Outdoor Activities to Do in Austin with Your Dog
Explore the city with your four-pawed pals.
In Austin, there are so many pooches constantly parading the streets it might as well be called “PawStin.” All lame jokes aside though, it is a clear and obvious fact that the majority of Bat City residents are devoted to their fur-babies. And, for those with a pup-sized hole in their hearts, a simple visit to one of the many no-kill shelters in the area—which include Austin Pets Alive!, the Austin Humane Society, and the Austin Animal Center—will quickly solve that problem. So, whether you’re bringing your own dog or volunteering to take a rescue out for an adventure, our list has the perfect places to explore that will not only have Fido’s tail wagging, but will leave you feeling equally elated. Whether you're looking for an active experience, or an excuse to day drink, be sure to pack some peanut butter treats—cause Rover is tagging along.
Zilker Park is so synonymous with Austin that no introduction is necessary—the South Austin green space often feels like the beating heart of the city itself. This 351-acre wonderland is always popping. From soccer players to sunbathers, every type of person can be found wandering its grass. But Zilker Park is not only beloved by humans, it is a pure delight for doggies too. You can count on finding a plethora of paws here, whether they be chasing wayward balls or frisbees, lounging on the lawn, or meeting up for a quick butt sniff under a large tree. While canines can be off-leash at Zilker, considering the busy roads that surround the park, owners should be mindful of their fur-friend’s whereabouts.
Lap it up at a canine water-park
If you want to beat the heat during the long, scorching dog days of summer—that, this year, feels like it will never end—you’re going to need a place to swim STAT. But, with the rise of toxic algae in many natural pools, pet-parents should be cautious about where they let Spot splash. Take the worry out of the water by heading to either Jumping Jack Dog Ranch in Manchaca or K9 Water World in San Marcos. Both places let you rent private pools where you and your pup can spend an hour or two getting your float on. You can even invite the fellow dog-owners in your crew for a huge group hang—it’s totally worth the wet animal smell that will take over your cars for weeks to come.
If your four-legged friend freaks out with excitement whenever they hear the word “park,” you will absolutely blow their minds by taking them on a trip to Cedar Bark Park. Located about 40-minute drive north of the city, this is a five-acre, fenced-in puppy playground. Besides all the room it has for activities, its other amenities include a pond for dogs to swim in, drinking fountains, and, even, wash stations for a post-park clean-up. And, with a separate section for small dogs only, your chihuahua won’t feel the pressure to keep up with the big dogs although, she'll probably want to boss the larger canines around anyway.
The Buzz Mill is the perfect pup-friendly place for sippin’ on locally roasted coffee, a cocktail made with infused booze, and/or checking out the vegan Plow Burger. We also love their community-minded extracurriculars — the Lumber Society, the Wednesday comedy show, the monthly Sunday market, and the Plow Burger’s metamorphosis into Plow Bao.
Winner of multiple “best of” awards, Cosmic Coffee’s permaculture gardens and extensive outdoor seating make it a go-to for dog lovers—not to mention, their dual menu options of coffee and beer allow you to easily spend the day and night parked there. Fido is bound to beg for a bite of some of the excellent food from the trucks parked there including top-notch barbecue from LeRoy & Lewis, al pastor tacos from Pueblo Viejo, and fried chicken lollipops from Tommy Want Wingy. However, keep your pup far away from the caffeinated Nitro Espresso cocktail, Cosmic’s take on the espresso martini made with the punch-packed combination of Deep Eddy vodka, espresso, cold brew, and vanilla chicory.
There’s a kind of “why didn't I think of that” genius behind North Austin’s Yard Bar. A combination dog park and adult libation destination, it lets both you and your pup enjoy a Sunday Funday. A huge shady tree overlooks the plentiful picnic tables that fill the space—and, while you sip the day away, your dog can frolic with other (vaccinated, fixed) dogs under the watchful eye of Yard Bar’s animal-monitoring Bark Rangers. Come for a day (dog pass is $9, humans are free), or buy a monthly or year-long membership to ensure you always have a spot for Spot.
Stacked sandwiches, meat-and-cheese-boards, and a variety of crafts on taps have made Easy Tiger a favorite haunt for fur-kid parents. There’s lots of shade, water, and space for humans and pets alike. And, with four locations in the Austin-area, including the recently-opened Pretzel Bar at The Domain, you won’t have to stress about your pup’s car anxiety for too long no matter where in the city you call home. Be sure to keep an eye on their event calendar for dog-centric to-dos they host on a frequent basis.
While the word “dog” is more often heard on Rainey Street in reference to the area's ever-present population of F-boys, there is one place on the strip where the term has a definition that is more-canine, and less-Hinge, related. That would be Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, which is, no doubt, the singular spot that even typical Rainey haters can get down with—and it’s been purposely dog-inclusive since they opened their doors 10 years ago. Sample the enormous selection of artisan sausages and sandwiches, and wash it down with a pint of beer from their enormous tap selection. For a real challenge, hit up their popular weekend brunch to order one of their signature, whole-bottle of champagne-filled, Manmosas. While you have a harsh awakening about your alcohol tolerance, your dog can play in the spot’s dog park and dig into a “woof wurst,” which benefits the Austin Pets Alive! animal shelter.
The aggressively hot summer weather has made a morning walk a crucial daily component for many dog-parents. And, at beer-meets-coffee-shop-meets-backyard-hangout, Batch, you can reap the benefit of being an early riser—the closer to opening you arrive, the better your chances are to order from their full menu of kolaches. Their masterful take on the Lone Star state pastry staple almost guarantees popular flavors rapidly sell-out, especially on weekends. In addition to being the early bird who gets the kolache, their large green space, which has lots of room for your dogs to run and roll, allows you to hit the “kill two birds with one stone” adage as well.
The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company, better known as the ABGB, makes it clear from the get-go that they are a haven for dog-lovers—the pictures of available shelter pups that decorate one of the beer garden and restaurant’s indoor walls makes that evident. The only thing better than going to town on the brewery’s delicious pints and topping-stacked pies with Man’s Best Friend by your side is doing so during an event for their organization, The Hell Yes Project—which works to benefit a variety of local charities, including no-kill pet sanctuary, Austin Pets Alive! In fact, their ever-rotating tap list often also includes a pale ale that supports the nationally-renowned adoption center.
The fact that this area, which is just east of Barton Springs, is referred to by city dwellers as Barking Springs gives a big clue to the kind of adorable, canine-related shenanigans that occur there. Normally, this small wading area is the ideal spot to take in some cold, refreshing waters with your pup in tow—however, the recent bloom of dog-toxic algae means you should check the latest guidance from Austin’s Watershed Protection Department before you let your little buddy dive in. When you do visit, note that there’s no admission but there are also no lifeguards. Remember to bring a blanket and some water shoes to protect your paws (and theirs).
Your dog will get lost in the ecstasy of sniffing the smells of nature when let loose to roam at this off-leash dog heaven. Made up of 106-acres of wooded trails, natural paths, and shallow streams, this is an ideal place for an all-day adventure—so be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for both you and Fido. While this place is a true paradise for dogs who are social and never stray too far, it may not be the best spot for those who are leash-locked or somewhat anxious. There are no rules here—which means your canine should be prepared, and able, to interact with other dogs, humans, and horses .