By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 11/18/2020, edited: 10/26/2022
There aren't many better states for a road trip than Texas, with thousands of miles of open road, dozens of exciting cities, and plenty of pet-friendly campgrounds. Whether you're exploring the scenic Texas Gulf Coast or the dusty Texas Panhandle, you won't be short of adventures in the Lone Star State. Here are a few of the top dog-friendly road trip destinations in Texas for you and your canine compadre to enjoy.
As the cliche goes, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the dog-friendly playgrounds. We’ve dug up the top 5 places to play with your pupper in the Lone Star State!
Pedernales Falls State Park
Located about 30 miles west of Austin in Johnson City, Pedernales Falls State Park is one of the best dog-friendly state parks in Texas. The park is comprised of rugged hills surrounding the serene Pedernales River and takes its name from the river's picture-perfect waterfall. Your pupper is welcome in the park as long as they remain on a leash at all times.
You can take Baxter for a meandering stroll along the park's numerous trails. These include the Twin Falls Nature Trail, which runs for half a mile to an observation deck overlooking the falls. Bear in mind fur-babies and their pet parents are not permitted on the falls.
While exploring the Pedernales Falls State Park, watch for local bird species like greater roadrunners, green kingfishers, and peregrine falcons. After your walk, take a dip in the Pedernales River. If you plan on swimming, be careful of flash flooding, which is common in the area.
Galveston Island State Park
The Gulf Coast is "pawfect" for road trips with a dog, and there's no better park along the coastline than Galveston Island State Park. Just an hour from Houston, Galveston Island State Park boasts roughly 2,000 acres of pristine beaches and marshlands for you and Fido to enjoy. Amble along the beach or follow one of the trails that weave through the park. Popular routes include the 0.5-mile Egret Loop and the 0.8-mile Prairie Trail.
Thanks to its seaside location, Galveston Island is a hotspot for birdwatchers, with dozens of species at the park, including crested caracaras, osprey, and great blue herons. There are also several paddling trails and plenty of fishing opportunities.
The rules are simple: keep your woofer on a lead at all times and steer clear of the swimming areas.
NorthBark Dog Park
Stop at the Northbark Dog Park and discover one of the best dog-friendly parks in Texas. This "pawpular" park features over 22 acres where pups can roam off-leash. With large open fields and shaded wooded areas, Northbark Dog Park is a pupper’s paradise! Take your mutt on an adventure along the 6-mile loop trail or enjoy a game of frisbee. After they’ve worked up a good pant, let Sparky splash at the dog-friendly lake.
NorthBark Dog Park offers useful amenities, including waste stations, drinking bowls, and a dog shower in case Scoob gets muddy. Once your pup is sufficiently worn out, rest up at the pavilion and enjoy a picnic with your pooch.
Padre Island National Seashore
A barrier island off the coast of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore is a superb holiday destination for doggos. This park spans over 70 miles of untouched beaches, prairies, and more. It's the largest barrier island in the world remaining in its natural state. Your pup is welcome to experience this gorgeous park by your side, as long as they remain on a leash at all times. They're also not allowed in any buildings or on the deck at the Malaquite Pavilion.
You’ll find tons of fun activities to try at Padre Island National Seashore. Explore the trails, or take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico. One unique activity is beach driving, where you can take your off-road vehicle for a road trip down this vast barrier island. If you'd prefer to relax, cast your line at one of the designated fishing spots, or take a seaside stroll and do some beachcombing. Pets can also camp with you at the park, making this one of the top dog-friendly road trip destinations in Texas.
McAllister Dog Park
Considered one of the best off-leash dog parks in San Antonio, McAllister Dog Park features a 1.5-acre dog run with tons of activities to keep your pupper's tail wagging. There are separate off-leash areas for small dogs and large dogs, so you don't have to worry about your skittish Shih Tzu playing with a boisterous Border Collie.
Bella is sure to have a ball at this park! You’ll find tennis balls, balancing beams, tunnels, and much more to keep your hound entertained. This doggo playground is the "ultimutt" place for Max to show off their agility skills. You'll also find several dog-friendly trails in McAllister Park, which range from under half a mile to 6 miles in length. When you need to escape the Texas summer heat, take a break at the shaded picnic area.
No dog-friendly Texas road trip is complete without a lot of driving. When you need to rest your paws, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Let’s dive in to some of the best dog-friendly campgrounds in Texas.
Waggin' Tail Ranch RV Resort
The Waggin' Tail Ranch RV Resort is arguably the best dog-friendly RV park in Dallas. This campground was designed with dogs in mind, with an on-site dog park, agility course, swimming pond, and more for your fur-baby to enjoy. You can even book a fully fenced-in RV site so your pup can roam around outside your camper. Just make sure you keep Princess on a leash when walking them around camp.
Pet parents will also find plenty to do around the Waggin' Tail Ranch RV Resort. Make a splash in the swimming pool or make some new friends at the community pavilion. All RV sites come with full hookups and 20, 30, and 50-amp electricity.
Austin East KOA
The Lone Star State capital is home to a few dog-friendly campgrounds, and one of the best is the Austin East KOA. Whether you're RV camping with a dog or pitching a tent, the Austin East KOA is sure to please your pupper. Located just 20 minutes from the heart of Austin, this KOA features a half-acre Kamp K9 dog park so Spot can stretch their legs during your stay. Pooches must stay on a leash around camp and aren't allowed in certain parts of the park.
The Austin East KOA also has plenty to keep your family busy, including a swimming pool, kids’ playground, and a clubhouse, The KOA also organizes fun events to make each stay unique. RV sites come with full hookups that support 20, 30, and 50-amp electricity. There are also several useful amenities for tent campers, such as showers and laundry facilities.
Corpus Christi KOA
Searching for a dog-friendly campground near the Gulf Coast? Look no further than Corpus Christi KOA. Overlooking the Laguna Madre, the Corpus Christi KOA is an idyllic spot for an overnight stay. Dogs are welcome to stay at RV and tent sites. However, certain breeds, including Dobermans, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and others, are prohibited. Check with the campground staff to ensure your doggo is permitted.
During your stay, your doggo can make some new furry friends and burn some energy at the Kamp K9 dog park. Thanks to its seaside location, the Corpus Christi KOA is ideal for anglers, with on-site fishing piers and rentable boat slips. You'll also find a sandy beach where you can take a dip and soak up some rays. The KOA has some useful amenities, such as laundry machines and a general store.
In any major city in the Lone Star State, you'll find a few restaurants that welcome dogs. Many of the best dog-friendly eateries in Texas are located in big cities to the east like Austin, Houston, and Dallas. You'll also find plenty of options in El Paso, Amarillo, and McAllen. Most offer patio seating for you and your pupper, serving up everything from classic Tex-Mex to beer and burgers.
The likes of Austin and Houston offer some of the best dog-friendly restaurants in Texas, complete with doggy menus so your woofer can enjoy a tasty treat while you chow down on local delicacies. Austin specifically has the most dog-friendly restaurants of any city in the state, with some providing an adjoining dog park so your pupper can burn some energy before chilling in the shade with a Scooby snack.
Taking the scenic route is paws down the best way to explore the Wild West. Pack up the car and hit the dusty trails with Walker on one of these puptastic scenic drives in Texas!
Lubbock to Amarillo
A road trip up the Texas Panhandle is an excellent adventure for pet parents and their canine companions. The drive from Lubbock to Amarillo is around 124 miles and takes about 2 hours. Starting in Lubbock, you'll drive north, passing through the city of Plainview after about 50 miles, which is the perfect place to stop and grab a bite to eat.
One of the best reasons to take this Texas road trip with your dog is to visit the stunning Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Situated just south of Amarillo, Palo Duro Canyon State Park boasts the second-largest canyon in the US after the Grand Canyon. After admiring the beauty of this sublime natural wonder, head to the park's trail for a hike with your woofer. Dogs are allowed on most of the park's trails, which range from under a mile to over 4 miles in length. Keep your pupper on a six-foot leash at all times, and don't let them dig or disturb the local wildlife.
After a long day exploring Palo Duro Canyon State Park, head to a nearby campground. One of the best dog-friendly campgrounds in Amarillo is the Amarillo KOA, which features an on-site dog park and everything you need for RVing or camping with your canine.
Houston to Corpus Christi
Explore the best of the Texas Gulf Coast with a drive from Houston to Corpus Christi. Along the way, you'll pass by several great cities with opportunities to take detours to discover the Lone Star State's beautiful barrier islands. The drive from Houston to Corpus Christi is around 230 miles and takes 3 to 4 hours. Before leaving Houston, head to the coastal city of Galveston and enjoy a seaside stroll at Galveston Island State Park.
This is a long drive to take with your pooch in tow, so plan a potty break. While there aren't many dog parks on the way to Corpus Christi, you can take a half-hour detour from Wharton to the Bay City Dog Park before carrying on through Victoria, which is a great place to stop for lunch with Fido.
Including stops, the drive to Corpus Christi will take most of the day, so consider booking an overnight stay at the Corpus Christi KOA. The next day, you'll have the opportunity to explore the likes of Aransas Island and the Padre Island National Shoreline, where you can laze on the beach and spend some quality time with your fur-baby.
One of the best reasons to plan a road trip with a dog in Texas is to visit some of the Lone Star State's best attractions and learn about the area's history and culture. Unfortunately, many of Texas' most popular excursions aren't dog-friendly, meaning you'll have to find someone to look after Fido while you explore.
You'll find Texas dog walkers on the Wag! platform from El Paso to Houston who will take your dog on an adventure while you discover the best of Texas. Download the Wag! app and find a dog walker that suits your needs. Then, get ready to soak up some culture and history!
The Alamo is Texas' most famous historic attraction. Located in San Antonio, The Alamo is known for the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution. The battle helped create many legendary Texas folk heroes, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie.
The 300-year-old fort is free to visit, and travelers are welcome to explore the ruins of the fortress. The best way to learn about The Alamo is on an hour-long guided tour that will teach you everything you need to know about this pivotal battle in US history.
Space Center Houston
One of the top science museums in the US, the Space Center Houston is the perfect day out for families. Houston is one of the center's for interstellar exploration in the US, with astronauts training at the Johnson Space Center.
This adjoining museum contains hundreds of artifacts from moon rocks to space capsules. One of the top attractions at the Space Center Houston is Independence Plaza, which contains the world's only space shuttle replica. Visitors can climb inside the Independence space shuttle and find out what life is like for astronauts in outer space.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Another important part of US history, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas documents the life and death of US President John F. Kennedy. The museum is located on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK in 1963.
While perusing the museum's collection, visitors will see objects and photographs relating to JFK's life, as well as learning about his assassination through interactive exhibits. A highlight from the museum is footage of the president's motorcade, taken moments before the assassination.
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