South of Austin on I-35, this university town is home to the crystal-clear Aquarena Springs that feed the San Marcos River which has been used by humans for more than 13,000 years. The river flows right through town, offering you and your dog some beautiful swimming spots.
*DogTipper Choice Aquarena Center. Although dogs can’t go on the glass-bottom boats for which this park is known, the staff will watch your dog for you and you’re welcome to walk Fido on the beautiful grounds of this resort that dates to 1928, when A. B. Rogers purchased 125 acres at the headwaters of the San Marcos to create a grand hotel. The centerpiece of the resort was—and still is—Spring Lake, fed by more than 200 springs that produce 150 million gallons of water daily. This 98-percent-pure water is home to many fish (including white albino catfish) and various types of plant life. After its days as a hotel, the property became a family amusement park but today Aquarena Center focuses on ecotourism, with exhibits and activities aimed at introducing visitors of all ages to the natural history and attractions of this region. Info: 921 Aquarena Springs Drive. (512) 245–7570; www.aquarena.txstate.edu. Free admission (fee for boats).
Dog Park. This regional dog park spans two acres and offers shaded areas, benches, a water fountain, and pet mitts. Info: 250 Charles Austin Dr.; www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us. Free.
PetSmart San Marcos. This full-service pet supply store also includes a Banfield Pet Hospital. Info: 1050 McKinley Place Dr.; (512) 392-5959; www.petsmart.com.
With its large college population and location right on busy I-35, it’s not surprising that the city is home to many hotel chains including many that welcome dogs: Days Inn, Econo Lodge, Embassy Suites, La Quinta, Motel 6, Ramada, Red Roof, Super 8, Travelodge, and more.
Crystal River Inn. Designated rooms at this 1883 Victorian inn are available for guests traveling with pets for a $50 pet fee; call before booking. The owners here offer a wide selection of special packages and can help point you in the right direction regardless of what you and Fido would enjoy doing, whether that’s tubing on the river or shopping downtown. Breakfasts at the inn are often lauded as some of the best in the region and range from Eggs Benedict to Bananas Foster crepes to raspberry French toast. Info: 326 West Hopkins St.; (888) 396–3739 or (512) 396–3739; www.crystalriverinn.com.
October: Pet Fest. A Texas-size list of activities creates a full day of furry fun at Pet Fest. Three stages showcase a variety of activities including Blessing of the Animals, K9 police demonstrations, dancing dogs, parade of pets, and more. Info: www.preventalitter.com/pet-fest.
Sniff Out More Information
San Marcos Convention and Visitors Bureau; (888) 200–5620 or (512) 393–5900; www.toursanmarcos.com.
For more on traveling in Texas with your dog, please order a copy of our DogTipper’s Texas with Dogs guidebook!