Visit These Spots for Love Your Pet Day

While National Love Your Pet Day, celebrated on February 20, is relatively new (dating to the early 2000s), humans’ love of pets goes back thousand and thousands of years, with evidence of humans, dogs, and cats co-existing from more than 12,000 years ago. So, if you have furry friends, the best thing you can do on February 20, or any day for that matter, is to do something special for them.

How about taking them glamping to enjoy the outdoors and see the pet-friendly sights of several cities that are considered some of the best for traveling with pets?  And, while birds, fish, and cats fall among the most popular pets along with dogs, we’ll focus on the canine kind for this feature.

Rent a pet-friendly cabin, cottage, or yurt at Thousand Trails Bend-Sunriver RV Campground and get ready to explore Bend, Oregon, one of the Ten Best Outdoor Towns, according to thediscoverer.com. Fun on this paws-itively great getaway can include shopping (dogs are welcome at the local Patagonia store); cider and brewery visits (Tumalo Cider Company and 10 Barrel Brewing Company Eastside welcomes furry friends) and outdoor adventure on the Deschutes River (Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe offer dog-friendly rentals); hiking trails at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort and several pet-friendly trails in the Deschutes National Forest. For a bit of nostalgia, browse the selection of videos available at the last Blockbuster store in North America, which is located in Bend and is pet-friendly.

Vacation Camper at Encore Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina

A Florida getaway for Fido is a good idea considering not only is the weather going to cooperate, but there are plenty of hiking trails, parks, and attractions that allow dogs. The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanic Garden welcomes leashed dogs to walk the 15-plus-acre native garden and forest. If a walk on the beach is on your pup’s agenda, check out Anne’s Beach in Islamorada and Key West’s Dog Beach. And should your Key West beach outing last toward evening, head over to Island Dogs, a pet friendly bar that features live music. Other dog-friendly attractions in the Florida Keys include the Key West Aquarium; Key Largo’s John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (trails only; no dogs allowed on the beach); and National Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key. Rent a fun (and pet-friendly) vacation camper at Encore Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina for this dog-gone great getaway.

Cabin at Medina Lake RV Campground
Cabin at Medina Lake RV Campground

A pet-friendly cabin at Thousand Trails Medina Lake RV Campground, scenic countryside, and plenty of things to do combine to make a glamping trip with your pet one you’ll both remember fur-ever! Take a history lesson and visit the home of our 36th President and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson’s birthplace can be seen at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site and leashed dogs and their humans can enjoy a 1.2-mile trail with glimpses of other historic buildings on site. A scenic trip while riding in the car is an option if you choose to take the 13-mile loop drive, known as the Windy City Loop, or the 85-mile Swiss Alps of Texas, to view some gorgeous Hill Country scenery. Take to the water with the pet-friendly outfitter Whitewater Sports (floattheguadalupe.com) and enjoy water fun on the Guadalupe River. If it’s patio weather, consider a meal true to the German roots of the area at The Auslander in Fredericksburg which has a pet-friendly outdoor patio and some tasty schnitzel.

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(Natural) Springs Travel

Spring break time may be over but what about planning a springs break? As in heading out to take in a spring or two. Natural springs, hot springs, thermal springs, and mineral springs – there are plenty around the U.S. and they are more than bodies of water. Thermal springs are naturally heated while mineral springs contain mineral deposits but aren’t necessary naturally hot. These springs are believed to have healing powers. And that theory of the healing powers of water dates to circa 360 BC when Hippocrates began to study the benefits of water from a therapeutic standpoint.

Palm Springs (CA): It’s all about the healing and soothing waters here – waters which are naturally super-heated and sulfur free. And, while most of the soaking waters are located within spas and private establishments, day passes to enjoy the restorative waters are available. Check out visitgreaterpalmsprings.com to find out where day passes are available.

Warm Mineral Springs (FL): Noted as having one of the highest mineral contents of any natural spring in the United States, Florida’s Warm Mineral Springs is believed to possibly be the “fountain of youth” Ponce de Leon was seeking. Open to the public daily, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors (for a small entrance fee), can enjoy the water that contains more than 50 minerals, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium – all of which help with aches, pains, and general well-being.

Pool at Rambler's Rest
Pool at Rambler’s Rest

A cottage rental at Rambler’s Rest in nearby Venice is an excellent location to stay while enjoying the waters!

Saratoga Springs (NY): While most people can say they’ve experienced a wine tasting or two, how many can say they’ve tried a mineral spring tasting? Cross this one off your bucket list if you’re planning on heading to the town of Saratoga in upstate New York. There are more than 20 springs throughout the city, all of which you can taste and, due to the mineral make-up of each, they all taste a bit different. And, just like the taste, the health benefits said to be derived from each spring also differ. Clear up your skin, aid your digestion, or strengthen your blood. For information about the springs, visit saratoga.com/things-to-do/parks-landmarks-nature/mineral-springs.

Book a rental cabin at Lake George Escape, which is just 30 miles from Saratoga, while you sample the springs.

Paulina Hot Springs (OR): The Paulina Hot Springs, which contains five geothermal pools, are best when visited between May and July, for optimum water coverage. Located within the Deschutes National Forest, the springs are a result of a collapsed volcano crater filling with water. The pools can be found along Hot Springs Beach within the forest. As this is a geothermal spring, there is no sulfur smell with this dip!

Bend-Sunriver Yurt
Bend-Sunriver Yurt

(A cabin, yurt, or cottage rental at Bend-Sunriver is a nearby accommodation.)

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Forest Bathing – No Water Required!

Forest Bathing is the latest way to go off grid and absorb the benefits of nature.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a boom in technology that plunged the average, everyday person into the digital world, resulting in what could be called screen-time addiction. During that time, the use of home computers, hand-held video games, and portable pocket-sized devices for our viewing and listening pleasures became the norm rather than the exception.

So, it’s no wonder that in the early 1980s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries began to promote the practice of shinrin-yoku to encourage people to spend time in nature. Shinrin-yoku translates to “forest bathing,” which is fast becoming a popular way to go off grid and absorb the benefits of nature.  ­

Studies have shown plenty of positive health benefits of forest bathing. It reduces levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. It also has been proven to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, boost energy levels, and provide more sound sleep.  Plus, you don’t necessarily need to do anything strenuous – simply bathe in the natural surroundings and be present in the very moment!

Come stay with us and enjoy the nearby forests and take the plunge (no bathtub necessary) to see why forest bathing is making such a big splash these days.

The Deschutes National Forest is just minutes from the yurts and cabins at Bend-Sunriver. Bask in the beauty of the soaring trees, which include Douglas firs, Ponderosa pines, Western larch, and White pines. There are roughly 76 moderate trails in the 1.8 million acres that comprise the forest. Waterfalls, wildlife, and mountain views add to your bathing pleasure!

Safari Tents at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, CA.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Barbara to stay in a teepee, tent, covered wagon, or cabin at Rancho Oso, you’ll be happy to know California’s Los Padres National Forest is conveniently less than 10 miles away and provides the perfect forest bathing venue. Coming in at approximately 1.9 million acres, Los Padres has over 1000 miles of trails and is home to magnificent coastal redwoods, pine and fir trees as well a variety of oak tree species, including Blue Oak and California Black Oak. Oh, and Pfeiffer Beach is also located within the forest so you can actually get wet while forest bathing here!

The Tuxbury Tiny House Village

The Tuxbury Tiny House Village in South Hampton, New Hampshire, has two nearby options for forest bathing: Cowden State Forest and Powwow River State Forest. While a short drive away, about an hour and a half to be exact, this puts you smack dab in the middle of the White Mountain Forest with plenty of hemlock, pines, and spruce trees to bathe in. Fun fact, the state of New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the US with roughly 81 percent of forest land, so everywhere you look, there’s an option to forest bathe!

Cabins at Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, WI.

Take a trip to Wisconsin’s Door County and you’ll find yourself surrounded by forest lands, including Baileys Harbor Boreal Forest and Wetlands. A stay at Tranquil Timbers is a great way to get your daily dose of forest bathing. Baileys is home to spruce, cedar, birch, and hemlock trees as well as a bevy of birds including warblers and merlins who can add the soundtrack to bath time.