Are you starting to dream about a cool autumn breeze and the crackle of leaves beneath your feet—and your dog’s paws? Fall fun is definitely on the horizon. Small towns are putting the finishing touches on harvest festival plans, dog-friendly bed and breakfasts are getting ready for a peak tourism season and travel hotlines are making preparations to field questions for just where to spot the best fall foliage.
If there’s one destination synonymous with leaf peeping, it just might be Vermont. This dog-friendly state puts on its show of colors every fall—but Vermont is also filled with many great dog attractions. Top dog among those diversions is Dog Chapel, located at Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Candilynn Lockhart, dog travel writer and founder of the non-profit The DaVinci Foundation for Animals, visited the destination with her dog, DaVinci. “As you walk inside the chapel, you are surrounded by stained glass windows, dog carvings, and music playing, reaffirming the connection between art, nature, spirituality and the human-canine bond,” recalls Lockhart. “Dog Chapel is a very beautiful, moving place, somewhere you can celebrate the beauty of life as the inside walls are lined with pictures and messages telling those who have passed on how much they are (and will forever be) loved. It is a place where you can pause and reaffirm your dedication to yourself and your dog.” Along with the chapel, Dog Mountain also features dog-friendly trails and dog ponds.
Texas Hill Country
Texas may not be synonymous with leaf peeping but, west of Austin, the Hill Country puts on a show of color when bigtooth maples, sumacs, sycamores, chinaberries and cottonwoods reveal their fall finery. One Texas-sized display of fall color is found at Lost Maples State Park, usually at its peak of color in early November. Dogs are welcome throughout the park (anywhere but inside park buildings) on fixed leashes no longer than six feet.
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Named one of the top getaways for dogs in the new “Ruff Guide to the United States,” Skyline Drive extends the length of Shenandoah National Park, and the 105-mile drive “will give your dog a bird’s eye view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.” Author Melissa Halliburton also notes that all but 20 of the 500 miles of hiking trails welcome your dog—who can also join you on a canoe trip or camping to enjoy the fall foliage.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
“In the fall, dog owners can take dogs just about anywhere on the Cape, but I particularly love to go with friends who have dogs to the Cape Cod National Seashore,” explains William P. DeSousa-Mauk, an area press representative. “In quiet season, one can take dogs to any of its six beaches.” Some of DeSousa-Mauk’s top beach choices for dogs include Coast Guard [and nearby] Nauset Light Beach, Marconi Beach, Head of the Meadow Beach, Herring Cove Beach, and Race Point Beach. For accommodations that welcome dogs with open paws, he recommends Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, the Lamb & Lion Inn in Barnstable, the Inn at the Oaks in Eastham, and Crowne Pointe Historic Inn and Land’s End Inn, both in Provincetown.
If you hear the word “Ozarks,” many travelers picture the Missouri Ozarks, home of the wildly popular community of Branson. However, Arkansas has its own Ozarks, a quieter version that recalls pioneer life in a part of the state well known for its scenic beauty.
One of the area’s best-known and most dog-friendly destinations in Arkansas’s Ozark region is picturesque Eureka Springs, a community that combines Ozark charm with Victorian elegance. This hilly city, filled with narrow, winding streets, is known for its historic buildings. When it’s time to explore the fall foliage, one unique choice is aboard the dog-friendly Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway, composed of restored rail cars. Friendly dogs on-leash are welcome in all but the dining car.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
The beaches are still beautiful in September in this destination named one of the top dog-friendly locations in the newly published “The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel.” Unlike peak summer months, when dogs are prohibited from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., dogs are welcome to enjoy a mid-day romp on the beach after Labor Day. Author Kelly E. Carter also lauds Hilton Head for “pet-friendly restaurants, a canine-loving community, and an array of pet-friendly activities to keep Fido busy during a Lowcountry petcation.”
As America’s most sophisticated ski resort, Aspen may be best known as a winter destination but it’s also a great fall getaway with Fido. The community’s namesake trees lend color to mid- and late-September days. Autumn vacationers to this hotspot—a favorite Hollywood playground during winter months located 160 miles west of Denver—will find a long list of dog-friendly options including hiking trails, hotels, and shops.
Paris Permenter and John Bigley are a husband-wife team of professional writers and pet parents to two mixed breed dogs and four cats. The founders of DogTipper.com are also the authors of 33 pet and travel books including Texas with Dogs.