18 Places to Crunch the Leaves With Your Dog This Fall
Gorgeous destinations across the US that’ll inspire you and your bestie to get your fall on.
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Temperate climes, crisp air, autumn foliage — fall can be a really happy place for your dog, a season ripe for exploring the outdoors. It’s also a terrific excuse for you to get out of the house and bond with your beloved pup on an unforgettable, perfectly Instagrammable weekend trip. In fact, it’s often good for their health.
Researchers don’t technically know why dogs love sticking their heads out of car windows, but one theory is that, aside from encouraging them to observe the environment around them, it pleasantly stimulates their sense of smell. Others suggest it feeds into their innate desire to hunt, which drives their love of exploration.
A few tips: Before you embark on a road trip, we suggest you take your dog on longer test drives to make sure they are indeed relaxed (and not anxious or nauseous) while in the car for extended periods of time. Once you are traveling, for safety reasons, make sure you don’t crack open that window too much, and consider investing in a comfy doggie seatbelt for their safety.
With all that small print out of the way, hitting the road with your pooch can be an incredible bonding experience — one that’s healing for us humans, too. Below are some of The Wildest’s favorite destinations around the country to get you and your dog out of the house.
If you live on the East Coast:
Destination: Catskills, New York
Once famous for its Borscht Belt comedy, the Catskills have become a welcome escape for pet-loving New Yorkers itching to relax. At A Tiny House Resort, you and your pup can explore 40 verdant acres of nature — including a waterfall! — then kick back in their cozy-chic lodgings. The resort even includes an off-leash dog park and a (Godsend) dog wash.
Destination: Boylseton, Massachusetts
You know how most gardens prohibit pets? Not the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, which sits just outside Boston and was named Best Bontanic Garden in the U.S. Their Tails ’n Trails membership actually encourages you and your dog to embark on strolls throughout their gardens and trails. One hitch: You must leash your dog. Not a bad concession for this gorgeous change of scenery. Seriously, think of the smells.
Destination: Lakeville, Connecticut
The welcoming Interlaken Inn sits on 30 acres of land between two scenic lakes in the Berkshires, 50 miles from Hartford, the state’s capital. It features several scenic hiking and walking trails that will have your dog living their best life. And you will live your best life, too — by visiting one of the nearby dog-friendly vineyards.
Destination: Wilmington, Delaware
The toughest thing about visiting this town, which is a quick trip out of Philly, is deciding where to go: a leisurely stroll along the Delaware River or a breathtaking hike along the rolling hills of Beaver Valley. Our editors love rounding out their days with a visit to Constitution Yards, a pet-friendly beer garden with live music, food, and an assortment of macro and microbrews.
Destination: Rutland, Vermont
Attention all pet parents: If you haven’t yet been, the Pawhouse Inn is designed to blow your mind. This dog-obsessed lodging spot comes with a large dog park that has an agility ring, a playhouse with dog-sitting services, and 24-hour vet services for your peace of mind. To top it off, it’s all ensconced in an environment with boundless hiking, skiing, and biking options.
If you live in the Midwest:
Destination: Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
There’s a constellation of dog-centric spots surrounding this picturesque Wisconsin town, nestled between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. It’s a pet parent’s paradise, with five dog-friendly state parks, in addition to canine-ready locales such as the Whitefish Dunes and Wingra Creek Bike Path. Even the local beer garden, the Door County Brewing Co., where you can catch live music, welcomes dogs.
Destination: Tofte, Minnesota
Venture north of Duluth, and you’ll find Toft, a great spot to set-up a base and journey with your dog to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This is a one-million-acre paradise packed with trails, campsites, and canoe routes. After you arrive back in Toft, be sure to drive up the coast of Lake Superior with your pup, where you can both hit the Voyageur Brewing Company.
Destination: Highland Park, Illinois
If you feel like a more rustic, cabin-in-the-woods experience with your pooch, Camp Dogwood is the spot for you. Sitting on 600 acres of “fields, woods, and lakefront” adjacent to pet-friendly Chicago, Dogwood offers such canine-bonding activities as “Doggie Zen Training Games,” “Nosework Sniff n Go,” and “Dog sledding/dog powered sports.” If we’re being honest, they had us at “zen…”
Destination: Bloomington, Indiana
This underrated city — which boasts beautiful hills, forests, and lakes — lies a little more than an hour out of Indianapolis. The hardest part of your visit will be deciding between the abundance of state parks, and the many activities, such as hiking and kayaking. After a day of connecting with Mother Earth, you and your dog can chill at the Upland Brewing Co. for some brews and food.
If you live down South:
Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana
NOLA knows how to party, and this applies to their doggie-pride parade, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus. Hosted by a nonprofit promoting pet adoption, the event arrives each February with a costume-ready theme. If that’s not your thing, you can nosh your way through this lively, balmy city with dog in tow, stopping by the many mouth-watering eateries with outdoor tables, such as Café Beignet and Parkway Bakery & Tavern.
Destination: Asheville, North Carolina
Amid the Blue Ridge Mountains’ sweeping vistas, you’ll find Barkwells dog camp. A magical community of private cabins, which bills itself as”the dog lovers’ vacation retreat,” it includes vast fenced areas where canines can roam freely. Want to bond with your pup over paddle-boating in ponds, splashing in waterfalls, or trekking snowy trails? Look no futher.
Destination: Augusta, Georgia
If you prefer a pleasant stroll with your pup, hit the Riverwalk, which runs just next to the Savannah River for three gorgeous miles and remains quite temperate all year long. In nearby Riverside Park, you’ll find Betty’s Branch, a lovely spot for kayaking and paddle-boarding with your pet. And when you get peckish, consider Augusta’s delish Manuel’s Bread Café, which comes with a dog-friendly patio.
Destination: Fort Myers Beach, Florida
We all deserve a waterfront vacation. Fort Myers beach, a town on Estero Island, lies off the southwest Florida coast. This is where you’ll find Lover’s Key State Park (now open after weathering Hurricane Ian), which is exactly as it’s name implies: white sands, gentle waves, and mangrove forests. It’s full of spaces where dogs can be unleashed, plus an abundance of wildlife for your friend to observe.
Destination: Dallas, Texas
While Austin may be the most obvious dog-obsessed town in Texas, don’t sleep on Dallas. There are several pet-friendly hotels here, such as the fabulous Virgin Hotel, located near a trail that seems tailor made for a sniff walk. Meanwhile, there are countless canine-friendly bars and restaurants to hit after a giddy visit to White Rock Lake Dog Park, which offers an imminently swimmable lake.
If you live out West:
Destination: Manzanita Beach, Oregon
We’ve extolled the virtues of hanging out with your pooch in San Francisco (specifically in Presidio). But for a real getaway, head north to Oregon and stay at the Coast Cabins in Manzanita Beach (less than two hours from Portland). This town has an off-leash beach, is near Nehalem Bay State Park trails, and has several canine-friendly spots nearby. Plus, the annual dog festival, Muttzanita, is chock-full of doggie activities and raises money for local rescues.
Destination: Mammoth California
Five hours (give or take) by car out of San Francisco or Los Angeles, Mammoth is definitely a road trip. But given its stunning lakes, mountains, and forests — and proximity to Yosemite National Park — it’s more than worth the travel. Crash with your doggie at the chic Outbound Hotel and consider their Best in Show package, which spoils your pup with treats, a dog bed for the stay, and 24-hour vet access, making this hotel a pretty irresistible find.
Destination: Ketchum, Idaho
There’s a reason everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tom Hanks has owned homes here: Ketchum is stunning. The Hotel Ketchum Sun Valley, which donates 10 percent of its pet fees to a local humane society, is a comfy, dog-friendly spot surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains. This is a community that adores nature, so come prepared for plenty of outdoor adventures, from fly-fishing to snow-shoeing.
Destination: Lake Chelan, Washington
If you’re a fan of vino, grab your dog and head out to the many Lake Chelan vineyards (such as Lake Chelan Winery, Tildio, and Tunnel Hill) which welcome dogs. They’re roughly three hours out of Seattle — or approximately four hours out of Bellingham, Washington — and well worth the mileage. And while you’re both in this Pacific Northwest paradise, don’t forget to hike along the crystal-clear Lake Chelan.
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Nisha Gopalan has been a writer/editor for The New York Times, New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and NYLON magazines. She currently resides in Los Angeles.