Start with a small Texas county seat. Add a sprinkling of cultural attractions, a pinch of recreational sites, a dash of locally-owned businesses and a heaping helping of restored historic buildings and what do you have? The perfect recipe for one charming town that’s a favorite with dog lovers.
Today visitors and their dogs can stroll along an award-winning downtown square to get a feel for the small-town atmosphere that makes Georgetown so special. Just as it was over a century ago, the courthouse square still thrives as the heart of the Georgetown business community.
North of the courthouse square, San Gabriel Park has served for centuries as a gathering site. Today, park lovers and pets enjoy shady picnics under the oak and pecan trees. Crystal-clear springs bubble up at three sites on the park grounds, and often you can watch these little “salt and pepper” springs spew up chilly water. Dogs can enjoy a dip in the river on leash. Upstream, west of Georgetown, the North San Gabriel River has been controlled to create Lake Georgetown, a reservoir popular with dogs (for off-leash swimming), campers, hikers, and bird lovers.
Dog-Friendly Attractions in Georgetown
Bark Park. This beautiful dog park, nestled beneath tall pecan trees, features small and large dog sections with plenty of room to run. Info: 151 Holly St. near San Gabriel Park; (512) 930-3595; parks.georgetown.org/bark-park. Free.
Blue Hole. West of the park at Blue Hole, where river waters reflect limestone cliffs, a revitalization has made this beautiful spot again a place to be appreciated by residents and visitors. At Blue Hole, walkers and joggers journey along the wide paths that wind beside waters as green as fresh spring leaves. On quiet mornings anglers try their luck with just the sound of an occasional cardinal singing its friendly song in the distance. Info: Austin Ave. at Second St. Free.
Inner Space Cavern. Georgetown’s most famous visitor attraction isn’t dog-friendly but does offer free kennels where your dog can enjoy a nap as you take a guided tour of this underground cavern. Discovered during the construction of the interstate highway, Inner Space features beautiful formations: “The Warriors,” two stalagmites that have grown together, the “Flowing Stone of Time” in the Outer Cathedral, and “Ivory Falls,” a flow of white stalactites. When you meet up with Fido again, you’ll be able to tell him about the special effects you saw in the grand finale of the tour: a show at the “Lake of the Moon.” Info: I–35 at exit 259; (512) 931–CAVE; www.myinnerspacecavern.com. Fee.
Lake Georgetown. Built on the north fork of the San Gabriel River, this 1,310-acre lake is home to three public parks that offer off-leash fun for Fidos including lake swimming (although not at the improved beach) as well as fishing, boating, camping, and hiking. Public facilities include Jim Hogg Park with overnight camping, electric and water hookups, and boat ramp; Cedar Breaks Park with picnic facilities and campsites with electric hookups; Russell Park for picnicking and camping; and Tejas Park for picnics and hikes along oak-shaded trails. Stretching nearly 17 miles, the Good Water Trail traces the lake and can be accessed at the different parks. Although your dog is allowed off-leash on the trail, he needs to be under voice control and should remain on leash during both hunting season (when deer hunting may be taking place in the area) and nesting season for the protected golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Along with the protected birds, these parks are also home to white-tailed deer, coyote, skunk, raccoon, ringtail, armadillo, and opossum. Info: FM 2338, 3.5 miles west of town; (512) 930–5253. Fee.
San Gabriel Park. This park, just south of the junction of the North and South San Gabriel Rivers, includes picnic sites and walking trails; below the dam, dogs will appreciate a dip in the shallow water. (Leashes no longer than 6 feet are required.) Info: Off Austin Ave.; (512) 930–3595. Open daily. Free.
Dog-Friendly Stores in Georgetown
PetSmart Georgetown. Located in Wolf Ranch, this PetSmart includes veterinary services as well as food, treat and travel needs. Info: 1013 W. University Ave. (512) 868-2288; www.petsmart.com.
Tail Waggins Dog Bakery. For over a decade, this bakery and boutique has been serving up food and treats for healthy hounds. Featured on Texas Country Reporter, this extensive bakery offers everything from scones and biscotti to special occasion goodies like the Birthday Bone. And, if your dog needs a little freshening up on your trip, you’ll also find both a full-service and self-service dog wash here. Info: 2102 N. Austin Ave.; (512) 868-0047; www.tailwagginsbakery.com. Open Tuesday through Saturday.
Dog-Friendly Accommodations in Georgetown
Georgetown is home to several dog-friendly hotels (most along the I-35 corridor) including Candlewood Suites, La Quinta, Quality Inn, and more.
Campgrounds at Lake Georgetown. Each of the Lake Georgetown parks offers camping with canines. Cedar Breaks Park has 64 campsites offering water and electric hookups as well as a covered picnic table, fire ring and grill. The park also has a dump station for RVers; restrooms offer hot showers and flush toilets. More facilities are found at Jim Hogg Park with 148 sites offering water and electric hookups, each with a covered table, fire ring, and grill. This park also includes a dump station. The sparsest facilities are found at Russell Park with 27 sites without water or electric hookups. This park does offer five screened shelters, each with two sets of bunk beds (no mattresses). Tent camping without electricity is available at this park as well as in the largely unimproved Tejas Park. Info: (877) 444-6777; www.recreation.gov.
Festivals for Dog Lovers
February: San Gabriel Mardi Paws. Help the four-legged residents of Georgetown’s Animal Shelter at this Mardi Gras event. Put on your pooch’s best costume and get ready to parade through San Gabriel Park. After the walk, the event features contests for the biggest dog, smallest dog, cutest dog, best dog/person look-alike, best dog costume, and ugliest dog. Info: georgetown.org.
Sniff Out More Information
Georgetown Convention and Visitors Information Center; (800) GEO–TOWN or (512) 930–3545; www.visitgeorgetown.com.
Poppies and Pups
“Poppies will make them sleep…” Toto may have fallen for those poppies but don’t let that stop you from taking your Terrier for a photo op in Georgetown’s colorful poppy fields. Every spring, Georgetown shows why it’s the “Red Poppy Capital of Texas,” with both native and cultivated varieties growing throughout the town.
The poppies date back to seeds brought to Georgetown by Henry Purl “Okra” Compton. The World War I soldier collected seeds in Europe and planted them around his mother’s home upon his return. Today Georgetown’s poppy fields make a great pooch photo backdrop from late March through May.
For more on traveling in Texas with your dog, please order a copy of our DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs guidebook!