When temperatures drop in the northern half of the United States, snowbirds head to cozy vacation rentals in sunny Southern and Southwestern states. If you’re bringing your dog or cat on a winter trip, these great destinations have everything you need for a pet-friendly vacation: warm weather, restaurants with outdoor patios, and plenty of local parks for your furry friend to explore.
1. Austin, Texas
With its warm temperatures and variety of pet-friendly businesses, Austin is a great spot to bring your furry friend. Eating out is a breeze in this relaxed city; many restaurants have dog-friendly outdoor patios. Afterward, head to Red Bud Isle, a leash-free dog park with hiking trails, dog-friendly beaches, and a dogs-only swimming hole. As you explore the city, keep an eye out for Bow Wow Bones, a food truck that sells preservative-free pet treats.
2. Scottsdale, Arizona
The sun shines year-round in Scottsdale, providing a warm respite from cooler climates. It’s also a great destination for animals. Enjoy a hike on the pet-friendly McDowell Mountain North Trail or the Treasure Loop Trail, or head to three different city-maintained dog parks. At the popular Chaparral Dog Park, there are separate areas for passive and active dogs to ensure animal and owner comfort. Other places throughout the city, including O.H.S.O. restaurant, Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall, and Old Town Scottsdale, all welcome pets. If you’re not bringing a car, pets in secured carriers are welcome on Valley Metro buses.
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas boasts animal-friendly public transportation, endless entertainment options, and comfortable winter temperatures, making it a great option for snowbirds with pets. The city gets fewer than 15 days of rain per year, so you can enjoy more than 15 off-leash dog parks. Feel free to bring your pet to the hiking trails in nearby Red Rock Canyon, or grab a beer at Big Dog’s Brewing Company, which welcomes all dogs in its outdoor seating area. Vegas restaurants often allow dogs on their outdoor patios; Rachel’s Kitchen is a favorite among local dog owners.
4. San Diego, California
Enjoy the ocean with your furry friend in San Diego at the dog beaches in Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island, and Del Mar. Local companies even offer surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons for dogs, so you can enter the city’s Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon contest. San Diego offers a variety of fun pet-friendly events, including the PAWmicon costume contest and the Puppy Love 5K race. With more than 180 dog-friendly restaurants and a number of shopping areas that welcome pets, it’s easy to experience this beautiful oceanfront community with your beloved animal.
5. Tucson, Arizona
If your pet loves dry weather and warm temperatures, look no further than Tucson. The city’s famous dry heat makes it easy to enjoy seven different dog parks and pet-friendly hiking trails, such as the challenging Agua Caliente Hill Trail and the paved Rillito River Park Trail. More than 50 local restaurants allow pets on their outdoor patios; eateries such as BOCA Tacos y Tequila even provide treats for your dog.
6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pets are fully integrated into daily life in Albuquerque; a stroll down Route 66 takes you past a variety of pet-friendly patios at spots such as O’Neill’s Irish Pub, and on weekends, the lively Downtown Growers Market attracts animals and their owners. Albuquerque operates 13 different dog parks, and hiking trails at Sandia Crest and Petroglyph National Monument welcome pets. Be sure to check out Animal Humane’s Tale Date club, which hosts monthly social events for people and pets.
7. Tampa, Florida
If you’re dreaming of beaches, balmy weather, and plenty of pet-friendly activities, Tampa fits the bill. Enjoy the water with your pet on the fenced-in dog beach at Davis Islands Dog Park, or head to the city’s 11 other dog parks. Many local parks welcome pets on leashes, including the waterfront Ballast Point Park. Tampa’s restaurants are increasingly animal-friendly; Gaspar’s Grotto and Sweet Sage Cafe even offer dog meals. For a hike or a bike ride, bring your pet to the Upper Tampa Bay Area Trail.
8. Atlanta, Georgia
Revel in the energy and bustle in Atlanta, where exciting cultural activities exist seamlessly with pet-friendly businesses. For meals, head to Lucky’s Burger and Brew, which caters to dog owners; at Bellwoods Social House, your pet can enjoy a drink from the shaded dog bar. Dog parks are scattered across the city, but the most popular is Piedmont Dog Park, which features a 3-acre off-leash area, hiking trails, and weekend concession stands that sell cold dog treats. On hot days, cool off at the dog beach at Murphey Candler Park. Sail through traffic on your way to local vacation rentals; the MARTA rail and bus system accepts pets in carriers that can fit on your lap.
9. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is known for its legendary theme parks, but this friendly city is also a fun place for pets. Ten different dog parks create a welcoming atmosphere for pets. If you’re bringing a tiny dog, the small-breed areas at West Orange Dog Park and Downey Dog Park can keep your furry friend comfortable. The city also offers a variety of pet-friendly restaurant patios and shopping areas, including the Downtown Orlando Farmers Market. Stop by the Bark Avenue Bakery for gourmet dog treats, and feel free to bring pets in carriers aboard all LYNX buses. Many weekends feature pet-themed festivals; Paws in the Park is popular with local animal lovers.
10. Birmingham, Alabama
Sunny and friendly, Birmingham is a fun destination for snowbirds and their pets. Many of the city’s restaurants and bars feature outdoor patios, most of which are dog-friendly; local pet owners love Billy’s Sports Grill and Black Market Bar, which host regular events for dogs. Enjoy views of the city with your pet on the hiking trails at Ruffner Mountain, or kick back in the off-leash areas at eight dog parks. When the temperatures rise, head to the Jemison Trail, where dogs can take a dip in the stream.
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