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The 7 Best Dog-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

These destinations have great dog parks and public places your pups can explore.

Dog owners know that their four-legged friends can be the best companions out there. But whether you're planning on bringing them with you on your next trip or doing some research for a permanent move, there's also no denying that some places are simply more conducive to canine comfort. Fortunately, there are plenty of options if you're looking for destinations that are ideal for owners and their pets alike. Read on for the best dog-friendly cities in the U.S., according to experts.

RELATED: 12 Best Cities in the U.S. for Outdoor Adventures.

Portland, Oregon

An aerial view of downtown Portland, Oregon

Oregon's largest city is already known for its laidback vibe and easy access to nature. And according to experts, this bodes just as well for dogs as it does for their owners.

"Portland has over 30 off-leash dog parks, including the famous Forest Park and Chimney Park, meaning there's no shortage of places for your furry companion to stretch their legs," says Aaron Rice, an expert dog trainer and co-owner of Stayyy. "The city also boasts many pet-friendly breweries, cafes, and shops, making it a paradise for dog lovers that you can explore together."

Others agree the city's extensive network of dog parks, pet-friendly hiking trails, and welcoming attitude toward dogs make it stand out. "Portland boasts numerous off-leash areas and dog-friendly businesses, making it a paradise for canine companions," says Bethany Hsia, DVM and co-founder of CodaPet. "Forest Park—one of the largest urban forests in the U.S.—offers miles of scenic trails perfect for dogs and their owners. And Sellwood Riverfront Park is another must-visit spot that provides splendid views and a welcoming environment for canines."

Los Angeles, California

Downtown Los Angeles at dusk with cars moving along the road
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

America's second-largest city is often associated with glitz, glamor, and year-round sunshine. But it's also a surprisingly easy place for pups to live their best life.

"L.A. is a mecca for dogs!" Alexandra Bassett, CPDT-KA, lead trainer and behavior specialist at Dog Savvy Los Angeles, tells Best Life. "City parks with many hiking trails—including Griffith, Elysian, Kenneth Hahn, and Will Rogers Parks—that welcome dogs on leashes are abundant and easy to get to."

If you're looking for a memorable trek, consider the hiking trails at Runyon Canyon. "It offers magnificent views of the entire city and the chance to hike with dogs off-leash since the city allows it. It's also a great place to see and be seen, with celebrity sightings being a regular occurrence," she says.

It also helps that there are many great dog parks close to almost every neighborhood in the city where pet parents can let their dog romp with other dogs. "My favorite is Sepulveda Basin in Encino because it's huge!" says Bassett. "There are several large enclosures from which to choose, including separate ones for large and small dogs."

If you have to travel to get somewhere, your furry friend can likely come with. "Your dog can ride most public transport systems in Los Angeles free of charge, including the bus service, the bus rapid transit, the light rail, and the subway," she explains.

RELATED: 10 Best Ways to Pet-Proof Your Home.

Austin, Texas

An aerial skyline shot of Austin, Texas

The capital of the Lone Star State has become a must-visit destination for travelers looking to experience some of the region's best dining, nightlife, art, and culture. Just make sure you don't forget to bring your dog along with you.

"Austin is renowned for its vibrant pet community and numerous dog-friendly amenities," says Hsia. "The city features an abundance of dog parks, pet events, and pet-friendly establishments and restaurants that make it an ideal destination for dogs and their owners."

It also offers plenty of outdoor options. "Exploring Barton Creek Greenbelt, with miles of trails and swimming spots, is an outdoor paradise for pet parents to take their dogs," she says.

Chicago, Illinois

Tourists visit Cloud Gate in Millennium Park in the late afternoon.

Looking to explore the Windy City? According to Hsia, the Midwestern hub is an ideal destination for dogs.

"Chicago is a dog-friendly city that offers a variety of amenities for pets and their owners," she says. "There are many dog parks where dogs can exercise and socialize off-leash. Many restaurants in Chicago have outdoor seating areas that welcome dogs. And, of course, there are also pet-friendly beaches along the Lake Michigan shoreline."

San Diego, California

city skyline of San Diego, California

Southern California is a place where a comfortable lifestyle top on the list of priorities for most people. Fortunately, this privilege extends to dogs in one of its most popular places to visit.

"San Diego is extremely dog-friendly," says Bassett. "Ocean Beach Dog Beach is a gorgeous Peninsula dedicated to dogs where they can run free and romp in the waves 24 hours a day! In all honesty, it's the best dog beach I have ever been to, and it made me want to move there."

Once they're done catching the surf, owners can take their pets to plenty of dog-friendly shopping and dining options nearby. "It's also right by Sunset Cliffs, so the scenery is magnificent," she adds.

And it's not just the beach that provides a playground for pups. "Grape Street Dog Park spans five acres and has two water fountains for dogs and gorgeous scenery like Eucalyptus tree groves that provide a lot of shade," Bassett tells Best Life. "The hours they are open are great, too!"

RELATED: TSA Issues New Alert For Those Traveling With Pets Through Security.

Seattle, Washington

The Seattle space needle against the city's skyline
Veni / iStock

Oregon isn't the only destination in the Pacific Northwest that's well-suited for pets. According to Rice, Seattle has earned its reputation as a dog-friendly city thanks to the many activities available for both dogs and their owners.

"From Magnuson Park to the scenic Discovery Park, plenty of options exist for off-leash fun," he says. "But the best part is that many of Seattle's top attractions—including the Space Needle and Pike Place Market—are pet-friendly, allowing you to experience the city's highlights with your canine companion."

San Francisco, California

A high angle view of San Francisco's business district on a sunny day.

Whether you're making a trip along the West Coast or you're looking for a quick weekend getaway, San Francisco is an excellent option that combines top-notch dining, unique architecture, and plenty of access to the outdoors. And according to Hsia, it's also one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S.

"The city offers various dog-friendly parks, like Crissy Field and Alamo Square Park, and beaches where dogs can play and socialize," she says. "Many establishments, including Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, are accommodating to dogs, including many restaurants, bars, and shops. The city also has a high number of veterinarians, other pet services, and dog-friendly transportation available if you should need them."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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