If we had to pick one weekend to get away with your best friend, it would be the weekend after Labor Day. Many of the reasons are obvious: Prices at many hotels drop as the high travel season ends and the huge summer crowds, that just a week ago choked the roads, parks and beaches, are gone. And the great thing is that–except for lower prices and less humanity–everything else is still summer! The weather is warm. Oceans, lakes, and outdoor pools are a delight to swim in. And even the ice-cream stands are still open–with no lines! Even better, many restrictions are lifted, allowing you to spread your wings and take your dog to beaches and parks that wouldn’t allow you in the summer.
Overall, there’s a great sense of freedom and relaxation that better allows you to enjoy your whole family as well the environment around you. This isn’t exclusive to just this one weekend, but extends, in many locales, through the whole month of September. We highly recommend you give it a try and have suggested a number of different places–east, south, north and west–that would be great get-aways during this special time of year. However, even if you just stayed overnight at a local park or a nearby B&B, we’re sure you’d find the hassle-free fun of a post-summer get-away to be equally relaxing and enjoyable.
Cape May has a great selection of pet-friendly attractions, and off-season is an ideal time to visit, as there are fewer pet restrictions in outdoor areas. Higbee Beach, a one and a half mile stretch on the Delaware Bay, allows dogs from September 1st-April 30th, provided they are leashed. If you’d like to bring your dogs on local outings, there are several attractions that accommodate them. The Cape May Winery & Vineyard, which offers tastings and tours, allows dogs in their outdoor areas. You can also take your dog on a self-guided tour through the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, a historic attraction that contains displays of various aircrafts and interactive educational exhibits.
If you’re looking for place to let your dog roam with less restrictions, Cape May has a dog park with designated areas in which your dogs (up to two per person) can be taken off of their leashes. You can purchase a week-long permit to bring your dog to the park for $10, or, if you plan on staying for an extended period, purchase a $20 seasonal pass.
There are also a number of pet-friendly restaurants in Cape May. Zoe’s Beachfront Eatery, Tisha’s Fine Dining, and Blue Pig Tavern are all local eateries that permit dogs in their outdoor eating areas.
Situated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette is a large city on Lake Superior that offers several pet-friendly vacation destinations. South Beach is one of the most popular natural swimming areas in Marquette, and the southern end of it is open to dogs, provided they are leashed. Less than ten minutes outside of the beach is Border Grill, a local Mexican restaurant with a dog-friendly outdoor eating section.
If you’d rather camp than stay in a hotel, Marquette’s Gitche Gumee RV Park and Campground accommodates pets for no additional fee, only requiring that they be leashed when outside of your vehicle.
If you plan on visiting the Lower Peninsula, Houghton Lake is a great city to travel to for pet-friendly camping. West Houghton Lake Campground, a wooded lakeside area with cabins, campsites, and RV parking, permits up to dogs per campsite for no additional fee, as does does Wooded Acres Campground. Houghton Lake Travel Park is another local pet-friendly campsite that also includes a dog run, so your pets can get exercise without leaving the park.
The eponymous Cannon Beach is situated near the center of town, and allows leashed dogs year-round. The coastline offers many outdoor attractions, such as hiking, fishing, and picnicking. Ecola State Park is a 9 mile long coastal park that allows leashed dogs on the beach, on their hiking trails, and in the campgrounds. Oswald West State Park, located 10 miles south of Canon Beach, is another scenic outing place along the ocean that permits leashed dogs. There are an abundance of restaurants that accommodate pets in Cannon Beach, so no matter what type of food you’re in the mood for, you’ll be sure to find a place to bring your dog along to: Ecola Seafoods, Fultano’s Pizza, Seasons Cafe, and Warren House Pub are a sampling of the more popular Canon Beach eateries that allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas.
Although Mobile doesn’t offer pet-friendly beaches, it has an eclectic array of other pet-friendly attractions. Mobile Botanical Gardens is a 100 acre area with walking trails, wooded areas, and elaborate gardens that allows dogs on the grounds. Kirk House and Gardens is a special events location with sprawling property that has the same pet policy. There’s also Medal of Honor Park–a public park with walking paths, picnic and sports areas, and a playground–which allows leashed dogs on site.
If you’d like to explore the history surrounding Mobile, you can take your dog on the Civil War Trail, which includes a museum dedicated to their Confederate past, reenactments of famous Civil War battles, and a spacious property with outdoor trails. Leashed dogs are permitted on the trails and in all historical buildings, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Battleship Memorial Park is another historical Mobile attraction that showcases a collection of aircraft and museum ships. Dogs are welcome on the grounds of the park, but may not enter the buildings.
So, while the weather remains warm and the crowds thin and the prices drop and the “No Pets Allowed” signs become less applicable, make sure you take advantage of the great month of September and hit the road with your favorite animal. You’ll both be glad you did.