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The Ultimate East-West Road Trip For Travelers And Their Dogs


A road trip across the continental United States wouldn’t be complete without your best friend, but if that friend is four-legged, this can add to the stress of traveling. Even though many dogs love a good ride in the car, planning logistics around Fido can feel daunting, as it can be difficult finding places that will welcome furry companions. Luckily, Hipmunk built an index of the most pet-friendly cities for travelers in each state, finding that 41% of hotels are pet-friendly. We’ve taken the liberty of sketching out just one possible road trip route to hit some of the most pet-friendly places and attractions along the way to ensure their comfort and your peace of mind.

Logistically speaking, there’s a lot to take into consideration when planning a long road trip with a dog. If Fido gets car sick, try skipping breakfast as a full stomach often exacerbates nausea. Also, make sure he gets plenty of air wherever he is in the car. Here are some more tips for helping dogs beat travel sickness.

For some of the activities planned on this road trip, be sure to bring appropriate leashes, water bowls so everybody can stay hydrated—no matter where adventure leads—treats (for the food-motivated dog), and a first-aid kit. It’s also not a bad idea to have your regular vet’s contact information and your dog’s file, in case of emergency away from home. With carsickness managed, and all the essentials packed, it’s time to hit the road for a cross-country escapade!

Richmond, Virginia

Starting from the east coast, Richmond, Virginia, is tops for pet lovers (and around 44% of hotels are dog-friendly!). Fido Park Avenue offers a place where owners can stroll with their pets while they shop for them (though not necessarily for doggy road trip gear!). Check out The Berkeley Hotel for a pet-friendly stay with some old school charm. Before hitting the road, there are a series of dog parks, both leash required as well as off-leash to visit and get some last-minute exercise in. James River is not just a dog park, but a wild nature park—a great place to explore for both dogs and their people. There are also dog-friendly events to attend, specifically in Richmond, listed here.

Bloomington, Indiana

About a day’s worth of driving (taking a somewhat scenic route) takes you to Bloomington, Indiana, where 43% of hotels are pet friendly. Or head a bit further up, to Indianapolis, Indiana, where this number jumps to 53%. Bloomington is actually a great place to stop for dog owners, as the city has a number of dog-friendly restaurants and attractions. Try the Upland Brew Pub, where dogs are welcome on the patio or Scholars Inn, but there are far more places to head as a family. Check out the Holiday Inn Bloomington or the Bloomington Travelodge. For those spending some extended time in Bloomington, the Hoosier National Forest and Morgan-Monroe State Forest are both dog friendly, offering beautiful scenery and outdoor activities.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

About a 15-hour drive on I-70 W from Bloomington, Colorado Springs boasts beautiful mountain scenery and almost two dozen natural mineral springs. Plus, 51% of the hotels are pet friendly, making this the next stop. Pets are welcome to eat alongside their masters at several restaurants (on the patio!) like Pizzeria Rustica, and TAPAteria, where the staff provides water bowls and pet treats.

Stay at Hotel Elegante Conference & Event Center or the DoubleTree by Hilton Colorado Springs for a dog-friendly place to crash.  In the morning, there’s no shortage of incredible, outdoor parks and museums that allow canine companions. Definitely pay a visit to the registered national landmark, Garden of the Gods. The park covers over 1,300 acres of land, with 15 miles of trails winding through natural sandstone rock formations (dogs must be kept on leashes 6 feet long or shorter, here!). Nearby in Manitou Springs, CO, is the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings, which four-legged companions can explore alongside the two-legged.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Heading south, pass through Albuquerque, New Mexico and Scottsdale, Arizona—the two cities with the highest percentage of dog-friendly hotels in the country. Remember to watch out for sensitive doggy pads in the southwest. The arid landscape can sometimes be hard (and hot) on dogs’ feet, and sometimes the dried or thorny vegetation can get stuck in their pads, causing irritation. Also, consider hanging a shade in the windows to keep the intense sun off their backs during midday driving.

Sixty percent of hotels in Albuquerque are pet friendly! The Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport at is very affordable, or try Hotel Andaluz for views of the Sandia Mountains. For a meal, El Pinto, Kelly’s Brew Pub, and O’Niell’s offer patios where dogs can dine. In terms of things to see in the area, dogs are welcome on the Albuquerque Museum’s Historic Old Town Walking Tours (though they are not allowed inside the museum), but they’re also allowed to explore Petroglyph National Monument and Sandia Man Cave (on a leash, of course).

The Grand Canyon

Before setting off to Scottsdale, from here you can also diverge to the Grand Canyon National Park (while you’re in the “area”, though it’s about a 5-hour detour).  Dogs are allowed to visit as long as they’re leashed, though they are not allowed into the inner canyon.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale has the highest percentage of pet-friendly hotels in any city in the United States at 64%. Stay at The Hyatt Place Scottsdale/Old Town or W Scottsdale for some pampering at a stylish hotel with “floating beds.” Before hitting the road for the final time on the way to the west coast, enjoy (and make!) wine in Fido’s company at Su Vino Winery, pay a visit to McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park for some history or explore McDowell Sonoran Preserve (check out their Paws in the Preserve program for suggestions of pet-friendly activities).


It’s time to hit route I-10w to California! I-10 W leads to Los Angeles via Palm Springs, another place on our list of dog-friendly cities. Palm Springs’ hotels are 43% pet friendly. Stop here or drive onward to Los Angeles, northward to Santa Barbara, or southward to San Diego for a cap on the best human-canine bonding experience the road can offer.

This post was posted by Fiona Moriarty on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on July 20, 2015