There are a lot of fun and rewarding things you can do with your pets. Driving with them might not be high on your list, or even on your list at all. If that’s the case, I beg to differ. If you get on the right road, with windows open and dogs safely harnessed, there is a wonderful sense of freedom and discovery that comes with tooling through the countryside as you and your dogs engage with the sights and sounds (and smells) of the scenery flying by. Obviously, it’s critical that your pets enjoy being in the car and are not subject to motion sickness. Also, it’s important to make regular stops to insure they are hydrated and can get some exercise on longer trips. Overall, though, many of my favorite roads aren’t long at all–some just a few miles–but provide a unique and rewarding experience whenever we drive on them. So, to that end, Petswelcome presents a few great roads to drive on with your pet.
Ministerial Road, RI
Every July for the past 5 years, we’ve been vacationing in Rhode Island near Newport and spend a lot of time exploring different areas in our car with our dogs safely harnessed in the backseat. One afternoon on every trip, we head over to South Kingston to Allison B. Goodsell Rare Books to check out her wonderful collection and pick up a few volumes for ourselves. On our way back to the vacation house, we drive on Route 110 (Ministerial Road) heading south to Route 1. It was on or about our 4th year of doing this that I suddenly realized (which is the way that beautiful things creep up on you) that Ministerial Road is one of the best roads I’ve ever driven on, even though it has nothing amazing I can point to. Totally shaded and canopied by trees and only a few miles long, it has a quality that cannot be put into words, something that is so aesthetically pleasing (a slant of light, a curve of road, a bow to velocity, maybe) that I look forward turning left onto it off Route 138, hitting the gas, feeling the wind as we pass through the countryside, with Worden’s Pond and the Chipuxet River to our west and a wall of forest to our east. The dogs seem to love it too, as the heat evaporates and their noses come alive with the fresh scents of the woodland.
And so, since then, I began on a quest to find other roads that offer similar enjoyment. And while none will match the distinct thrill that I get from Ministerial Road (because I found it myself, because its delights are subtle and deep, and it is not written up in any book or blog like this one), there are others that I have found that offer different versions of that pleasure.
Taconic State Parkway, New York
Starting close to home, the Taconic State Parkway is a 104-mile parkway (the longest in New York State) and winds northward from its southern most point of Mount Pleasant, in Westchester County through Putnam and Dutchess County to Columbia County where it ends at the New York State Thruway. The road runs midway between the Hudson River Valley and the Connecticut border and then Massachusetts along the Taconic Mountains. The road is beautiful because of the way it fits in with the surrounding countryside, meandering through the hills and valleys, producing a relaxing, undulating and enjoyable ride. And there are plenty of scenic places to stop and let the dogs get some exercise, including the pet-friendly Clarence Fahnestock State Park in Carmel.
Seven Mile Bridge, Florida
The Seven Mile Bridge is one of the longest bridges in the world and passes over the Florida Keys, connecting the Middle Keys (starting at Knight’s Key) to the Lower Keys (ending at Little Duck Key). The current bridge was started in 1978 and completed in 1982 and was built partly on the foundation of the older bridge, which still exists but does not allow vehicular traffic.
The drive is unique in that it’s so close to the water that it almost feels as if you’re in a hovercraft. So open the windows, turn up the music, and let the sea air in. And there are plenty of pet-friendly stops, including the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and Blackfin Resort & Marina in Marathon and Bahia Honda State Park on Bahia Honda Key. If your final destination is Key West, you will find plenty of places to stay with your pet, including Old Town Manor and Rose Lane Villas, as well as pet-friendly bars and cafes like Sloppy Joe’s Bar and 2 Cents Restaurant & Pub.
Pacific Coast Highway
Running from Interstate 5 in Southern California near San Juan Capistrano and ending in Leggett in Mendocino County, the highway is 655 miles long and showcases the most beautiful ocean scenery on the West Coast. The first time I drove it, I started in San Jose and ended up in Manhattan Beach, near LA, which positioned the Pacific Ocean at my right elbow the whole way down. We stopped at pet-friendly Yosemite in Fish Camp, California, which offers amazing pet-friendly lodgings, including The Tenaya Lodge and Narrow Gauge Inn. Other pet-friendly stops include San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Malibu, all of which offer plenty of pet-friendly lodging and amenities for you to enjoy. Overall, for sheer visual impact, it’s hard to beat the stunning vistas and ocean views on the Pacific Coast Highway and it should definitely be on your bucket list of pet-friendly road trips to consider when you’re planning your next vacation.
Obviously, this is just a tiny portion of the incredible routes you can spin your wheels on–some well known, some well hidden. So be sure to grab your pooch and use Petswelcome’s Pet Friendly Road Trip Planner to find your next highway and/or byway to enjoy the many exhilarating pleasures the open road has to offer.