Known as the gateway between the southeast and southwest, Texas Hill Country spans over 10,000 square miles of the Edwards Plateau in central Texas. Bordered by the cities of Austin, San Antonio, Concan and Junction, the region is defined by quirky mountain towns, amazing antiquing, beloved barbecue joints and epic scenery. Here are our favorite pet-friendly things to do, places to stay, and dog-friendly restaurants in the Texas Hill Country.
Posted by Billy Francis
Things to Do
Whether Fido enjoys sniffing out precious items, hiking through stunning backcountry or swimming in lakes, this region has something for every dog.
Take a Texan’s Tour of State Parks
Situated 20 miles north of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is home to the immense granite dome known as Enchanted Rock, one of the region’s most impressive landmarks. In nearby Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park offers excellent family-friendly hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. Or, travel north to Inks Lake State Park in Burnet, where Fido can have a dip in the designated doggy swim area.
Have a Grape Time!
Texas Hill Country is home to more than 100 wineries and vineyards, helping build the region’s reputation as one of the premier winemaking destinations in the U.S. Take a ride on Wine Road 290, a long and “wining” 30-mile route that visits a sweet selection of dog-friendly wineries along the way. This scenic trip through Texas wine country starts at Chisholm Trail Winery in Fredericksburg, where you can grab a wood-fired brick oven pizza to fuel the journey, and finishes at Texas Hills Vineyard just outside Johnson City. If you want to sample all day with your small dog, the 290 Wine Shuttle provides a personal designated driver and welcomes dogs under 25 lbs, while big dogs can join in the fun on a private tour with Hill Country Wine Tours.
Buoyant With Your Good Boy
Located at the end of the Horseshoe Loop on the Guadalupe River, Whitewater Sports invites dogs and their owners to float for two, four, or six hours together in sturdy tubes down one of the earliest-explored rivers in Texas. Along the way, admire stunning views of the region’s backcountry from the varied and refreshing waterway. Over in Junction, rent a more sturdy craft from Paddler’s Porch. Hop in the shuttle, float through South Llano River State Park in a comfortable kayak, and grab a bite to eat on the pet-friendly patio once you’re back on dry land.
Drive Fido Round the Bend
Willow City Loop is arguably the most iconic scenic road in the Texas Hill Country, especially during wildflower season. Strap Fido in for a short but sublime 13-mile drive outside Fredericksburg which is full of beautiful color during spring. Stop for a walk at Cottonwood Hollow, where you can admire the Texas Bluebonnet, the official state flower. Then, stop with your boot-scootin’ best friend for a photo op by the fence lined with upturned cowboy boots at TK Ranch. If you want to know whether wildflowers are in bloom before you set off, head to Wildseed Farms first. This pet-friendly farm is a good indicator of wildflowers in bloom elsewhere, too.
Bring Fido to the birthplace of the 36th president of the United States in Stonewall, TX. Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site pays homage to LBJ and also offers a glimpse into other communities who have lived in the area over the years. The site is home to a 1.2-mile pet-friendly trail that leads to historic buildings like World War I-era farm structures and a German two-room dogtrot cabin built in the 1870s. Dogs can’t go inside buildings but are welcome on the trail, where bison and longhorns roam, and he’ll have another opportunity to see wildflowers.
Get Your Antique On With Your Bichon
Fido doesn’t need a map to find hidden treasures in Texas Hill Country. The region is renowned for its diverse and eclectic antique offerings. Start your whistle-stop tour of ye olde discoveries at Fredericksburg Trade Days. Every third Saturday of the month, antiquers peruse seven barns full of collectibles, tools, crafts, primitives and much more. After Trade Days, drive 20 minutes south to Luckenbach. This Old West-style outpost offers souvenirs of times gone by accompanied by live music from some of the region’s best artists. If you still haven’t struck gold, make your way to the heart of Canyon Lake where you’ll find affordable gems at Kathi’s Resale.
In It to Swim It
Texas Hill Country can be hot and muggy, which means Fido is going to need a place to cool off. Fortunately, the area is full of watering holes that are perfect for a doggy paddle. Located in West Austin, Barton Creek Greenbelt Preserve welcomes dogs to walk off leash on the hiking trails and cool off in the creek. Head north for more water fun at Cedar Bark Park. This popular 5-acre dog park boasts a large dog pond with a water fountain and showers for cleaning up after a mud bath. Finally, make your way to Johnson Park Off-Leash Dog Area in Marble Falls for leash-free fun with a wet dog smell guarantee.
Places to Stay
Fancy a photoshoot in a house devoted to dogs, or a night in a train by the river? Texas Hill Country offers an eclectic selection of incredible places to stay that will have you reserving your next vacation before the first one pulls in at the station.
The House That Dogs Built
Dogologie Haus is designed for dog lovers. Four-legged guests are provided with a welcome dog treat, dog beds and bowls, indoor crates, and an outdoor kennel. Enjoy an evening stroll through Frantzen Park onto Fredericksburg’s Main Street. There, you’ll find Dogologie, a local pet store owned by your rental’s host. Best of all, Dogologie Haus guests receive a $25 gift certificate to the store.
No Designated Driver Needed
Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa in Johnson City prevents arguments about the designated driver. Instead, human guests can enjoy fine wine produced on-site and walk back to a room in the resort after a glass or three. Dogs are welcome to join their owners on the tasting room patio and for walks on the green space and trails throughout the property.
Twice The Dog, Twice The Fun
Sitting against a cliff above the Frio River in Leakey, Double Dog Cabin #1 is a marvelous rural escape. Take a hike in the shallow waters of the river, immerse yourself in natural springs or hang out at the cabin and enjoy a BBQ with your best friend. Fido’s hosts are also happy to invite your pooch for a stay at Double Dog Cabin #2, which offers canoes and kayaks for guest use. Dogs are welcome for no additional fee.
Hang in a Hill Country Hotel
If you find yourself in the middle of Texas Hill Country, La Quinta Inn & Suites Kerrville is the comfortable lodging you’ve been looking for. Fido will appreciate the treats available at the front desk and being able to play on the convenient field adjacent to the hotel. While you’re here, don’t miss a visit to the town’s beautiful, off-leash Flat Rock Park along the Guadalupe River.
Sip and Stay
Located on Wine Road 290, this dog-friendly cottage with on-site tasting rooms keeps the Pinot flowing. Inside, guests are invited to relax on upscale furnishings or one of two rocking chairs under the tin ceilings. If you need a refill, take your pick of four on-site tasting rooms and a lovely shared courtyard within walking distance of four wineries.
For Pups Seeking Salvation
Salvation Cabin in the wilderness of Wimberley is a unique wonder that is bound to have Fido’s tail wagging in no time. This unique throwback has modern amenities like superfast WiFi and a stocked kitchen, but it still feels like it’s from a different time. Hang out on the porch with views of Blanco Valley, gather around the fire pit and use the house tubes to float down the river during summer. If Fido didn’t get wet enough on his river romp or tour of dog-friendly swimming holes, pay a visit to the popular plunge pool at Cypress Falls Swimming Hole.
Panoramic Views With Your Pup
Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne sums up the natural beauty of Texas Hill Country. Four-legged guests are free to explore miles of winding scenic trails that lead to a variety of incredible Hill Country views, then retire to a big suite with room to sprawl out. At dinnertime, your pooch is welcome to join you at the on-site restaurant with a patio that overlooks the lake.
Sample succulent brisket, German favorites and more in this famous foodie region that offers a tasty bite for every palate.
Dine at a Distillery
Home to 25 distilleries and breweries, Dripping Springs is known as the “Gateway to the Hill Country'' and is a dream destination for lovers of liquor. Taste the tipple on the pet-friendly patio at Deep Eddy Vodka, which offers a variety of flavorful cocktails. For the water of life, otherwise known as whiskey, Treaty Oak Distilling combines old-world techniques with modern methods to inject familiar flavors with new life. Dogs are welcome outside as their humans sample the sauce and at the outdoor tables at Alice’s Restaurant at Treaty Oak Distilling.
The Taste of Texas
Texas music, Texas food, and Texas fun is the motto at Hondo’s On Main. Named for the owner’s father, self-proclaimed Mayor of Luckenbach John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, this All-American eatery brings a feel-good atmosphere and comfort food to the Texas Hill Country. Dogs are welcome to join their owners outside, but orders must be placed inside first.
A Flaming Good Time
Bryans On 290 in Johnson City has garnered a reputation among locals and visitors alike as a must-visit restaurant. What sets it apart from other Texas Hill Country eateries is the live fire cooking style. Dig into a ribeye, tenderloin or smoked chicken accompanied by fine wine from the region, and enjoy it all on the patio with your pooch for company.
Schnitzel With Your Schnauzer
Waves of German settlers began to move to Texas in 1831. Over the years, they have remained the largest immigrant population in the Texas Hill Country. For more than 20 years, The Auslander has paid homage to German culture by offering authentic Bavarian cuisine. Dogs are welcome to join you on the patio.
Bring Your Canine to the Cookout
Make a quick trip to The Salt Lick in Driftwood near Austin for a meaty meal with your hungry hound. A large portion of cookout connoisseurs consider Texas to be the best barbeque state in the country. Sample the finest brisket, pork ribs, sausage, whole chicken and turkey at this local favorite. Wash it down next door at Salt Lick Cellars, where you can sample a beer in the dog-friendly tasting room.
An Apple a Day Keeps The Vet Away
Texas isn’t the only state to claim the title of best apple pie, but when you taste a slice from Love Creek Orchards, you might struggle to argue. Share your main course of a burger or shrimp basket to ensure you have enough room for double dessert. Although the star of the show is undoubtedly the Grand Champion apple pie, the Southern Champion pecan pie is also hard to pass up. Tasty treats can be enjoyed on a pleasant picnic table under a huge oak tree outside.
Calling All Wolves!
After a day on the trails at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area, relax and refuel on the expansive patio at Iron Wolf Ranch & Distillery. The distillery is the centerpiece of a gorgeous 15-acre ranch, which welcomes dogs on a leash to explore. While you sample Iron Wolf’s signature line of spirits and grab a bite from one of the visiting food trucks, Fido can rehydrate with a refreshing bowl of water.