Grab Your Gucci Poochie and Head to Miami
By Ginger Warder
Where else but in America’s version of the Riviera would you find a restaurant for canines only?
While I was traveling to research my upcoming book, Fido’s Florida: A Dog-Friendly Guide to the Sunshine State, my 100-pound German Shepherd, Tipsy, usually got the short end of the stick. I often took my daschund, Max, on those trips since many hotels have strict weight limits for canine visitors, preferring “pocketbook pets” to big, huggable dogs.
For my visit to Miami, I was booked at the Mandarin Oriental, where the pet policy includes a 25-pound weight limit, so once again, Max lucked out, although Miami has several luxurious hotels and resorts that welcome large dogs, including the iconic Fontainebleau Resort, Kimpton’s EPIC Hotel, the Loews Miami Beach, and even trendy boutique hotels in South Beach like Hotel Ocean. Here’s a sneak peek on how to live “La Vida Loca” with your four-legged friend:
Best Beds: Comfy Sleeps for You and Your Canine Family
Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami (305-424-5226; www.epichotel.com); from $230 per night. This luxury hotel is a member of the Kimpton family, one of the most pet-friendly luxury chains in America.
Your V.I.P. is welcomed with a special amenity delivered to your room at check-in, as well as a comfy bed, bowls, dog leash and waste bags to use during your stay.
The concierge is happy to arrange pet walking, pet sitting, or grooming services, and there are absolutely no weight limits or additional fees for pet stays. Located on the banks of the Miami River where it meets Biscayne Bay, you have gorgeous views of the bay and the Miami skyline.
Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami (305-913-2888; www.mandarinoriental.com/miami); from $259 per night. Located on prestigious Brickell Key, the Mandarin Oriental is known throughout the world for its upscale Asian décor and superb service. Your pooch will get his own Asian-inspired bed to use during his stay, and a golden Mandarin Oriental fan-shaped dog tag with the hotel’s number, in case he slips away from you at any time during your visit.
Your pup will also get an oriental take-out carton of gourmet doggie biscuits and a souvenir photo from his stay, and before a full day is out, every staffer in the hotel will greet him by name as he walks by. Your pooch also has his own room service menu, with specialties like Tail-Waggin’ Turkey and the hotel offers a 15-minute complimentary pet walk per day for your buddy, if you’re occupied at the stunning spa or lounging by the infinity pool.
This is such a pet-friendly environment, with a mile-long walking trail around the property that runs along the water, and a park area where even locals gather with their pooches. There is a 25-pound weight limit with a $200 advance deposit ($100 of that refundable at check-out).
Best Bowls: Where to chow down with your hound
Doggie Diner: Canine-only brunch (humans get coffee) and mobile cart that visits dog parks.
Catlina Hotel & Beach Club, 1732-156 Collins Ave., Miami Beach (305-674-3527; www.catalinahotel.com/eat.htm). This is not only a favorite South Beach breakfast sp
ot, but a dog lover’s as well. Maxine’s Bistro hosts a “Must Love Dogs” brunch every Sunday from 10:30-2:30. At this yappy hour, your pooch gets a water bowl and tropical gourmet treats in the shape of pal
Locals rave about Maxine’s signature Challah French toast.m trees, umbrellas, and fish, while humans choose from Maxine’s breakfast favorites on a prix fixe menu ($20) that includes a cocktail, fresh fruit, home fries and bread along with a brunch entrée.
Michy’s, 6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (305-759-2001; ). You’ve seen Chef Michelle Bernste
Tail Waggers: Fido’s Favorites On numerous television shows like Bravo’s Top Chef, and now you can taste her creations at her modern bistro. It’s appropriate that Michy’s is located in the up-and-coming “upper eastside” of Miami, in what’s being called MiMo, short for the Miami Modern District.
Sourcing the best local produce and seafood, Bernstein spurns the pretentious and calls her food “luxurious comfort food”: short ribs falling off the bone, chicken cassoulet, whole yellowtail snapper with mangoes and Malaysian curry. Small, well-behaved pups are welcome on the patio.
Doggie Bag Café and Boutique, 7310 Biscayne Blvd. Miami (305-710-7266; www.doggiebagcafe.com). On Saturdays, locals take their dogs to brunch at this canine café, where all the meals are made with natural and certified organic food. Humans get a cup of coffee (also organic!) while their pups socialize and chow down.
You can also pick up some vacuum-packed meals to take home for Fido, and don’t be surprised to see the mobile Doggie Diner at a local dog park, serving its signature meals and gourmutt ice cream, or dog-sert as they call it. They also have a charming boutique with fun Fido accessories, as well as a self-serve dog wash. This veterinarian-approved canine restaurant is one of a kind!
Max curls up on a borrowed bed at the Mandarin, Miami.
Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40 St., Miami (305-226-8316; website). One of the newest bark parks in Miami, Tropical is divided into two areas: one for dogs under 35 pounds and one for dogs over 35 pounds. Both areas have play equipment including a tire jump, king-of-the-hill ramp, and window jump, as well as water sprays, doggie water fountains, waste bag dispensers, and shady structures. There’s a promenade along the lake and walkways to connect all areas of the park and make it ADA accessible.
Ginger Warder is the author of the newly released Fido’s Florida When she’s not gallivanting around the world, Warder lives with her dachshund, Max, and German shepherd, Tipsy, in an old Florida bungalow in St. Petersburg.
*Note: Since is illegal in Miami-Dade County to own or keep American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, or any other dog that substantially conforms to any of these breeds’ characteristics, hotels will not accept any dog that even looks like a pit bull or terrier mix. For more information, view the Miami-Dade County ordinance, Chapter 5, Sec. 5-17. (website)
Buy this book on Amazon: Fido’s Florida: A Dog-Friendly Guide to the Sunshine State
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Ginger Warder is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg, Florida and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.