Americans spent over $72 billion on their pets in 2018. With figures like that, it’s no wonder more and more hotels, restaurants, and other services are opening their doors to furry guests. While air pet travel may be difficult due to restrictions for larger dogs, road trips with your bigger fur babies can be quite enjoyable. If you are looking to experience some of America’s most nostalgic locations with your dog, look no further than Route 66, where the journey truly is the destination.
Route 66 is over 2,400 miles, stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, established in 1926 as one of the first roads in the U.S. Highway System. There are hundreds of historic buildings and sites along the route, many of which can be enjoyed with four-legged travel companions with a bit of forward planning, even the largest ones. Once you’ve decided where to begin and how far to go, a little research and the right gear will go a long way in creating an unforgettable vacation for you and your large-breed dogs (for all the right reasons).
Map Your Route
Before starting any road trip, you will have to map your route. Knowing your dog’s temperament is important when deciding how far you will be able to drive, in total and each day. You will also need to take into account yours and your dog’s physical abilities when planning your adventures, and in your decision as to what time of year you will take your trip. If you and your dog are up for hiking, all are welcome to hike the trails at Tuzigoot National Monument, an ancient pueblo built by the Sinagua people prior to 1400 CE. If a trail hike isn’t your speed, the incredible architecture along Route 66 can be enjoyed on a stroll through the towns connecting the road.
Research and Call Ahead for a Pet Friendly Hotel
Once you’ve planned where you will go, you can start researching pet-friendly hotels and restaurants along the way. Many accommodations will have websites that advertise being pet-friendly, but calling ahead to ensure your dog will be welcome, or inquiring if you don’t see a specific call out for pet-friendly service may result in surprising outcomes, making your trip all the better. This goes for monuments and parks, as well, and will ensure that you aren’t missing any great dog-friendly attractions, and that you have all the gear you need to enjoy everything.
Like many other tourist attractions, there will be some places along the historic route that are off limits to your pooch. Much of what there is to see, however, are historic buildings, included, but most definitely not limited to, gas stations from the 1930’s, office buildings, and Art Deco structures that can be viewed from the car or the street. If architecture and engineering interest you, there are no less than ten bridges along Route 66, each a structural feat in their own right, and each of these can be enjoyed from the car with the whole family, and some even on foot if your dog is leashed.
Before you leave, make a checklist of what you’ll need for your trip. If you will be crossing state lines, you’ll want to be sure you have your dog’s veterinary records with vaccination dates. You will need to pack whatever your dog needs to be comfortable in the car, as well as in strange hotels along the way, whether that includes a bed or a special blanket, toys, etc. Regardless of which directions you’re headed, be sure to book a night at Wigwam Village #7 in San Bernardino, CA. Originally a hotel chain with seven locations between Chicago and Santa Monica, two locations have survived along the route, and #7 is pet friendly.
Many people shy away from traveling with larger dogs, but if you’re able to drive wherever you’re going, taking your dog may be easier than you think. Sure, it takes more planning and more gear, but getting to experience an adventure with your dog makes it all worthwhile. Before you go, review a list of Route 66 attractions and check websites or make some calls to find out whether your dog can join in on the fun. Much of the excitement of Route 66 is reliving the era in which the road was built, and luckily architecture can be enjoyed from the car or at a distance on a leash. If you are a planner, figuring out where you and your pup will be welcome is a cinch that will pay dividends in the end for both of you.
Jane Sandwood is a freelance writer and editor who has spent over a decade in the tourism industry.