Sometimes I’m way ahead of the curve. For example, I’ve been blogging about doggie dental care since the beginning of this month, well in advance of the designated Pet Dental Month, February. (Of course, I’m not big on designated months; see November Is Pet Diabetes Month: Oh the Irony).
Sometimes I’m far behind it.
On January 3, the New York Times published one of its travel wrapups, 36 Hours in Tucson. This, in turn, generated spins on the story by several Tucson bloggers. At Tucson Cowgirl, writer Monica Surfaro Spigelman took readers off-the-beaten-path. Donna Hull at My Itchy Travel Feet directed active baby boomers to her favorite local attractions. Then Vera Marie Badertscher at A Traveler’s Library explored Tucson’s northwest side in a laid-back fashion, adding a literary twist.
Now I’m going to give the pup’s eye perspective, a tour that provides plenty of dog-friendly fun while ensuring that human visitors savor Tucson’s special flavor, too.
For a brief video overview, see my pet travel segment on KVOA TV (extra incentive to watch: Frankie’s in it).
4pm Check into the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. It’s not only a world-class lodging in a spectacular setting, but it accepts dogs — in fact, all domestic pets — of any size for a one-time fee of $25. Which is as it should be.
After settling into your room, head over to the Ventana Canyon trailhead, which branches off from the entryway into the resort. You can’t hike more than half a mile or a mile into the canyon with your dog — to protect the pronghorn sheep, according to the Sierra Club, which details the entire hike here — but it’s a nice long walk from the resort back to the road, so you and your pooch will get plenty of exercise and a brief introduction to the desert (careful, it bites) before dinner….
… which you can order in if you don’t want to leave your pup alone; there’s a doggie room service menu. When Frankie and I stayed there, I ordered a brown rice, veggie, and salmon combo for his dinner. When it arrived, I realized it could have fed a Great Dane. I gave Frankie his fair share and ate the rest. It was a bit bland until I added some hot sauce, but fresh and filling.
Alternately, post pup-feeding, you can dine at the resort’s excellent, Southwest-oriented Flying V Bar and Grill. A friend and I recently shared their bison-and-blue cheese sliders, achiote-rubbed salmon and mole-roasted pork chops. (Shhhh…I didn’t bring any home for Frankie.)
9 am (that’s late for us Tucsonans but you’re on vacation so sleep in). Head for St. Philips Plaza, a lovely Spanish-style shopping center with some of Tucson’s best restaurants. One of them, Acacia, recently opened a gourmet market where you can buy takeaway breakfast burritos, quiches, and sandwiches. If there’s no room at the sole table in front of the restaurant, you’ll find several benches and tables arrayed around a fountain on the west side of the plaza.
Note: If you come on a Sunday morning, the city’s best Farmer’s Market is doggie central, with lots of meeting and greeting and sniffing of food and rear ends (the dogs, not usually the humans).
10am Take a walk with your dog along Rillito River Park. Out-of-towners tend to be disconcerted by this name because the park consists of trails flanking a riverbed that’s almost invariably dry. But if you don’t see water, you do see plenty of desert scrub (mesquite, creosote, palo verde), the soaring Santa Catalinas, bike riders, horseback riders… and of course people walking their dogs.
An entrance to the trail is right behind The Windmill Inn, which is another great place to stay if dog-friendly rooms are available (they’re in limited supply). But it’s best to walk south of the plaza across the pedestrian bridge to the river park entrance marked by a sign for the University of Arizona Agriculture and Life Sciences extension. On this (east) side of the river walk, you’ll come to a newly revamped area in the Rio Vista Natural Resource Park that’s particularly dog friendly, with pup-height fountains and a large open space to run.
Warning: Many people take their dogs down to the dry riverbed where there’s even more space to run. But coyotes like to play — and eat — there too.
Noonish Trader Joe’s is right across Campbell Avenue from St. Philip’s Plaza. When you return from your walk, go there to pick up supplies for a picnic at… well, you’ll just have to wait for my next post to find out.