And Rover Makes Five

Thanks to imaginative pet-tailored programs, four-legged friends can now join the family vacation fun.

If, as Gandhi once said, the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated, then America is great indeed, at least when it comes to giving our pets a little rest and relaxation. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, 78 percent of a sampled 1,300 Americans travel with their dogs and 15 percent carry cats along for the ride.

Rana Worden, a travel specialist with the upscale Virtuoso travel network, says there are more guests traveling with their pets than ever before. “Nowadays, pets no longer have to stay at home while families worry about separation anxiety. It’s fantastic!” says Worden.

So what exactly do pets do on a family vacation? Tour operators and hotels from the West Coast to the Canadian Rockies have tapped into the growing trend and have developed a plethora of pet-friendly packages, many of which are equally as exhilarating as those designed for us human folk. Here are four pet travel ideas for you to consider on your next “all-inclusive” family vacation.

Dog Paddling Adventures

The Ontario, Canada–based Dog Paddling Adventures arranges year-round trips specifically geared to families with dogs. In spring and fall, family and pooch can enjoy hiking through the scenic Canadian wilderness; in winter try “skijoring”— a form of cross-country skiing involving a shock-absorbing harness that connects owner and canine); for summer, canoe in the Haliburton Highlands, Madawaska River or North Tea Algonquin Park. The summer canine canoe trips are the mainstay of this family-run company, whose owners are trained in wilderness first aid for both humans and their pets.

Winter hikes start at $30 per person, dog(s) gratis; skijoring and snowshoeing starts at $110 per person; spring and fall hikes range from $45-$60, depending on the number of hikes; summer trips range from $110 per person for one day, to $879 for six days. 

Piney Creek Nordic Center

Just 10 miles north of Leadville, Colo., Piney Creek Nordic Center (also known as Tennessee Pass Nordic Center) offers families and active dogs 15 miles of trails for skiing and snowshoeing—and Rover skis free! The San Isabel National Forest land also boasts dog-friendly backcountry trails; there’s even one aptly named Powder Hound Loop. If you’re seriously considering hitting the slopes with your family dog, consider investing in a copy of Canine Colorado by Coloradan and dog-lover Cindy Hirschfeld.

Adult trail passes start at $10 for a half day to $14 for a full day; private cross country lessons are $35 for the first person, $20 for each additional person.

Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa

The award-winning, upscale Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa in Telluride, Colo. offers pampered pups chef-prepared meals, “pawdicures” and doggie bathing and massages at their exclusive Doggie Spa. There’s also plenty of activity for your pup with Frisbee tossing, guided doggie hikes and swimming, all in a gorgeous Rocky Mountain setting. So while you soak in the lap of luxury, you can rest assured that Rover is happily doing the same.

Within the Doggie Spa, your puppy can get 50-minute baths starting at $75 or go hiking for $50 per hour.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa

Located a short walk from Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego, Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa offers a sun n’ sand getaway for owners and pets alike. While you and your family soak in the rays, Rover can test his balance with the Su’ruff Camp package. Here, the Coronado Surfing Academy staff teaches Rover to ride the waves on Coronado’s Dog Beach. The package includes a one-hour doggie surf lesson, surf-and-turf meal for Rover, a copy of The Dog’s Guide to Surfing, and doggie board shorts or surfing bandana.

If your dog is already an avid surfer, consider entering him or her into the third annual Loews Surf Dog Competition, taking place this year on June 28 in Imperial Beach, Calif. Entry fees are $45 for Heats One and Two, $50 for Heat Three.

Rates start at $389 per night.

Destinations: Telluride, San Diego

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Hiking, Canoeing, Skiing, Surfing