Paris Permenter, along with her husband, John Bigley, is the co-author of Texas with Dogs and the founder of PawZaar.com.
For many years, I’ve been lucky enough to call Austin, one of the country’s most dog-friendly cities, my hometown. The capital city has a welcoming attitude toward canines as seen in its many pet-friendly hotels, restaurants with pet-friendly patios, a host of upscale pet boutiques, and a progressive attitude toward animal rescue.
One of the most iconic places to go in Austin is the “I love you so much” wall by Jo’s Coffee where tourists and locals alike hold their cameras at the ready to show the world how much they love their dog. But you could show them another way. Take your pups to any of Austin’s best of the best places for dogs and humans:
Austin’s synonymous with Amy’s, an institution since 1984. Share a peanut butter and honey—or a Mexican vanilla—cone with your canine!
With a name like this, you just know this dog-themed northwest Austin eatery has to be dog-friendly, and it is. Although the patio isn’t the largest in Austin, it welcomes you and your dog; the menu is filled with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas.
This downtown eatery is so dog friendly it even has its own dog park! Because of the event crowds, the dog park will not be open during SXSW but, if you’re staying in town for a few extra days, don’t miss it!
Few metropolitan areas boast more pet-loving, fitness-conscious folks than Austin and that’s especially evident along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. The trail follows downtown Lady Bird Lake and it’s locally known as the Town Lake Trail. (Lady Bird Lake was previously named Town Lake.) The loop includes two pedestrian-only bridges that are great for dogs.
Austin’s most popular off-leash area lies on the southern shore of Lady Bird Lake just west of South First Street. This area is always packed with dogs enjoying a dip in the lake or a Frisbee game; you’ll also find some great photo opportunities here with the city skyline as the backdrop.
6. The Domain
Our dogs love this upscale shopping center with numerous dog-friendly stores and patio restaurants.
This park is just a dog bone’s throw from downtown and has great trails for even the most devoted walkers. Be sure to bring a fixed leash no longer than six feet.
8. Mount Bonnell
You and Fido will a get a workout climbing the steps up Mount Bonnell, one of the city’s highest points and an excellent vantage point to view Lake Austin and the surrounding countryside. The parking area is located 1 mile past the west end of West 35th Street at 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd.
9. Red Bud Isle
Located at the confluence of Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake, this 13-acre island offers off-leash fun and frolicking for Fidos. Come early (the parking area isn’t large) and explore the off-leash island which includes both quiet and busy spots for dog swimming and fetching beneath shady cypress trees.
10. Texas Capitol Complex
The iconic Capitol building isn’t open to four-legged visitors but it makes a great photo backdrop. Enjoy a dog walk on the shady grounds. Parking is at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto.
11. Yard Bar
It’s a dog park. It’s a restaurant. It’s a bar. It’s the Yard Bar! Separate large and small dog play areas are overlooked by a shady picnic table dining area. We highly recommend the hush puppies!
12. Zilker Park and “Barking Springs”
This downtown park is Austin’s backyard, a popular place to enjoy everything from a shady picnic to a kayak outing on Lady Bird Lake. For a Frisbee game, head to the 47-acre “Great Lawn” off-leash area bounded by Stratford Drive, Barton Springs Road, and Neff Road. And just downstream from the park’s Barton Springs, a human-only swimming hole that’s definitely one of the tops in the country, you’ll find what’s nicknamed “Barking Springs.” People and their pooches can swim together at the spillway for Barton Springs. The 68-degree, crystal-clear water is guaranteed to cool the hottest Austin day.
Dogs are welcome at this canoe and kayak rental company that’s operated on the shores of the lake since 1969.