During a recent trip to Savannah, I fell in love with the laid-back atmosphere, outdoor dining and gorgeous squares. Travel sites BringFido.com and Travel and Leisure also give Savannah high marks, citing multiple green spaces and mild temperatures.
"I can't say enough about Savannah," says Susan Smith, president of PetTravel.com. "It's a combination of historical and antebellum — and I love the parks."
But what makes Savannah — or any city — a pet-friendly vacation spot? Smith points to the abundance of hotels, restaurants, parks and activities that appeal to pets and their people. Combine these qualities and you get happy pet owners who return year after year. "People who travel with pets and have a good experience will not only tell friends; they will come back and stay longer," she says. "You enjoy unpacking your suitcase and you tend to get out more."
If your pet can handle the trek, consider these four other popular destinations:
Key West and the Florida Keys: Located off the southern tip of Florida, Key West delivers plenty of pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and activities. Smith says pets complement the laid-back way of life embraced there.
Sanibel Island: Frommer's selected crescent-shaped Sanibel Island as its top travel destination in the world. Hunt for seashells or plant yourself on a beach towel and soak up the Gulf of Mexico. Nature lovers flock to Sanibel for the J.N. Darling National Wildlife Refuge, 6,400 acres of green space to explore with your dog.
Washington state: If you prefer outdoor activities, check out the network of walking trails and off-leash dog parks throughout Washington. Some even have swim areas or covered spaces for pooches to frolic. Smith notes that the San Juan Islands draw crowds during summer months, and many of the ferry companies allow pets.
Hilton Head Island, S.C.: "The moment you go over the bridge, everything is a different world," Smith says of this destination best known for its beaches and stellar golfing. Check out dog-friendly Alder Lane Beach or visit Chaplin Park, which features two fenced areas for pooches to run free. BringFido.com also gives Hilton Head kudos for its eight pet-friendly hotels.
If you do book a hotel room, follow up with a phone call to make sure they have a spot for your pet.