Set in the green and rolling Texas hill country, Austin is known for its eclectic cultural events—think Austin City Limits and SXSW—Lady Bird Johnson’s bluebonnets in the spring and the bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge. It’s also a pretty dog-crazy place, as noted by Beth Bellanti Pander of Austin’s own Tito’s Handmade Vodka, where she’s the company’s Program Manager of Vodka for Dog People. Here are some of her hot spots …
Boating on Lady Bird Lake.
Ahh … the water, the trees, the squirrel sightings: Red Bud Isle and Emma Long Metropolitan Park’s Turkey Creek Trail are great places for a leash-free dog to unwind. Dogs can go also off-leash at Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, 293 acres of trails (which, FYI, they share with cyclists), hills and creeks. For a more contained experience in the central city, give Norwood Dog Park a try; it’s fully fenced and has a large, shaded main section and a separate area for small dogs. For time on the water rather than in it, stop by Zilker Park Boat Rental, where your dog’s welcome to join you in a canoe (bring his life jacket, as the rental company doesn’t provide them for dogs). Finally, if you and the pooch are in the mood for a movie, look into Austin’s “Movies in the Park” series, which runs through November in parks across the city; the pup will need a leash, but you’ll both enjoy being entertained under the beautiful Austin night sky.
Doxie races at the annual Dogtoberfest.
During the upcoming Austin City Limits Music Festival held at Zilker Park, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is partnering with the nonprofit Emancipet to make veterinary care accessible to all pet owners. Throughout this weekend and next (Oct. 6–8, 10–13), festival attendees will have the opportunity to give back by taking and sharing photos in front of a special mural which will prompt donations (up to $10,000) from Tito’s to Emancipet.
Then on October 21, the 10th Annual Dogtoberfest celebration-fundraiser will be held. It will feature a 1K walk and an outdoor event that includes a costume contest, dog demonstrations and silent auction—all raising money for local dog rescue organizations.
Also on that day, the 4th Annual Dog Beard and Moustache Competition will be presented at The Mohawk, benefitting The Schrodi Memorial Training Fund which helps owners who can't afford top-dollar training be able to train and keep their dogs.
Barkitecture 2017, the custom doghouse design show, is set for Nov. 4. The fundraiser is hosted by Animal Lovers of Austin, and showcases the creations of city’s brightest architects, interior designers and builders.
Consider taking the HomeAway route; at press time, the online booking site had 157 pet-friendly listings in Austin—which, coincidentally, is its home base.
Fetching along Turkey Creek Trail.
Dog-friendly eateries are thick on the ground in Austin. Jo’s Coffee not only welcomes dogs, it also sponsors the annual Lyndon Lambert Easter Memorial & Pet Parade. Perla’s serves some of Austin’s tastiest seafood, which can be indulged in on the patio in the company of your dog. Likewise, Mozart’s Coffee Roasters has patio seating (in this case, fronting Lake Austin) as well as—you guessed it—fine coffee drinks and a decadent selection of desserts. Three venues go the extra mile when it comes to kicking back with canines. Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden not only provides a leash-free area, it also makes a sausage just for dogs. At Dog House Drinkery, dogs are welcome to congregate with their people in the bar area or run off some energy in one of the Drinkery’s fenced OLAs. Wet your whistle under a shady tree at the Yard Bar’s off-leash dog park while your dog goes nuts on the agility course; the bar’s full-meal menu includes two “Dog Food” entries: Bones and Co sliders and house-made ice cream.
Beth notes that on Amplify Austin day, Tito’s Handmade Vodka does its part to raise money for local charities by creating a special cocktail served at participating watering holes.