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A German Shepherd places its paws on a winery counter.

Have you ever traveled with a pet? You just can’t take a 70-pound Dalmatian and a 100-pound German Shepherd everywhere that a baby can go. We used to take them camping with us and they would take up all the floor space in our popup camper. Sadly, they have both passed and we are now left with just our 19-year-old cat, Patches. She also goes camping with us, much to her dismay when in her carrier, and her delight at mealtimes when she has access to any cheese or fried chicken that might be reachable on our plates. (Side note: even Patches agrees that the Roanoker Restaurant in Roanoke, VA has the best fried chicken ever). We recently did an overnight hotel stay with her and it was very difficult to locate a hotel that met all our criteria (a refrigerator and microwave, near the highway, and no reviews mentioning any type of insect) that would accept a pet without a hefty cleaning fee. So, I can appreciate the dilemma of pet owners who would like to travel the Parkway and are seeking accommodations, attractions and even dining with their precious fur baby.

A retriever lies in front of the LOVEwork in Wytheville which highlights trains, hot air balloons and the town's location at the crossroads of I-77 and I-81.

Some areas make it a point to advertise being pet-friendly. Shenandoah County, VA offers a three-day pet-friendly vacation itinerary under Plan Your Trip on their website. On Asheville’s website, check out Pet-Friendly under Trip Ideas in the main menu to find a slew of pet-friendly dining, breweries, outdoor activities, lodging and more in this very walkable city. Transylvania County, NC provides multiple options for lodging where pets are welcome under Stay on their main menu. And if you’ll be in the Sylva area in Jackson County, their website offers numerous options for pet-friendly places under Food & Drink and Lodging in their main menu. In Bryson City, NC look for a variety of pup-friendly venues and activities, including boating, on their website under Trip Ideas. Roanoke, VA also has pet-friendly places easily accessible on their website under Plan on the main menu. Farmers’ Markets, breweries and the aptly-named Black Dog Salvage will all welcome your friendly bundle of fur.

These are just some of the things that you can do with your four-legged pal:

  • Take a walk or hike at a park or forest (just not in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
  • Go boating in Bryson City
  • Visit an outdoor attraction like a gem mine, farm or orchard
  • Enjoy a meal (check for outdoor seating)
  • Raise a glass at a winery (usually with outdoor seating)

Patrons sit at a bar outside the Forks of the River Taproom with a dog in the background.

And the sky’s the limit when it comes to pet-friendly lodging options:

Keep in mind that some establishments won’t accept cats though they may accept dogs and there may be a limited number of pet-friendly rooms, so be sure to inquire in advance and clearly state that you would like to bring your pet. There may also be a cleaning fee.

Although it may take a little more research, there are a number of places that you can dine, play and stay with a four-legged friend, especially the canine variety.