When we began our travels in 2010, we hit the road not knowing where our adventures would take us and if we would find pet friendly accommodations and activities in the cities we would visit. Selling our home, buying an RV, and traveling the country has certainly shown us that there are a plethora of opportunities for those who travel with their pets. We’ve been so many terrific, pet friendly places … but the one that consistently pops back up for us is Austin, Texas. Without a doubt, Austin is the most pet friendly city we’ve visited, and that’s what keeps us coming back each year for a two-month winter hibernation.
We fell in love almost immediately – the selection of pet friendly hotels and restaurants in Austin, the numerous dog parks, and the great hiking trails top our list. But, Austin gave us something else that other cities could not match. Beyond the hotels and restaurants, one of the most important ways we measure a city’s pet friendliness is the attitude of the locals. A lot of places talk the talk, but don’t back it up with parks that welcome pets, legislation that restricts certain breeds of dogs, or laws that prohibit pets at the outside seating areas of restaurants. In Austin, pets are considered part of the family in a way that we’ve not experienced in other parts of the country – and that is what sets Austin apart.
Zilker Park is a great example of how Austinites include their pets in their activities. On any given weekend, you’ll find people and their dogs flying kites, having picnics, rustling up a game of flag football or soccer – all within the boundaries of the park’s immense off-leash area. People come and spend the day having fun with their dog at the park – not stopping by the dog park for an hour so they can go have a good time without feeling guilty for leaving their pup at home.
Along with the main park you’ll also find the Zilker Botanical Garden. Established in 1955, the botanical gardens cover 31 acres and is one of the few botanical gardens we have visited in the country that allows leashed pets free reign. While our visit occurred in the very early spring, we were still able to enjoy the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden. This 3-acre garden with waterfalls, ponds, and the tranquil “Bridge To Walk Over The Moon” was built a gift to the city. From here you’ll find one of t finest views of downtown Austin.
For those looking for a bit more exercise, Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a 10 mile loop that circles Lady Bird Lake, provides wonderful views of the city without much of the congestion you might find in a downtown area. We found so many families enjoying the area with their dogs along with bikers, hikers, and people out just enjoying the day. If you are looking to socialize with other dog owners, Butler Hike and Bike Trail is the perfect spot in Austin to do so.
Of course Austin has its fair share of traditional dog parks and Norwood Dog Park is one of our favorites. This dog park is ideal in that it is completely fenced in and has a separate area for smaller dogs. Along with Butler Hike and Bike Trail, Norwood Dog Park is the ideal location for your dogs to mingle and meet.
So if you are looking for a great road trip to take with your pets, Austin is the one destination that is not just pet friendly – it’s pet loving. Austin is a city of friendly people, great restaurants, fantastic music, shopping and a town that embraces the pet friendly culture that is so dear to our hearts.
Amy Burkert runs the award-winning pet travel website, GoPetFriendly.com, which makes it easy to plan a trip with your entire family. Her blog, Take Paws, is an encyclopedia of pet travel tips, pet friendly destination advice, and stories of the adventures she and her husband share as they travel full-time in their motorhome with their dogs, Ty and Buster.