Chimney Rock State, N.C.; Roadside sign, Marfa, TX; interior with dogs, Marfa, TX; Big Glassy Mountain, N.C
Asheville, North Carolina
A progressive southern Appalachian city, Asheville’s just the right size: big enough to offer lots of variety and accessible enough to feel welcoming. Plus, it’s full of dog-friendly places. For indoor fun, don’t miss the Battery Park Book Exchange, where it’s “books by the thousands, wine by the glass.” At the Espresso Dog Bar, dogs eat and drink for free (people, however, pay). Walk off all that fun on the city’s Urban Trail, or, a little farther afield, visit Chimney Rock State Park and hike some of North Carolina’s best trails, or the Carl Sandburg Home, a national historic site, where admission to the grounds is free and your on-leash dog is welcome on the trails that wind through the forested grounds or climb to the top of Big Glassy Mountain. And don’t forget the dog parks: Azalea Dog Park, which has big dog/small dog fenced areas, and the Asheville Dog Park (also fenced), part of French Broad River Park, get good reviews from locals.
When it’s time to settle down for the night, there’s a raft of options, starting with Barkwells’ fabulous cabins, acres of fenced meadows and dog-loving amenities. For a historical venue, check out Applewood Manor Inn B&B, the Reynolds Mansion or the Biltmore Village Inn, which is closest to the Biltmore Estate. There, don’t miss Cedric’s Tavern (named after one of George Vanderbilt’s beloved dogs), or the Creamery, both of which have outdoor seating your dog can share with you.
You might be able to get a little bit deeper in the heart of Texas than Marfa, but why would you? Here, it’s all about the long West Texas horizon (think Giant, the classic movie filmed here in the ’50s), gorgeous winter skies and the bohemian community that has sprung up around the Chinati Foundation, a mecca for modern art and a destination for its connoisseurs. Chinati is the creation of minimalist sculptor Donald Judd, who moved here in the late 1970s and converted an old army barracks into galleries in which to display his work as well as that of John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin.
Marfa may be small, but it has a dog-friendly eatery. Squeeze, across from the Presidio County Courthouse, serves up a mean breakfast and lunch as well as an astounding list of healthy drinks and smoothies; enjoy them on the patio with your pal. The Thunderbird, a retro 1950s, locally run hotel, offers a pool and unpretentious, dog-friendly hospitality. However, the go-to spot for intrepid travelers and their dogs has to be El Cosmico, 18 acres of funky coolness dotted with refurbished vintage trailers, modern yurts, safari tents and teepees. Liz Lambert, who opened El Cosmico in 2009, calls it “part … campground, part creative lab.” An open-air bathhouse and cooking area are among its charms. (Not quite so charming are the goatheads, spiny seeds that can play rough with dogs’ paws; if your dogs will wear them, bring booties.)