Unleash Charlotte's Dog-Friendly Offerings
Charlotte’s known for being an especially dog-friendly city, so if you’re looking to get out and about with your fur baby in tow, here’s where to go.
by Amanda Lea
It’s not uncommon to find yourself winding through the crowd in a brewery, clutching a beer and staring at the floor to make sure you’re not about to trip over someone’s beloved four-legged friend, or to peruse the racks at Neiman Marcus alongside a cultured pup. Here in the Queen City, it’s likely that Fido and Fifi are just as welcome anywhere as you. So, if you’re looking to get out and about with your fur baby in tow, here’s where to go.
However you prefer to spend your weekends, Charlotte features plenty of options for you and a furry friend. Seeking thrills at the U.S. National Whitewater Center? Take your leashed dog with you on one of the many scenic trails. Never knew you could bring a dog to a gallery? The Artisan’s Palate is a restaurant, art gallery and gathering space offering craft cocktails, share plates and plenty of outdoor patio space for your pup. When it’s caffeine you crave, bring your pup along for a pit stop at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in NoDa; they’ll love the name. Time for the two of you to get some exercise? Take advantage of Charlotte’s moderate climate and spend a day at one of the city’s many parks or Crowders Mountain State Park. McDowell Nature Center and Preserve features nine trails for you to enjoy; just be sure to keep your dog on a six-foot (or shorter) leash. Venture to the Mary Warner Mack Dog Park at Anne Springs Close Greenway for more than 12 acres of enclosed natural space for dogs of all sizes to swim, romp and roam.
Craft Beer & K-9s
If sitting outside on a patio enjoying your favorite local cold one is your thing, you’re in luck. Charlotte breweries (and some bars) are known for welcoming dogs in their outdoor spaces. The list of watering holes where your pooch can plop down beside you includes Sycamore Brewing, Triple C Brewing Co., Angry Ale’s, NoDa Brewing Company, Brazwell’s Premium Pub, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Birdsong Brewing Co., among others.
Looking for other equally obsessed pet parents? Expand your social circle and meet others whose smartphones are just as packed with puppy portraits through meetup.com, for a great way to build friendships with fellow dog-minded Charlotteans. Groups like Trails and Tails Community Dog Walk meet the second Saturday each month for dog-walks while the Charlotte chapter of Bark Happy has monthly meetups with an accompanying app, making it easy to meet nearby pups and their humans. Book with Happy Tails Canine Adventure Tours for paddleboarding in nearby Mount Holly, or hiking and wine tours. If you’re particularly proud of your pooch’s refined heritage, try joining groups like the Airedale Club of Charlotte meetup or the Charlotte Standard Poodle meetup.
Best in Tow
Run your errands and peruse the aisles with your fur bestie by your side at Blackhawk Hardware in Park Road Shopping Center where dogs of all breeds are invited as you check out the local finds and gardening gear. (Bonus: The newly expanded pet section has more toys, accessories, food and supplies than you can shake a stick at.) If treasure hunting is more your speed, you and your pup can explore the offerings at Sleepy Poet Antique Mall or The Depot at Gibson Mill. You could also sniff out some new plants together at Pike Nurseries, or pick your next page-turner at Park Road Books.
After a day of activities, extra-good boys and girls deserve a trip to Canine Café. This store features an on-site, dog-friendly bakery as well as all-natural dog food and pet supplies. Celebrate your pup’s birthday with a custom cake, right down to a fire hydrant design, just for the occasion. The Dog Bar in NoDa, Skiptown in South End and Lucky Dog Bark & Brew (three Charlotte-area locations) are popular spots specifically designed to be a retreat for dogs and a hangout for their humans.
When work or vacations call you away, you want to make sure your dog is well cared for. Thanks to Charlotte’s luxe lodging options, like Pet Paradise, they will be treated to a vacation all their own. Here Fido can enjoy lounging in a bone-shaped pool, relaxing at story time and socializing with other dogs. Live webcams make it possible for owners to check in on their beloved pups at any time, guaranteeing peace of mind. For overnight stays or simply a little extra exercise during the day, drop your dog off at Club Fetch in South End. Play areas are selected based on your pooch’s energy level and personality, so they'll always feel right at home.
If you’re tagging along on your pup’s playdates but want to give them room to run, a trip to Davie Dog Park at William R. Davie District Park will do the trick. It’s home to a five-acre, fenced-in area where dogs can run and play off leash. Separate areas for large and small dogs means everyone can safely enjoy the experience. Other popular spots to stretch their legs are Frazier Park in Third Ward and Canine Commons at Pineville Lake Park.
If water is your pup’s love language, make a splash at a swim club that’s begging for doggy paddles. AquaPups Charlotte has an indoor pool that’s available year-round for swim lessons and group sessions. For a day full of play, pack the pool bag and hightail it to DogWorld Dog Park. This “country club for dogs” invites pups to practice their laps in the Olympic-sized swimming pool, whip down the water slides, wade through the natural pond, and zoom around the 12 acres of fenced-in play space. (Tip: Don’t forget to grab a pup cone on your way out.)
Get out in the Charlotte community and support your favorite animal welfare causes this season at an array of Queen City events. Animal lovers looking for an elegant evening will enjoy the annual Ties and Tails Gala, benefitting the Humane Society of Charlotte. Past events have drawn nearly 500 people, plus a number of their furry companions. This year’s event will be hosted virtually, with the event having been held at The Westin Charlotte in previous years. Enjoy a live auction, dining packages available from local catering company, Roots, and a private performance by country music star George Ducas.
Or register for the Pet Palooza Festival and Walk for the Animals, also hosted by the Humane Society of Charlotte. Each spring dogs and their humans enjoy a fundraising walk, pet-friendly festivities, demonstrations, contests and even a beer garden.
A number of annual Charlotte-area events are dedicated to celebrating dogs and their owners. Bring your four-legged friend to Bark in the Park at Truist Field and enjoy a Charlotte Knights game with a side of dog-friendly activities. Grab a beer or glass of wine and mingle with other owners as you and your pooch watch the sheep herding competition at the Historic Rural Hill Sheep Dog Trials and Dog Festival.