For my final installment of the best places to stop and sniff from our trip with Stan the Airstream, I decided to focus on the best photo opportunities. You know you’re cute, now work it and pose in these fun and quirky places to make your people happy. So happy that they’ll post it on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, put photocopied flyers on phone poles- whatever works best for them to tell the world that you are the cutest thing on the planet. No need to tell anyone that they had to take 15 photos to get one good one or that you had to be bribed with treats.
Independence Rock- Near Casper, Wyoming
In the middle of Wyoming, accessible only by state highways lies a 130-foot high, 1,900-foot long, 850-foot wide rock. Once a recognizable landmark for settlers traveling along the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails, many of whom carved their names into the rock, Independence Rock is now a state historic site and a great place to get out and stretch your legs. We stopped here on our very first day of travel and spent about 45 minutes walking the trails around and over the rock, admiring the views, and enjoying a nice fall day. Accessed from a rest area, it’s also a great place to grab a table and beg for your people’s lunch.
Jolly Green Giant, Blue Earth, Minnesota
Ho, ho, bark. Just off I-90 in the middle of Minnesota lies the town of Blue Earth and the 55.5-foot statue of everyone’s favorite vegetable-bearing giant. Towering over a small park since 1979, he has a special place in history as he presided over the dedication of the Golden Stripe. Much like the Golden Spike of railroad fame, the Golden Stripe represented the meeting of I-90’s construction crews from the east and west. Located in a small park, it’s yet another place to stretch the legs and get some cute pictures, so long as treats are involved. I did mention that I only work for treats, right?
Wall Drug- Wall, South Dakota
Where is the heck is Wall Drug? The people tell me that this is a bumper sticker (something that goes on the car…did someone say car??) they have seen all over the country for most of their lives. While it isn’t the most exciting stop for dogs, we are still welcome in the Wall Drug Backyard where we can pose in front of a miniature Mount Rushmore, which is cool because we aren’t allowed in the real Mount Rushmore. There is also a jackalope that you can try and ride, but it’s no easy task. You may be better off just posing behind it like I did. Be sure to tell your people to stop in for the famous 5 cent coffee and donuts, because they deserve a treat sometimes, too.
Falls Park- Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The #1 attraction in the eastern South Dakota town of Sioux Falls, Falls Park is a 123-acre park with the city’s namesake waterfalls, as well as some of the first buildings built in town; including the remains of the Queen Bee Mill, an observation tower, and the Falls Overlook Cafe. Very dog-friendly, there are multiple trails to walk and even a few places where you can (if you’ve been a good boy…who’s a good boy?) take a quick dip and grab a drink from the Big Sioux River.
Easternmost Point in the U.S.- West Quoddy Head, Maine
Hop in the car, stick your head out the window, and tell the people to head east from Bar Harbor, Maine. Eventually you’ll run out of road and find yourself in the shadow of a large red and white striped lighthouse. Lie down, roll around in the lush green grass, and congratulate yourself on being at the Easternmost Point in the U.S. The West Quoddy Head Lighthouse stands 49-feet high and the light has a range of 18 miles. It has been guiding ships for more than 200 years (or closer to 1,400 years for us canine types), with the current one constructed in 1858. An important place to work your woofer modeling magic because of its geographical and historical significance, but mostly because it makes your people really happy.
Five Islands Lobster Co- Georgetown, Maine
There are many lobster pounds along the coast in Maine, and we stopped at quite a few while the people researched their Maine Lobster Roll Smackdown. While I usually endeavor to avoid places with the word “pound” in the title, I was reassured that a lobster pound is a place to find tasty bites and has nothing to do with a dog pound. I chose the Five Islands Lobster Company in Georgetown because they had the best lobster roll that the people have ever eaten. A great place to relax and enjoy the breeze off the ocean, it also makes for a great photo opportunity, especially for a dog that had never seen the ocean before. If I look a little sad in this picture, it’s because I didn’t get a lobster roll. Not even a bite…
Race Point Beach, Provincetown, Massachusetts
At the tip of Cape Cod lies the very dog-friendly and beautiful town of Provincetown, home of Race Point Beach. It’s true that if you’ve seen one beach, you’ve kind of seen them all; but I am a Labrador and in case you didn’t know, we love water, so visiting beaches is a high priority on the canine itinerary. We found in our travels that many beaches aren’t dog-friendly, so we decided to highlight one that wasn’t just welcoming to us furry folk, but was also beautiful and relatively uncrowded (at least in early October). So, whether its Race Point Beach or another of your choosing, hop in the water, splash around, and then shake that silky mane (preferably not on your people) while you work the camera.
Lucy the Elephant- Margate City, New Jersey
America’s oldest surviving roadside attraction, Lucy the Elephant, was constructed in 1881 to attract tourists to the New Jersey shore town of Margate City. At six stories tall, she is imposing in her history and kitsch, and definitely makes a 95-pounder like me look pretty small. There is no charge to visit the grounds around Lucy and check out the small gift shop (I may have gotten a stuffed Lucy souvenir and I may have chewed it up before the end of the day…but that’s not important). Us furry folk aren’t allowed on the tour, but you can still take us to the sandy area in front of Lucy and get some great photos.
Angel Oak Tree- Johns Island, South Carolina
A relatively short drive from Charleston, the Angel Oak Tree is a must-see when visiting the Palmetto State. Estimated to be 400-500 years old, the Angel Oak Tree has a 28-foot circumference and from tip to tip is 187-feet long. Dogs aren’t allowed close to the tree, we have to stay behind a designated post, but there is still a nice park around the tree to be sniffed and even enjoy a picnic lunch. We would have stayed longer and taken more pictures, but the people kept saying something about “being eaten alive”, so I’ll pass along their advice to bring some bug spray if you plan to stay for more than a few minutes. There is some speculation (that is a big word, even for a smart dog like me!) that the tree is one of the oldest living things in the country, so be sure to add it to your photo op list.
Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.- Key West, Florida
If you’ve been to Key West, it’s probably a given that you’ve had your picture taken in front of the concrete Southernmost Point in the U.S. buoy; and being the spokesmodel for Tin Sheets to the Wind, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. A fun place to take a photo because it’s an important landmark, but also because it lets you catch a cooler breeze off the water, even if only for a minute or so. Be sure to be on your best behavior so that you will get a bite of the Key Lime Pie that your people will definitely not be able to pass up as they continue exploring town!
Cafe du Monde- New Orleans, Louisiana
So many people, so many smells, it’s hard to describe the scene that is Cafe du Monde. Famous for their beignets and cafe au lait, the world-famous Cafe du Monde has been serving lines (and I do mean lines) of hungry customers 24 hours a day, 364-ish days a year since their opening in 1862. Since I wasn’t allowed in the cafe itself, the people and I stood in line for the carry-out window. We were told it could be hours, but we made it through in about thirty minutes. I hardly noticed, as I was being fawned over, receiving pets and rubs, and trying to see who would give me a taste of those wonderful smelling doughy treats. In my defense, they look like the same size and shape as some of my treats. Unless your people like standing in lines, be sure to get your photo taken here as it may truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.