5 Great vacations to take with your pets
Resorts your four-legged friends will love
For Sally Stilwell and her boyfriend, their labradoodle Duncan and chocolate lab Chester played a big role in their vacation planning this past fall.
“We drove up to Cape Cod in a unique way to split up the drive for the pups," says the graphic artist from New York City. The couple headed to the North Fork of Long Island, then took a dog-friendly ferry to Connecticut before driving the rest of the way to the Lamb and Lion Inn, a hotel that welcomes those who consider pets part of the family.
Off-Leash Beaches: Lamb and Lion Inn
“The Inn Has Gone to the Dogs Package" at this resort includes a three-course dinner for two at one of the Cape's finest restaurants while an in-room dog sitter provides pet companionship. Guests also receive two tickets for a pet-friendly whale watch or scenic river cruise, as well as a canine-customized, self-guided driving tour pointing out the area's hidden tourist treasures.
The central courtyard lets guests enjoy breakfast and lounge poolside with their pooches, the first of whom stays free for the first two nights.
Many nearby beaches welcome pets on- and off-leash, something Stilwell says Duncan and Chester thoroughly enjoyed.
Kayaking With Canines: Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
At Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, family members of the canine, feline, and even swine varieties are welcomed with open arms: Guests once checked in with a pet pig.
It's usually dogs that are seen alongside their humans enjoying the view of Lake Placid's mountainsides reflected in Mirror Lake or aboard complimentary paddleboards, rowboats, kayaks, and canoes. Golden Arrow also features a private, pet-friendly beach and quick access to nearby walking paths and nature trails in the Adirondacks that are ideal for four-legged friends.
The resort donates 10% of the required pet fee to a local humane society or the favorite pet-related charity of a frequent guest.
Happy Hour for Pets: Bardessono
Napa Valley isn't just for wine lovers, it's also for dog lovers, say guests of Bardessono spa resort in Yountville, Calif.
From May to October, the hotel holds a monthly Happy Hour for pups and their owners called Dog Bar. Its on-site restaurant, Lucy, features a pet-friendly outdoor terrace all year round. Its unique “Dog Menu" even offers canine cuisine like Potato & Duck and Sweet Potato & Chicken entrees that hungry hounds can top off with a Peanut Butter and Strawberry Cookie.
Many of the nearby wineries are dog friendly as well. Trahan Winery, about 15 minutes away, offers a Cabernet Sauvignon named after the owners' German Shorthaired Pointer, Sadie, who greets guests at the tasting room.
Five-Star Luxury: Twin Farms
Breathtaking and tail wagging-worthy is Twin Farms, a five-star, all-inclusive resort. Upon check-in, the Canine Guest Service Manager – a.k.a. the house dog Maggie – escorts vacationers and their best friends to one of three expansive, pet-friendly cottages that promise the lap (dog) of luxury.
Set upon 300 acres of picturesque trails, meadows, ponds, and woodlands, Twin Farms features hiking, biking, tennis, fly fishing, and canoeing, as well as a private trail system, screened-in decks, and outdoor farm-to-table dining.
Fishing With Fido: Delta Lodge
Fishing aficionados and their Fidos will love the wilderness playground surrounding the Delta Lodge in Iron River, Wisc.
Located in the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest, it offers access to bass, blue gill, Northern, and crappie fishing thanks to nearby Lake Everett, Delta Lake, and Hay Lakes.
After a full day of inland fishing, the dog-tired rest easy in Delta Lodge's lakeside cabins. Spaced along 1,200 feet of shoreline, these dog-friendly havens feature complete kitchens, full bathrooms, gas fireplaces, outdoor grills, and screened-in porches.
Whether you pick one of these unique pet experiences or simply check into a hotel that welcomes pets — such as the Kimpton Hotels, with their four-legged "directors of pet relations" and pet beds and food bowls for your room -- you'll enjoy a true family vacation with the family's best friend.
Photo: Thinkstock/damedeeso | Gina LaGuardia is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in BELLA Magazine, ReadersDigest.com, Huffington Post, and other publications.