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Visit Dog-Friendly Austin with Your Pup

Ten reasons why you should visit this pet-friendly southern city.

by Cameron Woo
October 10, 2021
A dog on a kayak in Austin, Texas with a view of the city in the background.
Photo: Jeremy Pawlowski / Stocksy

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Set in the green and rolling Texas hill country, Texas’s capital city of Austin is known for its eclectic cultural events—think Austin City Limits and SXSW—beloved icon Willie Nelson and as a startup hub that rivals Silicon Valley. It’s also a pretty dog-crazy place. Austin ranks as the second most pet-friendly city in the United States, and there’s good reason. Here are some of the best dog-friendly spots in Austin.

Go hiking with your pup.

Red Bud Isle and Emma Long Metropolitan Park’s Turkey Creek Trail are great places for a leash-free dog to unwind. Dogs can also go off-leash at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, 293 acres of trails (which, FYI, they share with cyclists), hills and creeks.

Visit the dog park.

For a more contained experience in the central city, give Norwood Dog Park a try. Positioned right off the Colorado River, this Austin dog park is fully fenced and has a large, shaded main section and a separate area for small dogs.

Check out the beard competition.

The Austin Facial Hair Club hosts an annual Dog Beard and Moustache Competition to raise funds for various non-profits, including Bully Ranch, a Pit Bull rescue sanctuary. Enjoy the spectacle of competition as both dogs and people show off their best beards.

Watch a movie in the park.

If you and the pooch are in the mood for a movie, look into Austin’s “Movies in the Park” series. The free event runs during the summer through November in parks across the city — bring your own food and treats — pups on leash are welcome.

Stop by Barton Creek.

The Barton Creek Greenbelt offers almost 13 miles of beautiful dog-friendly trails. For time on the water rather than in it, stop by Zilker Park Boat Rental, where your dog’s welcome to join you in a canoe (bring his life jacket, as the rental company doesn’t provide them for dogs).

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Enjoy some good eats.

This venue goes the extra mile when it comes to kicking back with canines. Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden not only provides a leash-free area but it also makes a sausage just for dogs.

Share a drink with friends.

At Dog House Drinkery, dogs are welcome to congregate with their people in the bar area or run off some energy in one of the Drinkery’s fenced OLAs.

Get a cup of jo.

Dog-friendly eateries are thick on the ground in Austin. Jo’s Coffee not only welcomes dogs, but it has also sponsored the annual Lyndon Lambert Easter Pet Parade for 20 years. Bonus: They’re also huge LGBTQIA+ allies.

Learn mindfulness at Doga.

When you and your pup are ready for some downtime, consider a session of downward dog, and book a class at Austin Doga. Boost your connection with your dog in either an individual or group session.

Agility with a bonus.

Wet your whistle under a shady tree at the Yard Bar’s off-leash dog park while your dog goes nuts on the agility course; the bar’s full-meal menu includes two “Dog Food” entries: Bones and Co sliders and house-made ice cream.

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Cameron Woo

Cameron Woo was co-founder, publisher, and art director of The Bark magazine.