Winter getaways for you and your dog

Do you have the winter blues? Maybe your dog does as well! These winter getaways will give you both the change of scenery you need.

Winter weather can get anybody down, even those who love the cold (like Malamutes or huskies)! So when it’s time for a getaway, don’t call the kennel. Take your dog with you. A growing number of hotels and resorts have come to realize what dog people have always known – our four-legged friends deserve some fun and pampering as much as we do. Let’s take a quick tour of just three accommodations that offer relaxing winter getaways you can share with your canine companion.

Middleburg, Virginia

The Salamander Resort and Spa has no size or breed restrictions when it comes to dogs. When making reservations, you’re only asked for your dog’s weight so the proper size of bed and/or crate can be provided. Food and water bowls, along with tasty treats made on site, are ready for your pooch’s pleasure, and poop bags are also provided. Make arrangements at the front desk for a photo to commemorate your trip.

The resort also hosts a Tuesday Yappy Hour for guests and their dogs. Canines are allowed in the common areas, and if they’re well-behaved, they can even visit the barn of this equestrian-themed hotel to see the horses. Canine guests can also accompany their folks on the trails that wind through the resort’s 340 acres, so pack your dog’s winter gear as well as your own!

Napa, California

Calistoga Ranch is situated on 157 acres in a private canyon. Upon your arrival, a golden retriever named Cal greets you at the front desk while the humans take care of the paperwork. There’s a welcoming treat for each of you – your dog gets a cookie, and you get a glass of wine!

Be sure to book your dog in for the popular Bacon Scavenger hunt, a fun sniff-and-find mission in which the hotel hides bacon in their vineyards and grounds for dogs to find. (Editor’s note: As a rule, bacon is not recommended for dogs, so look on this as one-time treat.) The scavenger hunt is thirsty work, but no worries — the facility provides non-alcoholic doggie “beer” to refresh tired pups.

Once you’re both re-energized, explore the three hiking trails, then come back for a meal. There’s a special menu for dogs too, featuring organic meats, rice and vegetables.

Nashville, Tennessee

If you’re looking for a more urban getaway, the Hotel Preston welcomes dogs with a personalized tag, food and water bowls, a dog bed on request, and a special canine menu featuring dishes like Irish stew, a vegetable option, or surf-and-turf. Also check out their guide to nearby dog-friendly walking trails, businesses, grooming salons and more.

This is only a tiny taste of the many destinations that welcome dogs. So if you and your canine companion are pining to get away and enjoy some fun, pampering and relaxation during February or March (or any other time of year!), there’s lots to choose from. Traveling with your best friend always makes trips more fun!

Keep these rules of etiquette in mind

  • Provided dog bowls, beds and other items are for in-hotel use only, and are not souvenirs.
  • Health department rules state that dogs can’t come into restaurants. Outdoor areas like patios or terraces are fine, but aren’t an option in most regions during the winter. If in any doubt about where your dog is allowed, just ask.
  • Children often want to hug and kiss dogs. It’s always best to avoid sudden face-to-face contact that may startle your dog. Let him approach the child instead, and never force an encounter.
  • Even if your dog is well-behave at home, the hotel and spa are new environments for him, full of smells, new people to meet, and places to explore. For his safety and your peace of mind, keep him leashed unless you’re in your room.
  • Use the “Dog in Room” door hanger. If your dog is ever left in the room alone, make sure hotel employees can reach you in case he barks or makes a fuss.
  • Employees will not enter the room to clean or leave fresh towels unless you are present or your dog is crated. This is for the employees’ safety and will also prevent the dog from making a quick escape when the door is opened.
  • Many hotels can provide dog walkers or someone to stay in the room with your canine while you’re at dinner. Just ask.
  • Outside, pick up after your dog. Inside, if there’s an accident, call for housekeeping. Immediate attention can prevent stains.
  • Assistance dogs, of course, are allowed to be with their persons at all times, everywhere. This does not include emotional support dogs, however; only dogs who perform specific tasks for people with disabilities.
  • Remember — you and your dog are goodwill ambassadors for the privilege of bringing pets into public places. Mind your manners so everyone has a good experience.


Sandra Murphy lives in St Louis, Missouri. When she's not writing, she works as a pet sitter.