Inspired by one of my favorite Instagrammers, Andrew Knapp and his dog Momo (@andrewknapp) who live out of a van most of the year and travel around Canada (and sometimes the U.S.), I love to plan road trips with my dogs. Two years ago we went to Charleston, S.C., and had a blast soaking up the Southern charm and dog-friendly hospitality of the city. Last week, we took a road trip to Philadelphia to see a friend of mine and take in some American history in a big city. Philadelphia is about a seven-hour drive, seven and a half with traffic, but a fairly quick and easy trip to take from Cleveland.
This was a big trip of firsts – first time having the dogs stay at a hotel and first time visiting a big city with dogs! I’d been to Philadelphia before but I really didn’t remember much about it. It’s definitely busier, louder and hotter than I remember. Although we had a lot of fun, taking two dogs to a busy, hot city can be somewhat challenging. Here’s the run down on what we did:
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in the Center City area. I’ve heard great things about how dog friendly the Kimpton chain of hotels are so I’d been looking for an opportunity to check them out. The Kimpton has no dog fees and no limit to the number of dogs you can bring, so although it’s on the more expensive side, no pet fees makes it a more affordable hotel option for traveling with dogs.
I hate to complain too much about a hotel that welcomes dogs so openly, but I think due to the fact that they promote themselves as so dog-friendly, I expected a little more. The website mentions that they provide dog-friendly recommendations upon check in and that they have a dog-friendly wine reception, but none of that was mentioned to me when I got there. I ended up asking about what dog-friendly attractions were nearby and was just told one place and that any place with a patio would be dog friendly (which didn’t turn out to be true).
Overall, the staff was very nice and very welcoming of my dogs, so I wouldn’t say it was a bad experience, just not want I expected based on their marketing. I am sure the level of dog-friendliness varies by location too though! The hotel has beautiful décor and is in a great spot for exploring the historical parts of the city and has a lot of cute restaurants and cafes nearby, so I don’t have any big complaints.
We especially loved the wallpaper and yellow doors, and the cool dog lamp.
I will say the one thing I did not enjoy – taking the elevator to take my dogs out to potty. For some reason this didn’t occur to me when I booked a hotel. You would think they’d put dog owners on a lower level, but I had to ride the elevator seven floors early in the morning and every night to take them down. I don’t know that we’d do a hotel again. I think it’s good for some dogs, but not really our thing.
At least Hunter had a good view of the city…even if Roscoe didn’t love the elevator.
Things the dogs really enjoyed – the bed. I think sleeping in the hotel’s luxurious bed was the highlight of the trip for Roscoe.
Where We Ate
So as I mentioned we were told that dogs are allowed at any restaurant with a patio. Although we did find several that allowed them, one that we tried (which was the largest patio we came across) said they couldn’t allow dogs because there were high walls around the patio. Hmmm ok. Most of our options for dog-friendly dining in the city were small sidewalk patios, which are not my favorite. A busy street with dogs in a cramped space is not a great place to take my sometimes barky (looking at you Hunter) dog.
I had a hard time finding good suggestions when I researched places before the trip too. I think the city just doesn’t have as many great patios as we do in Cleveland. Visiting Philadelphia really made me appreciate all the space we have in Cleveland for large, back-of-the-restaurant patios. I didn’t see any like that in Philadelphia that allowed dogs.
If you are visiting the city, here are the places we went:
Belgian Café, 601 N 21st St, Philadelphia
North Third Restaurant, 801 N 3rd St, Philadelphia
Gold Standard Café, 4800 Baltimore Ave, Philadelphia
Belgian Café and North Third both provided water bowls, but that was about as dog-friendly as it got.
Originally we had planned to drive to a dog-friendly beach, but I cut the trip a little shorter than planned and we didn’t want to spend a day fighting the traffic. If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach near Philadelphia, Longport Beach on the Jersey shore is one option. It’s about an hour/hour and half drive from Philadelphia with traffic.
Since it was so hot and there aren’t a ton of dog-friendly things to do in the city, we mainly took walks and visited cafes. Philadelphia is not a very green city, but there are quite a few little parks around the historic area where we stayed that are pretty to walk through. Near where we stayed is Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and Ben Frankin’s Grave, so it’s fun just walk through these areas and take in the history (the sites themselves are not dog-friendly, just the parks around them).
To give the dogs something fun to do, we decided to hit up the dog park at the Schuylkill River Boardwalk. I really liked this dog park, as it is divided into small and large dog areas and both spaces are fairly big. It also had pools for the dogs and a good number of dogs visiting on Friday afternoon. Hunter had a lot of fun cooling down in the pool.
We didn’t run the “Rocky” steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but that is something you could do with your dog!
All in all, it was a fun adventure in a big city for the pups. Not sure it’s really their favorite kind of vacation, but it was a trip I will always remember since I had my dogs there with me. Next trip will definitely be cooler temps and more laid-back activities, probably a beach.