MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Traveling with a pet

Got a dog? More and more places invite families to sit and stay.

A boy and a dog on a dock near Cable.

© Beth Gauper

A Rottweiler lounges on the dock of a rented cabin in Wisconsin.

Planning a vacation with a dog can be frustrating. And yet, pets have gone up in the world.

More resorts are setting aside cabins for families with pets, perhaps inspired by Martha, the talking dog in the popular children's book series, and her pointed reproach: "We're your best friends or have you forgotten?''

Some towns have started festivals just for dogs (and their owners).

Here are places that know that where pets are welcome, you'll follow.

Finding a place to stay

Wondering where to travel with your dog? Few beaches allow them, but most hiking trails and state parks do. 

Cabins and mom-and-pop motels, especially those in areas popular with hunters and fishermen (think north woods and Mississippi River) are most likely to allow them, followed by franchise hotels.

Cabins in state parks don't allow dogs inside, but you can tie them up outside.

Many private rental cabins and cottages allow pets; see Renting a vacation house.

Not many large resorts allow dogs, and the ones that do require that they be leashed outside.

Find them on state tourism sites that allow a search for pet-friendly accommodations. At Travel Wisconsin, go to the Accommodations directory, select a type of lodgings, click the Directory tab, type in a city and radius and check "Pets Welcome'' in the amenities column.

At Explore Minnesota, go to Places to Stay and check "Pets Allowed.'' Enter a town and a radius, or you'll get too many possibilities.

On Minnesota's Gunflint Trail, the Gunflint Lodge allows dogs for a $20 daily fee and offers several three-night Dog Lover's Weekends, with dog massages, obedience talks and biscuit-baking classes.

On the North Shore, the Lutsen-Tofte tourism site lists 14 resorts and hotels that allow dogs. 

The beach of Empire, Mich.

© Beth Gauper

A dog gets a walk on the beach in Empire, Mich.

The farther north you go, the more resorts you'll find that welcome pets.

In Wisconsin, Northland Lodge on Lost Land Lake near Hayward allows pets in its cabins, $100 per week and $22 daily. North of Minocqua, Voss' Birchwood Lodge near Manitowish Waters, part of northern Wisconsin gangster lore, charges $10 per day.

A few boutique hotels not only allow pets but cater to them. In Milwaukee, the Iron Horse Hotel has a "Big Dog'' Package with dog pillow, doggie toys and dog-bakery snacks, $100 including the $50 overnight charge.

Policies at hotel chains vary. Some enforce weight limits, while others, such as Loews and Kimpton, have no restrictions.

Some charge for pets (usually $10 and up per night at a Quality Inn), some require a security deposit (around $15 at Super 8, $50 at most Quality Inns) and some charge nothing at all (Red Roof Inn, Loews, Kimpton).

Most hotels limit the number of rooms that accommodate pets, so reserve one as early as possible.

For more, check the offerings at PetsWelcome.com or Pets Allowed Hotels.

Dog festivals

In May, the Door County town of Baileys Harbor holds the Door County Scottie Rally, with a parade of Scots with pipes and drums corps, plus pet-psychic sessions and an auction of artist-adorned Scottie figures.

In Milwaukee, Bastille Days in July includes a Pooch Parade, with prizes for best costume and attitude.

In early August, the Lake Pepin village of Stockholm, Wis., holds Dog Days of Stockholm, with adoptable rescue dogs, training and photography tips, dog demos (agility, Frisbee, tricks), contests (best smile, trick, costume and Looks Most Like Owner) and a dog parade.

Terriers at a Dog Days interview.

© Barbara O'Brien

Terriers and their owner are interviewed at Dog Days in Stockholm, Wis.

Also in early August, dogs get the star treatment at Paws on Grand in St. Paul. During this Grand Avenue strolling event, there are free pet treats at many stores, doggie wading pools, clinics, spaniel and boxer kissing booths and a blessing of the animals.

In fall, there are many dachshund dashes, when the adorable dogs jump over little hurdles as they rush to their owners. The Minneapolis suburb of Wayzata has been holding them for years during James J. Hill Days, the Saturday after Labor Day.

They're also held during many Oktoberfest celebrations, including those in Galena and St. Paul.

In October, the Wisconsin town of Cambridge, east of Madison, holds Barktoberfest, with dog sport demos, costume and trick contests and a yappy hour at the local tavern.

Pet-friendly places

In Chicago, the Seadog speedboat tours from Navy Pier actually give you a 10 percent discount if you bring your dog, as long as space is available.

Travel tips

Budget Travel magazine has compiled reader tips on traveling with pets, and some are quite creative.

Here's a sample: "Our cat yowls and yowls in the car. We found that spreading a thin layer of butter on his feet just before we put him in his carrying case gives him something else to do with his mouth.''


Many national websites offer tips to ease travel with pets. DogGoes lists dog parks and includes reviews of pet-friendly places.

Last updated on July 23, 2013