Pet-friendly cities in America

Naturally owners want to build their next home in the most welcoming community for them and their pets. Unfortunately, many apartments or senior communities have strict no-pet rules, or impose limits on the weight, breed, or number of pets. Many hotels and motels also have strict no-pet policies or require exorbitant pet fees, making traveling with pets inconvenient.

Pets are much more than just companions. They’re focal points of their owners’ love and devotion—the dearest of friends who can sense humans’ joys and pain. Animals’ lifelong loyalty is healing and comforting to all who have welcomed them into their homes.

With this in mind, Stacker set out to find the 50 cities offering the most welcoming environment for pets, based on metrics evaluated by WalletHub. Each community was ranked across three key dimensions: pet budget, pet health and wellness, and outdoor pet-friendliness. Pet budget includes costs for veterinarians and dog insurance. Pet health and wellness looks at the number of vets, caretakers, and pet businesses; pet-friendly restaurants and hotels; and animal protection laws. Weather, dog parks, and trails were among the factors used to determined outdoor pet-friendliness. The three category scores were tallied and combined for the overall score.

Continue reading to consider which communities just might be the best for you and your pets.

Chicago, IL

Total score: 46.45

Pet budget rank: #89

Pet health and wellness rank: #15

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #49

Finishing in the top 20 for pet health and wellness as judged by WalletHub, Chicago offers more than 1,830 pet care options with costs averaging $11 an hour. For dinner, take your pet to 312 Chicago, where your furry friend can chow down on salmon and white rice, peanut butter biscuits, or a savory “beefsicle.”

#49. Minneapolis, MN

Total score: 46.72

Pet budget rank: #66

Pet health and wellness rank: #44

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #36

Minneapolis is home to seven city dog parks that allow owners to let their pets play with or without a leash, and nearly 200 restaurants where they can join their owner for a slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream. This is recently expanded as well, after Minneapolis city policy allowed owners to bring their dogs to breweries. Currently there are nine breweries that allow man’s best friend to join on their next night out.

 

Chula Vista, CA

Total score: 46.76

Pet budget rank: #53

Pet health and wellness rank: #70

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #32

Those looking to get two things crossed off their to-do list at once can walk their dog while getting some shopping done at Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch Town Center. This outdoor mall comes with its own dog park, open daily alongside almost 100 stores and restaurants.

Lexington-Fayette, KY

Total score: 46.93

Pet budget rank: #35

Pet health and wellness rank: #41

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #83

Enjoying your pets’ companionship includes taking them with you to your favorite restaurants. The Lexington area has 97 pet-friendly restaurants that welcome dogs at their outdoor tables. Take your poodles to Doodles, an old gas station converted to a breakfast and lunch café. Rated 4.5 out of 5 by Trip Advisor, it serves “comfort food with a conscience.

Hialeah, FL

Total score: 47.03

Pet budget rank: #24

Pet health and wellness rank: #75

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #61

Hialeah pet owners can bring their four-legged companions to the Bark Park in Amelia Earhart Park for free every weekday, or one of 14 local restaurants. Anyone looking to adopt a new pet before heading out to one of these locations can visit 1 Lucky Dog Rescue. This shelter also works to inform the community about the importance of “vaccines, spay/neuter, microchips and proper socialization,” and it provides low-cost services for pet owners.

Riverside, CA

Total score: 47.07

Pet budget rank: #82

Pet health and wellness rank: #36

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #28

Riverside is home to two off-leash dog parks, where owners can let their pets run free and socialize with other pets. After burning off those calories, pets can be brought to restaurants scattered across the city, and enjoy everything from barbeque to sandwiches.

Pittsburgh, PA

Total score: 47.18

Pet budget rank: #60

Pet health and wellness rank: #55

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #27

With nearly 60 pet-friendly hotels, Pittsburgh offers your pets everything from simple overnight stopovers to grand accommodations. The Fairmont Pittsburgh, which gets a five-bone review from Bringfido, allows three pets of any size for additional fees per pet. One reviewer noted “plush dog beds, doggy room service, AstroTurf potties and more.

North Las Vegas, NV

Total score: 47.46

Pet budget rank: #51

Pet Health and wellness rank: #81

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #22

Your pets and you will find 23 different hiking, biking, and running trails in and around North Las Vegas. The 3.7-mile Historic Railroad Trail follows the hills on the southern shore of Lake Mead and passes through five former railroad tunnels.

San Francisco, CA

Total score: 47.98

Pet budget rank: #100

Pet health and wellness rank: #14

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #1

San Francisco takes WalletHub’s #1 ranking for outdoor pet-friendliness, with its numerous pet parks and dog-training facilities. Its flagship pet excursion is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, covering more than 82,000 acres surrounding the Bay Area. It’s billed as “the most dog-friendly national park” by the National Park Service.

St. Petersburg, FL

Total score: 48.05

Pet budget rank: #40

Pet health and wellness rank: #73

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #24

This Florida panhandle community features a wealth of pet-friendly parks, many of which face waterfront views. North Shore Park offers 33.2 acres, including a dog park, playground, beach access, and much more.

Omaha, NE

Total score: 48.15

Pet budget rank: #3

Pet health and wellness rank: #77

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #68

With an average cost of about $10.50 an hour for pet care in Omaha, pet owners can search through 336 options for sitters, companions, walkers, and more. Cat lovers can get their fluffy felines care at the Completely Cat Clinic, which offers laser surgery, grooming, dental care, and behavioral consultation. Pet insurance in the Omaha area runs about $36 per month.

Glendale, AZ

Total score: 48.21

Pet budget rank: #31

Pet health and wellness rank: #42

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #60

Warm-weather enthusiasts might want to bring their animal companions to sunny Glendale, where temperatures range from 44 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit (weatherspark.com). With that in mind, consider cooling off at pet-friendly restaurants such as Cucina Tagliani, which offers “old school Italian favorites.

Anaheim, CA

Total score: 48.3

Pet budget rank: #90

Pet health and wellness rank: #8

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #40

With more than 60 pet-friendly restaurants and hotels at a variety of price points, Anaheim doesn’t want to stop anyone from bringing their animal family members when they head out on a Disneyland vacation. The city also hosts the Emma Zen Foundation Annual Pet Fair, which includes costume and talent shows, adoptions, and information on pet health and safety.

Kansas City, MO

Total score: 48.38

Pet budget rank: #22

Pet health and wellness rank: #51

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #55

Among Kansas City’s many pet-friendly parks is the Elkhound Ranch, which includes training classes and grooming along with free entry to its completely natural dog park. Even local museums get in on the fun; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art allows owners to walk their dogs on the grounds of the museum while they enjoy the outdoor sculptures.

Boise, ID

Total score: 48.66

Pet budget rank: #50

Pet health and wellness rank: #47

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #37

Even the most excitable pets will tire once they spend a day in Boise, taking to the Ridge to Trails system and Boise Greenbelt for a variety of pet-friendly active experiences. Come October, the yearly See Spot Walk allows them to channel that energy to a good cause, with a 1K dog walk and 5K Fun Run that fundraises for the Idaho Humane Society.

Tulsa, OK

Total score: 48.77

Pet budget rank: #7

Pet health and wellness rank: #59

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #75

Budget-conscious pet owners take note: Pet insurance in Tulsa runs about $35 a month, or about 25% cheaper than in New York. The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals offers numerous events for pets, including the Fur Ball Gala, “The Great Catsby and Barking Twenties.”

San Antonio, TX

Total score: 48.9

Pet budget rank: #8

Pet health and wellness rank: #60

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #63

Texas’ San Antonio area offers some of the lower veterinary care costs on the list, at around $1,100 per insured pet. The city boasts its signature San Antonio River Walk, a network of pet-friendly walkways and urban waterways. You’ll find more than 1,050 options for pet care providers here, who charge an average of $11 an hour.

 

Raleigh, NC

Total score: 49.08

Pet budget rank: #27

Pet health and wellness rank: #21

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #85

Raleigh’s oldest dog park, within Millbrook Exchange Park, opened in 2003. Dogs can roam free off-leash, water faucets and buckets are available, there are fenced areas for large and small dogs, and lights are provided for night-time pet and owner convenience. The city’s extensive Capital Area Greenway Trail System also offers leashed pets a wonderful stroll through a network of public open spaces and links to its numerous parks.

 

Madison, WI

Total score: 49.23

Pet budget rank: #43

Pet health and wellness rank: #48

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #30

A bustling city like Madison is home to many pet-friendly venues, including the popular HotelRED, which welcomes pets of all kinds; the staff will even walk your dog if you are unable.

 

Birmingham, AL

Total score: 49.27

Pet budget rank: #44

Pet health and wellness rank: #34

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #52

Birmingham is one of the most pet budget-friendly communities on the list. Healing animals from exotics to pocket pets, Riverview Animal Clinic gets some of Yelp’s highest user reviews, and you can search through more than 300 pet care provider options who charge an average of $10.50 per hour.

 

Arlington, TX

Total score: 49.4

Pet budget rank: #20

Pet health and wellness rank: #46

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #59

Yelp says you’ll find about 10 low-priced veterinarians in the Arlington, Texas area, including Sam’s All Pets Animal Hospital, which gets a 4.5 out of 5 score from reviewers. And with lots of ducks to feed and shade for your pets, Bowman Springs Park is a favorite spot for the entire family in Arlington.

 

Miami, FL

Total score: 49.79

Pet budget rank: #15

Pet health and wellness rank: #35

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #64

With three cat meet-up groups and 10 times that number for dog lovers, Miami pet people are happy to share their pet ownership experiences with both two- and four-legged friends. Miami and Beaches lists 15 outstanding pet-friendly hotels and facilities in the area, including the Kimpton Epic Hotel Miami, where pets are welcome free and are offered plush doggie beds, toys, food, and more

Total score: 49.86

Pet budget rank: #51

Pet health and wellness rank: #67

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #8

You’ll find around a dozen pet-friendly hotels around Henderson, according to Yelp. The historic Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino is a good gamble, with pet fees of only $10. And with less than 7 inches of rain a year and plenty of warm days, Henderson might be the ideal location for hot-weather buffs and their similarly inclined animals.

 

Stockton, CA

Total score: 49.95

Pet budget rank: #12

Pet health and wellness rank: #89

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #39

Stockton’s selection of pet friendly restaurants run the gamut from quiet coffee shops and bakeries to breweries and pubs. Pet owners can take quiet walks through California State University Stanislaus’ University Park, where they can walk a mile smelling the roses in the rose garden while admiring the lake views and historic architecture.

Oklahoma City, OK

Total score: 50.42

Pet budget rank: #2

Pet health and wellness rank: #69

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #82

Ranked as the cheapest community for pet-budget expenses in the top 50, Oklahoma City is home to The Bella Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides veterinary cost assistance to low-income, elderly, or terminally ill pet owners. OKC offers 323 options for pet-care facilities, averaging $11 an hour. The city’s pet daycare businesses are growing by leaps and bounds.

 

Colorado Springs, CO

Total score: 50.61

Pet budget rank: #74

Pet health and wellness rank: #25

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #14

Bring your pups for an unforgettable visit to Red Rock Canyon Open Space. With virtually unlimited hiking and other trail options—including two off-leash dog loops—it’s a big favorite with the locals. Prefer leaving the cats, birds, and exotics home? You’ll spend an average of just $10.50 an hour when you choose from 673 pet caretaker options in Colorado Springs.

 

Fort Worth, TX

Total score: 50.68

Pet budget rank: #11

Pet health and wellness rank: #30

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #73

Fort Worth offers 520 low-cost pet care options, averaging $10.50 an hour. A quick internet search reveals the community offers 168 pet-friendly hotels, including the La Quinta Inn & Suites Fort Worth, with a 4.5 out of 5 ranking by TripAdvisor.

Tucson, AZ

Total score: 50.78

Pet budget rank: #42

Pet health and wellness rank: #23

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #42

In Tuscon, summertime is almost a year-round event. With daytime highs rarely sinking below 66 degrees Fahrenheit, Tucson might be perfect for summer-loving people and pets.

 

Denver, CO

Total score: 50.79

Pet budget rank: #81

Pet health and wellness rank: #7

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #50

A mile high and ranked in the top 10 for pet health and wellness by WalletHub, Denver has nearly 1,170 pet-care options that will cost pet owners an average of $11.25 per hour. The city features no fewer than 60 pet meet-up groups, including A Hero’s Journey with Horses for Families, created for those wanting to learn communication skills, trust, and problem-solving.

Fremont, CA

Total score: 50.79

Pet budget rank: #94

Pet health and wellness rank: #19

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #2

The Fremont area offers more than 16 pet-friendly outdoor facilities such as parks, year-round trails, and recreation areas. Vargas Plateau Regional Park overlooks San Francisco Bay, Niles Canyon, and three cities, and features opportunities for you and your pet to see numerous species of wildlife. It offers six miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.

 

St. Louis, MO

Total score: 50.91

Pet budget rank: #32

Pet health and wellness rank: #33

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #41

Pet owners in St. Louis and the rest of Missouri spend an average of $1,300 a year on veterinary care for each of their insured pets. The city’s historical Forest Park—at 1,293 acres, the seventh-largest urban park in the U.S.—is a haven of museums, the St. Louis Zoo, and The Muny, encompassed by a bike and pedestrian pathway.

 

Long Beach, CA

Total score: 50.98

Pet budget rank: #77

Pet health and wellness rank: #24

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #12

Coastal Long Beach, California, is a haven for pets and their owners to explore scenic areas and trails. For some beachfront hiking with your enthusiastic pet, check out the ocean from Bluff Park, considered one of the most beautiful ocean-view parks in Long Beach. The city’s extensive animal care services include the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village, which claims to be a national model for future animal shelters.

 

Oakland, CA

Total score: 51.55

Pet budget rank: #85

Pet health and wellness rank: #18

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #9

The famous California redwoods aren’t just for humans; dog owners can take their best friends to Redwood Regional Park once they tire of Oakland’s dozens of other on- and off-leash dog-friendly play areas. For an even more relaxing outdoor experience, restaurant patios, such as those at Oakland’s many beer gardens, let guests pamper themselves and their pooches with a good meal.

 

Los Angeles, CA

Total score: 51.77

Pet budget rank: #97

Pet health and wellness rank: #12

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #3

Massive Los Angeles managed to get WalletHub’s #4 ranking for outdoor pet-friendliness. Hikespeak lists over 125 pet-friendly hikes around the city. Check out Paradise Ranch Pet Resort in nearby Burbank, which claims to be the first fully licensed, luxury, cage-free cat and dog boarding facility in the U.S.

 

Columbus, OH

Total score: 52.05

Pet budget rank: #1

Pet health and wellness rank: #63

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #56

Owners of dogs, cats, and ferrets can save $20 on their pets’ routine blood work associated with dental cleanings at Carepet Clinic, and the Rascal Animal Hospital in nearby Dublin offers comprehensive exams for as little as $50. Columbus is home to the National K9 Learning Center, which trains not only dogs, but also their trainers.

 

Plano, TX

Total score: 52.28

Pet budget rank: #70

Pet health and wellness rank: #9

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #35

Pet owners in Plano love to share their pet experiences, as evidenced by the more than 16 pet meet-up groups in the community. One of the largest, with 189 members, is the North Dallas and Plano Cat Meetup. You’ll find nearly 2,400 cat-friendly apartment rentals in the community.

 

Sacramento, CA

Total score: 52.58

Pet budget rank: #48

Pet health and wellness rank: #26

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #21

The Golden State’s capital city has a wealth of pet-care options, with 538 possibilities running an average of $11 an hour. Looking to rent? A quick internet search turns up more than 20 pet-friendly options near the city core. North Natomas Regional Park features more than 47 developed acres of recreation, off-leash dog parks, and pet-friendly trails and play areas.

 

Albuquerque, NM

Total score: 52.85

Pet budget rank: #6

Pet health and wellness rank: #79

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #20

Get a free cat toy or doggy bag at the Aztec Animal Clinic, ranked #1 among pet owners on Yelp out of about 20 veterinary clinics and hospitals in the area. For complete cat care, check out the Uptown Cat Hospital, which just might extend kitty’s nine lives.

 

Atlanta, GA

Total score: 53.13

Pet budget rank: #21

Pet health and wellness rank: #10

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #80

Party down with your pets at one of the top 14 pet-friendliest patios and bars in Atlanta, including the popular bohemian Carroll Street Cafe. The community is packed with more than 480 pet-friendly rentals.

 

Portland, OR

Total score: 54.29

Pet budget rank: #83

Pet health and wellness rank: #11

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #7

While near the bottom of the list for pet budget expenses, hip Portland ranks in the top 10 for outdoor pet friendliness and health and wellness. An internet search finds no fewer than 16 pet-friendly parks in the area, including Overlook Park, with a large off-leash dog area, and Tom McCall Waterfront Park, arguably the most popular park for people and pets along the Willamette River.

 

Irvine, CA

Total score: 54.34

Pet budget rank: #96

Pet health and wellness rank: #5

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #5

Head on over to the Irvine Spectrum for some pet-friendly dining, and to see and be seen among Southern California’s pet aficionados. Ruby’s Diner, the Veggie Grill, and others offer pet-friendly patio seating. Irvine boasts 16,000 acres of parkland, sports fields, and dedicated open space, many of which offer plenty of pet romping room.

Las Vegas, NV

Total score: 54.44

Pet budget rank: #63

Pet health and wellness rank: #16

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #10

A Yelp search will help pet owners find nearly a dozen outdoor oases for their pets in arid Las Vegas. One sure bet is Duck Creek Trail, a wetlands park near the city that features a lake and welcomes all skill levels of hikers, including your favorite canine.

 

Seattle, WA

Total score: 54.49

Pet budget rank: #86

Pet health and wellness rank: #6

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #11

Care.com reports Seattle has nearly 800 pet care options, with an average hourly rate of about $12.50. You and your pets can have a rollicking good time in the Emerald City, which offers such events as the Mardis Gras Puptacular Pawty, benefitting the city’s Humane Society.

 

Cincinnati, OH

Total score: 55.31

Pet budget rank: #4

Pet health and wellness rank: #32

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #29

One of the cheaper top 50 locations for pet care, Cincinnati offers more than 600 choices, with an average cost of just $10.75 an hour. If it’s parks for your pets you seek, check out the community’s top five pet-friendly parks as determined by Cincinnati Magazine. In the midst of the city, the 275-acre French Park features creeks, meadows, wooded hillsides, trails, and a spacious lawn.

 

Tampa, FL

Total score: 55.41

Pet budget rank: #30

Pet health and wellness rank: #20

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #19

Pet parents can select from more than 20 veterinary clinics and pet hospitals around Tampa, including the highly rated Tampa Mobile Veterinary Services, which offers diagnostic testing, radiology and surgery, dentistry, and more, delivered at your door. Tampa offers more than 15 pet-friendly parks, including the wildly popular Davis Island Dog Beach, which features beautiful views and off-leash beach play with rinsing stations and water fountains for dogs, other pets, and their owners.

 

Phoenix, AZ

Total score: 56

Pet budget rank: #49

Pet health and wellness rank: #13

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #16

Real Yellow Pages lists more than 30 veterinarians in and around Phoenix, including the all-inclusive Phoenix Dog Cat Bird Hospital. Metropolitan Phoenix offers 11 of the best pet-friendly restaurants in Maricopa County, including 32 Shea, which offers Yappy Hour at its dog-friendly patio that features toy fire hydrants and other fun animal toys. This is a true hot-weather paradise for pets and their families, where daytime temperatures from May to September average 95 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Austin, TX

Total score: 56.2

Pet budget rank: #33

Pet health and wellness rank: #2

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #58

You’ll find dozens of pet-friendly hotels in the Austin area—several with luxury accommodations. Looking to stay longer? Search through more than 1,300 pet-friendly apartments clustered in or near the city limits.

 

San Diego, CA

Total score: 58.1

Pet budget rank: #78

Pet health and wellness rank: #3

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #6

Care.com reports there are nearly 1,500 pet caretakers offering their services in San Diego, for an average cost of $11.50 an hour. One of the more pleasant climates for pets and their owners, San Diego averages just 10.4 inches of rain a year, with daytime temperatures running between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. One of San Diego’s biggest pet events is the San Diego Pet Expo, which offers a massive exhibit space, myriad activities and contests, discounted vaccinations, and educational opportunities.

 

Orlando, FL

Total score: 58.35

Pet budget rank: #14

Pet health and wellness rank: #4

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #46

Orlando offers a wealth of pet-friendly hangouts and trails, from the mile-long Bear Creek Nature Trail with its ancient cypress, oak, and palm trees, to Wekiva Island, replete with cabana and bar. For those who love sharing their pet experiences with others, the community features about a dozen meet-up groups.

 

Scottsdale, AZ

Total score: 60.48

Pet budget rank: #80

Pet health and wellness rank: #1

Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #4

Bring your pets to OHSO Brewery in North Scottsdale, where doggies get water dishes, house-made dog treats, and plenty of attention while their owners sip beer or wine at brunch or dinner. Got a pocket-sized pet? Check out Raintree Pet Resort, which caters to guinea pigs, bunnies, gerbils, and hamsters. About 285 pet caretakers are ready to serve your pets in Scottsdale, with an average rate of $11 an hour. And you’ll find more than a dozen fascinating, dog-on-a-leash trails in the area.

by Elena Kadvany

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