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Pet-friendly Holidays – Have Dog, Will Travel

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The world seems to be laying out the welcome mat for our pets. With the proliferation of service dogs, pocket puppies and pet-as-a-family-member mindset, it’s rare to see a “No Pets Allowed” sign these days. In this episode, we highlight features of several pet-friendly vacation destinations in Canada: Great places to go and things to do on a domestic staycation.

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Things we do for Pets

Pet-friendly Holidays

My Uncle Arthur has used a service dog for the past 25 years. In the early years, even with his white cane and trusted Labrador Retriever by his side, he would always call ahead to confirm full accessibility before heading out. Today, he and Guinivere the Third – he’s a classic, my Uncle Art – have the flexibility to come and go as they please. Thanks to accessibility legislation, increasing awareness and accommodation for persons with disabilities and the popularity of pocket puppies, the world is, as he says, his Camelot!

He has explored the world with Gwinnie and is a font of information, so I made sure we had his stamp of approval on today’s collection of great vacation destinations in Canada.

Cute Spaniel eats burger sitting at table in cafe

Important factors to consider in choosing and planning your pet-friendly holidays and vacation

We’re going to talk about three important factors to consider in choosing and planning your vacation.

The first is getting there. Air travel requires some planning. A road trip, on the other hand, can be more spontaneous and less stressful for your pet. Imagine the freedom and flexibility of a cross-country trip in an RV or a trailer! I guess the sweet spot would be a destination that’s far enough away so it feels like an adventure but close enough that it’s do-able.

The second consideration is staying there. In order to make our list, each destination must have a number of hotels, motels, RV sites, campgrounds or VRBOs that are pet-friendly. Most hotels have limits on the number and size of pets, so these details should be discussed upon booking. Travel apps like Expedia and Travelocity provide this information, as do home-sharing sites like AirBnB and VRBO. Lining up pet-friendly restaurants is another thing to put on your plan.

The final consideration is keeping active and entertained while there. As Uncle Art pointed out, what’s the point of bringing your dog if you have to leave her in a hotel room, the car, or a kennel? Might as well have left her at home in doggie day care.

So what kind of amenities and activities will appeal to travellers?

The first thing that comes to mind is lots of green space, lots of parks and ideally safe off-leash facilities. The next is adventure, exploring and sight-seeing. Let’s start on the west coast:

Vancouver, British Columbia

With a population of active dog-loving people, miles of winding trails and countless wide-open parks, Vancouver is known for being one of the most beautiful and dog-friendly cities in Canada.

Dogs are permitted in all of Vancouver’s parks on a leash – or off-leash in designated areas like Dusty Greenwell Park, Charleson Park and Coopers’ Park. Even the famous Stanley Park has a small, fully fenced-in off-leash area. Below the Burrard Street Bridge you’ll find an off-leash dog beach where you and your pal can dip paws into the Pacific Ocean. Other popular tourist destinations like the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Granville Island allow well-behaved, on-leash dogs.

Playing ball in water with dog of Dachshund Breed.

From prestigious hotels to private rentals, your travel planning app will direct you to many options. You can reserve a camping spot in many local sites, including Mount Seymour Provincial Park, a 30-minute drive from Vancouver.

There is no shortage of dog-friendly hiking trails here. West Vancouver’s Cypress Falls Park is a beautiful hiking spot that winds through Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar forests with canyons and waterfalls. North Vancouver’s Skyline Trail is a steep mountain hike that rewards hikers a view of the city from the top and a glimpse of a US Air Force jet crash from the 1950s.

When you’re ready for lunch, you will find a dog-friendly patio on every other corner. We have to give a shout-out to Uncle Abe’s on Main Street for their weekly Yappy Hour with special treats just for dogs. Also, Six Acres in Gastown has a fantastic patio for enjoying cool drinks in a hot city.

Whistler, British Columbia

About a 45-minute drive north of Vancouver on the gorgeous Sea-to-Sky highway, you will find the town of Whistler, with one of the largest and most famous ski resorts in the world. You may ask “Skiing? With Dogs???” to which I’ll respond “You bet. Have you seen those YouTube bulldogs on skiboards?”

The area is abundant with pooch-focused amenities. “Whistle” Olympic Park is the dog-friendly attraction of your dreams, with over 40 kilometers of trails and a huge off-leash park. The “Arfa” Lake Dog Area is great for playing fetch and swimming, with off-leash areas and a sand pit for your little digger.

Whatever the season, you can explore the mountains and forests off-piste, on skis or snowshoes, cycling or hiking. Dog beaches, dog parks, grooming and boarding services abound.

For high-end yet dog-friendly accommodations, you can’t get much more chichi than the ski-in, ski-out Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Or the unique designer suites of Evolution mountain lodging. You can go for equally interesting stays on a more practical budget at the Listel or the Pinnacle. And if 24/7 nature is your style, check into a yurt or a cabin at Riverside Resort.

There are lots of restaurants with patios in Whistler, like Tapley’s Neighbourhood Pub or Hunter Gather, that allow dogs to sit alongside their owners outside. Some even offer dog-friendly menus!

On-leash dogs are allowed in Whistler Village, a must-visit for shopping, dining, entertainment and a stop at the Olympic Plaza, a legacy from the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Banff, Alberta

Banff National Park is an outdoor adventurer’s bucket-list vacation, especially since your dogs can tag with you everywhere. With so much to do here, from skiing and mountain biking to taking the Banff Gondola up to an epic viewpoint, it’s easy to see why Banff and nearby Jasper feature in so many coffee-table books. You can take your four-legged friend for some incredible hikes in the mountains and through forests, or take in the glorious aura that surrounds Lake Louise.

Hiking Blue Heeler Dog.

Many hotels in downtown Banff are pet-friendly, including the suites at Fox Hotel and Suites or condos at Hidden Ridge Resort. Even the prestigious castle that is the instantly recognizable Fairmont Banff Springs is pet-friendly.

Camping is very popular in the area and dogs are permitted on most campsites. Backcountry sites are the exception due to wildlife concerns.

Here you will also find amazing restaurants with fantastic patios. Wild Flour Bakery is a local favourite; they even make dog treats so your pup doesn’t feel left out. Bear Street Tavern has a year-round courtyard patio that’s always open to doggies.

Like Vancouver, the Banff area is surrounded by pet-friendly trails for all fitness levels. For a quick half-hour stroll, Marsh Loop or Fenland Trail are generally considered easy to tackle. Both are easy to find from downtown Banff, so you don’t need a vehicle. For more adventurous hikers, the Lake Agnes Trail near Lake Louise provides a 7.4-kilometer out-and-back trail with a 435-meter elevation gain.

If your dog loves water, rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and hit the ice-blue lakes. It will make you check off “repeat” on your bucket list.

Kawarta Lakes, Ontario

Just a few hours northeast of Toronto, you will find yourself in one of the country’s most loved cottage vacation destinations. Kawartha Lakes is home to hundreds of lakes and rivers and is popular for fishing, camping and hiking, so bring your pets with you to explore the bounty.

There are countless hiking trails, many in the stunning Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. The Ken Reid Conservation Area is another popular option, offering 12 interconnected pathways. Dogs must be on leashes on the trails but can be off-leash in the designated areas.

While here, book a stay at the Woodhaven Country Lodge. This is a property that is specifically designed for dog owners: your furry friends will be able to sleep in the bed with you and enjoy a number of fun outdoor activities. The guest house even offers a fully enclosed 110-foot by 50-foot run.

The Days Inn and Suites by Wyndham Lindsay is an award-winning hotel close to many shops, pubs, and the beautiful waterway. It allows two pets up to 20 pounds.

For a more unusual experience, consider renting a houseboat to cruise the canal. That’s assuming your pooch will be open to wearing a life jacket.

The few dog-friendly places to eat are fantastic. The Bobcaygeon Inn Restaurant serves classic pub fare and has a dog-friendly riverfront patio and private dock. 72 Bolton Sports Café is a sports bar with a pet-friendly outdoor patio. And beer lovers should check out the Old Dog Brewing Company: your pup can join you on the outdoor picnic tables while you taste-test the brewery’s hand-crafted beers.

Mont Tremblant, Québec

Mont Tremblant is famous for its ski resorts, golf courses, lush surroundings and breathtaking views of the Laurentian Mountain range, all just a couple of hours northwest of Montreal. Your on-leash dog will be welcomed most everywhere, even inside some lovely Village shops. (It can get very cold here; your dog will be happy to step inside!) Many businesses will provide tasty treats if your dog can “ask nice”.

A stay in one of the quaint Mont Tremblant village hotels may be a tempting prospect, or you may prefer a private pet-friendly cabin rental. The beautiful Blueberry Lake Chalet is another great venue. Some of the most prestigious hotels in Mont Tremblant, including the Fairmont Tremblant and Le Westin Tremblant, allow big dogs and two or more pets.

Domaine Summum is a boutique hotel allowing pets to participate in all the amenities on the property, including hiking, swimming, and canoeing. They even provide dog-sitting services!

If you would like to savour a true Quebecois tradition, La Maison de la Crêpe is a gourmet restaurant serving sweet and savory crêpes for every palate. Dogs are allowed on their small sidewalk patio. And any craving for authentic Italian cuisine will be amply satisfied at Restaurant Antipasto. The staff allows customers with dogs to sit beside the pedestrian walkways at specific tables.

Year-round hiking options abound: nearby Mount Larose is a great example. It’s a challenging 11.3-kilometer route that can take four hours to finish, but the stunning view of the Laurentians and St. Lawrence River is more than worth it.

Senior woman and her dog.

In the summer or fall, take the Panoramic Gondola to the mountain summit to feast your eyes on beautiful views of the Laurentians. Dogs are allowed in the Casino Express gondola during the summer. Mont Tremblant has a stellar reputation for business conferences, executive retreats and, as we’ve shown here, dog-gone excellent hospitality.

Robinsons, Newfoundland & Labrador

Robinsons may be a small village, but it has plenty of activities for humans and their canines. In this tiny community of only a few hundred people in the Bay St. George area, you can stroll along a deserted beach, watch the sun set over the ocean, hike along coastal cliff paths, and play fetch in the sand.

After riding the ferry from the mainland, you can head to a surprisingly wide variety of quaint, relaxed, pet-friendly accommodation options. One example is Cliffside Cottages where you’ll find a large dog run onsite. Another is Pirate’s Haven Chalets & Adventures, a popular spot for tourists with its wide-open spaces, many walking trails, ATV rentals, and access to beaches. Their RV Park is wonderful and the on-site restaurant makes delicious home-cooked local specialties including fresh fish, cod tongue and moose pie. You can choose outdoor seating or takeout to enjoy on a secluded beach.

There are not many other dining options; all the more reason to visit the famous Wells Farm Market for fresh produce and other local offerings.

This is just a very small sampling of options for your next plus-one dog adventure. Ther are so many more!! Feel free to like this post and let us know if you’d like to see a Part Deux!

That’s it for today. Gotta go wax Bingo’s boogieboard.

Sources: 

10 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in The Canada, petkeen.com

Leavetown.com

Pet-Friendly Lifestyle by Glampinghub


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Podcast: Things We Do For Pets
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