While many of us would love to take the dog along on our next family vacation, the fact of the matter is that having a canine companion often precludes some of the more luxurious, adventurous, and escapist aspects of travel. That's why I continue to scour the globe for the places that understand and integrate puppy love into the vacation experience.
This time I've found a real gem in Port Townsend, Washington.
After reaching its economic climax in the Victorian era, Port Townsend settled, for a time, into a sleepy existence under the historic shadow of the decommissioned Fort Worden, until finding a new, artistic life in the 1970's. Artists drawn to the untouched Victorian elegance of the seaside town made Port Townsend a lively community again. Preserved Victorian architecture and annual music festivals now make Port Townsend a destination for tourists of all species!
With an emphasis on the arts and the outdoors it should be no surprise that the people of Port Townsend are incredibly open to pets. Very few spaces are human-exclusive, and many not only allow, but encourage visitors to share their experiences with their pet. Here are a few highlights:
While this first activity may err towards the human-friendly end of the spectrum, the Puget Sound Express' Whale Watching Tour was a great trip to take with a dog. The Express guarantees that you will encounter majestic Orca Whales and, if you don't spot Shamu on this 4-hour tour, the Express will immediately book you on their next out-bound ship until you have the whale watching experience you paid for. Offering shorter tours featuring fauna such as colorful puffins and magnificent grey whales, the Puget Sound Express has the perfect high seas experience for animal lovers of any feather.
Grab a Treat
I knew that I was in love with Port Townsend when I discovered that the most delicious gourmet bistro in town had a pet-friendly patio. Sweet Laurette's offers heaping spoonfuls of ambiance and taste with a menu that will leave you drooling. From a grown up grilled cheese featuring cheddar, fontina, and basil on artisan bread, to the lemon ricotta pancakes, Sweet Laurette's delivers a taste sensation that would be right at home in the big city, with a heart that anchors it to the moody Northwest.
While the view of the vast night sky with pinpricks of light piercing through the void is certainly spectacular, I had a different sort of star-gazing in mind on my trip to Port Townsend. As an avid fan of young-adult fiction, I was excited to visit Port Townsend because it is the home of the author of the "Twilight" books, Stephenie Meyer! Stephenie can be seem around town, enjoying the atmosphere that so clearly inspired her work and is said to be friendly, warm, and enthusiastic.
The Rambling Road
Port Townsend has some of the most gorgeous parks and strolls in the country. The combination of the fresh, northern air, the charming scenery, the friendly people, and the prevalent history makes meandering through the attractions of Port Townsend an activity in and of itself.
The winding trails, rolling hills, and overall awesome environment of the sprawling Fort Worden State Park are a real treat for any dog. With 434 acres and a new dog-friendly policy, this puppy playground is the doggie destination of a lifetime. And as an interesting aside, Fort Worden State Park was home for Richard Gere while he filmed "Officer and a Gentleman".
If you're looking for a more structured stroll, look no further than Port Townsend's famous sidewalk tours. The waterfront tour is a favorite of pet parents as it features a few pet-friendly pit stops when nature calls, as well as a treat and water break spots. Integrate your best friend into an informative activity with Port Townsend's historic sidewalk tours.
The Palace Hotel is a Victorian era treat that furnishes each of its guest rooms with authentic antiques that provide a cozy, timeless feel. Nestled among Port Townsends bustling down town, there is no shortage of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and architectural quirks to explore, and they're dog friendly to boot! With only 15 rooms, this enchanting spot provides a one of a kind Port Townsend experience. The hotel is, of course, canine friendly.
The Tides Inn is the only waterfront motel in all of Port Townsend and with it's beach-chic vibe, the Tides Inn makes a furtastic retreat for any pet and their parent. Rooms feature large tubs, stellar views, and a comfortable atmosphere that sets the purrfect tone for any vacation.
If you're looking for luxury, then the Clam Cannery is the dog-friendly place where you'll want to stay. On the water and attached to a scrumptious restaurant and restorative spa, this popular wedding venue will be sure to carry your Port Townsend vacation in style. And don't worry about any highfalutin hotel snobbery, the dog friendly feeling permeates throughout this true puppy palace.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more