Red Springs still looks and feels like a small town, but it increasingly serves as a bedroom community for nearby Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. Less than 30 miles south of the city, Red Springs has access to both urban amenities and plenty of eastern NC forest and parkland. Right in town, there’s room to stretch in the grassy lawns around the ball field at Tom Cope Park.
Only 10 miles from Red Springs, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus is a sunny and safe spot for a run. With its 2-mile Hawk Walk Trail mapped out on the UNC-P website, the campus has a number of public artworks and scenic spots ready for Rover to sniff out. The nearest veterinarian is also in Pembroke, and emergency care is available at all hours of the day in Fayetteville, too.
Fayetteville itself offers plenty of creature comforts. If you’re just passing through Red Springs, you might consider the 23 pet-friendly hotels in the Fayetteville. The city also has 46 dog-friendly restaurants offering patio seating, including local favorites Huske Hardware House downtown and Salsa’s and Beer in Fort Bragg. The Main Post dog park in Fort Bragg has a fenced off-leash play area, a bit no-frills but certainly a nice place to work off dinner.
Have you ever wanted a photo of your dog in a sombrero? Here’s your chance! Drive 26 miles south of Red Springs and you’ll find something truly unique: South of the Border, one of the largest, weirdest rest stops the US interstate highway system. Opened in 1950 with a faux-Mexican theme to cater to tourists driving south on I-95 as they cross into South Carolina, this enormous motel/gas station/restaurant/mini-golf/gift-shop complex welcomes leashed dogs. There’s a variety of giant animal statues; we’re not sure why, but they’re great for kitschy photo ops. If Rover is good with stairs, he might even want to accompany you to the top of Pedro’s Sombrero, where an overlook awaits in the top of the giant mascot’s hat.
A mere 27 miles away from Red Springs, the Fayetteville City Center is home to two must-visits for any dog lover: Riverside Dog Park
and Woof Gang Dog Bakery. With fenced areas for big and little dogs, plus
watering and waste stations, this public park is a great place for an off-leash
frolic. Small children aren’t allowed in the dog park, but they can follow you into Woof Gang Dog Bakery where you'll find an array of handcrafted treats, specialty foods, and even canine fashion on display. If retail therapy isn't your taste, enjoy the pedestrian walkways and creekside trail at Festival Park.
Lumberton, North Carolina is 30 miles south of Red Springs. The 142-acre Luther Britt Park in Lumberton is a lush green expanse with two different lakes and a network of well-maintained walking trails. The park also has a horseshoe pitch and picnic spots, plus a public boat launch and great canoeing for the water dogs in your household. For off-leash play, there’s also the grassy, inviting Lumberton Dog Park on Meadow Rd. Or, cozy up to an outdoor table at Jade Vine Restaurant. The artisan sandwiches, soups, and salads are a fresh way to refuel that are definitely good enough to share (and you know you can’t resist when he gives you those eyes.)
The main body Lumber River State Park is 37 miles south of Red Springs in the town of Orrum (although the northern boat launch for this river park is just 14 miles north of Red Spring in the town of Wagram and has a 3-mile trail of its own). In Orrum’s Princess Ann Access Area of the Lumber River State Park, you’ll find well-maintained walking trails including the 1.5-mile (one way) Princess Ann Trail. There’s also camping and a boat launch for canoes or kayaks. The black water of the Lumber River offers a truly wild and natural experience for you and your fur family. Stop in Lumberton on the way home to dine at one of several patio-seating restaurants that welcome dogs, including the spicy Thai Chili.
Bladen Lakes State Forest, 40 miles from Red Springs, is the largest state forest in North Carolina at a whopping 33,000 acres. The lovely Jones Lake State Park, nestled inside Bladen Lakes, is sure to bring out the trailblazers in your fur family. The four-mile loop of Bay Trail is lined with trees and Spanish moss as it winds through the wetlands. If Rover's legs are too short for that, there's also the one-mile Cedar Loop Trail. The park has boating and swimming access in the dark water of Jones Lake. You can dine on the patio at Giorgio's Restaurant and Pizza in Elizabethtown near the park's entrance.