For many dog owners, an outdoor adventure just isn’t complete without their canine companion. Looking at those wishful eyes while backing out the front door as you’re all set for a day outdoors is tough enough. And once you’re out there, it’s hard not to imagine how much more fun you’d be having with your furry friend along for the fun, too.
But there’s good news for you both: More and more cities with active-minded populations are making it easier to travel with our faithful friends. Here we’ve curated a list of offerings from five dog-friendly Carolina cities: where to sleep, play, eat, and drink with your pup in tow. So next time you head out for an adventure around Charlotte, you’ll be able to pack up your pooch, too. (Wherever you go, however, be sure to abide by leash laws and local regulations.)
South Carolina’s center of education, business, and legislature has a playful side and an obvious love of its canine companions. Whether you’re in the capital for a day trip or overnight, you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly options.
The Dog House: The Aloft Columbia Downtown is the place for visitors and their pooches to hang their hat (and collar) for the night. This pet-friendly hotel is a short walk to the riverfront and the Five Points entertainment district. Plus, the property’s regular adoption events allow guests to interact with rescue pups during their stay.
Where to Play: Just a few blocks from Aloft, the wide trail at Columbia’s Riverfront Park meanders in and out of shade trees as it follows a scenic canal. The dog-friendly trail has ample space for exploration of the area, which encompasses the city’s original waterworks and its oldest (and still operating) hydroelectric plant. A little farther out of town, Saluda Shoals Park offers several dog-friendly experiences. More than 10 miles of trail wind through the facility, and a 2-acre dog park, the Barking Lot, allows your pal to run free without a leash (an annual fee of $40, which covers two dogs per household, applies, plus a parking fee.)
Best for Kibble: Publico Kitchen & Tap doesn’t just offer a space for dogs; they offer a whole menu. Designed with your dog’s size in mind, the Puppy Plate has several proteins, snacks, and even dog-friendly desserts. Of course, there’s a fantastic human food menu as well, featuring creative tacos and an extensive beer list. The nearby Jake’s Bar & Grill is home to a local favorite Yappy Hour. After an active day romping around, take your pup here for a relaxed afternoon on Jake’s back deck.
Hair of the Dog: A brewery with its own backyard seems like a dream come true, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at River Rat Brewery. Grab one of their creative brews and have a game of fetch in River Rat’s fenced-in, grassy outdoor space.
This laid-back seaside town is full of all sorts of water-based adventures catered to you and your pup.
The Dog House: A stone’s throw from the Harbor River and within easy walking distance of the easygoing heart of Beaufort, The City Loft Hotel is a modern, comfortable base camp, with thoughtfully designed rooms complete with walk-in showers and memory foam-topped beds. Five rooms are set aside for pets and their humans.
Where To Play: For three miles, the soft sand of Hunting Island State Park stretches along the Atlantic, which is the perfect setting for a brisk morning walk as the sky ignites in the brilliant shades of sunrise. The park is also well equipped with showers, bathrooms, and fresh water.
Best for Kibble: At Plums you can expect to find the simple pleasures of a Low Country feast. Of course that means starting things off with a plate of oysters fresh from the boat and pile of wild-caught shrimp. Grab a seat on the porch or open-air patio for a view of the water and a breeze from the coast.
Hair of the Dog: Though named for its burgers—and rightfully so; they’re huge and delicious—Fat Patties is also a beer lover’s destination. A huge list of craft brews, including their own from Salt Marsh Brewing, is well organized to make trying a new style easy. Ice cream is equally awesome, with housemade, small-batch flavors available year round. The outdoor patio is one of the best in town, and best of all, there’s plenty of room for your canine companion, too.
In this this beloved mountain town, a trusty four-legged companion is almost as requisite as a Subaru and Chacos.
The Dog House: The Omni Grove Park Inn exists at the intersection of mountain-cozy and ultra-luxe. Close to Asheville and its mecca of mountain adventures, the sprawling property is an ideal launch pad for a weekend of exploration. The resort shows its affinity for pups with dog-friendly accommodations complete with canine-centric room service like treats, water, and food bowls.
Where to Play: The mountains surrounding Asheville hold a cornucopia of outdoor experiences, and almost all of them are suitable for you and your favorite canine. For a great payoff with relatively minimal effort, take a hike up to Craggy Gardens. After just a 15-minute drive and 1.5-mile hike, you’ll be taking in 360-degree views that seem to stretch forever.
Best for Kibble: Yes, it’s a brewery. But Asheville Brewing Company is also home to some of the highest quality pub grub in town (try the fries, you won’t be disappointed). And after a long day of exploring, the dog-friendly outdoor patio is the perfect spot to savor a beer.
Hair of the Dog: If your pal enjoys the finer things in life, then a visit to the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar might be in order. Dogs are well taken care of in this used book store/wine bar as are their humans, with a full espresso bar and wine list that includes 80+ selections of vinos and Champagne.
This low-key but upscale mountain town knows how to treat visitors of both the two and four-legged persuasion.
The Dog House: The Cascades Mountain Resort recently underwent an amazing renovation, with beautiful stone work, a giant fireplace, and heavy wood accents that sync seamlessly with its mountainous setting. And pet-friendly rooms mean your pup can join for the adventure.
Where to Play: With so many incredible nearby waterfalls to discover, you’ll want to plan a full day of exploration at DuPont State Recreational Forest. High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls are all accessible on a moderate hike from the main parking lot on Staton Road. The trails are open to dogs on leashes no longer than 6 feet.
Best for Kibble: The aroma of slow-smoked brisket emanating from Hubba Hubba Smokehouse is sure to lure you in. Tucked behind the colorful "rainbow row" of shops in nearby Flat Rock, N.C., Hubba Hubba plates up hearty helpings of pulled pork, brisket, and chicken. You and your pup will find plenty of room to enjoy the carnivorous feast on the spacious stone patio.
Hair of the Dog: Sitting among the patchwork of grapevines, green spaces, and wooded plots, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards offers a total immersion into the beautiful countryside of western N.C. From the cozy confines of the dog-friendly tasting room, they poor a range of varietals. If cider is more your thing, travel 20 minutes west to the edge of the Pisgah National Forest and the newest Bold Rock Cidery location. The cidery serves products made from local Henderson County apples in their huge taproom and outdoor patio. Both are welcoming to guests of the four- and two-legged persuasion.
The Dog House: The Aloft Greenville is ideally situated to explore downtown Greenville. The clean, modern design is energetic but welcoming, and the Aloft team have go above and beyond for their canine guests. Each stay includes an optional puppy package which includes a bowl, treats, toys, and even a bed for your four-legged buddy.
Where to Play: The Greenville Healthcare Systems Swamp Rabbit Trail, which is nearly 20 miles of multi-use trail built on a former railway line, is becoming famous around the Southeast as a destination for recreational cyclists. It conveniently travels through downtown and is very welcoming for dogs. For a little more "get lost in the woods" experience, head for the dozen miles of trail at Paris Mountain State Park. Paths here connect several small lakes and often run adjacent to streams, making for a convenient spot for Spot to cool off on a hot day. Many of these trails are also used by mountain bikers, so the 6-foot leash rule is a good one to follow. There is a $5 day-use fee at Paris Mountain.
Best for Kibble: One of the most surprising aspects of Greenville to first-time visitors is the alfresco dining culture. Eclectic cafes, ranging from pub grub to Thai to pizza, line downtown’s Main Street. Street-side tables are all welcoming spots for you and your pup to refuel. For hearty plates of well-crafted fare that straddles the line between fine dining and comfort food, The Green Room is a recommended choice.
Hair of the Dog: With a spacious taproom and plenty of outdoor space, Brewery 85 just outside of downtown Greenville has enough room to spread out while sampling their range of brews. The brewery is especially welcoming to dogs and hosts occasional Yappy Hours.
Originally written for OrthoCarolina.