Your guide to tail-wagging fun across the state.
When it comes to pleasing furry, four-legged travelers, few destinations rank as highly as Grand Marais and its surrounding North Shore towns, with their cobblestone beaches, Lake Superior to wade into, hiking paths and waterfalls to explore, cafes with dog-friendly patios, and many welcoming resorts.
"There's a difference between places that accept dogs and places that welcome dogs," says Kelly Lessard, who writes travel features from the perspective of her dog, Kramer, at Minnesota-based SidewalkDog.com. "Grand marais is probably at the top of my list as a dog destination."
North Shore accommodations, such as Lutsen Resort's Sea Villas, East Bay Suites and Bluefin Bay, offer condos, cabins, and other pet-friendly units that mean travelers with pets don't have to rough it to bring their whole family on vacation.
Exploreminnesota.com, which allows travelers to search specifically for pet-friendly lodging, lists more than 850 places statewide that allow pets in rooms. You don't have to stay in remote towns, either: More than 100 hotels within 25 miles of St. Paul welcome pets. Best Western, La Quinta, Westin, many AmericInns and Hiltons, and extended-stay hotels rank among the pet-friendly options in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the state.
For day trips near the Twin Cities or quick getaways, Lessard also ranks Stillwater, Red Wing and Excelsior as pet-friendly places rich in waterfront trails, inviting downtowns and outdoor dining.
The Twin Cities have earned national kudos for their quantity and quality of parks, trails, and green-ways, and areas such as St. Paul's Grand Avenue and Minneapolis' Longfellow and Nokomis neighborhoods offer unique boutiques and cafes that put out water bowls and welcome pets for outdoor dining May through October.
Many restaurants open their patios to guests with dogs, but Stanley's Northeast Barn Room in Minneapolis goes above and beyond for folks who want to drink beer and dine with their dogs, offering a dedicated menu that features bones, meatloaf, an egg-and-rice bowl, and ice cream for dessert.
Ali Jarvis, founder and CEO of SidewalkDog.com, says the Twin Cities have more than 200 dog-friendly restaurants, along with breweries, vineyards and coffeehouses, and the website can also help travelers find dog parks, hiking trails, and places to go for day trips and vacations.
"Minnesota's consistently on the top 10 list of pet-friendly places in the country," she says.
Check exploreminnesota.com/petfriendly for lodging and campgrounds open to pets, along with other resources.