Austin is like an experiment in pet friendliness … where the walls between entertainment, recreation, and time with your dog have been dismantled and repurposed into a dog friendly patio at the local coffee shop. Young and old, Austinites love to be outside – and whether they’re running, biking, playing sports, eating, or just sitting back taking it all in, they include their dogs in their lifestyle.
Stop by the park any day of the week and you’ll find at least a dozen dogs romping off-leash, hanging on the sidelines of a volleyball game, or chasing the soccer ball around in a pick-up match. Restaurants announce their pet friendly patios, bars post signs exclaiming Bring the Dog! and even the “pitch ‘n’ putt” golf course has a pet friendly policy. There are no breed restrictions, everyone picks up the waste, and dogs are proudly introduced as rescues from one of the successful local animal shelters.
If I were going to create the perfect dog friendly city, it would look a lot like Austin.
Number 1 – Pecan Grove RV Park
The Pecan Grove RV Park has been our home for the past 7 weeks and the hospitality has been surpassed only by the location. With pet friendly restaurants like Austin Java, P. Terry’s, Uncle Billy’s, and Green Mesquite a literal stone’s throw from our front door, we’re lucky not to have gained 20 pounds. Fortunately, we’re also easy walking distance from some of Austin’s dog-friendly finest, and the afternoons of exploring have balanced the caloric intake. Let me show you around …
Number 2 – Zilker Park
Being just a 5-minute walk from the off-leash area at Zilker Park has been a huge blessing for us … and for Buster.
If it’s not raining, you’ll find our goofy dog spending some part of every day checking the pee-mail and catching up with his doggy friends at the park. We never imagined how helpful the socialization and training we do there would be in overcoming Buster’s leash reactivity. We’ve made a lot of progress since we arrived.
Number 3 – South Congress
It takes a bit longer to get out to our favorite spots on South Congress, but it’s definitely worth the walk. Our favorite coffee shop, Jo’s Coffee has a great outdoor patio where the pooches like to hang out.
A little further down the street is a pod of the trendy food trucks that are sweeping the country. These trailers are a common sight in Austin, and it’s fun to pull up a picnic table and sample some of the best food you’ll ever buy on the sidewalk.
Number 4 – Auditorium Shores
If your dog is a swimmer, Auditorium Shores just may be his favorite place in Austin. This huge off-leash area runs along Lady Bird Lake between Lamar and 1st Street. Austin’s dog beach is located here, and there is never a shortage of dogs willing to play.
Number 5 – Whole Foods
It’s a bit unusual to include a grocery store in a pet friendly tour, but the Whole Foods store in downtown Austin is the city’s most popular tourist attraction. The company is headquartered here and they’ve built a food buying experience like no other. Pets can’t join you inside, but there is a comfortable outdoor seating area where you can take turns keeping the dogs company and exploring the store.
Number 6 – Warehouse District
Austin is known as the “Live Music Capitol of the World”, and a good number of music venues are on Sixth Street. Taking the dogs for a concert may be problematic, but finding a great place to eat in the Warehouse District isn’t! Even in chilly weather, the pet friendly patios are popular – and many are kept toasty with propane heaters.
Number 7 – Texas State Capitol Grounds
The dome of the Capitol can be seen from many vantage points around Austin and it has been one of our favorite places to walk the boys. Completed in 1888, it is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitols.
Located on the northern edge of downtown, it’s the perfect spot to grab a bench for a pet friendly picnic lunch. They also have a nice a self-guided tour that reveals the historical significance of the statues, historic markers, and trees around the Capitol grounds. If you’re feeling ambitious, continue north four blocks and take a stroll around the campus at the University of Texas.
Number 8 – Lady Bird Lake Trail
The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail creates a complete circuit around Lady Bird Lake and is 100% pet friendly. Austin boasts more than 190 miles of trails in the city, but this tree-lined gem has to be the most popular. The entire loop is 10.3 miles, starting at Zilker Park and stretching east to the Longhorn Dam that created the lake.
If you’re not part of the RVing crowd, you’ll find a nice selection of pet friendly hotels in Austin. We’d probably choose the Driskill Hotel for it’s historic charm and prime location. Of course, the Four Seasons is also lovely – and even if you’re not a guest, you and your dog are welcome to enjoy the view from their back lawn overlooking the lake with service from the bar.
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