cafe, or The Patio on Lamont Street whose staff will give your dog a gourmet dog biscuit upon arriving. As always, DogVacay or even will watch your dog for you as you roam the city and explore the not pet-friendly spots of San Diego.

Washington, D.C. - The nation's capital loves your dogs too and has plenty for you and your dog to do to keep busy. Stay in luxurious accommodations such as the Hotel Rouge or the more affordable chain hotels and walk through the iconic and highly recommended landmarks of the city. Many of the landmarks, such as the National Mall, are open for leashed dogs. Here your whole group, plus Fido, can see the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument among others. Take your dog for a stroll through the several off-leash dog parks throughout the city or take a walking tour of the city. There are several restaurants with outdoor patios which would be perfect for a lunch with your furry friend. Try Chef Geoff's, Scion Restaurant in Dupont Circle, or Art & Soul for a delicious and inviting meal.

Myrtle Beach, SC - Most of the beaches on the Grand Strand are open to leashed dogs in the early morning hours, including the popular Myrtle Beach. From May 1 through Labor Day, your furry pals can romp (on 7 foot leashes) in the sand and surf before 10 am. There is, however, a separate beach partitioned exclusively for dog use. The Barc Parc even has its own lake and separate areas for large and small dogs to play off-leash. If your dog doesn't care for water, there is the North-End Dog Park at the Grand Strand YMCA with plenty of space for your dog. As for lodging, you'll be pleased to find many of the major hotel chains allow dogs, some without a pet fee, and you can get as close to the beach as possible for those early morning romps.