The Best Places to Vacation with Your Dog: Austin, Texas
From Austin’s downtown high-rises to Zilker Park, dogs abound in this vibrant Southwestern city. The city’s no-kill animal shelter policy reflects Austin’s fierce commitment to its four-legged friends, as does the abundance of dog-friendly patios and walking paths.
Whether jogging, hiking, kayaking or drinking under the stars, Austinites love outdoor activities, often with their furry companions in tow, making it one of the best places for a vacation with your dog. So, pack your dog backpack and your dog travel bowl as we explore Texas’ capital city.
Dog-Friendly Hotels in Austin
As part of its Pets are Welcome (P.A.W.) program, the W Austin Hotel allows dogs and cats weighing 40 pounds or less. In case you forgot your dog backpack at home, the W’s amenities include a custom W pet bed, food and water bowl with floor mat, pet-in-room door sign and a special treat at turndown. The pet fee is $25 per night plus a $100 non-refundable cleaning fee.
The downtown hotel’s restaurant, Trace at the W, even serves canine guests homemade doggy treats and doggy ice cream on the outdoor patio.
Intricate wood carvings and Texas Modernist art work give this boutique Austin hotel its opulent historic charm. Housed in a Greek revival-style mansion four blocks from University of Texas’s campus, Hotel Ella allows up to two pets weighing up to 50 pounds each for $150 per stay and includes dog beds, bowls and treats. Pets must be attended at all times, but the hotel concierge can help arrange pet sitting or grooming services.
Located on trendy South Congress Avenue, Hotel San José provides dog beds and bowls in rooms with treats for $20 a night. The hotel’s annual pet parade is a crowd pleaser, as a marching band and dressed up dogs parade down South Congress. Entry fees benefit local pet rescues and area adoption and rescue groups, plus pet-related businesses set up vendor booths.
Pet-Friendly Restaurants in Austin
Yard Bar offers a large off-leash dog park patrolled by Bark Rangers, who make sure all of the dogs play nice, and a special fenced-off area for smaller dogs. Humans can order beer, wine, cocktails (the aptly named Rescue Me features Tito’s Vodka, which is produced in Austin and is a local favorite) or mocktails from the attached bar while their dogs play.
Once the four-legged family members are tuckered out, everyone can decamp to the adjacent picnic tables and order food. The doggy section of the menu features house-made ice cream (with rotating flavors) and Bones & Co. sliders, while the human side offers comfort foods like the Yard Bar BLT, fresh-fried hush puppies and spicy deviled eggs.
Check the online calendar for special events, such as live music and special happy hours.
A coffee bar by day and a beer garden/cocktail lounge by evening, Cosmic keeps a stash of dog treats on the counter and dog bowls with a fresh water dispenser outside. Dogs and their parents congregate at picnic tables or Adirondack chairs on the large patio. In true Austin style, a rotating selection of food trucks keep patrons well fed with tacos or BBQ.
Cosmic shares its parking lot with the Infinite Monkey Theorem, another pet-friendly establishment. The urban winery and dog-friendly tasting room feels as cool and comfy as your most stylish friend’s living room. Check IMT’s Facebook page for details on events, such as trivia and Vino + Vinyasa.
With its large, dog-friendly patio and live music four days a week, Moontower Saloon feels quintessentially Austin. Fire pits and misting fans keep two- and four-legged guests comfortable no matter the temperature, and the TripleWide food trailer serves up burgers, Cajun tots and more.
Fresh drinking water and dog waste bags are provided. Moontower also offers three sand volleyball courts.
Dog-Friendly Attractions in Austin
Digital nomads visiting Austin with their dogs may want to check out Work and Woof in South Austin. The recently opened space offers dog-friendly coworking, cage-free doggy daycare and a large indoor/outdoor play park. The play park is BYOB (glass containers are not allowed), so parents can kick back with a cold beer or other beverage while their dogs enjoy exercise and socialization.
After a sound sleep in one of Austin’s many dog-friendly hotels, what better way to see Austin than from the water? Dogs floating in canoes or kayaks (with their parents, of course) are a common sight along the scenic Lady Bird Lake.
Tuesdays are Yappy Hour at Rowing Dock, so humans get their second hour rental for free when they bring their dog. In addition to kayaks, canoes and Ruff SUPs (stand-up paddleboarding), Rowing Dock also rents out doggy-sized lifejackets.
Make sure to bring a dog travel bowl to keep your pup hydrated while checking out the local attractions. Petmate’s collapsible travel bowl is easy to pack since it folds down completely flat for convenience.
Jester King is one of several dog- and family-friendly breweries in the Texas Hill Country. The outdoor beer garden provides ample seating and several cornhole games. There’s also a partially covered area where guests and well-behaved dogs can escape the Texas sun.
Humans can sample Jester King’s own barrel-aged beers or the guest beers, ciders or wines. Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza is sold on-site, and free brewery tours are available.
By Susan Johnston Taylor
Featured Image: via BrigitteT/Shutterstock