No matter how much you’ve been looking forward to that well-deserved vacation getaway, it sure can be hard leaving a precious pet behind! Also, you’re likely all too aware of the costs of kenneling or other pet lodging/pet sitting services you’ve arranged. Combine these two, and you may just find you’re considering a vacation "with pet" instead! These vacation destinations are not just beautiful, scenic and popular—they’re as pet-friendly as you can get.

Average costs for pet care during a vacation

Here’s a list of average costs for the types of services you’re likely to incur if you leave your pet(s) behind during your vacation. Cost ranges reflect cost-of-living for various parts of the country (i.e., costs tend to be higher on the coasts and more reasonable in central and southern states). This list can help you decide on the most budget-friendly vacation option—with pet or without pet.

  • Dog walker (1 dog, 1 day): $10-$25
  • Pet "day care" (1 pet, 1 day): $20-$35
  • Pet sitter (overnight, 1 night): $20-$35 (add $5-$10 per additional pet)
  • Kennel-style boarding (1 night): $20-$25
  • Pet hotel-style boarding (1 pet, 1 night): $35-$90 (variance reflects chosen services as well as geographic area)

1. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

No matter where you go on the Cape, you’ll quickly discover that residents are as passionate about their animal companions as they are about preserving the rare natural and historic beauty that’s so plentiful here.

How to visit and save

The very best time to visit the Cape is actually in the fall after the crush of summer tourists has departed. The weather is still divine, dog restrictions at some of the most popular beaches have largely been lifted, lodging and meals are cheaper (fall is considered the off-season), and you and your pet can enjoy the heck out of your time there.

Pet-friendly activities

You’ll notice many shops have water bowls placed just outside the door and free dog treats. Many establishments also permit dogs to accompany owners inside. Also, with the overabundance of outdoor activities, you could start your day together on the beach for a run or swim, then head to a park for a hike, then do some shopping together, then eat dinner at night in the restaurant before turning in!

Pet regulations

Be aware that such a pet-friendly place comes well equipped with pet-owner rules and regulations. Be sure to clean up after your pet, leash your pet, and stay vigilant about pet-to-pet interactions.

2. Austin, Texas

Austin is considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Texas itself. Along with a vibrant, thriving arts and music scene, you’ll find an equally pet-passionate local population. The area has at least 15 dog parks (at last count) and plenty of lush outdoor parks and swimming areas both within and outside the metro city limits.

How to visit and save

Steer clear of hotels in the central downtown area near the University of Texas (population 50,000+). Not only will you encounter congestion and high parking fees, but at certain times in the fall and spring, hotels are booked solid for games, graduation and other special events. Also, summer and winter holidays are actually the least popular times to visit (due to the heat and students are largely on break) so you can get good deals then.

Pet-friendly activities

15+ dog parks aside, most retail businesses permit well-behaved pets, as do many restaurants. Town Lake, Mills Pond, and Red Bud Isle are great water spots to visit with your pet. And if you like yoga, check out Austin Doga for a uniquely fun "with dog" yoga experience!

Pet regulations

Unless otherwise noted, pets are expected to be well socialized, well behaved and leashed.

3. San Diego, California

San Diego is the ultimate beach town. Full of tanned, surf and sand-loving, friendly residents—most of whom seem to have pets in tow—you won't find a better place to vacation with your pet. In addition to the surplus of pet-friendly hotels and motels, miles of beaches and nearly year-round sunny and temperate weather, there’s lots to see and do together.

How to visit and save

The off-season is predictably during the cooler months at the beginning and end of the year. Also, California imposes less tax on smaller hotels and motels (70 rooms or less). There’s also so much free stuff to see and do that paying for entertainment is optional.

Pet-friendly activities

You can, of course, run and swim in the miles of beautiful beaches. Dog parks are plentiful and some portions of certain beaches also allow dogs to roam off the leash. You can hike together at Cowles Mountain, and visit two lovely dog beaches (Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island). And many restaurants and retail establishments go out of their way to welcome canine guests with fresh water, treats and more.

Pet regulations

Dogs are expected to be well behaved and leashed unless signs specifically indicate otherwise.

4. Key West, Florida

Nearly everywhere tourists go in Florida is also amenable to their non-human companions. But Key West, in particular, is noted for going the extra mile to accommodate owner-pet travelers.

How to visit and save

You’ll want to avoid Spring Break (March annually) and hurricane season (last two weeks of August through September) when prices are high and crowds are plentiful. Try early in the year, late in the year and the hot months (June-July) when Florida temps can break the 100s. These times are when you’ll find the best deals.

Pet-friendly activities

Miles of beaches, plenty of parks and recreation, and fun pet-centric activities like Lazy Dog Kayak and the Key West Dog Beach specifically cater to pet-owner duos. Also, much of the area's shops, eateries, pubs and other establishments are very pet-friendly.

Pet regulations

A well behaved, leashed, socialized pet is always welcome.

 

For more money-saving tips, check out:

The 4 Best Pet-Friendly Vacation Destinations in America