Image: Taking the dog on a sight-seeing cruise
Mercury Cruises
Want to take your dog on the water? Chicago's Mercury Cruises offers a canine cruise along the city's waterways.
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 7/8/2010 9:28:50 AM ET 2010-07-08T13:28:50

This summer, many people will travel with their pets. There's a good chance that your dog can accompany you on a variety of fun excursions, but be sure to find out ahead of time. Here are some ideas to try for your vacation.

Wine routes
There are nearly 3,000 commercial vineyards in the United States and several popular wine regions, including Northern California, the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes. Many vineyards welcome dogs. Some particularly pet-friendly areas, like Sonoma County in California and the wine lands in Virginia, list all the pet-friendly wineries on their websites. Check out www.SonomaCounty.com and www.virginiawine.org, these are great sources if you want to plan a vineyards tour of your own.

Boat trips
Where there’s a lake, chances are there are pet-friendly boats and ferries. Dogs ride free on the historic Ticonderoga Ferry that crosses Lake Champlain and links Shoreham, Vt., with Ticonderoga, N.Y. (www.forttiferry.com). Traveling to a big city? If you’re visiting Chicago, bring your dog on the architecture cruise on Lake Michigan. The tour highlights more than 40 major buildings in downtown Chicago; boats leave from the Ogden Slip at the Navy Pier (www.shorelinesightseeing.com). In Seattle, dogs can make the trip to Blake Island State Park, the ancestral campground of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes and believed to be the birthplace of Chief Seattle. Visit www.experiencewa.com for general information about the area. In the Northeast, pets can cruise between Cape Cod and Nantucket Island or Martha's Vineyard on the high speed ferries offered by Hy-Line Cruises (www.hy-linecruises.com). If you’ll be in Michigan over the summer, you and your pet can enjoy a day trip to Beaver Island. The Beaver Island Boat Company runs a service between Charlevoix and St. James Harbor. More pet-friendly boat services can be found at www.dogfriendly.com.

Water fun
If you enjoy kayaking, your dog can definitely come along too. Kayak Excursions in Kennebunkport, Maine, (www.southernmainekayaks.com) caters to pets. And in the Lake Tahoe area, dogs can also go paddling with you. Information about both the California and Nevada sides of the lake is available on www.visitinglaketahoe.com. In San Diego, dogs and their people can enjoy all kinds of water fun from kayaking, paddle skiing and surfing. You can even sign up for lesson at www.caninewatersports.com.

Art galleries
Several U.S. cities are known for their artist communities. Many of the art galleries in places such as Laguna Beach, Calif., and Sedona, Ariz., allow dogs. And outdoor galleries, such as the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, N.Y. (www.socratessculpturepark.org), welcome pets too.

Outdoor museums
Lots of outdoor museums, such as the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., are very pet friendly. The museum (www.pacificcoastairmuseum.org) has more than 30 vintage aircraft on display and hosts Climb Aboard events on the third weekend of every month. The museum only requests that you pick up your dog’s waste.

Theme parks
While America’s most popular theme parks don’t take pets, many do offer excellent care facilities while you enjoy the rides. If you’re heading to Orlando, Fla., Disneyworld offers pet facilities by their various theme parks. Be sure to make a reservation and check current charges. Reservations are accepted at Disney's Animal Kingdom (call 407-938-2100), Disney's Hollywood Studios (407-560-4282), Epcot (407-560-6229), Magic Kingdom (407-824-6568) and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground (407-824-2735).

There are also pet care facilities at Orlando’s Universal Studios and the adjacent roller-coaster park (407-224-4233), and at Sea World (407-351-3600).

Beaches
The number of dog-friendly beaches is growing, but if you are heading for the beach, be sure to check with the area’s visitors center ahead of time. The summer issue of Fido Friendly magazine, America’s glossy dogcentric travel magazine, lists a selection of great beaches where Fido can frolic (www.FidoFriendly.com).

Take a hike
Each state’s tourist board offers a fabulous list of state and national parks that allow dogs on a leash (Nps.gov). And many chapters of the Sierra Club, a nationwide organization whose credo is “to explore, enjoy and protect the planet,” offer special pet-friendly hikes on a regular basis (outings.sierraclub.org).

When you’re dog-tired…
Many city taxi companies are pet friendly. The concierge desk in pet-friendly hotels usually has such information on hand. Other forms of transport such as water taxis and three-wheel “tuk tuk” bikes that are ubiquitous in many places, will often happily give Fido a ride too! Cities that offer free shuttle rides usually allow small dogs on board. Once again, the local visitors center will have such information on hand.

Enjoy summer fun, but be sure your pet is wearing a current ID tag and don’t leave home without plenty of water. Pets can easily dehydrate in the summer heat.

Sandy Robins is an award-winning pet lifestyle writer. She is the recent recipient of the Humane Society of the United States' Pets for Life Award. Her work appears in many national and international publications.

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