San Antonio has the reputation of a fun-loving town including many Fido-loving locations and events. Located 80 miles south of Austin on I–35, the city always has something going on to attract visitors. No matter when you choose to visit, you can bet that somebody, somewhere, is hosting a festival. Perhaps it has something to do with the sunshine or the fresh air. Whatever it is, you can feel it. It sizzles up like fajitas in a city that abounds with colorful traditions and vivid memories.
Dog-Friendly San Antonio Attractions
Brackenridge Park. Located two miles north of downtown, if you have time for only one park visit during your stay in San Antonio, this is the one. The sprawling 343-acre facility offers a variety of trails to explore, and mutt mitts are available for scooping the poop. In the park, don’t miss the Japanese Tea Garden. Dogs on leash are welcome at this lush garden where climbing vines and tall palms provide a shady walk even on summer days and koi-filled ponds add to the tranquil ambiance. In Brackenridge Park, 3800 North St. Mary’s St.
La Villita. This area on the east bank of the San Antonio River was developed in the mid-to-late 18th century by Mexican settlers who lived, without land title, on the outskirts of the Alamo mission. Today La Villita is San Antonio’s finest crafts area, filled with weavers, glassblowers, sculptors, and even boot makers. The historic area at the River Walk makes a nice place for a stroll with your dog. Within the restored buildings, shops sell everything from woven wall hangings to silver jewelry, and the historic Little Church is often the site of weddings. Most shops open daily. On River Walk South Alamo at Nueva or River Walk at the Arneson Theatre.
Madison Square Park. Since 2010 Rovers have romped in this .65-acre area, which offers a drinking fountain for dogs, mutt mitts for picking up poo, and plenty of benches for pet parents. 400 Lexington Ave.
McAllister Park. Fire hydrants, play features, and canine-level water fountains dot the 1.5-acre McAllister Park dog park. The two fenced areas are open seven days a week from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. 13102 Jones-Maltsberger Rd.
Pearsall Park Dog Park. This 1.5-acre park is festive with bright green, red and yellow colors and includes picnic tables and play areas. Open from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. (no lighting). 4700 Old Pearsall Rd.
Phil Hardberger Dog Park. Offering a total of 1.8 acres of adventure for your four-legged family members, pet parents with small dogs can relax at one of the picnic tables as they watch their tiny tail-wagger play in a two-story doghouse in the small dog area. There is a separate area for large dogs, and a water fountain is available. www.philhardbergerpark.org.
River Walk or Paseo del Rio. The Paseo del Rio, as it’s also called, is a European-style river walk that lies below street level and ranks as one of our favorite destinations in the state. If your dog is not afraid of crowds, you’ll find that the River Walk, with its many outdoor dining options, is incredibly dog-friendly. Part of an urban renovation project decades ago, the River Walk’s winding sidewalks, which follow an arm of the San Antonio River, are lined with two-story specialty shops, sidewalk cafes, luxury hotels, art galleries, and bars. (You’ll also see open-air barges touring the river; sadly these are not dog-friendly.) Like New Orleans’s Bourbon Street, this area of San Antonio has an atmosphere all its own. Arched bridges connect the two sides of the walk, so visitors never have to venture up to street level. One of the busiest sections of the Paseo del Rio extends from the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk at Crockett Street to the Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel at Market Street. This stretch of walk boasts most of the sidewalk restaurants and shops. A Pearl extension offers the chance to stroll with your dog all the way to the old Pearl Brewery. www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The national park, which stretches for 9 miles along the San Antonio River, is comprised of four remaining missions (outside the Alamo) that were constructed by the Franciscan friars in the 18th century. Although canines cannot walk inside any park buildings or the four churches, your dog can see the sites as they stroll the grounds on a leash or are carried by their pet parent. The Yanaguana Nature trail at Mission San Juan, however, is off limits to pets in order to protect the wildlife in the area. Instead, you and your dog are welcome on the Missions Hike and Bike Trail which connects the sites, following the San Antonio River, although swimming is not permitted.
- Mission San José. The most complete structure in the tour, Mission San José was built in 1720. It has beautiful carvings, eighty-four rooms that once housed Indians, a restored mill with waterwheel, and what may be the only complete mission fort in existence. Make this mission your first stop; it is also home to the Visitors Information Center.6701 San José Drive.
- Mission Concepción. Built in 1731, this mission has earned the distinction of being the oldest unrestored stone church in the country. 807 Mission Road.
- Mission San Juan Capistrano. Relocated here from East Texas, this mission was never completed. 9102 Graff Road.
- Mission San Francisco de la Espada. Established in 1731, its original chapel was in ruins by 1778 and the building was reconstructed around 1868. 10040 Espada Rd.
Tom Slick Dog Park. A fun place to take your pack, this one-acre area features separate sections for large and small dogs, watering stations, fountains, and hoses to clean off your canine companion after his romp. I7400 TX 151.
The Alamo. Located in the very heart of San Antonio, the Alamo, the “Cradle of Texas Liberty,” is probably the most famous spot in Texas. Established in 1718 as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, it plunged into history on March 6, 1836, when 188 men died after being attacked by Santa Anna’s Mexican forces. Among the most famous defenders were Jim Bowie, William B. Travis, and Davy Crockett. Dogs can only stand on Alamo grounds no closer than the start of the wide grassy area that lies in front of the building. (Basically they’ll need to remain on the sidewalk near the street but you’ll still be able to get a nice photo with the Alamo as a backdrop.) 300 Alamo Plaza, between Houston and Crockett Sts.
Market Square. Originally a market dating back to the early 1800s, a century ago Market Square earned its place in the history books as the birthplace of chili con carne, the state dish of Texas. The “chili queens” that sold the spicy dish are long gone but today Market Square is home to a festive atmosphere with open-air restaurants, a large indoor Mexican marketplace, outdoor kiosks selling imports, and, frequently, live music. You and your dog can stroll the busy outdoor area styled after a typical Mexican market. El Mercado’s fifty shops sell a profusion of goods, from silver jewelry, Mexican dresses, and piñatas to onyx chess sets, leather goods, and much more. Prices are slightly higher than in the Mexican markets, and you can’t bargain with the vendors like you can south of the border. Open daily. 514 West Commerce St.
Dog-Friendly San Antonio Restaurants
Casa Rio. We’ve dined at this River Walk eatery for many years. The restaurant dates back to 1946, when it was built by Alfred F. Beyer on land first granted title in 1777 by the King of Spain. A hacienda was built here during the city’s Spanish colonial period, and today it remains the core of the restaurant; cedar doors, cedar window lintels, a fireplace, and thick limestone walls are evidence of that early dwelling. Rover can watch river boats float past on the patio of this historic eatery as diners chow down on such south of the border fare as fajitas, quesadillas, chili relleno and enchiladas. 430 E. Commerce St.; www.casa-rio.com.
The Friendly Spot. Sit back with your four-pawed pal and sip some suds at this outdoor establishment where 180 brews and 25 drafts are on tap. 943 S. Alamo St.; www.thefriendlyspot.com.
La Margarita. This establishment also is owned by Mi Tierra and is best known for its excellent fajitas, which are brought to your table in cast-iron skillets. Open for lunch and dinner. 120 Produce Row; www.lamargarita.com.
Los Patios. The proud recipient of San Antonio’s first ever dog-friendly restaurant permit, patrons and their pups can enjoy the serene ambiance of the tree-shaded front courtyard patio at Gazebo Restaurant at Los Patios, a 20-acre haven from the hustle and bustle of city life. Diners with dogs will receive a flyer detailing the do’s and don’ts of doggie dining. Open for lunch and Sunday brunch, the refined eatery offers a mouth-watering menu that includes grilled rainbow trout, enchiladas, soft meat tacos and Gazebo burgers. After lunch, pet parents can enjoy a constitutional with their canine along the venue’s nature trail. Info: 2015 NE Interstate 410 Loop; www.lospatios.com.
Rita’s on the River. Enjoy a taste of the good life alongside your tail-wagging chum as you sit on the patio, tap your feet to the beat of live Mariachi music and watch the river boats float by. The restaurant’s Tex-Mex menu includes carne guisada, pork tacos and chalupas, or you can order such ‘gringo grub’ as a Texas-style chicken fried steak, grilled chicken sandwich or a turkey burger. 245 E. Commerce; www.ritasontheriver.com.
For More Information
- San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau; www.visitsanantonio.com.