Dog-friendly Austin boasts great dog festivals, pet-friendly hotels and restaurants and a host of upscale pet boutiques. Add in a progressive attitude toward animal rescue and Austin is clearly a leader of the pack. In fact, Austin consistently ranks as one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation.
Nicknamed the “River City,” Austin is home to excellent natural areas, including off-leash parks, hiking trails, urban parks, and wilderness areas on the fringe of the city. The temperate weather makes outdoor recreation possible year around (although the hot summers mean early morning and late evening walks!)
Austin receives its “River City” moniker from the Colorado River that slices through the heart of the city. Once the source of city floods, today the river has been tamed with a series of stair-step lakes, two of which lie within Austin’s city limits. Lake Austin flows into Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) which passes through downtown. North of the lake lie Austin’s historic buildings including the granddaddy of them all: the State Capitol. Although the building is off-limits to all but service dogs, the shady grounds are a favorite place to enjoy a dog walk.
For one of the most dog-friendly cities in the nation, it’s surprising that Austin’s Capital Metro Transportation Authority (CapMetro) does not permit pets on board. Only guide and service animals are permitted on the buses and trains. Info: www.capmetro.org.
Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail. 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, locally known as the Town Lake Trail. (Lady Bird Lake was previously named Town Lake.) Residents and visitors alike enjoy trails in a range of terrains and difficulty levels, including the dog-friendly 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake. The loop includes two pedestrian-only bridges that are great for dogs. Info: austintexas.gov/page/trail-directory. Free.
*DogTipper Choice Auditorium Shores. Austin’s most popular off-leash area lies on the southern shore of Lady Bird Lake just west of South First Street. This 57-acre 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. Currently plans are underway to temporarily close and give this much-used area a multi-million dollar renovation to enhance the off-leash section and improve this landmark for dog lovers. Info: 920 W. Riverside Dr.; www.austinparks.org. Free.
Barton Creek Greenbelt. Stretching from Zilker Park to Westlake, this 7.25-mile trails winds along Barton Creek (which may or may not be flowing, depending on the season). The popular trail passes many scenic spots including limestone cliffs and is a favorite with runners and cyclists. Dogs need to remain on leash. Info: 2201 Barton Springs Rd. and 3755-B S. Capital of Texas Hwy.; (512) 974-6700; www.austintexas.gov. Free.
Bat Colony. Austin goes batty for its summer visitors: 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. These tiny guests live beneath the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and exit at sunset to look for dinner (and thankfully feast on the plentiful mosquito population in the region). You and your dog can watch the bats from the hike and bike trail, the bridge, or a free bat viewing area in the parking lot of the Austin American-Statesman at 305 South Congress Avenue. The peak spectator months are July and August. For more on the bats, check out the information kiosks at the Four Seasons Hotel at 98 San Jacinto Boulevard and the Austin American-Statesman parking lot on the south shore. Info: Congress Ave. Bridge at Lady Bird Lake. Free.
Blue Starlight Mini Urban Drive-in. The tradition of the drive-in movie lives on at this in-town theater with 45 drive-in slots as well as numerous walk-in places. Leashed dogs are welcome as long as they’re friendly and don’t bark during the movie. (No barking film critics here!) The drive-in features all types of older films, from classics to indie movies. Info: 1901 E. 51st St.; www.bluestarlitedrivein.com. Fee.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park. Austin’s largest park sits on the banks of Lake Austin and offers off-leash fun for Fidos along the 2.5-mile Turkey Creek Trail. The trail crosses the creek numerous times and is a favorite on hot days. The park, which can get congested on summer weekends, includes boat ramps, a nature trail, restrooms, and tent and RV camping. Info: 1600 City Park Rd.; (512) 346-1831; austinparks.org. Fee.
French Legation Museum Park. Austin’s oldest remaining house served as the French Legation in the days when Texas was a separate country. Today the structure is a museum surrounded by a 2.5-acre park that welcomes you and your dog to enjoy a game of Frisbee or an afternoon picnic during museum hours. Open Tuesday to Sunday afternoons 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Info: 802 San Marcos St. with parking at 9th St. and Embassy Dr. (512) 472–8180; www.frenchlegationmuseum.org. Free for use of grounds.
Hancock Golf Course. This nine-hole course is one of the oldest in Texas, dating back to 1899. Dogs are welcome to come along and will find plenty of shade to enjoy as you test your skills on this course alongside Waller Creek. Info: 811 E. 41st St.; (512) 453-0276; www.austintexas.gov. Fee.
McKinney Falls State Park. We’d love this park just a dog bone’s throw from the city if it permitted dogs in the water. However, it doesn’t, earning a paws-down from our water-loving Irie. If your dog isn’t as wild about watersports as ours are, you will find plenty of trails for some excellent dog strolls (on a leash no longer than six feet). Campers can choose from several types of sites. Info: 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway , 13 miles southeast of downtown Austin off US 183; (512) 243–1643; www.tpwd.state.tx.us. Fee.
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. Closes at 10:00 p.m. daily. Info: 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd. Free.
Norwood Estate Off Leash Park. This large, fenced dog park is located just off the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail (see above) near the intersection of I-35 and Riverside Drive. Info: 1009 Edgecliff Terrace. Free.
Peter Pan Mini Golf. Since 1946, this downtown mini golf course has been an Austin tradition. Dogs are welcome at this hillside course (actually two 18-hole courses) near Zilker Park. Info: 1207 Barton Springs Rd.; (512) 472-1033; peterpanminigolf.com. Fee.
*DogTipper Choice Red Bud Isle. Located just below where Lake Austin spills into 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 the shady cypress trees. Info: 3401 Red Bud Trail; www.austinparks.org. Free.
Spicewood Vineyards. Located west of Austin in the community of Spicewood, this award-winning vineyard welcomes Fidos on leash to its outdoor tables and shady patio. This vineyard offers tours and tastings Wednesday through Sunday. Info: 1419 Country Rd. 409 Off TX 71, turn on to County Rd. 408 south for .7 mile then right onto County Rd. 409 for 1.5 miles; (830) 693–5328; www.spicewoodvineyards.com. Free admission.
Starmark Animal Behavior Center. Located north of Austin near the small community of Hutto, Starmark Animal Behavior Center (formerly Triple Crown Dog Academy) is a giant in the world of dogs. This 350-acre ranch is one of the largest canine facilities in the world; along with its huge boarding and training facilities (and a school for dog trainers), it hosts many special dog events, from breed shows to agility trials. Info: 200 County Rd. 197, (512) 759-2275; www.dogtrainingandboardingaustin.com
Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market. These Austin farmers’ markets are run by a local non-profit and comprise the largest certified growers-only farmers’ market in the state. Four locations invite you to bring your leashed dog and shop for everything from local produce to dog treats. Info: Downtown (400 West Guadalupe St. at Republic Square Park, Saturday 9am – 1pm), Sunset Valley (3200 Jones Rd. at Toney Burger Center, 9am – 1pm), The Triangle (4600 Lamar Blvd. — Triangle Park, (512) 236-0074, Wednesday 3pm-7pm), East (2835 E Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. — MLK & Miriam Ave., Tuesdays 3pm-7pm); (512) 236-0074; www.sfcfarmersmarket.org.
Texas Capitol Complex. The iconic Capitol building is the heart of the city, surrounded by shady grounds that invite you and your dog to stroll and enjoy the grounds of the seat of Texas government. The southeast corner of the grounds contains the Capitol Complex Visitor Center, housed in the oldest government office building in the state (once the workplace of short-story writer O. Henry) and today a visitors and information center with statewide coverage. Info: parking at the Capitol Visitors Parking Garage at 1201 San Jacinto; (512) 463-4630; www.tspb.state.tx.us.
Zilker Park. This 355-acre park at 2100 Barton Springs Road 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. Your other dog-friendly options in the park include:
- Barking Springs. Just downstream from 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” (below) for its popularity with four-legged water lovers. 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. Info: 2101 Barton Springs Rd.; (512) 867-3080. Free.
- Zilker Botanical Garden. Leashed dogs are welcome in the multiple gardens that comprise these botanical gardens. Stroll through the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden to see the native plants that are tolerant of Central Texas’s hot, dry summers. Nearby, keep Fido away from the spines at the Cactus and Succulent Garden filled with West Texas cactus and succulents. Blooming cherry trees fill the Isamu Taniguchi Oriental Garden in early spring while the Mabel Davis Rose Garden blooms throughout the spring. Your dog walk can also include the Herb and Fragrance Garden and the Hamilton Parr Memorial Azalea Garden, in bloom during March and April, and the Douglas Blachly Butterfly Trail, lined with local flowers and plants that attract numerous species of Texas butterflies. Info: 2220 Barton Springs Rd.; (512) 477-8672. Fee.
- Zilker Boat Rentals. Dogs are welcome at this canoe and kayak rental company that’s operated on the shores of the lake since 1969. If you need a doggie life jacket, you’ll need to bring your own. Info: 2100 Barton Springs Rd.; (512) 478-3852; www.zilkerboats.com. Fee.
- Hartman Prehistoric Garden. Here’s your dog’s chance to meet a dinosaur! This 1.5-acre garden welcomes pets on leashes to view the ancient plants of the Cretaceous period, approximately 100 million years ago. The garden features replicas of original dinosaur tracks, two large dinosaur sculptures, limestone cliffs, and more. Info: 2220 Barton Springs Rd.; www.hartmanprehistoricgarden.com. Free (parking fee on weekends and holidays).
Shop for your dog
Austin Lofty Dog Village Store. Offering Rover-related items ranging from locally-made goods to designer bedding and fashion-forward canine clothing, Lofty Dog has shown its support for the city’s pets in need by establishing Animal Lovers of Austin, a non-profit which raises both awareness of and funds for Travis County animal rescue groups. Info: 2700 W. Anderson Ln.; (512) 451-1858; www.austinloftydog.com.
Bark ‘n Purr Pet Center. For nearly six decades, this store, located one block north of 45th Street, has offered premium pet foods, treats, toys, and travel needs. They also offer free delivery on orders of $20 or more so if Fido runs out of food on your vacation, just call up an order for delivery to your hotel room. Info: 4604 Burnet Rd.; (512) 452-3883; www.barknpurr.com.
Dogadillo Dog Boutique. Products for both pampering and play can be found at this Fido-friendly facility, located in the Hill Country Galleria. Doggedly devoted pet parents can also raise their glass to their four-pawed pals at a monthly Yappy Hour event. Info: 12912 Hill Country Blvd.; (512) 402-9663; dogadillo.com.
The Domain. Bring your dog to this open-air mall, Austin’s most upscale shopping center that’s home to stores ranging from Neiman Marcus to Louis Vuitton, to stroll the pedestrian area, enjoy one of the many outdoor restaurant patios or coffee shops, or just soak up the atmosphere. Info: Domain Blvd. in north Austin; www.thedomainaustin.com.
Groovy Dog Bakery. Customers may meet Kayin, official greeter and taste tester at this ‘bark’ery, which sells not only canine candies and barbecue-flavored, peanut butter and gourmet veggie treats, but also toys and gifts for both pets and people. For an $8 charge, animal-loving little ones can also don a chef’s hat and create their own Groovy Dog Bakery treats in the Kanine Kids Korner. Info: 4477 S. Lamar Blvd.; (512) 891-7333; www.groovydog.com.
Mud Puppies. Has your dog been doing too much swimming in Austin and need a doggie bath? This well-respected facility, known for its grooming, training, boarding, and day care, also has a self-serve wash at its two locations. Info: 12233 FM 620, (512) 249-2498; 2015 E. Riverside Dr., (512) 912-0200; www.mud-puppies.com.
*DogTipper Choice Tomlinson’s. Family-operated since 1946, what began as a chick hatchery and livestock feed store has developed into a small pet product supply chain which carries premium dog (and cat) food, collars, grooming tools and health supplies. Info: 908 E. 49 ½ St., (512) 452-1560; 4211 S. Lamar Blvd., (512) 445-4549; 3300 Bee Caves Rd., (512) 306-1121; 5900 W. Slaughter Ln., (512) 276-2057; 7301 RR 620 North, (512) 215-9242; www.tomlinsons.com.
Woof Gang Bakery. Committed to offering your tail-wagging chum a taste of the good life, the Austin branches of this ‘pup’ular franchise—which specializes in handmade gourmet dog treats—also carries a wide selection of toys, bowls, collars, leads, apparel and spa products for Spots. Info: 1204 North Lamar, 512-391-WOOF (9663); 701 Capital of Texas Hwy. S., 512-329-WOOF; www.woofgangbakeryaustin.com.
Amy’s Ice Cream. An Austin institution since 1984, pet parents and their pups can enjoy a tasty treat outside one of the chain’s 12 area locations. Info: 10000 Research Blvd. (The Arboretum), (512) 345-1006; 1012 West 6th St.; (512) 480-0673; www.amysicecreams.com.
Austin Terrier. 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. Info: 3435 Greystone Dr.; (512) 369-3751; www.austinterrier.com.
*DogTipper Choice Bow-Wow Chow. Food trucks have really swept the Austin food scene…but this is a food truck especially for dogs! Specializing in all-natural, preservative-free fresh pet treats, this truck is generally found at the area’s most popular dog parks. Check the @BowWowChowATX Twitter account for the day’s location. Info: bow-wowchow.com, twitter.com/BowWowChowATX.
Crown and Anchor Pub. Drink a toast to your tail-wagging chum on the uncovered patio of this Austin institution, which has been serving award-winning beer and some of the best pub grub around for more than a quarter of a century. While you sip on some suds, Spot can lap water from a dog bowl and chow down on a free dog treat, which are made in house. Info: 2911 San Jacinto Blvd.; (512) 322-9168; crownandanchorpub.com.
Dirty Martin’s Place. A favorite among college students at the University of Texas campus, this hamburger joint—which has offered a menu of Americana meals for the past 80 years—welcomes pet parents and their pooches in the outdoor area. Info: 2808 Guadalupe St., (512) 477-3173; dirtymartins.com.
Dog and Duck Pub. Offering a taste of Britain in the form of Bubble and Squeak, Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash along with traditional American fare, this eatery—which consistently wins local pub grub polls—invites pet parents and their four-pawed pals to enjoy the convivial atmosphere on the venue’s patio. Info: 406 West 17th St.; (512) 479- 0598; www.dogandduckpub.com.
Fado Irish Pub. Enjoy some toe-tapping—and tail-wagging—lively Irish tunes as you sit on the patio of this Fido-friendly establishment, which offers eats inspired by the Emerald Isle (all-day Irish breakfast, Gaelic Steak Boxty and garden beets and hummus sandwiches) along with a few tried and true Texas treats. Info: 214 West 4th St.; (512) 457- 0172; www.fadoirishpub.com.
Green Mesquite BBQ. From classic hamburgers and ‘cue to Po Boys and Jambalaya, this eatery offers a heaping helping of tasty treats served up with a side order of live blues and bluegrass tunes that provide sustenance for the soul, all of which can be enjoyed with your canine companion on the patio. Info: 1400 Barton Springs Rd., (512) 479-0485; 9900 South I-35 in Southpark Meadows, (512) 282-7100; wwwgreenmesquite.net.
Guero’s Taco Bar. Enjoy Tex-Mex with your tail-wagging chum on the patio of this taqueria, which has been an Austin staple since 1986. Info: 1412 South Congress; (512) 447-7688; www.guerostacobar.com.
Hanover’s Draught Haus. Located north of Austin in the suburb of Pflugerville, this casual bar is known for its live music and large beer garden and also serves burgers, bratwust, and fajitas as well as barbecue on Fridays and Saturdays. The 1903 building began its life as a saloon before being converted to a lumberyard. The dog-friendly patio has been the site of pet benefits such as Wag the Dog Canines & Cocktails to benefit Texas Humane Legislation Network. Info: 108 East Main St.; (512) 670–9617; www.hanoversaustin.com.
Jasper’s. This restaurant at The Domain proves that dog-friendly can go hand-in-paw with upscale dining. Celebrity chef Kent Rathbun (whose clients have ranged from Oprah to Ross Perot) created this restaurant known for its “gourmet backyard cuisine.” Dog diners can enjoy the open-air patio of Austin’s most dog-friendly (although not budget-friendly) mall. Seafood, dry-aged prime steak, and even pizza create a menu with something for everyone. Info: 11506 Century Oaks Terrace in The Domain; (512) 834-4111; www.jaspers-restaurant.com.
Rudy’s BBQ. Rudy’s claims to be the home of the “Worst Bar-B-Que in Texas” and always boasts a long line ready to belly-up for brisket, barbecue tacos, and more. The barbecue is smoked in German-style pits where the meat is never in direct contact with the heat or flames, and is served with Rudy’s famous “sause” which is now shipped worldwide. Dogs are welcome on the expansive wrap-around patio. Info: 11570 Research Blvd.; (512) 418-9898; www.rudysbbq.com.
Sherlock’s Baker St. Pub and Grill. One look at the menu—which includes such favorites as Watson’s Chicken Tender Platter and Shepherd’s Pie—and it’s elementary why Austin pet parents love this British-style pub. Dog devotees can enjoy their meal alongside their canine companions on the patio. Info: 9012 Research Blvd., (512) 380-9443; 3003 South Lamar Blvd., (512) 691-9140; www.sherlockpubco.com.
Taco Deli. Sit on the patio with Spot and savor a Tex-Mex meal at one of this restaurant chain’s three Austin locations. Menu items include Carne Asada, Ceviche Yucatan and Puerco Verde, as well as vegetarian dishes including the Freakin’ Vegan (refried black beans, avocado and pico de gallo) and Papadulce. Info: 1500 Spyglass Drive, (512) 732- 0303; 12001 Burnet Rd., (512) 339-1700; 4200 North Lamar Blvd., (512) 419-1900; www.tacodeli.com.
Whole Foods Market. Dogs are welcome on the shady outdoor patios of this chain supermarket, which is open seven days a week. Info: 9607 Research Blvd., (512) 345-5003; 525 North Lamar Blvd., (512) 542-2200; 12601 Hill Country Blvd. (in Bee Cave), (512) 206-2730; 4301 West William Cannon, (512) 358-2460; www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
Austin is home to numerous dog-friendly chains including Baymont Inn & Suites, Best Western, Candlewood Suites, Days Inn, Drury Inn, Econo Lodge, Extended Stay America, Homewood Suites, La Quinta, Red Roof Inn, Residence Inn, Rodeway Inn, Staybridge Suites, Super 8, and more.
*DogTipper Choice Decker Creek Bed and Breakfast and Biscuit. Located on 50 acres on Decker Creek, this dog-centric “B&B&B” just might be a dream dog vacation. Each of the property’s two cabins has its own screened porch and fenced yard plus you’ll find acres and acres to explore, a creek for a doggie dip, and even agility equipment. Stays include a full country breakfast as well as homemade dog biscuits; you also don’t need to worry about packing dog towels, beds, or crates if you need them. Info: 16029 Decker Laker Rd., Manor; (512) 743-8835 or (512) 743-8090; deckercreek.com.
The Driskill Hotel. Built in 1886 by cattle baron Jesse Driskill, The Driskill is Austin’s oldest hotel. Within easy walking distance of the State Capitol and right in the Sixth Street entertainment district, this elegant hotel welcomes small dogs but has some restrictions. Up to two dogs per room are permitted but only for dogs 35 pounds or less. At the time of check-in, you’ll need to show proof of bordetella and rabies vaccinations within the past 12 months. Dogs may not be left in guest rooms and, except for check in and departure, can’t be in the lobby or other public areas. Also, dogs aren’t permitted on the bed covers or other furnishings. Info: 112 E. Sixth St.; (800) 252–9367 or (512) 474–5911; www.driskillhotel.com.
Hotel San José. The “Keep Austin Weird” vibe for which the city is known takes center stage at this downtown hotel known for its cool atmosphere and clientele. The South Congress (SoCo, to the trendy) former motor court is just a few blocks from the lake and is within walking distance of several restaurants, including dog-friendly Jo’s, located right in the parking lot. The rooms, with their concrete floors and minimalist style, are a favorite with dog lovers. Info: 1316 South Congress Ave.; (512) 852-2360 or (800) 574-8897; www.sanjosehotel.com.
Lake Austin Spa Resort. Frequently lauded as one of the best spas in North America, the spa, available to day visitors, and adjoining 40-room resort lie on the shores of Lake Austin, a narrow swath of water that begins at the foot of the Hill Country and flows through the western part of the city. The resort is especially known for its 25,000-square-foot LakeHouse Spa, a two-story, Texas-sized structure resembling many Hill Country farmhouses with its limestone exterior and screened upstairs porch. With 30 treatment areas staffed by over 80 therapists, the facility features many signature treatments created with products grown right on the resort grounds such as prickly pear, rosemary, and lemon verbena. Dogs aren’t permitted in the spa (or other guest areas including the dining room, pool, gardens, or boat docks). Only the freestanding cottages are dog-friendly. This posh spa charges an equally posh pet fee: $300. Info: 1705 South Quinlan Park Rd.; (800) 847–5637 or (512) 372–7300; lakeaustin.com.
Lakeway Resort and Spa. Whether you’re looking for a weekend of spa pampering, boating, tennis, or golf, this quiet resort has plenty to offer. Dogs under 30 pounds are welcome. There is a $35 non-refundable pet fee, per pet and dogs cannot be left unattended in rooms. Rooms have private patios, many with great views of the lake; pet guests are restricted to the first floor of the hotel. Info: 101 Lakeway Drive (18 miles west of Austin on FM 620, off TX 71 on Lake Travis); (512) 261-6600; www.lakewayresortandspa.com.
Mansion at Judges’ Hill. Tucked on the southern edge of the University of Texas campus, this elegant hotel is a historic landmark. The 1900 home in Classical Revival style offers a pampering downtown getaway for you and your dog. You’ll enjoy his and hers bathrobes while your dog naps on an embroidered bed and will dine (and drink) from porcelain bowls. The hotel charges a $50 cleaning fee per stay but there are no size restrictions for canine guests. Info: 1900 Rio Grande St.; (512) 495–1800 or (800) 311–1619; www.mansionatjudgeshill.com.
*DogTipper Choice W Hotel Austin. If you’re looking for a stylish downtown stay with your dog, check out the signature Pets Are Welcome (P.A.W.) program at the W Austin hotel. The hotel welcomes dogs (and cats) under 40 pounds for a $25 fee above the room rate charge plus a non-refundable $100 cleaning fee. At check in, you’ll receive a welcome letter with information about special pet services available through the concierge as well as a list of items available through the hotel’s Whatever/Whenever® including food, wee pads, pet first aid kits and more. You’ll also receive a pet toy, W Hotels pet tag, and clean-up bags. In your room, you’ll find a custom W pet bed, food and water bowl with a floor mat, (litter box, litter and scoop, you’re traveling with a cat), a “pet in room” sign for your door, and a special pet treat at turndown. Need more? The concierge can arrange for dog sitting or walk, a veterinarian, groomer, and even a birthday cake for Bowser! Info: 200 Lavaca St.; (512) 542-3600 or (866) 961-3327; www.whotelaustin.com.
*DogTipper Choice April/May: Mighty Texas Dog Walk and Festival. Every spring, Austinites take to the streets with their pooches for the annual Mighty Texas Dog Walk and Festival, a fundraiser for Service Dogs, Inc. Each year, the event attempts to return the Guinness World Record title for “World’s Largest Dog Walk” to the Capital City. (Austin was the scene of two previous records.) Besides a Texas-sized dog walk, the day of fun includes other record-breaking attempts, exhibitions, booths, and more all along the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Info: www.servicedogs.org.
April: Buda Wiener Dog Races. Held in Buda, a small town south of Austin on I-35, these annual races have earned the town the name “The Wiener Dog Capital of Texas.” Contestants and onlookers come not only from across Texas but from neighboring states who come to watch these petite racers give it their all as some charge to the finish line, others head off to sniff a trail, and some show more interest in their motivating squeaky toys rather than the finish line. Two days of races are accompanied by fun competitions like Best Dressed Wiener Dog and plenty of vendor booths. The event is held in City Park; parking is so tight that shuttles transport attendees from Cabela’s parking lot. Info: www.budalionsclub.com.
August: Austin Pet Expo. Held at Palmer Auditorium, this annual event features vendors, adoptable pets from local rescues and shelters, demonstrations, and more. Info: www.AustinPetExpo.com.
September: Barkitecture. For nearly 10 years, this annual event presented by Animal Lovers of Austin, Inc. has showcased the work of innovative architects and designers that create unique dog houses for auction. Along with the doghouse fun, the event features numerous adoptable dogs as well as a dog “Spaw.” Info: Triangle Park, www.austinbarkitecture.com.
October: DogToberfest. This is a time for putting on the dog—the dog costume, that is. This annual event which benefits Austin dog rescues includes not only canine costume contests but pet portraits, wiener dog races, live music and more in The Domain. Info: dogtoberfestaustin.org.
Sniff Out More Information
Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau; (866) GO-AUSTIN or (512) 474-5171; www.austintexas.org.
For more on traveling in Texas with your dog, please order a copy of our DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs guidebook!