The best places around Oregon to for a getaway with your pet
written by Cathy Carroll
On long drives, he doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t judge me. In fact, he loves to please. His good looks? Don’t get me started.
When we’re hiking and he bounds up a hill with ease, I’ll be admiring his physique when he pauses, cocks his head, and looks me in the eyes encouragingly. He’s as comfortable in untouched wilderness as he is dining al fresco in a trendy part of town. He doesn’t mind slumming it, but secretly loves well-heeled accommodations.
Yes, he’s a perfect travel companion. He’s Ace, “the Wonder Dog,” and like most Americans, my family and I consider our dog a member of our pack, and a contributing one at that. Increasingly, studies reveal that pets help humans reduce stress, lower blood pressure, recover from heart disease, give a good tail-lashing to hormones like cortisol, the demon behind depression and anxiety, and boost our oxytocin, linked to happiness and relaxation.
When it comes to taking a getaway, research shows we enjoy all of these same benefits, along with better sleep and productivity. Put the two together and do the math. Getaways with dogs are a powerful cocktail. Served up in some of Oregon’s best spots, and it’s a prescription-worthy tonic.
Fortunately, many hotels and inns no longer simply tolerate our BFFs (best furry friends), they woo them with canine comforts, from fluffy beds and great food to warm showers and massages. We picked some for our state’s best interspecies getaways—all sure to trigger a Pavlovian response.
Oregon’s best pet-friendly getaways #1: Portland
With scenic parks, eclectic markets, eateries and even pools that welcome dogs, the Rose City is worth sniffing out.
Kick off the weekend with artisan coffee, pastries and perusing at Portland Saturday Market. With nearly 400 vendors, it’s the largest arts-and-crafts fair in America. Every item is reviewed by a panel that assures it meets the market’s standards of quality, and is being sold by the Oregonians and Washingtonians who handcrafted it. That includes the pet section, with handmade treats and accessories. Bonus—live music.
This riverside market on Saturdays and Sundays at Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza in historic Old Town has been a tradition since 1974. It stays fresh, with about a dozen new craftspeople joining monthly, runs March through Christmas Eve, and it’s free.
It’s also the season to take a hint from your dog—life is better when you stop to sniff, particularly at a garden with 10,000 roses in bloom. May through September is the best time to make like your snouted friend and inhale it all at the International Rose Test Garden. Take in views of downtown and Mount Hood from this respite, which is free and open daily.
Now it’s time for a swim. Paw Aquatics’ indoor swimming pool for dogs in Southeast is a cozy 88 degrees—think creature comfort and fun while taking the dirt and risks out of river swimming. Dogs Gone Swimming in Southwest also has an indoor, warm swimming pool for dogs, plus small-animal massage.
Refuel and unwind at eateries where wagging is almost as good as tipping, such as Lucky Lab’s four pubs with patios. The White Owl Social Club on the Central Eastside embraces the four-legged spirit, with a spacious patio and fire pit. Indulge in craft cocktails made with Oregon-distilled ingredients and dishes with a locally sourced focus. At Tin Shed Garden Cafe on Northeast Alberta, the menu offers free-range, organic and local items and a menu just for canines. Tuesday is Doggie Love Night, with dogs dining gratis when their human orders dinner.
At Hotel Monaco, guest dogs are welcomed by name on the VIP (Very Important Pet) chalkboard in the lobby, the domain of a labradoodle named Addison, who is the director of pet relations. Rooms have plush pet beds, food and water bowls, waste bags, a treat and a toy. Interspecies mingling is encouraged nightly at the hotel-hosted social hour, with live music, wine and beer, and dog treats baked by the pastry chef at the hotel’s Red Star Tavern.
Front desk staff go the extra mile, fetching meat or dog food on request, or reserving refrigerator space to store food for dogs on a raw diet. Unlike most properties that typically charge pet fees averaging about $25 per night, this property has none.
Oregon’s best pet-friendly getaways #2: Eastern Oregon
At nearly 360,000 acres, the Eagle Cap Wilderness is Oregon’s largest federally protected swath untrammeled by man. An ideal spot to take it all in, from the 9,000-foot granite peaks of the Wallowas to wildflower-strewn glaciated valleys, is the Minam River Lodge, the last remaining public lodge on a rare piece of private land where Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce summered and gathered huckleberries.
Hike in, or have the lodge arrange a horse to navigate the firs and larch on the 8.5-mile trail from Cove. Or, hop a dog-friendly Cessna for the 20-minute, scenery-packed flight from Enterprise.
The lodge, reborn last summer after years of neglect, was a six-year endeavor. It involved flying in hundreds of loads of building supplies, harvesting timber from the lodge’s 126 acres, skidding them across a frozen river, milling lumber on-site, recycling materials from the original 1950 structures, hand-building nine guest cabins and a 4,000-square-foot lodge, and curating works of local artists, from historic photo prints to handmade ceramic dishes.
Wake to soft light over the meadow framed by a soaring ridge, and make plans to explore. Stroll to a nearby pond or to swimming holes along the wild, trout-laden Minam with dog-friendly, slow-moving water, or backpack in the home of hefty Rocky Mountain elk (Oregon’s largest wild mammals) and delicate calliope hummingbirds. Northwest hiking expert Douglas Lorain’s Minam River Lodge Trail and Hiking Guide, the authoritative resource, is downloadable at minam-lodge.com.
Reward the day’s exertions with the lodge’s wood-fired hot tub and a signature cocktail, the Old Minam, a heady mix of bourbon and an aromatic, housemade extract made from surrounding ponderosa. Sip one as you stroke your pup’s ears, the sun slips below the ridge, and dinner is served family-style on the deck.
Fortify yourself with dishes made from local ingredients, including those grown on the property. Think fresh pasta with chanterelles and house-cured pancetta, wood-fire grilled zucchini, patty pan squash and eggplant with shiso, carrots with housemade sunflower butter, and salads of delicate lettuces and sorrel. The lodge offers dog food of similar quality.
Barking Mad Farm B&B in Enterprise is another pet-friendly base for exploring the Wallowas and the nearby arts enclave town of Joseph. The surrounding acreage forms a private dog park. Watch the sunrise over the mountain peaks, relax on the wraparound porch and savor a breakfast made with local, organic ingredients.
Satisfy your palate at dog-friendly patios at Red Horse Coffee Traders and Terminal Gravity Brewing in Joseph. Explore Wallowa Lake, and the deepest canyon in North America: Hells Canyon.
Oregon’s best pet-friendly getaways #3: Central Oregon
Start on the Deschutes River Trail, which flows through the center of the fun in Bend, from pubs and concert venues to boutique hotels and shops, and offers the closest access to outdoor bliss in town. Whether you and your dog are walking the trail (on a leash), kayaking or standup paddling, dogs can drink or swim in the pristine, clear snowmelt and stretch out on warm rocks in the sun. Footbridges let you explore both sides of the river that carved out this canyon, which a half-century ago was jammed with the logs of ponderosa lumber mills.
The trail becomes paved at the Shops at the Old Mill, dotted with places to rent standup paddleboards and kayaks, and riverside restaurants with sprawling patios perfect for pups. If you’ve trained your dog to go mountain biking with you, hundreds of miles of trails and howl-worthy panoramas await in the Deschutes National Forest and the Cascades. For off-leash trail info and maps, check out DogPAC.org and bendparksandrec.org.
Mark your calendar for the Fourth of July Pet Parade through downtown Bend for pure Americana and furry fun. Afterward, as the sun sets over the mountains, grab a brew and a bite outside 10 Barrel Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project or McMenamins’ Old St. Francis School.
Just because you may have descended from a wolf doesn’t mean you won’t drool over high thread-count sheets, fluffy Euro-chic duvets and a balcony overlooking downtown Bend’s shops, eateries, parks, pubs and theaters. (After all, we humans were once fur-covered cave-dwellers.) At The Oxford Hotel, after your dog rises from a fluffy pet bed and crunches a housemade organic dog treat, the two-legged guests sip French roast, take in the sun and plan a stroll to iconic Drake Park and adventures beyond.
Take along one of the room’s two dog travel bowls. The other one is a gift from the hotel.
If you want to spend a bit of human-only time inside shops, galleries and theaters, ask the concierge to book a dog walker, groomer or pet massage during that time.
Another lodging choice is on the edge of the Deschutes National Forest. The longtime Best Western Entrada Lodge has just become LOGE Camps, perched on the upper reaches of the Deschutes River Trail. The new vibe beckons guests to be a part of the camp’s tribe of outdoor adventurers.
Oregon’s best pet-friendly getaways #4: Pacific City
The People’s Coast is also the Canines’ Coast. Romping on an expanse of sand, chasing waves, charging up and digging in the dunes, standup paddling, kayaking, hiking scenic trails—our play is dog’s play and vice versa. In Pacific City, the 8-mile beach between Cape Kiwanda State Natural area and Bob Straub State Park is dog-human heaven on the edge of the earth. Rent a standup paddleboard at Moment Surf Co. or Nestucca Adventures, which also has kayaks, and take your dog along.
Back on the beach, everyone can run free so long as your dog is within your sight and responds to commands. You should always have a leash and waste removal bags at the ready, too, according to state rules. A reminder that driving is allowed on much of Oregon’s coastline, and dogs should be on leash when in a state park.
The year-old Sitka Sedge State Natural Area will make you sit up and beg to take in the views—of open water, tidal flats, saltwater marshes and vistas sweeping from Haystack Rock to Cape Lookout. A leash is required on the 3.5-mile trail, which winds through the estuary and coniferous forest dunes, or to the beach.
Later, kick back around a fire or unwind at Pelican Brewing Company’s on-the-beach patio with a perfect view of Haystack Rock, daring surfers and sunset.
Head to the prime beach patios at Stimulus Espresso Cafe for breakfast and pick up housemade dog treats made with spent grain from Pelican Brewing, then stop by Ben & Jeff’s for tacos and burgers.
The Coast’s newest luxury property, Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, welcomes dogs and strives to keep things unpretentious. With Portland-handcrafted Ginger Beds for dogs, food and water bowls by local ceramic artist Mark Cavatorta, stylish comforts don’t stop at the end of the leash. A pet wash station rinses off the remains of the day on the beach. Celebrating your dog’s birthday? The house baker will make a cake suitable to a pup’s palate.
There’s pilates, beach yoga, bikes, surf lessons and an adventure coach to plan it all. Later, head to the outdoor, ocean-view hot tub, get a massage, and order from a menu sourced from the sea, local farmers and the herb garden.
The ambience at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda draws on surf culture and local artists for its fun and relaxing sense of place. Dog amenities include dog dishes, towels, treats and warm outdoor washes. The Cottages at Cape Kiwanda, and Shorepine Vacation Rentals also welcome dogs, and some packages waive pet fees or include pet amenities.