Pet-Friendly Flights, Hotels, Activities and More


Des Moines, Iowa, a vibrant city in the heart of the Midwest, is an inviting destination for dog owners. The city features several dog-friendly parks, such as Ewing Dog Park and Raccoon River Park Dog Park, where pets can enjoy open spaces and socialize. Trails like the Clive Greenbelt Trail and the Des Moines River Walk offer picturesque paths ideal for dog walking, showcasing the city’s scenic beauty. Des Moines’ temperate climate, with warm summers and snowy winters, ensures a variety of outdoor experiences perfect for exploring with your furry companions all year round.

In Des Moines, the pet-friendly culture shines through in many local establishments. Restaurants and cafes, particularly in the vibrant East Village and Downtown areas, often have dog-friendly outdoor seating, allowing you and your pet to savor the local flavors together. The city also hosts various dog-centric events, fostering a strong sense of community among pet lovers. With a range of accommodations catering to visitors with pets, Des Moines ensures a comfortable stay, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a blend of urban excitement and natural charm.

Des Moines Dog Friendly

Should You Travel with Your Dog?

Whether or not you should travel with your dog depends on your dog’s personality and health. If your dog gets anxious easily, bringing them on a trip isn’t ideal. However, some dogs are great at adapting to new situations and love exploring different places, so those dogs would probably do well on the go.

Regardless of your dog’s temperament, there may be times when they need to travel with you, such as if you’re moving to a new location. If that’s the case, you may need to take extra precautions to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. That could include stopping more frequently during a long drive or asking your vet about whether or not medications could help.

What to Pack When Traveling with Your Dog

Your dog may not need as much stuff as you do for a trip, but they still need the essentials. Plus, bringing items that look and smell familiar to your furry friend can help them feel more comfortable.

Here’s a list of supplies you should bring for your dog:

This list is just a general guide of things you may need. Your packing list may vary based on where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what activities you have planned. If you have space to spare, it can’t hurt to pack extra pet supplies out of caution.

Dog going for road trip

What to Include in a Dog First Aid Kit

A dog first aid kit should include essential items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, a thermometer, and a muzzle for safety. It’s also important to have saline solution for eye washing and a blanket for shock or cold. For a complete list of everything you need, see a comprehensive dog first aid guide here!

Finding a Dog-Friendly Hotel

While planning your trip, make sure you find a dog-friendly place to stay. Many lodging options, whether they’re a large hotel chain or a small local property, are willing to allow pets with some restrictions. The best way to know if your dog is welcome is to call the property before booking.

Looking for a pet-friendly Hotel so you can share your vacation with your four-legged friend? We’ve partnered with top travel sites to find you the best possible deals around. Just enter your travel plans below, and you’ll find pet-friendly hotels wherever you’re traveling. 

Dog sleeping at hotel

Other Lodging Options

Even though most popular hotel chains allow pets to some extent, they still might not be the right choice for you. Many prevent large dogs or more than two dogs at a time. Some may also prevent you from leaving your dog alone in the hotel, which can be difficult if you have some plans that aren’t pet-friendly. In this case, consider finding your pup a pet sitter who can take care of your dog while you’re enjoying a quiet dinner, seeing the sights or even taking in a show.

Book a Rover dog sitter and give your dog the best day ever!

So, if you’re struggling to find a good hotel, you may want to check other types of lodging, such as campgrounds or booking sites like Airbnb and Vrbo. Those options are often more flexible with pet restrictions because they don’t need to follow the policies of big chain hotels. Like with hotels, you should always contact the property to get the most detailed information on their pet restrictions.

Dog-Friendly Transportation Options

For most dogs, the scariest part of going on a trip is getting there. Dogs who aren’t used to riding in a car are likely to be anxious during a road trip and even more so on an airplane. So, here are some tips for how to keep your dog safe and comfortable when heading to your destination.

Driving with Your Dog

If possible, driving long distances with your dog will usually be easier and more comfortable than flying, especially if you have a large breed. However, you should make sure your dog is okay with riding in the car before you bring them on a road trip. If they don’t ride in the car much on a regular basis, start by taking them for short drives in preparation for the trip.

Here are some tips for taking a road trip with your dog:

  • Get your dog’s energy out before the long drive (take them for a walk, play fetch, etc.)
  • Make sure your dog is secure and comfortable (use a crate or dog seat belt, and make sure they have a cozy bed)
  • Stop more often than you need to so your dog can stretch their legs and do their business
  • Offer your dog fresh water every time you stop
  • Never leave your dog alone in the car on a warm/hot day

Buckling dog into car

Flying with Your Dog

Most dogs have ridden in the car at one point or another, but flying with your dog is a much different experience. If your dog is under 20 pounds, they can ride in the cabin on most airlines, but if your dog is larger than that, they may have to fly in the cargo hold. Not being able to see your dog during the flight can be stressful, which is why families with larger dogs typically prefer to drive when possible.

Almost every airline allows dogs, but some have stricter rules than others. Always check an airline’s pet policy before planning to fly on it with your pup.

Dog in airplane carrier

How to Travel with an Anxious Dog

If you have an anxious dog, driving and flying might both seem tricky. Luckily, there are things you can do to help a stressed-out dog feel more at ease while on the go.

  • Get your dog familiar with travel – take them to places they enjoy, such as the park, instead of only the vet.
  • Bring familiar items, such as their favorite beds and toys.
  • Keep their feeding times and bathroom breaks as close to their normal routine as possible.
  • Give them lots of exercise before getting in the car or entering the airport.
  • Stay calm – your dog may pick up on if you’re stressed and become more worried as a result.
  • Try anti-anxiety products, such as ThunderShirts and heartbeat toys.

While the above tips may reduce your dog’s anxiety, extremely anxious dogs will likely still show some fear in unfamiliar situations. Pet CBD Products, such as those made by Cannanine, can help calm down nervous pups during travel. Cannanine offers CBD oil and soft chews, both of which effectively calm dogs while being THC-free. Plus, every Cannanine product purchased donates meals to shelter dogs.

Top Tourist Attractions in Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa, is rich in attractions and events that cater to a variety of interests. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions and events in the city:

  1. Des Moines Art Center: This center is known for its mix of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Modernist architectural styles and houses a vast collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by famous artists like Andy Warhol, Henri Matisse, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The center also frequently hosts workshops, art classes, and festivals.
  2. East Village: This cultural hub in downtown Des Moines is lined with local restaurants, shops, and galleries. It’s a great place to experience the city’s emerging culture and enjoy unique eateries and trendy stores like RAYGUN.
  3. Science Center of Iowa: This center offers interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX Theater. It’s not only entertaining for children but also has adult-oriented programs, making it a great place for family visits.
  4. Des Moines Civic Center: This venue hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, including Broadway shows, musicals, comedy shows, and music acts. It’s a key spot for those interested in performing arts.
  5. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden: Located along the Des Moines River, this 14-acre garden features a diverse plant collection, art sculptures, and various themed gardens. It’s a beautiful spot for nature lovers.
  6. Principal Park: Home to the Iowa Cubs minor league baseball team, this park is a great place for sports enthusiasts to catch a thrilling baseball game.
  7. Living History Farms: This interactive outdoor museum educates visitors about Iowa’s agricultural history through live demonstrations and reenactments in recreated historical settings.
  8. Gray’s Lake Park: A popular public park just minutes from downtown, offering a range of outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and swimming, with picturesque views of the Des Moines skyline.
  9. Downtown Farmers Market: Known for its fresh produce, artisanal food, and baked goods, this market is a vibrant and colorful place to explore local cuisine and culture.
  10. Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens: This tranquil garden by the Des Moines River features an Asian pavilion, character garden, stone pagodas, and sculptures, providing a peaceful escape in the city.

These attractions offer a glimpse into the diverse experiences available in Des Moines, from cultural and historical sites to natural beauty and recreational activities. Whether you’re interested in art, science, history, or outdoor adventures, Des Moines has something to offer for every visitor.

Picking Activities Your Dog Can Join in Des Moines, Iowa

If you’re traveling with your dog for vacation, you should make sure they can join you for most, if not all, of your activities. Since dogs aren’t allowed indoors in many places, you should travel when the weather is nice to ensure you can spend time outside with your furry friend.

Des Moines, Iowa offers several dog-friendly activities for you and your furry friend to enjoy. Here are some great options:

  1. Trails and Parks: Des Moines has several dog-friendly trails like the Clive Greenbelt Trail, Gay Lea Wilson Trail, and the Des Moines Trail, which are perfect for walking your dog and enjoying the outdoors. The High Trestle Trail and Mark C. Ackelson Trail are also popular for their scenic views and dog-friendly paths.
  2. Breweries and Eateries: There are dog-friendly breweries and restaurants in Des Moines where you can relax with your pet. 1717 Brewing Co., Confluence Brewing Co., Exile Brewing Co., and Kinship Brewing Company welcome dogs. Snookie’s Malt Shop is known for offering a special treat for dogs: a Puppy Cone.
  3. Dog Parks and Social Spaces: Des Moines boasts various dog parks such as Raccoon River Dog Park, Ankeny Dog Park, Windsor Heights Dog Park, and Riverwalk, Ewing, and Reno Memorial Dog Parks. These parks offer spaces for your dog to play and socialize. Paws and Pints is a unique spot that combines a dog park with a social setting for owners.
  4. Dog-Friendly Events: The city hosts numerous dog-friendly events throughout the year. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa organizes events like “Yappy Hours” and “Dog Days of Summer” at the Iowa Cubs game, which are not only fun but also support good causes.
  5. Shopping and More: For shopping with your dog, visit local pet stores like Jett and Monkey’s and Bone-a-Patreat, which are popular among local dog owners and offer a variety of toys and treats.
  6. Cultural and Outdoor Activities: Living History Farms offers an interactive outdoor museum experience where leashed dogs are welcome. The Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market is also a dog-friendly venue, great for shopping and local produce.

These activities provide a variety of options for dog owners looking to explore Des Moines with their canine companions, whether it be outdoor adventures, socializing at dog parks, or relaxing at dog-friendly establishments. This is just a list to get you started because the dog-friendly activities will vary based on where you’re visiting. While most outdoor events welcome pets as long as they’re well-behaved and you clean up after them, it’s always a good idea to check the event’s details to be sure. With enough planning and good weather, you can hang out with your dog the entire vacation!

Dog Friendly Des Moines

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there any dog-friendly parks in Des Moines?

Yes, Des Moines has several dog-friendly parks such as Raccoon River Dog Park, Ankeny Dog Park, and Windsor Heights Dog Park. These parks offer areas for dogs to play and socialize.

2. Can I bring my dog to local restaurants or cafes?

Many restaurants and cafes in Des Moines are dog-friendly, especially those with outdoor seating areas. Examples include 1717 Brewing Co., Confluence Brewing Co., and Snookie’s Malt Shop, which is known for its Puppy Cones.

3. Are there any dog-friendly hiking or walking trails in Des Moines?

Yes, Des Moines offers several dog-friendly trails like the Clive Greenbelt Trail, Gay Lea Wilson Trail, and High Trestle Trail, ideal for walking your dog and enjoying nature.

4. Is there a place where I can shop with my dog in Des Moines?

Yes, there are pet-friendly stores in Des Moines where you can shop with your dog, such as Jett and Monkey’s and Bone-a-Patreat, which offer a variety of pet products.

5. Are there any dog-friendly events in Des Moines?

Des Moines hosts various dog-friendly events throughout the year, including “Yappy Hours” and “Dog Days of Summer” organized by the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

6. Can I take my dog to museums or cultural sites in Des Moines?

While most indoor museums and cultural sites may not allow pets, outdoor cultural spaces like the Pappajohn Sculpture Park are dog-friendly. It’s always best to check the specific policies of each site before visiting.

7. Are there any pet-friendly hotels in Des Moines?

Des Moines has several pet-friendly hotels. It’s advisable to check with the hotel in advance regarding their pet policy and any possible fees or restrictions.

8. What should I do in case of a pet emergency in Des Moines?

Des Moines has veterinary clinics and animal hospitals. In case of a pet emergency, you should contact the nearest veterinary service. It’s a good idea to have the contact information of a local vet handy.

9. Are there pet services like grooming and daycare in Des Moines?

Yes, Des Moines offers various pet services, including grooming, daycare, and boarding facilities. You can find these services throughout the city.

10. Can I take my dog on public transportation in Des Moines?

Policies on pets in public transportation can vary. Generally, service animals are allowed, but it’s best to check the specific rules of the transit system you plan to use in Des Moines.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with your dog to Des Moines, Iowa, can be a rewarding experience for both pet and owner, thanks to the city’s welcoming attitude towards dogs and the variety of activities available. Here are some final thoughts to consider:

  1. Wide Range of Activities: Des Moines offers a diverse range of dog-friendly activities, from scenic trails and parks to pet-friendly eateries and breweries. This diversity ensures that both you and your pet can enjoy a fulfilling experience.
  2. Community Events: The city’s dog-friendly events, like “Yappy Hours” and “Dog Days of Summer,” not only provide fun experiences but also opportunities to meet other dog lovers and integrate into the local pet-loving community.
  3. Accommodations and Logistics: With numerous pet-friendly accommodations, Des Moines caters well to tourists traveling with dogs. However, always check with your accommodation in advance regarding their specific pet policies.
  4. Health and Safety: Remember to keep the contact details of local veterinary services handy for any emergencies and to familiarize yourself with the locations of nearby pet stores and services.
  5. Respect Local Regulations: Always adhere to local regulations regarding leashing, waste disposal, and pet behavior to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.
  6. Planning and Flexibility: Plan your itinerary keeping your dog’s needs in mind, including breaks for rest and hydration. However, remain flexible as your pet’s mood and behavior can change, impacting your planned activities.
  7. Cultural and Recreational Balance: While many cultural sites may not be pet-friendly, Des Moines offers a balance with outdoor spaces and events where pets are welcome. This allows for a rich cultural and recreational experience for pet owners.
  8. Socialization Opportunities: Des Moines’ dog parks and social spaces offer great opportunities for your dog to socialize and play, which can be a delightful aspect of your trip.

In summary, Des Moines, Iowa, is a fantastic destination for those traveling with dogs, offering a mix of fun, relaxation, and opportunities for bonding with your pet. With thoughtful planning and an awareness of local resources and regulations, you and your furry friend can look forward to an enjoyable and memorable visit.





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