Don’t spend another holiday lying around with your dog on the sofa. Embrace life with two paws, and make this year memorable with these must-try seasonal vacation stays.
1. Big sky country
One hopes a place named The Resort at Paws Up — whose logo is a paw print — is dog friendly. Yup: At this 37,000-acre Montana vacation ranch surrounded by mountains, dogs are welcome in all 28 homes (of up to 4 bedrooms), designed in rustic luxury with lots of timber and huge stone fireplaces, and on guided wilderness hikes (but not in the “glamping” tents).
The Christmastime schedule is packed with sleigh rides, dogsledding, snowmobiling, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, special Christmas Day and Eve menus at its restaurants (one fine dining, one casual), a Christmas Eve kids’ party and a visit from Santa. Your home comes with a tree, ornaments and lighting (DIY or let staff do it).
Getting around this vast resort is easy: Each home comes with a Kia (or just call the free van). Rates include three meals a day, beverages, some activities and free airport transfers from Missoula Airport. Per-night dog fee. See pawsup.com.
2. All I want for Christmas is a beach
The Cypress Inn in tiny Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, was a pioneer in dog-friendly lodgings, as befits its ownership by animal advocate Doris Day. The exquisite white Mediterranean-style inn with a retro Hollywood Golden Age vibe and lovely gardens has a daily Yappy Hour in the courtyard, dog bed and bowl for your furry pal, and concierges freely dispense grain-free treats.
A few blocks from white-sand Carmel Beach, where dogs can roam leash-free (as on many hiking trails), the Cypress Inn is located in a village of houses resembling storybook cottages, where wine-tasting rooms, shops and over 100 galleries are an easy walk.
At Christmas, it’s even more fairy-tale like. Rates include buffet breakfast, in-room fruit, nuts and sherry, and free WiFi. If it’s booked, no worries: Two dozen more hotels in Carmel welcome dogs. Per-night dog fee. More at cypress-inn.com.
3. Pawk the Pup in Bawston
The Fairmont Copley Plaza isn’t just a grand Old World-style hotel in Boston (where snow is guaranteed in winter) that allows dogs: It has its own Canine Ambassador: Carly, a Black Labrador, who resides in the lobby between walks and runs with guests. In fact, a Canine Adventure package year-round includes a black Lab stuffed toy, a walk with Carly and a delightful children’s biography of Catie, Carly’s beloved predecessor.
Located in historic Back Bay, mere steps from Beacon Hill and the Freedom Trail, the 383-room Copley Plaza, which has a 3,000-square-foot rooftop health club, has a huge decorated tree for Christmas, as does Copley Square, where the hotel is located. Per-night dog fee. See more at fairmont.com.
4. Christmas in the Big Easy
In New Orleans, the Old No. 77 Hotel is filled with paintings by local artists, products by local makers, exposed-brick walls, a shabby-chic vibe — and a restaurant from the 2018 James Beard Best Chef: South winner, Nina Compton of Compere Lapin. Its paws-pitality boasts a pet room service menu of meat and veggie-laden grain-free (or whole-grain) food, plush toy and eco-friendly dog bed (made from recycled plastic bottles) for your furry family member, and books on holistic pet care, doggie massage and pet psychology on loan. A VIP door hanger alerts staff at this Warehouse District hotel not to disturb an unattended dog in the room.
New Orleans is wonderful at Christmas: Over 100 events range from free concerts in St. Louis Cathedral (from gospel to jazz), caroling at Jackson Square, cooking demos, historic house tours, Celebration in the Oaks (hundreds of thousands of lights festoon centuries-old live oaks in City Park) to bonfires atop river levees outside the city. Once-per-stay dog fee. See oldno77.com.
5. Near our nation’s capital
In Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, dogs are so welcome at Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa, there’s no extra fee, or breed, weight or size restrictions (they just need to fit through the door).
Besides a plush dog bed and pillow for snuggling, food/water bowls and mat, you get a list of nearby dog parks (five nearby, two off leash), restaurants with pet-friendly outdoor patios like Don Taco, Mai Thai and Le Refuge, dog walkers and groomers from this boutique hotel’s concierge. Kimpton is known for its nightly free wine receptions (just call it Yappy Hour; dogs can come). Just 5 miles from Washington D.C., Alexandria is one of the most dog-friendly cities around (one out of four residents is a dog, while dozens of shops welcome dogs).
On the first weekend of December, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town features Scottish Terriers clad in tartans trotting amid the bagpipers past stately 18th and 19th century brick townhouses and cobblestone streets. (For Potomac Boat Company’s dogs-welcome boat cruises, you’ll need to return in May through October.) Good to know: Weddings at the Lorien have featured dog paw-ticipants (often as ring bearers); a local boutique makes canine wedding costumes to match the happy couple. More at lorienhotelandspa.com.
Thumbnail: Photography Courtesy The Resort at Paws Up
About the author
Sharon McDonnell is a San Francisco- based travel, food and beverage writer and dog mom to the aptly named Fluffy, a cuddly Bichon Frise/Poodle mix. Check out more of her work at sharonmcdonnell.contently.com.
Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!
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