Combine your love of pets and travel at this one-of-a-kind animal sanctuary.
best friends animal sanctuary
Photo: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Turning tail on traditional animal shelters, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT, is the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the U.S. "There really is not another place on the planet like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary," says Barbara Williamson, Media Relations Manager.

Nearly 30,000 animal lovers pilgrimage here from around the world annually to play with, care for and socialize with about 1,600 animals-not just cats and dogs, but also pigs, horses, parrots, bunnies and more. This organization also works with a network of over 1,600 local animal rescue groups and shelters to help find these animals their forever homes.

"We really believe that if everyone works together and does what they can in their community, we can end the killing of the dogs and cats in our shelters," says Williamson, citing that about 9,000 cats and dogs are killed in shelters daily.

One unique opportunity is taking a cat or dog on a sleepover. Book early to stay on-site; otherwise, animal-friendly rooms are available at local participating hotels. "This not only is a fun and unique experience but it's incredibly important for helping our animals get ready to go home," she explains.

Volunteering is a family-friendly experience. Children can volunteer alongside their parents in Cat World, Parrot Garden, Bunny House, Dog Town, Horse Haven or Piggy Paradise (each has their own minimum age requirements, but starting as young as 6 years old).

There are even volunteer experiences for people who want to pitch in, but don't want to work directly with animals, like helping the kitchen staff prep the $5 vegetarian buffet, open seven days a week.

It's a bit of a trek to get there-the nearest major airport is 3½ hours away-but it's worth the journey. "The sanctuary is a refuge for animal lovers' hearts," she says. "What I've seen happen over and over again is if you've been to Best Friends once, you'll do it again."

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